Choosing A Violin
Violins come in many different sizes. The size is notated by a fraction ranging from 4/4 for a full size, adult violin to 1/32 size for young children. Choosing the right size for a beginner is essential to success. Having a violin that is not the right size can make it nearly impossible to learn the basics. The best way to find the right fit is to visit a shop and hold many different sizes. One way to determine the correct size is to have the student hold the violin in the shoulder position and extend the left arm and cup the palm around the scroll. The elbow should be slightly bent. If the student cannot reach the scroll or if the arm is straight, the violin is probably too big. Remember, it is always best to go with a smaller size if you are unsure. If you are ordering a violin online, you can measure from the neck to the left wrist for an approximate size. Here is a link with violin size charts and measurements.
How To Determine the Proper Instrument Size
Please contact me before visiting a shop or ordering online. I am more than happy to meet with you and help determine the correct size violin for you.
Buying vs. Renting
Since young students change violin sizes as they grow, many parents prefer renting a violin. Support your local violin shop if you can. If not, I recommend sharmusic.com for good rentals. The great thing about rentals is that you can exchange the violin fairly easily if the size is not right.
Buying a violin costs more up front, but then you always have the option of reselling it if you take care of it. It is a great idea if your student has younger siblings that will one day want to learn to play the violin as well. I once taught a family of 8 children who all played the violin. Over the years, they had accumulated every size of violin and simply passed them on to the next child when the older child outgrew them.
Is a more expensive violin better?
If you go into a violin shop, the most expensive violin might not always be the best sounding violin. Sometimes, you pay more for the violin's pedigree even if a cheaper violin sounds better. But, with beginner violins at companies like Shar and Southwest Strings, you generally get what you pay for. The more expensive violin will generally be better quality. However, when you start to get into a higher price range, don't just buy the more expensive violin, try several violins out. The sound and tone of the cheaper violin might appeal to you more. It's all about tastes and preferences!
Will a more expensive violin make me sound better?
Better quality violins will give you a better sound. You also have more room to grow musically with the violin. If you have a young child playing on a fractional size violin, you might not be ready to spend more money since you know the child will have to get a bigger violin eventually. However, if you are buying a full size violin, I recommend spending a little more money to get a better quality fiddle. As you progress on violin, you will need a violin that delivers all you're asking of it. Buying a better violin from the start gives you more room to explore and push your own limits. Southwest Strings offers 0% financing.
What about used violins?
If you buy a used violin let a professional look it over first to insure there are no problems with it. The first thing I would do with a used violin is put a new set of strings on it, since you don't know how long the old set has been on there. A decent set of strings will run you $30-$40. If you don't know how to put the strings on, you'll have to pay someone to do it. If there are other things damaged with the violin, you'll have to pay to get those fixed. Unless it is an unbeatable deal, a cheap, used violin might be more hassle than it's worth.
Never buy a violin from sites like Ebay and be wary of violins for under $100. These instruments are cheaply made and often unplayable. I once had a student with an Ebay violin. The pegs were plastic and therefore, would not keep the string in tune. Playing violin in tune is hard when the strings are in tune! Imagine if the strings are constantly changing. It's impossible!
What else do I buy?
Most beginner violins come as outfits with a case, violin bow, and sometimes rosin. Make sure your purchase comes with all of these. If not, buy them separately. You will also need a shoulder rest that matches the size of your violin. Buying a music stand is also essential to promoting good posture. Here's a list of things you may need.
Don’t let the process of choosing a violin be intimidating! Feel free to contact me any time with any questions you may have.