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Money makes the world go round, they say. And someone - whether that’s you, a friend or family member, or a sponsor - will need to pay for your violin.

The cost of a violin can quite literally go from next to nothing for a second hand instrument in a junk shop, right the way up to millions of dollars for a top-notch stradivarius.

So budget only really becomes a problem if you can’t find an instrument of high enough quality for your experience level.

People usually buy violins, but in some circumstances it is possible to rent an instrument instead. We generally find violin rental to be useful in situations such as:

  • if you're not 100% committed to learning yet, and you just want to try it out for a few months and see how you get on
  • You're the parent of a fast-growing child! It's possible at some shops to rent an instrument and exchange it for the next size up when the time is right for your child to upgrade
  • you're travelling or living in a different city for a short period of time, and you need an instrument to play during your stay
  • you need time to find an instrument that you want to buy - and need something to play on in the meantime!

Outside of these situations, it's usual to buy a violin, which we usually do recommend, as it allows you to develop a 'long term relationship' with your instrument. (Also, many violin shops only rent out child-sized instruments, and not full sized instruments. This is usually to encourage people to buy full size instruments outright.)

If you buy from a shop that specialises in string instruments, then it's worth asking about part exchange before you make your initial purchase. This is a service whereby the violin shop will take back the instrument that they originally sold to you, and count some of the value towards the purchase of another instrument. This allows you to upgrade to a better quality instrument when you need to do so.

In the rush to find an instrument, it's easy to remember that looking for instruments can actually be a lot of fun! Visiting violin shops and music shops is an enjoyable thing to do, so give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the process and make sure that you give yourself plenty of opportunities to enjoy discovering all the different options.

It's important to test the instruments you want to buy wherever possible. Sure, if you've already heard an instrument being played or you're buying a reliable brand name that you've seen extensive reviews and videos of on the internet, then it's a reasonable risk to take if you want to order online.

But if you're spending more than a few hundred dollars, or if there's any doubt at all in your mind about which instrument might be right for you, then try and visit a violin shop if you can, before you make the purchase. If you're buying an instrument that's more expensive than just a beginner violin outfit, then you may even find that a violin shop will allow you to take the instrument 'on approval', so that you can live with it for a week or two before making a final decision.

When you're trying out an instrument, you'll need to consider:

Price - does the cost of the violin fall within your budget, and have you left enough money aside to buy a good bow as well?

Sound - what does the violin sound like at the back of a room (or, ideally a concert hall!)? Does it sound as nice as it does close up? Do you like the sound of the instrument? Make sure that you get someone to play the violin to you, as well as just trying it yourself.

Playability - is the instrument easy to play? Is it set up right? How does it feel under your left hand? Remember, you can always change the chin rest and the shoulder rest on an instrument, but the way it feels when you are playing can vary from violin to violin, so make sure that you're happy with how it works.

Condition - if the violin is new, is it set up right? A violin shop will do this for you, but if you're ordering it through the internet or by mail order then you may struggle to set it up yourself if the bridge or strings aren't correctly set up when it arrives. If you're a more experienced player looking to upgrade to a more expensive instrument, is the body of the instrument in good condition? Are there any cracks or other damage that could affect the sound or the value?

Authenticity - if you're buying an expensive instrument, make sure you get a certificate of authenticity from a recognised expert. This does not include random people you meet on ebay! If in doubt, contact us at support@violinschool.com - we will usually be able to verify the authenticity of a dealer for you through our extensive network of industry contacts.

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Don't forget about insurance. This might not be worthwhile if your budget is a few hundred dollars or less, however if you're intending to purchase a more expensive instrument, then it's definitely a good idea. There are specialist insurers for musical instruments - get in touch with us at support@violinschool.com and we can refer you to the best options for violin insurance in your country or region.

When you're searching for the best violin for you, it's important to shop around. Become well-informed, by having a sense of the whole market before you buy. A good shop or dealer won'tpressure you into making a purchase... the best ones will see you as a potential customer for life, and so they'll be focused on making sure that you have the right instrument for you.

A final word of warning - as with any industry, the musical instrument sector does has it's fair share of charlatans and not-so-well-informed wheeler-dealers! Thankfully these are the exception rather than the rule, but if in doubt, walk away. And remember, you can always get in touch with us at support@violinschool.com for a second opinion!

Buying a violin isn't like purchasing consumer goods. This is because, with the exception of many beginner-level instruments, violins will often improve with age (and high-end instruments can even increase in value). Therefore, you should approach your purchase as if you're buying a collectable item that won't go out of fashion.

Remember that 'second hand' doesn’t mean 'second best'! Many of the finest violins on the market are old or 'vintage’ instruments, and age (or previous owners!) is generally a FAR less important consideration than things like sound quality, maker, condition, and budget.

eLearning for the Violin.

15 Palace Street
Westminster, London
SW1E 5HS, ENGLAND

Email: support@violinschool.com
Phone: +44 (0) 20 3051 0080
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LONDON, UK
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