What should you look for in a beginner student violin?
Choosing an entry-level or student violin can be a difficult task, especially in the era of online shopping when you have a seemingly infinite range of violin outfits to select from. However, a good first violin can last you a long-time in your musical life, and you needn't empty your wallet!
- Tone: an important factor for all players: the quality of sound.
- Projection: this relates to the tonal strength of the instrument.
- Appearance: the wood, varnish, and workmanship of the instrument.
- Condition: If second-hand: How well was it looked after? For used and new instruments: how well has it been set up?
Although it can be tempting to buy a used violin for sale, older cheap violins (when bought from private sellers) can often end up costing much more to restore than a brand-new violin outfit. Particularly the bow and case may be worn out, and the strings are often as old as the instrument. Second-hand instruments, when bought privately, do not carry any warranty. If you decide to purchase an instrument second-hand from ebay or gumtree, make sure that it originally came from a specialist store. Animato's second-hand, restored violins start are very reasonably priced.
Violins from a Specialist String Shop?
These days it is amazing how affordable new quality student violins can be, but you should be wary of purchasing from sellers who are not string instrument specialists. A bad first violin can mean a quick and costly upgrade as well as dissatisfaction in playing from the get go. Buying an instrument from a reputable violin dealer or instrument store means peace of mind in terms of warranty, quality and ongoing support throughout the student's musical career. Domestic and online stores should be happy to answer your queries and make recommendations according to your budget and specific needs. Furthermore, At Animato Strings you can trade in a violin when the student is ready to upgrade in size or when you would like to take the step up to a better instrument.
How do you check the condition of a violin?
In determining the condition and health of a violin, it is important to familiarise yourself with the individual parts of a violin. These include:
Body and varnish
Whilst the varnish primarily changes the visual appearance of the violin, the quality of the tone-woods used, the design and workmanship contribute to the unique sound of every individual instrument.
The timber quality, the position and precision when fitting the sound post is critical to extract the best possible sound that an instrument can yield. The sound post is also needed to structurally support of the arch in the instrument's body. The experts at Animato Strings focus particularly on the very best placement and fitting of the sound post for thease reasons.
If the bridge is too high, it will be hard to press strings down onto the fingerboard. If the spacing, width and depth of the string grooves are not right, this will also make playing across multiple strings more difficult. Apart from this, the feet of the bridge have to be perfectly flush with the arch of the top plate of the violin, the thickness of the bridge and the fine-carving all contribute to achieving the best possible sound. At Animato Strings a bridge for an inexpensive violin has been carved with great care. This type of thoroughness is often absent, even when violins come from so-called specialists.
The pegs determine if the strings stay tuned. Peg problems can be avoided with good workmanship as long as the pegs are made of quality hardwood. Common problems include tight pegs or slippery pegs which make the violin hard to tune.
It's hard to believe: Even the weight and density of the fingerboard plays a minor role in determining the sound quality. A good finger board is made of ebony timber. It is one of the hardest timbers available. This means it can strengthen the neck and it prevents the strings from creating grooves in the finger board when the strings are pressed down during playing of the student violin.
The height of the nut, the depth and width of the string grooves and the distance between them have to be correct to make the playing of the student violin as comfortable as possible, and to prevent buzzing noises whilst playing.
The tailpiece can heavily impact the tonal qualities of an instrument. That's why Animato Strings standard tail pieces are made of carbon fiber. These modern tail pieces are not the cheapest, but in turn they are the lightest and most durable and precise tail pieces. Because of the lightness, these tail pieces do not hinder the response of the instrument. Heavy tail pieces mute the violin to some extent.
The label is glued to the inside of the violin and can be see through the left 'f-hole.' The violin label can assist when reselling an outgrown beginner violin and in quickly determining the value of the instrument.
Playing the wrong size violin is like wearing the wrong size of shoes! This makes it difficult to learn how to play effectively and develop good technique from the get-go for beginners. Although everybody is different, for most individuals of average stature we recommend using the following guidelines:
(Top shows age in descending order, bottom shows corresponding violin size)
What do we recommend?
Unlike many beginner violins for students, the handmade Arco violin is set up and assembled by the experts at Animato Strings’ workshop in Australia. This ensures that, unlike some other student instruments, quality and longevity are not compromised by poor workmanship.
While the Arco model is affordable, the solid timber violin is hand-carved with an ebony fingerboard and pegs. The maple bridge and spruce sound post are skilfully fitted, and the grooves in the nut are adjusted to have the right distance from each other and the correct depth and width for each string.
The strings of the Arco violin are good quality beginner steel strings, complemented by a sturdy, reliable bow.
Although we call them 'entry-level' violins, that is not a reflection on the quality. These 'beginner' violins sound amazing for a very reasonable price (all sizes) including the violin, a lightweight case, good bow and rosin.
The Arco violin is available from size 1/16 to 4/4, catering to students of all ages. Though priced for beginners, the impressive sound of the Arco makes it suitable for both beginners and for more experienced students.
The Arco outfit comes with a 12-month warranty.
Comparison of the Arco violin and the Capriccio violin:Similarities:
The Arco and Capriccio violins are hand-carved, have ebony fittings and are set up on-site at Animato Strings.Differences:
The Capriccio is hand-varnished as opposed to the sprayed on finish of the Arco. Hand-varnishing takes a much longer time. The timber chosen for the Capriccio's back, sides, neck and scroll shows some modest maple 'figuration' (stripes) whereas the Arco's maple is plain. We should keep in mind that the stripes don't make any difference to the sound quality, but because of the more interesting appearance, figured maple is dearer to buy for the makers. Click here to find out more about the Capriccio Violin Oufit.