Getting your first violin can be an exciting but equally daunting experience. You certainly will want an instrument that allows you play beautiful music without requiring that you break the bank.
Several factors need to be considered when making your decision; these include whether to rent or buy, the size of the violin, quality of its construction and the matching violin bow for it.
In this article, we shall cover these factors and more as we deliver you a comprehensive beginner guide to getting a violin.
Renting A Violin
As a violin enthusiast or student, you will need to consider whether you should rent or purchase a violin. The pros of renting a violin include the opportunity to test out the particular model without having a heavy commitment to it. This is an enticing benefit as beginners often do not know which violin fits them best. Additionally, it has lower barriers to entry since the upfront cost is much lower.
However, the cons of renting a violin should not be ignored. For starters, they generally contain fair amounts of wear and tear on them. As such, their quality may be affected, leading to frustration when played. Additionally, the law of diminishing returns can be applied here as well. If you loan the violin for a longer duration of time, you would likely have paid almost its full cost without ever owning it.
Violin rentals are recommended for parents buying the instrument for their child. This arrangement is preferred here as they can switch violins as their child grows in size. Rather than buying an oversize violin in anticipation of the kid “growing into it”, a rental of an appropriate size instrument would prevent physical injury. Additionally, the cost of getting the right size violin for each stage of a child’s growth is significantly lesser than buying the many different sizes.
Trading in Your Violin
A close alternative to renting would be to find shops that accept trade-ins in exchange for a discount on the next purchase. Assuming that you have taken reasonable care and maintenance of the violin, you may receive a generous discount for the next violin size.
Buying a Violin
If you do decide to buy a violin, then you need to choose between a brand new or second hand purchase. While a second hand violin would cost you less, you need to be certain of its quality. As such, we recommend that you go in the company of an experienced violinist when examining second hand violins. You could also check for any creaks and request to perform an instrument test. During which, all open strings should sound resonant and pleasing when played.
Choosing the Right Size
As alluded to above, violins do come in a variety of sizes (there are 8 main sizes). Do note that the size of the violin corresponds to the length of the violin’s body and does not include either the neck or scroll. The 8 sizes arranged from smallest to largest are 1/16, 1/10, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 7/8 and 4/4 or full size.
You can measure a child or yourself for a violin using the following two methods. Firstly, with one of your arms fully extended away from your body, get help to measure the length from the base of your neck to the wrist of the outstretch arm.
Alternatively, you can take the same measurement from the neck, but extend the measuring tape to the center of the palm. The violin size should fall within these two measurements, ensuring a comfortable playing experience.
When holding the violin, you should be able to comfortably reach for the notes while still holding the instrument in the correct playing position. Furthermore, you should also be able to wrap your hand around the scroll while your arm retains a slight bend.
The Difference Between Student, Intermediate & Professional Violins
Student violins are typically made from lower quality wood and involve less hand work by the manufacturer. Commonly these violins have components that are made from plastic – pegs and chin rest. If you are learning the violin but are unsure whether it is a long term hobby, then the student violin is the way to go. The price of a student violin may vary between $100 to $400.
Intermediate violins breach the gap between student and professional violins. They contain better materials than student violins and are a great addition if you are looking for a better playing experience. Their price usually ranges between $400 to $1000.
Professional violins are always constructed from high quality wood, and usually are hand-built by a luthier. They are finished with high quality components such as an ebony fingerboard. Given the cost of materials and the skill needed assembly, it should not surprise you that they cost upwards of $4000.
Buying a Violin Bow
Choosing the right violin bow is an equally complicated task as buying a violin. In fact, it deserves a full blog post of its own. However, since beginner violin students often purchase the two together, we shall summarize briefly the factors to take note of when buying a violin bow.
When choosing a violin bow, you should first take note of its weight and balance. The bow should feel like a natural extension of your own arm. As such, it should feel natural when you test it out. Secondly, different bows make different sounds. As such, you could try to test it out on your violin. However, detecting differences in sounds is a challenging task, one which we recommend you leave to an experienced violinist. Finally, the shape of the bow also makes a difference. The rounder the bow, the suppler the sound.
Learn the Violin At Harmony & Pitch
Violin schools in Singapore like Harmony & Pitch offers engaging violin lessons that help you to develop correct bowing techniques, posture, intonation and appreciate the emotions behind the music pieces you play. Our students have developed a deep appreciation for playing the violin.
Harmony & Pitch is here to help you get started on your musical journey. Contact us to find out about our FREE trial violin classes today.