Last updated: October 15, 2021

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We have all heard its elegant and harmonious sound at some time, whether in a moment of high tension in a film, relaxation or in everyday life, the chords produced by a violin evoke the awakening of various emotions with its melody. That is why, in this edition of ReviewBox, we present you the best violins on the market.

The violin stands out among stringed instruments for its elegance and design. Its legacy has endured over the years and has positioned it as a classic and select instrument. This is why when buying a violin one should select one that reflects these qualities. So, the question is which of all violins is the best?




Summary

  • The violin is the smallest instrument of the fretted string family, capable of reproducing high-pitched and refined sounds, and can be played by classical orchestras to country and rock musicians without any problem.
  • Violins can be classified into three types of strings: gut strings, metal strings, and synthetic strings. These are available in various gauges and tensions, providing thicker strings that will produce more volume or thinner strings that will produce a brighter, less powerful sound.
  • Relevant factors when comparing and choosing the violin that best suits your needs and tastes include: size, material, accessories, brand reputation, and use.

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Buying guide: What you need to know about violins

Buying a violin can be a complicated choice for many, and those who are knowledgeable about music will know that a number of factors must be considered in order to make the right choice. That is why in the following sections you will find information that we hope you will find useful.

Find the perfect violin for you at a competent price and within your budget. (Photo: Skeeze / pixabay.com)

What is a violin and what are its advantages?

The violin is one of the most popular and widely played stringed instruments in the world. In the right hands, it is capable of reproducing some of the most beautiful and refined melodies in the world, and can be played by classical orchestras to country and rock musicians without a problem.

Despite being so small it offers the highest pitched sound in contrast to the Viola, Cello and Double Bass, making it capable of creating sounds with musical notes that few other instruments can reach. It has four strings and is played by resting it on the shoulder and holding it with the chin.

Thanks to the effect achieved by the bow, which is a narrow, gently curved rod, the strings vibrate and sound efficiently, delivering a range of musical sounds such as: pizzicato, tremolo, vibrato, glissando, collegno, sul ponticello and sul tasto, which have become classic structures of violin melodies.

Advantages
  • Sharpens memory
  • Generates new brain connections
  • Improves self-discipline and perseverance
  • Helps overcome stage fright
Disadvantages
  • High technical difficulty
  • Expensive
  • Requires special maintenance
  • Need to know how to read sheet music

Violin with gut, metal or synthetic strings - what should you pay attention to?

Violins can be classified in different ways, one of the most common being the type of string. There are violins with three types of strings: gut, metal, and synthetic. Each of them delivers a different sound, which will depend on the taste of each musician.

Most strings, whatever their type, are available in various gauges and tensions, providing thicker strings that will produce more volume or thinner strings that will produce a brighter and less powerful sound. Below, we detail each type of string to clear up any questions you may have:

Gut strings. Gut strings, as the name suggests, are traditionally made from sheep intestine. They are usually the most expensive and popular among baroque players for their high fidelity and original sound. They have a slower response and therefore require lighter playing.

Metal strings. They are usually the ones that come with the lowest priced violins. They last for about a year -longer than gut strings-, however, they are stiff and easy to break. Due to their composition, they are sensitive to changes in tension, so care must be taken when tuning them.

Synthetic strings. They are the most used and popular strings among violinists due to their good performance and balanced price. Their sound is similar to gut strings, but with more vibrant tones and greater stability. They are flexible and resistant, ideal for violinists who do not like the sound of metallic strings but are looking for projection.

Gut strings Metal strings Synthetic strings
Material Sheep gut Steel Nylon
Price High Medium Low
Sound Silimar to the human voice Warm sound Sweet sound
Durability less than 1 year 1 year more than a 1 year

Purchasing criteria

Every violin is different and has factors that suit the taste and needs of the player. While one may be perfect for a student, the same one may be too basic for an advanced level. That's why, below we show you the factors that allow you to compare and find the perfect violin for you:

Size

The size of the violin you want to buy is extremely relevant, as there are different dimensions that point to the proportions of the person who will use it, and therefore, their comfort when playing it. A violin for children will obviously be smaller, so it will not be appropriate or comfortable to be used by an adult.

Size 1/2: It is the smallest size (52-56 cm), therefore, it is recommended and adjusted to the dimensions of a child.

Size 2/3: It is the medium size violin (57-60 cm), it is recommended for people of average height or a little below this average.

Size 4/4: It is the recommended size for an adult, as its length (>60 cm) is adequate to manoeuvre it comfortably without affecting the neck and shoulder.

In general, we recommend you to try the violin or assist the person who will use the violin to check the length of reach of the hands, the distance of the instrument by the jaw and other relevant aspects for comfort when using it.

Check if the dimensions of the violin are suitable and comfortable for you. (Photo: cherrymerry/ 123rf.com)

Brand reputation

One of the most important criteria for choosing a quality violin is reputation. More and more violins are produced by new companies, this has led to more supply on the market and therefore lower prices, however, this does not ensure the quality of the violin.

There are emerging brands that deliver violins at lower cost, with lighter materials and lower resistance. These may look similar to high-end or professional level violins. However, these "low cost" violins, due to their manufacturing materials, deliver lower resonance and sound quality.

We recommend you to investigate the brand of violin you want, checking on its official website, because in it, it should indicate whether it corresponds to a subsidiary company or under the wing of a large producer of violins, so you can access a cheaper violin with the backing and guarantee of a large producer of instruments.

If you have a flexible and larger budget, we recommend you to opt for renowned violin brands, which have positioned themselves as leaders over the years, because they deliver high quality instruments and an incomparable sound with the support of years of experience in the industry.

Material

The materials with which a violin is made are a key factor in determining the quality of the selected model, durability and even resonance, as they directly influence the sounds it produces. They must offer a solid and robust structure resistant to the infringement by the chinrest for its fastening.

The material provides resistance, as the jaw rests on the lower part of the violin to give the right playing accent and is where the weight of the body falls. But, it is not only about the quality or type of wood used, but also about the bow, and the pegs that must be attached in an integrated way to give stability.

Plastic violins. They are aimed at a child audience and not for use as an apprentice or professional. They do not provide as much resistance as a wooden violin and their sound is more synthetic due to the composition of the soundboard.

Wooden violins. They provide acoustic properties difficult to match with a violin made of plastic or other material, as the wood used, generally pine, young spruce and maple, provides a clear tone with defined treble, preserving a classic and elegant design.

In general, we recommend you to buy violins made of sturdy wood, with a solid maple or basswood top, which will give stability to the instrument due to its hardness, while generating the traction of the strings.

Protect your violin and its components with a protective accessory. (Photo: Radomir Tarasov / 123rf.com)

Accessories

A violin is nothing without its parts, which is why accessories are an important factor to consider before choosing a violin. First of all, the violin itself is the first and foremost part, however, its bow and strings are fundamental, as without it we will not be able to make any sound.

The bow. It is a key element to be able to play the violin, it allows the strings to vibrate and produce sounds. It consists of a ribbon and a narrow stick, usually made of Pernambuco wood, which ensures the tension of the mane, which rubs the strings of the instrument.

As a recommendation, the manes or bristles that make up the bow should be impregnated with resin or rosin, in order to ensure the grip of the strings on the instrument. The number of bristles varies, however, in general, between 150 and 250 bristles are recommended.

Strings. They not only allow to categorize a violin by its type, but they also provide different nuances according to their composition material, whether they are of the type: gut, metallic or synthetic -as we mentioned in the previous section- they must be accessible and suitable for your violin, so that the sound is well produced in its sound box.

The general recommendation is to buy a violin with accessories of the same brand, as these are designed to protect it from knocks or other incidents. Another accessory to consider is the violin case, although it is not indispensable for playing, it can protect it from potential external damage.

Case. One of the most important accessories is the case, it provides protection, organizes elements of the violin and facilitates its transport. We recommend you to buy one with foam and velvet interior, this way your violin will be held softly without damaging the external finish and avoiding its deterioration.

Protect your violin and its components with a protective accessory. (Photo: Radomir Tarasov / 123rf.com)

Use

Identifying the use that you will give to your violin is a relevant factor that could save you money, as there are different types and prices of violins that point to the use that you will give to it. Within these types of use the following levels stand out: student, intermediate violin and professional violin.

Student violin: These are generally made of less expensive wood and are made by machine rather than by hand. If you are just starting violin lessons, you may not want to invest in an expensive, high quality violin only to find out that it is not the right instrument for you.

Intermediate violin: Once you have been playing the violin for a few years and want to completely improve the quality and sound of your instrument, you should switch to an intermediate violin. Some brands of violin makers do not produce intermediate violins.

Professional violin: These are handmade by an experienced violin maker using high quality wood. These instruments are more expensive and are recommended for professional musicians or art collectors. So if you are looking for high quality and an incomparable sound a professional violin is the one for you. (Featured image source: Lukas Gojda/ 123rf.com)

(Featured image source: Lukas Gojda/ 123rf.com)

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