Last updated: September 1, 2021

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Welcome to our big violin test 2019. Here we present all the violins we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet. With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the most suitable violin for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a violin.




Summary

  • The violin is a wonderful sounding instrument for young and old.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between acoustic and electric violins. The acoustic violins are almost mainly used in classical music. For the modern violinist in rock, jazz or electronic music, the electric violin is the perfect choice.
  • The violin is available in a wide variety of sizes and price segments. You are sure to find the right violin for you.

The best Violin: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a violin

Who is a violin suitable for?

In principle, a violin is suitable for anyone with an interest in music. Whether young or old, beginner or professional, the violin can be the right instrument for you.

The right posture is very important so that you can play without getting tense. (Image source: unsplash.com / Michael Catalisano)

If you aspire to a career in an orchestra, it naturally helps a lot to be encouraged as a child. But if you have the interest and the will to practise, you can start playing the violin at any age.

Besides, the violin is not limited to musical styles such as classical music, but can also be used quite versatilely in rock, folk music or electronic music.

What size violin should I buy?

The size of violin needed depends on the age of the musician. Someone who is 4 years old logically needs a smaller violin than an adult.

Speaking of 4 years old. That was also the age of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when he first received violin lessons from his father Leopold.

Here we have listed the recommended sizes of the violin and the length of the bow for each age.

age violin size bow length
3-5 years 1/16 up to 43 cm
4-7 years 1/8 43-49 cm
5-8 years 1/4 49-55 cm
6-9 years 1/2 55-61 cm
7-11 years 3/4 61-67 cm
from 9 years 4/4 from 67 cm

How much does a violin cost?

That depends on a lot of factors. You can get a violin for beginners for as little as £50. It should be mentioned that the quality and sound of these violins are nowhere near those of famous violin makers such as Stradivari or Guadagnini. By the way, most of the older violins are privately owned by rich collectors.

You can get a violin of somewhat higher quality for a few hundred pounds. Of course, mass-produced violins are a lot cheaper than violins made by hand. Violins made by instrument makers can cost a few thousand pounds.

How is the violin constructed?

The violin basically consists of 3 parts, the head, the fingerboard and the body.

Head

At the head is the characteristic scroll, which serves a purely visual purpose. Much more important are the so-called tuning pegs, to which you attach the string and can tune it lower or higher by turning it.

Almost all parts of the violin are made of wood, although carbon is also used in modern violins.

Fingerboard

The fingerboard is the connection between the head and the body. By pressing down the string in different places, different tones can be produced. In contrast to the guitar, there are no frets. Frets are there to correctly grip a certain tone and make it sound.

Since there are no frets on a violin, a violin player must know the correct positions of the different notes by heart.

In addition, one must have a very good musical ear in order to be able to correct an incorrectly picked note if necessary. This skill is called intonation and is the main difference between an amateur and a professional.

Body

The body of a violin consists of several parts. The sides, also called ribs, the back and the top. The two characteristic f-shaped sound holes, which increase the volume, are worked into the top.

Although violins can look slightly different, they are all built the same. (Image source: unsplash.com / Madelon)

The bridge, together with the tuning pegs at the head, is the second place where the strings are attached. An additional important task of the bridge is to transfer the vibrations of the strings to the soundbox.

Most violins also have additional fine tuners here to tune the violin a little more precisely than with the tuning pegs.

Another important part of the body is the chinrest. As the name suggests, it is used to clamp the violin between the shoulder and the chin. Without it, the violin would fall out of your hand when you play it on the highest notes.

The highest notes are so difficult to play that you can no longer hold the violin properly with your hand. Because the chinrest is not permanently attached, you can easily remove or replace it.

In the past, the strings were made of gut. Nowadays, most strings are made of a plastic core that is wound with a metal such as aluminium or silver.

The violin is tuned from the thickest to the thinnest string in G-D-A-E. A useful mnemonic for this is Geh Du Alter Esel.

Unlike the guitar, which often uses different tunings, the violin is almost always played in the same tuning.

Occasionally, however, composers ask for a different tuning. This tuning change on the violin is called scordatura.

How do you play the violin?

The violin is played with a bow or with the fingers. The bow consists of the stick, the frog, the tip and the hair. The bow stick must be very flexible and is usually made of pernambuco wood/brazilwood.

Even a violin bow made by a master can cost up to several hundred thousand euros.

The bow hairs are attached between the tip and the frog. The frog is the part of the bow where you adjust the tension of the bow hairs. It is also where the bow is held.

The bow hairs are usually made of horsehair. As the horsehair is too smooth to make the string vibrate, it is rubbed with rosin. This tree resin increases the friction of the hairs so that a nice even tone can sound.

What are the alternatives to a violin?

A viola, also called a viola, is very similar to the violin. One difference, however, is the size. A violin is between 34-36 cm tall.

The viola is somewhat larger at 40-44 cm. Furthermore, the strings of the viola are also tuned differently. Namely from the lowest to the highest on C-G-D-A.

On the whole, the fiddle looks like a classical violin. Unlike the violin, however, the fiddle usually has 5 or 6 steel strings. It is very often used in folk music.

Decision: What types of violins are there and which is the right one for you?

Just like the guitar, there is an acoustic and an electric version of the violin. Which of the two types is right for you depends on your needs and intended use.

What distinguishes an acoustic violin and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The acoustic violin is probably the instrument that everyone thinks of as a classical violin. It is also the instrument most often used in the music world.

The sound of an acoustic violin is produced by its sound box. This resonating body functions as an amplifier, so to speak. If you play or want to play in an orchestra, the acoustic violin is the perfect choice for you.

Advantages
  • Classic violin sound
  • Established in the music world
Disadvantages
  • More susceptible to changes in humidity

Just like all instruments made of wood, violins are sensitive to fluctuations in humidity.

It is recommended that you store your violin at a humidity level between 50-55%.

If you are transporting your violin to a concert in a case, you should take it out of the case at least 10-15 minutes before playing so that the violin can get used to the humidity.

What are the characteristics of an electric violin and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The main difference to the acoustic version is the lack of a sound box. Instead of the resonating body of an acoustic violin, the electric violin only has a frame. Since the soundbox is very much a factor in determining the sound, the electric violin does not have a unique, characteristic sound. As with an electric guitar, there is a pickup on the electric violin.

This is a piezo pickup system that converts the difference in pressure when the strings are played into an electrical signal. This signal can be fed into an amplifier through a jack cable, for example.

Advantages
  • Playing feel identical to the acoustic violin
  • Extremely versatile
Disadvantages
  • No characteristic sound of its own
  • No use in an orchestra

Because the orchestra is very tradition-conscious, the use of electric violins has not yet become established. For modern musical styles, however, the electric violin is perfect because you can choose from a wealth of very different sounds.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate violins based on these factors

When buying a violin, you can look at several criteria:

  • Manufacturer
  • Material
  • Accessories

The following paragraphs explain what each criterion means and how they can help you when buying a violin.

Manufacturer

Yamaha

The Japanese company Yamaha is not only known as a manufacturer of motorbikes, but is also quite successful in the music business. With Yamaha you get good quality at a reasonable price. Yamaha violins are suitable for beginners as well as professionals.

GEWA

GEWA violins are "Made in Germany" and are made in the company's own GEWA workshops in Adorf. They divide their product range into Student-Line, Maestro-Line and Master Instruments. So they offer the right violin for every budget and skill level.

Karl Höfner

Karl Höfner is also a German company that has been dedicated to instrument making since 1887. They export their world-famous guitars, basses and string instruments internationally.

Violins from Höfner are more suitable for advanced violin players because of their high quality. They also offer replicas of famous violins like Stradivari or Guarneri.

Thomann

The German music store giant Thomann offers all kinds of music equipment as well as violins, of course. You can choose from a wide range of acoustic and electric violins, which are also very suitable for beginners due to their low price.

Material

Most violins are made of wood. The most common types of wood are spruce, maple and yew. Each of these woods has its own sound quality.

The majority of violins are made of wood. (Image source: unsplash.com / Clem Onojeghuo)

Violins made of carbon have the advantage that water, sweat and humidity cannot harm them.
Bow

The material of the violin bow is either pernambuco wood or carbon. Both materials are flexible. This makes them perfect for making a violin bow.

Basically, when buying a bow, you should pay attention to whether the stick is slightly bent when it is taut. This is because the stick must be curved so that the horsehair is sufficiently taut. Furthermore, you should make sure that there are no cracks in the stick, otherwise the bow may break easily.

Accessories

If you want to transport your violin, you will need a violin case. The case should be comfortable to carry and protect the violin from outside influences such as knocks or rain. It is also practical to have additional compartments in which, for example, sheet music can be transported.

If you do not have perfect pitch, you will need a tuner to tune your violin. Many violinists use a tuning fork to set the correct tone. Of course, there are also practical electronic tuners that show you the correct tone.

A cleaning cloth that you can use to wipe the violin after playing is very practical. You don't want to play a dirty violin covered in sweat.

Interesting facts about violins

What do first violin and second violin mean?

These terms are parts of the instrumentation of a string orchestra or string quartet. A string quartet consists of first violin, second violin, viola and cello.

With what other instruments is the violin played?

As already mentioned, the violin is usually played in combinations with other string instruments. However, there are also countless pieces of music in which the violin is combined with piano, organ, guitar or voice.

There are truly no limits here. In the modern context, the violin is also often combined with a rock band or an electronic song.

Which violins are the most valuable in the world?

Similar to art paintings, violins are offered for sale at insanely high prices. It's hard to imagine anyone spending millions of euros on a violin.

Here we have compiled a list of the most expensive violins. The additional names such as "Lady Blunt" or "ex-Kochanski" refer to the violin's previous owner.

Model Year of manufacture Price
Stradivari "Lady Blunt" 1721 11,6 Mio. €
Guarneri del Gesù "ex-Kochanski" 1741 7,3 Mio.€
Guarneri del Gesù "ex-Carrodus" 1741 5,1 Mio.€
Guarneri del Gesù "Lord Wilton" 1742 4,3 Mio.€
Stradivari "La Pucelle" 1709 4,3 Mio. €

The proceeds from the sale of the Stradivarius "Lady Blunt" were donated to the Nippon Music Foundation. This money was used for reconstruction after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan.

Good violinists are usually dependent on a patron. A patron is a rich investor who makes his expensive violin available to the violinist. There is something in it for both sides. The violinist is happy because he gets to play an instrument made by a master, and the patron is satisfied because the value of the violin increases as a result of the famous violinist playing it.

How and where can one learn to play the violin?

You can either take lessons at a music school or with a private teacher. Of course, there are also people who teach themselves to play the violin.

You can find countless videos on Youtube about learning to play the violin. For beginners, however, it is best to start with a violin teacher.

Which instrument is harder to learn? The violin or the piano?

That can't be said with certainty. As with any instrument, it takes diligence and a little talent. For violin and piano, you have to practise for years to get to a professional level.

Which violin do world stars like David Garrett play?

The world-famous violinist David Garrett plays the Stradivarius "ex-Busch" from 1716, which was made available to him by an anonymous owner. In this table, we have compiled the violins of other famous violinists for you.

Musicians Violin
David Garrett Stradivari "ex-Busch" from 1716
Lindsey Stirling Yamaha SV-250 Silent Violin Pro and a Luis and Clark "nero" carbonfiber acousticviolin
Andre Rieu Stradivari from 1732
Lisa Batiashveli Guarneri del Gesù from 1739
Anne Sophie Mutter Stradivari "ex-Emiliani" from 1703 and Stradivari "ex-Lord Dunn-Raven" from 1710

Image source: unsplash.com / Providence Doucet

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