Best Violin Brands Review in 2017

With countless violin brands available on the market, your first venture into violin buying can be arduous. From dealing with the local music store sales staff who are mostly interested selling you a brand that they carry to the online stores that often sell counterfeit or remanufactured violins, it can be difficult to know if you're getting a good deal. This guide is intended to help you make an informed decision and become more knowledgeable about the multitude of options available.

Value Section

violin brands

Succinctly put, the best violins for a beginner or intermediate are Stentor, Cecilio and Cremona. For the professional, there is the more affordable Yamaha brand and the top-ranked Stradivarius brand. With this in mind, there is one important caveat. The best violin brands aren't actually brands at all. They are made by specific artists known as luthiers, and violinists will refer to the violin by the maker's name since a brand doesn't typically exist. Two famous luthiers are Antonio Stradivari of Cremona, Italy, and Giuseppe Guarneri of Cremona, Italy. For this reason, this review will focus on the best beginner and intermediate violin brands that a professional may conceivable use for their ensemble playing. However, keep in mind that the very best violins go for millions of dollars.

Selection

When it comes to the best violin brands, Stradivarius is the undisputed leader. However, a true Stradivarius violin is rare and extremely expensive. Advancements in the way we manufacture instruments has made it possible to replicate the features of a Strad at a more affordable price. For this reason, it's best to save some money and buy a lesser-quality violin. If you are at intermediate and advanced level, you can also look into electric violin.

If you make it to the point where you're being paid to perform at high-profile venues, a large and benevolent company may just gift you a Stradivarius. Until then, stay strong and realize that your playing technique and sound is only partially influenced by the instrument. Your message and playing style is far more important than the instrument you play on. The best violin may sound like a toy in the hands of an amateur while the professional can use it to produce profoundly beautiful music.

Benefits

Choosing from one of the established violin brands reduces some of the risk associated with buying a violin. When you buy a violin from an unknown or lesser-known name, you don't always know what kind of quality you can expect to get. Purchasing from a respected brand gives you additional options for support, warranty claims and replacement parts. Buying an instrument from Yamaha virtually ensures that any part you need will be available at one of your local music stores.

Brand name instruments with high rankings will provide you with a more carefree and enjoyable playing experience. You won't have to worry about whether you're getting a quality instrument, and the resale value of your instrument will also remain high since your instrument will be considered a worthwhile purchase 3, 5, 7 and even 10 years down the road. Paying a little more for one of the best violin brands will ensure you enjoy a lifetime of playing.

Buying Criteria

When looking for violin brands, it's important to choose a violin that meets certain criteria. A true violin measures about 35 centimeters wide, and it generally plays about an octave higher than the viola. The violin has a wider range than other string instruments, and the size of the violin will affect the timbre. Don't buy a violin that exceeds 37 centimeters wide since it will start to take on a darker tone more akin to a viola.

The violin also has thin strings compared to the other members of the string family. This enables the violinist to play quickly and it helps to give the violin its characteristic tone. String instruments are the most versatile instruments next to the human voice. It's important to purchase a quality brand to ensure that you're able to effectively play all of the techniques and the musical repertoire that await you.

Care and Use

While all violin brands need appropriate care, it's important that you understand the requirements of maintaining a violin. If you don't have experience taking care of a violin, you can inadvertently damage the instrument. This is a costly mistake, so it's important for you to have someone to show you how to care for your violin properly.

Make sure your violin comes with a case. If it doesn't, you're going to need to purchase one separately to protect the instrument. The case not only protects from accidental falls and knocks, it also protects your instrument from environmental conditions like humidity and heat. Additionally, you need to make sure you have enough rosin, extra strings and the right cleaning supplies to keep your violin in good condition.

Controversy

There is some argument about the very best violin brands and the violin that you ultimately fall in love with is a personal choice. However, there are some brands that simply produce better-quality instruments and will provide you with a more enjoyable playing experience.

Once you've selected your violin, you can begin practicing so that one day you'll be able to play this famous tune as well:

Five Best Violin Brands

Stentor

When it comes to quality violin brands for the student violinist, Stentor offers an exceptional option that won't break your budget. When possible, it's best to purchase your own instrument in lieu of renting. It ultimately saves money over the long run, and it prevents the possibility of you having to shell out for a lost or stolen violin.

Stentor controls every aspect of their production process. They carefully carve their instruments out of hardwoods for the best quality sound. The thickness of the violin is carefully controlled to ensure that all of their instruments produce a consistent sound. Additionally, the bridge and soundpost are custom items designed by the company.

While there are many options to choose from, one good violin for a beginner that will last through the intermediate level is the Stentor 1550. It's a full-size violin, features a solid maple back and uses full ebony fittings for the best effect. The instrument comes with all that is needed for an enjoyable musical experience.

This is an ideal instrument for the student who is just learning, the intermediate who needs something more substantial or the alumni of a music program who wants to get back into playing without spending a lot of cash.

Pros

  • Materials: The company uses quality hardwoods for all their instruments.
  • Reliability: You'll get a guarantee from the company that their product is free from defects.
  • Craftsmanship: Enjoy a solid instrument that is crafted to ensure the proper fitting of all components.

Cons

  • Quality: While manufactured at a high level, these instruments are ultimately designed for students.
  • Cost: For the price, a couple hundred extra dollars can buy a better instrument.
  • Sound: The violins offer a consistent sound, but the sound is ultimately has nothing special or unique to offer.

Cecilio

Music teachers and professional violinists alike tend to have an affection for few violin brands, but this is not the case with the Cecilio line of violins. The company produces superior quality violins for players of all levels. They company is named after St. Cecilia, who is the patron saint of music and musicians.

The company uses top quality wood for all their violins. Maple and spruce are the most commonly used woods, and the company tends to use only high-quality ebony for the rest of the fittings. The company also uses D'Addario strings, which means you won't have to spend a lot of money replacing broken strings.

When it comes to presentation, the entire product is exceptional. The company uses high-quality rosin and each violin tends to come with extra bridges so you can stay productive. The violins produced by this company will last for several years and can even be used in larger families as a hand-me-down instrument.

While Cecilio offers a full line of violins for players of all levels, one of the most impressive in the line-up is the Cecilio CVN-700. It's made from solid maple that is aged for at least seven years. The top uses spruce, and it is hand-carved to provide an exceptional bit of artistry. The bow uses Mongolian horsehair and an ebony frog on an octagonal bow. 

Pros

  • Strong: The violins are made to last a long time and can often be passed down.
  • Quality: Only the best hardwoods that are found in the best violins are used.
  • Accessories: Violins always come with extras that make these instruments an exceptional value.

Cons

  • Bows: Many of the bows included with the violins feature an octagonal shape, which many professionals deem inferior.
  • Parts: The company handcrafts many components, but automates less critical processes.
  • Professional: While they make a good range of beginner and intermediate violins, the professional line is somewhat lacking.

Cremona

Cremona violins make the list of top violin brands due to their extreme playability. The company is a rather young company, and it first came on the scene in 1989. They are internationally recognized and produce violins suitable for all levels of students at varying price ranges. The company has even won two VSA silver medals for the tone production of their instruments.

As a small company, they devote a large staff to quality control with 22 people who monitor the standards set forth by the company. Serving as 8.5 percent of the total company, these select individuals are charged with ensuring every component and procedure is followed.

As one of the top violin brands, the company keeps their violins in top condition by keeping all of the parts needed for assembly in carefully controlled environments. Temperature and humidity are expertly adjusted to provide optimal conditions for violin-making, and the company keeps violins in a queue for at least 30 days before shipping to ensure that the instruments don't warp.

The Cremona SV-1400 Maestro Soloist option is one of their finest violins. You'll enjoy a hand-carved instrument with a solid spruce top and solid maple throughout. The violin is expertly crafted to give it an aged look, and it comes with a medium-quality Brazilwood bow. At beginner level, you can consider Cremona SV-75 Premier Novice Violin.

Pros

  • Materials: The company uses only the highest quality woods for their violins.
  • Manufacturing: Violins are stored in carefully controlled environments to ensure good maturation.
  • Awards: Multiple awards and certificates have been given to the company for excellence in manufacturing.

Cons

  • Bows: It's unusual for a company to create high-quality violins and provide a basic Brazilwood bow with the package. Many of the bows use French methods, but some otherwise high-tier violins in the brand still use Brazilwood.
  • Location: The violins doesn't have an established workshop outside of China, which can make a visit to the company difficult.
  • Cost: It's possible to get a high-quality similar-priced violin from other brands.

Yamaha

Yamaha is an undisputed manufacturer of quality violins and musical instruments of all types. When you buy a Yamaha violin, you know you're getting an instrument from a company with an exceptional track record and extraordinary attention to detail. The violins are often fully hand-carved by trained luthiers, and the company uses an exceptional quality-control system to ensure no weak instruments are released.

High-quality materials are used in their violins, and you can get an exceptional violin for less than $600. While there are some models that well exceed that number, you can be certain you're getting a solid instrument when you purchase an instrument from the Yamaha brand.

Special features on many of their violins include inlaid purfling, oil varnishes, ebony fittings and quality Glaser bows. The company ages the wood on most violins, including the student level violins. Overall, Yamaha provides a good value at a reasonable price.

The Yamaha Standard Model AV5 is an example of one high-quality student violin in their lineup. The violin comes with plenty of accessories, and it is seasoned for at least five years. This student violin is professionally hand-carved by a luthier, and it will provide years of enjoyment for players of varying levels.

Pros

  • Reputation: Well-known brand that has received numerous awards.
  • Quality: Affordable violins that are hand-crafted are within the reach of most budgets.
  • Sound: Excellent sound production gives these violins an exceptionally even sound.

Cons

  • Counterfeits: Yamaha is a widely-known brand. Because of this, you have to be wary of counterfeits.
  • Construction: Parts are made all over the world and then assembled in varying locations.
  • Cases: In most instances, you'll have to buy a hard case for your instrument.

Stradivarius

Purists may argue that a Stradivarius by any other name is not a Stradivarius at all. However, many blind research studies have indicated that most professional can't detect the difference in sound between a real Stradivarius and a modern copy. Of all the violin brands, Sky Guarantee may be one of the most controversial for its dedication to reproduces the master violin makers creations.

No two Stradivarius violins will sound the same, which is where the Sky Guarantee models fall short. However, for a high-quality instrument that actually does replicate the sound of a Stradivarius, it would be hard for any serious violinist to ignore their instruments as a possibility. The company uses high-quality materials and a chemical process that is designed to replicate the original sound of a Stradivarius.

The violins from the manufacturer come with high-quality cases and a certain nostalgia for those who have ever had the privilege to hear a real Stradivarius violin. If you can't afford the cost of a high-dollar Stradivarius, you can get the next best thing by adding one of these models to your collection.

The Sky Guarantee Mastero Sound Copy of a Stradivarius is one possible option. The violin is hand-crafted and designed to mimic the look and feel of a real Stradivarius.

Pros

  • Quality: The instruments are all hand-made by a single luthier in the tradition of the master luthiers of the past.
  • Materials: Hardwoods that replicates the original Stradivarius violins are used.
  • Aging: Models use wood that is aged for several decades for the best sound.

Cons

  • Authenticity: You're not really getting a Stradivarius violin.
  • Bow: The bows tend to lack premium materials, such as Pernambuco or carbon fiber.
  • Sound: True Stradivarius violins differ in sound and temperament. Duplicating the sound of a model goes against the very premise of a Stradivarius' value.

Conclusion

For the best value and a violin that will meet the needs of every player, the Yamaha Model 5 is an excellent option. Even if you don't purchase the professional Yamaha model, the company also makes a wide assortment of beginning and intermediate violins that will fit your budget and needs. The quality and support of the company are also worth considering, and the company can intervene to help you if you ever experience issues with your violin.

Yamaha has been making musical instruments for years, and it's a well-respected name in the industry. Choosing a violin from the Yamaha brand means you're buying a product that is designed to provide you with a stable, reliable and enjoyable playing experience. The Model 5 is a bit pricey, but the reliability and durability of the instrument mean it's less likely to break down. Buying a better-quality instrument usually pays for itself in the form of time spent waiting for repairs and the cost of getting weak components replaced. While any violinist would like a quality Stradivarius copy, the Yamaha is a practical choice that will suit a range of players.

Stephanie Su
 

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