Your Guide to Buying an Affordable Violin

Like if this guide is helpful
Your Guide to Buying an Affordable Violin

As part of the orchestral ensemble, the string instruments provide much of the deeply emotive tones that transform notes into a musical narrative. None do this more so than the smallest of the strings, the violin.

About the Violin

This four-stringed instrument is considered to be the soprano of the orchestra and has formed part of its ensemble since the beginning of the 17th century. The violin comes in 8 basic sizes to accommodate young children through their growth years as well as the varying dimensions of adults. Made from a selection of fine wood that has been seasoned for a strictly specified number of years, the higher end violin will have been masterfully crafted with great precision and detail with those like the famed Stradivari becoming legendary for absolute excellence. Although synthetic fibres are now being used on occasion, the four open strings of the violin, G, D, A, and E, are usually made from sheep intestines that have been twisted and dried. They are stroked by a bow which is a specially formed device with a ribbon of material, usually horsehair, stretched across from the frog end to the tip. Drawing the bow across the strings causes them to vibrate and emit sound. Usually associated with classical music, the violin is now being extensively used in almost every musical genre, including rock. With this spread has come a new generation of enthusiasts interested in mastering the intricacies of the violin and its unique tone. This has inspired violin makers to produce instruments in the mid-price range that are comparative with the high-level sounds of the top-end violins, but at affordable prices. Potential students may, however, still be deterred by the cost of the instrument and its vital accessories.

Finding an Affordable Violin

Violins are among the more costly of instruments and accessories such as cases, bows, and shoulder rests are often purchased separately. Although some may consider renting an instrument, these violins are seldom of a high quality and inferior tones could cause frustration for new students. Long-term rental can end up costing more than if one had been purchased by instalment or outright. Many violinists, for various reasons, have the need of a new violin and offer the existing instrument for sale. Some brand new instruments are also often on offer by would-be violinists when a fleeting enthusiasm has passed. Then there are the unscrupulous few who fraudulently try to pass off an inferior, and perhaps damaged, instrument as one of high quality and in good condition. Finding an affordable violin in good condition can require some comparison shopping at various reputable dealers.

What to Look for in a Dealer

Most dealers of repute will have a luthier, the person who makes or repairs violins, on hand to offer advice; advice should always be sought by those with no knowledge of a violin. Notifying a dealer of the maximum budgetary allowance will assist them in determining the best possible value for money. The luthier should then demonstrate the soundness of a chosen instrument by, firstly, applying gentle pressure to various parts of the body of the violin. If any creaking sound is heard, it may indicate a crack in the wood. A testing room is usually available for checking the sound quality of the violin. Drawing a bow across them should produce pleasing tones that resonate fully from all of the open strings. If a good dealer is not available, then it is possible to purchase an affordable violin online. If this means of purchase is considered, then it is even more crucial to have a very knowledgeable person at hand to advise a potential purchaser on certain aspects of the violin on offer. A music teacher would be the ideal advisor, but if this is not an option, then an experienced violinist or musician can be of invaluable assistance. Brand names are generally a good indicator of quality. The table below mentions a few violin brands together with some of their attributes and possible weaknesses.

Yuan Quin

This is one of the few Chinese violin manufacturers that have a large following among violinists, particularly with beginners or intermediate players. Although the situation is said to be changing, Chinese manufacturers have previously been accused of not aging their wood for the appropriate number of years before using it to make the instruments. This leads to the wood shrinking as the sap dries and the violin literally being ripped apart. Yuan Quin, however, is known to have been used by quite a large section of students over a number of years with no apparent problems.

Scott Cao

This manufacturer is renowned for reproducing some of the finest violins, such as the revered Stradivarius, with the utmost attention to sound and detail. These instruments are used by violinists across the competency spectrum and are given great reviews by most. Scott Cao has been the recipient of numerous sound awards and has been highly rated by experts for excellence in choice of materials and workmanship. It is generally thought that these, surprisingly, mid-priced instruments offer far more value than their cost might suggest.


Eastman has gained a solid reputation among violinists at all levels, as well as from teachers of the violin. At the price level, these instruments produce a surprising quality of sound that is said to inspire many a student. The craftsmanship can also not be faulted and the spruce, ebony and maple woods used in their construction are often offset with a dark red, antique varnish that makes them very pleasing to the eye. Its various models are seldom criticised for tonal quality or construction.


The tone of the Yamaha violin has received praise, but the construction of parts of these instruments is sometimes criticised. The tuning pegs are rather thin which can create problems with turning as they age. The pointed fingerboard is also vulnerable to early signs of wear. Strings are not of the best quality, but these can be replaced. Despite the production-line feel, this affordable instrument is quite good to look at and as a beginner’s violin it should produce enough quality sound to avoid too much frustration.

Finding Affordable Violins on eBay

To find affordable violins on eBay, simply access the eBay homepage. Open the All Categories tab and select Musical Instruments. Type' Violins' in the search tab and search. If searching for a particular brand of violin, then simply type the name into the search tab and search. Any available items will immediately be displayed. The items will be displayed as auction pieces, but some are also to be bought straight away. In these cases, Buy It Now will be displayed next to the product in question.


Because some items available on online sites such as eBay are sold on an auction basis, it is wise to do some thorough research regarding a particular brand of violin. Although sellers have sometimes been accused of fraudulently applying a brand name to a musical instrument for the purpose of a quick sale, it is not as easily done as some may think and it rarely occurs. It is crucial, however, that potential purchasers acquaint themselves with the attributes of the various brands of instruments on offer. It should also be remembered by purchasers restricted to a limited budget that a good-quality bow is necessary and that this may not be included in the sale. Price does not necessarily determine quality, but violins that are being offered at extremely cheap prices should generally be considered as somewhat suspect. It should not detract, however, from the majority of genuine sellers who have simply outgrown their violin, or are in search of an upgrade.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides