Buying a new violin is a huge investment and challenge if you don’t know what to look for. You want to make sure that you get a great violin that fits in your budget from one of the best violin brands. That’s why we’re here! We want to make your buying decision much easier. We have reviewed and tested the violins below so that we can provide you the best violin brand recommendations.
To help you find the best violin and violin brand, we have scoured the internet and asked violin professionals to answer the following questions:
- What Are the Best Violin Brands?
- What Are the Best Beginner Violins?
- What Should You Look for in a Violin?
We’ve also answered questions like:
- How Much Does a Violin Cost?
- Where Do You Buy a Violin?
- What Size Violin Do You Need?
- What Else Do You Need?
In our recommendations below, we mention typical price ranges for each violin and our recommended skill level for each of the best violin brands below.
Don’t forget to get your violin accessories before you start playing your new violin!
What Are the Best Violin Brands?
We think there are a few of the best violin brands that we’ve evaluated based on reliability, cost, sound quality, and durability. Here are good violin brands that you can find in stores and online:
Cecilio is one of our favorite stringed instrument brands for beginners. They produce great budget violins that are perfect for beginners. Cecilio (che SEE lyo) Musical Instruments gets its name from the martyr, St. Cecilia, the Patron Saint of music and musicians. We consider them one of the best violin brands for beginners.
Stentor is another one of the most popular violin brands on the market. Based in China, they make great handcrafted beginner and intermediate instruments that are affordable for most budgets. This brand is frequently recommended by violin instructors as one of the best acoustic violin brands.
3. Kennedy Violins
Kennedy Violins, founded by Mr. Joel Kennedy, has been operating for nearly 15 years with an emphasis on providing stellar customer service.
4. Eastman Strings
Founded in 1992, Eastman Strings focuses on building high-quality violins, violas, and cellos by hand. Their workshops have virtually no power tools aside from the band saws used to cut out the necks and the outlines of the tops and backs of instruments. Eastman strings was founded by Qian Ni, an accomplished flutist from Beijing.
5. Yamaha Violins
Founded in the late 1800s as Nippon Gakki Company, Yamaha started with pianos and reed instruments. However, it slowly grew to be one of the most trusted instrument manufacturers in the world. One of the flagship products of the modern Yamaha company is the violin. Yamaha violins are known for their high-quality construction and sound.
Violin Brands to Avoid
Depending on your budget, we recommend avoiding brands that are mass-produced, such as Medini by Cecilio. These violins typically sell for less than $100 and come with a plastic-like finish and often misshapen bows. They’re not ideal for serious beginners but can work for a few months to a year of playing.
We’ll start with an overview of the best violin brands for beginners, then discuss the best violin brand for intermediate players, and finally advanced players. We’ll then list the rest of our recommended best violin brands below in the order that we recommend them.
Use this list as a guideline for finding a good quality violin. While not every violin brand on this list will fit your budget, experience level, or other search criteria, we hope it provides a great baseline to begin your search.
Best Violin Brand for Intermediate Players
Kennedy Violins is one of the highest-rated violin brands by customers and it shows. These fantastic intermediate violins are handcrafted from solid maple (for a solid maple back) and spruce tonewoods, and come with everything you need to get started playing.
- Highly rated
- High-quality sound
- Includes complete kit
Best Violin Brand for Advanced Players
Eastman’s hand-crafted violins are known to be some of the best violins for advanced players since they combine beauty with sound quality. Often going for $1,500+, these violins should only be purchased by those who need a very high-quality instrument.
- Beautiful sound
- Look amazing
Best Violin Brands
Mendini By Cecilio
Recommended For: Beginner
Cecilio is a well-known beginner stringed instrument brand whose violins, violas, and cellos are widely used for introductory lessons. The violins are made at a much lower cost than many of the other violin brands on this list and they’re all handmade, even the less than $100 CVN-100. We consider them one of the best violin brands for beginners.
Cecilio violins are made from solid tonewoods that are hand-carved. They have a solid spruce top, flamed maple sides and back, and inlaid purfling. Their more expensive student violins also come with well-defined flames.
The main con of Cecilio violins is that their fingerboards are made of maple instead of ebony which erode faster with ther repeated pressure of fingers tapping on them. Maple fingerboards make for lower cost instruments, but repairs will be more likely in the future if your student chooses to continue playing with the Cecilio violin.
These violin outfits are also very generous. Most Cecilio outfits come with a quality brazilwood bow with unbleached Mongolian horsehair. They also come with boxwood pegs, tailpiece (with four fine tuners), and both a soft and hard case! Great value for your money.
Given the value you get for the price, the Cecilio violin brand gets a thumbs up from us, but if you are an advanced player, we recommend looking at some of the higher-end violins below.
Recommended For: Beginner
Stentor violins are very affordable and have made a name for themselves by being one of the highest quality violin brands for the price. This is a great instrument to develop your violin skills one before moving on to an intermediate violin. Stentor is often recommended as one of the best violins for beginners.
While these instruments are manufactured in Chinese workshops, Stentor checks each instrument in its United Kingdom warehouses for quality before delivery to your home or store.
Stentor is sure to have the right violin for your student, from absolute beginner to slightly below intermediate. They come in a variety of sizes and are very sturdy, a plus for parents worried about durability while being transported to and from school.
Like their other instruments, Stentor violins are made in the traditional way out of solid tone woods. This includes a solid ebony fingerboard (as opposed to the Cecilio below), pegs, and fittings with maple sides and back, and a spruce top. Stentor violins also have inlaid purfling to prevent the softer spruce wood top from splitting.
Packages on Amazon include a violin bag, wood and horsehair bow (usually brazilwood), and rosin.
Recommended For: Beginner and Intermediate
Kennedy Violins, a Washington state-based violin maker, is an up-and-coming luthier in the space. Their violins range from beginner to intermediate, but their intermediate violins are some of the highest-rated violins on Amazon.
The Louis Carpini G2 violin is our favorite. It has a 4.9/5 star rating on Amazon and glowing reviews. It is handcrafted with solid maple and spruce tonewoods and comes with everything you need from a violin kit.
This brand is definitely worth looking into if you are looking for a high-quality intermediate violin.
Recommended For: Advanced
While Eastman Strings does make student model violins, they are well-known for making advanced violins and violins that sound beautiful which is why we highly recommend them for the advanced player. Strings Magazine often recommends Eastman violins for advanced players due to their playability and tone.
The violins are handcrafted with a select spruce top and highly flamed maple back, ribs, and scroll. They come in either Stradivari or Tertis patterns. Outfits generally come with a base Despiau bridge, which can of course be modified after-market, and a metal alloy tailpiece.
Outfits on Amazon usually only include the instrument, no bow or case. As Eastman’s violins are built for advanced players, the bow choice is often up to the player.
Knilling has been making violins since 1922 and has developed a great reputation over the years. They’re well-known for having developed the Perfection Pegs, which are far easier to turn than regular pegs, but look the same.
Their violins have solid spruce tops and maple back and sides. While most of their violins are made in China, they are inspected and assembled in Germany and the US before being sold.
Yamaha has established itself as one of the premier musical instrument companies. Founded in the late 1800s as Nippon Gakki Company, Yamaha started with pianos and reed instruments. However, it slowly grew to be one of the most trusted instrument manufacturers in the world.
The main downside to Yamaha violins is that they are quite expensive. Most of their violins, especially the electric violins, are priced at $1,000 or above so they are not ideal for beginners.
Recommended For: Intermediate
Sky is another great maker of intermediate violins. Their violins are 100% handmade and made in California so you can be assured of their quality. The violin makers at Sky really know how to make beautiful instruments as every violin they make glows and highlights the beautfil marbling of the wood they use. They use 30-year dried wood to make their violins and include beautiful inlays.
Most of their violins come with a Brazilwood bow, a premium oblong violin case, and high quality rosin.
Recommended Sky Violin Models:
D Z Strad
Recommended For: Intermediate
D Z Strad violins are consistently rated as some of the best mid-tier violins. Reviews on Amazon rave about the sound quality of these instruments so we had to give one a try. We were blown away! The Model 509 in particular is a great instrument for the intermediate violin student for its quality sound. Not to mention it looks beautiful. Some intermediate and advanced players have complained that this is a brand to avoid due to the sound quality, but it makes a great beginner and early intermediate violin brand.
The company has a workshop in New York and Minnesota and offer a complete range of services for the string community. The violins themselves are made with hand-rubbed Italian tonewoods that have been naturally dried outside on a covered, ventilated area for 20 years. The wood is then placed into a drying room, consistent with old world traditional European practices to ensures that the wood will not open or expand, and guarantees stability.
To see more DZ Strad violin options, you can read our guide reviewing the best DZ Strad violins.
The outfits include the violin, a violin case, and a violin bow. For a high-quality violin that ranges between $600-$2000 depending on size, this is a ton of value.
Recommended For: Intermediate
Fiddlerman, founded by Pierre Holstein, is an up-and-coming violin and violin bow maker. Pierre has over 40 years of orchestra experience and he tests the violins produced by his company to ensure they are of the highest quality.
All of the violins undergo a 10-point inspection and come ready to play out of the box. All of the outfits include the violin, a case, bow, shoulder rest, rosin, and polishing cloth.
These instruments generally come with Kaplan AMO strings, but we recommend upgrading these.
Recommended For: Beginner
Mendini is a subsidiary of Cecilio that specializes in starter violins. The violins usually cost less than $100 so are very affordable and are useful for trying out the violin as an instrument for absolute beginners, but are not great for any long-term playing.
The lower cost is attributable to low-cost materials used for construction. Instead of the typical ebony components, Medini uses maple wood for the fingerboard, chin rest, and pegs.
The beginner Medini kits do come with everything you need to begin playing including rosin, a case, bow, and sheet music, but these instruments aren’t ones you’ll want to keep for long. A great budget violin if you’re looking for one.
Recommended For: Beginner
Cremona violins make great beginner instruments for a decent price tag. While the parts are made in China, Cremona violins are assembled in California, so there is definitely American craftsmanship involved. Made out of select tonewoods, such as hand-carved maple, spruce, and ebony fittings, and covered in a beautiful varnish, these instruments look and sound great out-of-the-box.
Out-of-the-box, Cremona violins come with Prelude strings which are okay, but swapping them out for a higher-quality violin string brand can make a world of difference.
Cremona violins are built to MENC standards (National Standards for Music Education as prescribed by the Music Educators National Conference in 1994) in their Cremona workshop in the state of California. The MENC standard ensures that they are playable when they arrive, and can be easily integrated into your child’s school orchestra or ensemble. It’s no wonder that students and teachers alike favor Cremona over other student violin outfits.
Each outfit comes with a high-quality Brazilwood bow, a Cremona bridge, a violin bag, and a Breton composite tailpiece with 4 built-in fine tuners to help beginners tune their instruments.
Cremona SV and Other Models
Recommended For: Intermediate
Primavera violins are a very affordable intermediate violin brand. Slightly more expensive than many of the beginner brands ($600-$1000), Primavera violins are made out of high quality solid tonewoods, including hand carved maple and spruce with inlaid purfling. The fingerboard and pegs are made out of carved ebony, as well as the fittings. In addition, the Primavera intermediate violin outfit comes with a “student-proof” (ie. very strong) composite bow with an ebony frog and Mongolian horsehair. To make it even more student-proof, you can get a hard violin case for it.
Primavera has made several decisions to cut costs while improving the musical experience. For example, they use a metal alloy tailpiece with four fine tuners, instead of a solid wood tailpiece.
Primavera beginner violin outfits come in many sizes, so you can find the proper fit for you or your child. Most also come with a hardwood bow and soft bag.
What should you look for in a violin?
Here are some factors for consideration:
- Chin and shoulder rest, the height of the ribs, the size of the upper bout, neck size, string or scale length all contribute to how big the instrument feels and how well it plays. Comfort matters more than size in the sense that if a violinist struggles during the playing experience, she simply won’t play well.
- Responsiveness, resonance, tone, projection. The violin’s sound is bright and haunting. In an orchestra, the violin section is usually the most easily heard, so clarity of the projection is key. You don’t want the sound to be muddled or screechy. All of these sound elements will affect a player’s performance, which is why choosing a violin in person rather than over the Internet, or investing in a higher quality violin, is necessary.
- Getting a singing E string is sweet, but do not neglect the other strings. Ensure there is coherence in sound quality in all four strings. You don’t want an E string that is screechy.
- The quality and weight of the bow can affect performance. Be sure to test several of them out before buying.
To evaluate the violins, test them with different bows, play scales, play different passages (both fast and slow ones), play all strings in all registers, and play with and without vibrato. Check the tone of different violins. Which sounds most appealing? Is it easy to move on the fingerboard? If possible, ask someone else (perhaps another violinist or teacher in the shop) to play the violin while you stand across the room to listen. Does the sound project well?
Quality of the Material
The quality of the violin material impacts both the sound and the violin price. Cheaper woods from America and China usually have a brighter sound compared with the warmer and sweeter tones of the more-expensive European woods. The “flame,” or as some say “tiger stripe,” on the back, sides and scroll of the violin affects the violin price than the top spruce grain. A high “flame” content is highly desired for its beauty and is generally indicative of a higher violin price and better the sound as compared to a violin with little or no “flame,” mostly found on student instrument’s. A well-made violin will be able to hide the center crease on the back with the flame. This is one way of quickly identifying quality workmanship.
Finding the right violin size is important so you reduce neck strain and prevent injury. Read more about finding the right violin size here.
Ask Your Teacher
We first recommend that you consult your music teacher. Music teachers understand what their students need more than anyone else would. They can make better recommendations given their experience and close bond with their students.
Our second piece of advice is to go to a violin shop and test out their violins. Violins are less well-known than violins. Naturally, there will not be a variety of violins as comprehensive as the violins to choose from. The selection may be scarce at general music shops but that selection will open up a lot more at a good violin shop. Try not to purchase a violin over the Internet without testing it first. Trying out an instrument in person is crucial. Only then can the student feel if the size is comfortable, the projection far enough, or if the resonance is right.
How Much Money Should You Spend for a Beginner or Intermediate Violin?
As mentioned above, the price of a violin can vary widely depending on the quality, materials, and whether or not it was handmade. We have a great guide on violin price as well so you can understand what your budget should be. You should also factor in whether you will buy or rent into the violin cost.
New violins cost between $200-$5000, but the violin price will depend on the level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) of the violin and the quality of the craftsmanship used to make the violin. Craftsmanship and materials, in particular, are major factors in determining the price of a violin.
How a Violin’s Price Is Determined
A violin’s price is determined by several factors including craftsmanship, materials, and, of course, age.
Violins can either be handmade or machine-made. Typically, student/beginner violins are machine-made since making a violin on a machine is much cheaper than spending days and weeks cutting, sanding, and varnishing a violin. Machine-made violins typically sell for less than $1,000 while handmade ones usually start selling at least at $600-700 with most selling in the thousands.
Most parts of the violin, including the back, ribs, and neck, are made of quarter-sawn maple wood. The top portion of the violin is typically made of spruce wood. The main material that changes the violin’s price is what the fingerboard is made from. Student violins typically have maple fingerboards that are painted black to resemble the more expensive ebony used on intermediate and professional violins.
Age of the Violin
Typically a violin’s price decreases with age, especially when made from the cheaper materials used in beginner and intermediate violins. However, over time certain violins will actually increase in value. For example, some Stradivarius violins sell for millions of dollars. These are the odd case and you shouldn’t generally rely on your violin to increase in value with age.
Violin Price by Player’s Level
Violins come in different levels for players on different stages of their musical careers. Many beginners start by renting violins to make sure that they want to continue playing long-term. This is definitely a cost-effective way, especially if you only play for a year or two in school. However, long-term buying makes much more sense so here is an overview of the different violin levels. This article explains the difference between the violin levels.
Essentially, violins fall into three categories:
- Student and Beginner Violins: Beginner violins are typically machine-made since mass production allows these violins to cost less. These violins are quite affordable and prices range from $200 to $1,000.
- Intermediate to Advanced Violins: With elaborate craftsmanship by hand, intermediate violins sound much better. Intermediate violins cost between $500 and $10,000.
- Professional Violins: Professional violins are made from the finest quality wood, which gives them an even richer tone and wide dynamics, perfect for a concert hall solo. Prices generally range from $10,000 and onwards. Some of the most expensive violins have sold at auction of tens of millions of dollars.
Typically, the more expensive a violin is, the higher quality it is. A violin priced at the extreme in the low hundreds is good for students but is unplayable by professionals. Of course, the price is not always merely a sign of product quality. Sometimes, it also incorporates the name of the violin maker, and famous violin makers (luthiers) sell their violins at premiums.
Violins are one of the most common musical instruments so they can be bought in many places. Below you’ll find a list of the most common places to buy a violin.
Buying a Violin Online
Buying online is becoming a more common way of buying a violin. You can find some great beginner violins on Amazon or eBay. However, make sure that you read the reviews of the violins before you buy them though since you want to make sure that the violin brand is quality. To make things simpler, we’ve outlined the best beginner violins available for purchase online in this article.
Buying a Violin In-Store from Music Shops
Buying a violin from a music shop is one of the traditional ways to buy a violin. You can walk into most music shops that sell string and band instruments and ask to see their violins available for sale or rent. Many shops will have a large selection of beginner violins that you can try to find the best fit.
Buying a Violin from Classifieds
You could always buy a violin from a classifieds article. Whether in a newspaper or online, classifieds are a great way to buy a used violin from someone who no longer needs it. In fact, I got my first viola from a classifieds ad.
What Size Violin Do You Need?
Playing with a violin of adequate size is essential to acquire the correct technique and avoid injuries. Playing with a violin that is too large not only makes it difficult to play but also favors the acquisition of postural “vices” and can even cause injuries. If, on the contrary, we talk about playing with a violin too small, we will see that the student has some difficulties and that they cannot advance everything that would be desirable.
Below we see what the different sizes of the violin are, how they are called and how to know what is the right size for each person.
How many different violin sizes are there?
The different sizes of a violin refer to the proportion with respect to the full size. The full-size violin is known as the 4/4. The next smaller violin in size is the 3/4 violin, followed by the 1/2 violin and the 1/4 violin.
You can also find smaller violins in the following sizes: 1/10, 1/8, 1/16, and even 1/32. The latter is made for very young children.
In addition, there are teaching methodologies, such as the Suzuki methodology, which can begin with children as young as two years old.
Violin size by age
In general, violin sizes follow age. Below are the general age ranges for various violin sizes:
- 1/16 violin for children 3-4 years
- 1/16 violin for children 4-5 years
- 1/8 violin for children 5-6 years
- 1/4 violin for children 6-7 years
- 1/2 violin for children 7-8 years
- 3/4 violin for children 9-11 years
- Violin 4/4 from 12 years old
How to find the right violin size with a violin?
The most appropriate way to find the right violin size is to have the student actually hold the violin. To test the size of the violin, place the violin on the person’s shoulder and have the person stretch their arm under the violin. Have them wrap their hand around the scroll (the top of the violin).
If the person cannot wrap their hand around the scroll and the fingers do not hang around, then the violin is too large. If the arm is not fully stretched, it is likely that they can use a larger size violin.
How to measure the arm to determine the violin size?
If you cannot test the violin directly on the person, another method is to measure from the center of the person’s left hand to the neck with the arm fully extended. The measures and their corresponding sizes are as follows:
- 1/16 violin for measures from 35 to 38 cm.
- 1/10 violin for measures from 39 to 42 cm.
- 1/8 violin for measures from 43 to 46 cm.
- 1/4 violin for measurements from 47 to 51 cm.
- 1/2 violin for measurements from 52 to 56 cm.
- 3/4 violin for measures from 57 to 59 cm.
- Violin 4/4 from 60 cm.
What Upgrades Do You Recommend?
Violin strings are our primary recommendation, especially for beginners. Buying strings that make your violin sing instead of sounding like nails on a chalkboard can make a world of difference. The next upgrade we’d recommend making when you’re ready is a new bow.
What Violin Accessories Do You Need?
While most of the violin brands above come with everything you need to get started, some of the packages don’t come with everything you need. Violins need the following basic accessories such as rosin, a case, a bow, etc. You can read more what you need to buy for a violin in our buying a violin checklist guide.
- Case: To store your violin, you need a solid case since the instrument is very fragile. If the violin is for a student, a sturdy case is even more of a necessity. There are some great lightweight violin cases on Amazon.
- Rosin: Rosin is applied to your bow and used to create friction between your bow and violin. Without rosin, your violin would not make any sound.
- Bow: Picking the right violin bow to use with your violin is key. You need to make sure it sounds good but at a reasonable price. See our guide to buying a violin bow.
- Shoulder Rest: In order to hold up your violin, you will need a shoulder rest. This sits in between your shoulder and violin. See our favorite shoulder rests.
- Extra Strings: Violin strings do occasionally break. Keeping an extra pair in your case is highly recommended. You can check out our review of the best violin strings to see which ones are best for you.
- Music: You will need some violin music to get started. Check out our favorite violin books and how to get free sheet music.
What Is the Best Beginner Violin for Adults?
If you’re an adult and just learning how to play the violin, we recommend getting the Bunnel Pupil Violin (made by Kennedy Violins) since it includes everything you need to get started and is slightly higher quality than the Cecilio CVN-300. Be sure to get some violin books to start learning.
Thank you for reading our list of the best violin brands. This list is intended to help you select a high-value violin brand that fits within your budget. We have also evaluated each violin brand on whether it is intended for beginner, intermediate, or advanced level violin players.
If you’re looking for violins meant for younger players, check out our guide to the best violins for kids articles.