New violins generally 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 instruments are best for those just learning violin since the sound quality isn’t the best, but the cost makes up for it. Beginners tend to be rough on their violins so maple (dyed black to resemble ebony) is sometimes used for the pegs and fingerboards, areas that are exposed to more friction, to make them stronger. These violins are quite affordable and prices range from $200 to $1,000.
Intermediate to Advanced Violins
With elaborate craftsmanship by hand, intermediate violins generally sound much better. They offer stronger projection and richer tones. The pegs and fingerboards are crafted with ebony and most of the instrument is handcrafted which also makes them more expensive. Prices for intermediate violins range from $500 – $10,000.
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. Masterpieces like these are expensive. 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, a better quality violin will be more expensive. A cheap violin that costs only a few hundred dollars may be great for a beginner or student who is unsure whether they will continue playing but is virtually unplayable by a professional. Of course, the violin price is not always merely an indication of product quality.