Violin Basics

The 6 Best Violins for Beginners: Essential Accessories and Resources

Purchasing your first violin can be an exciting experience, but it can also be difficult to know where to begin. Violins come in different sizes, quality levels, and brands, and it can feel overwhelming for a beginner to make the right decision.

Rachael Miller, one of Trala’s Program Managers, tells students to “view the process of buying a violin like finding a good bottle of wine. It’s a subjective, personal decision.”

With so many variables to consider, many beginner violinists end up with an instrument that does not support their learning. Trala’s mission is to make world-class music education accessible to all. 

This guide will cover the six best violins for beginners, essential accessories, and resources to help you on your musical journey. You’ll also learn a great way to save on your first violin.

How do I choose a violin for beginners? Factors to consider

A good quality violin for beginners will support their learning and growth. It should have excellent playability, sound quality, and affordability. When choosing the right student violin for you, consider these factors:

Quality and price 

When choosing a violin for beginners, a good budget is between $200 and $500. Avoid instruments priced below $100, as they’re often made with subpar materials like steamed wood or plywood. They’re typically covered in a thick, glossy furniture varnish that doesn't allow the wood to breathe, vibrate, or produce good sound quality. 

These cheaper violins may also fall apart easily due to the wood shrinking or cracking, making the violin unplayable. Investing in a high-quality instrument like those from StringWorks or Fiddlershop will enhance your violin learning experience, making it more productive and enjoyable.

Sound and playability

When you're first starting, you won't know whether producing a good-quality sound is difficult because you're still learning or because the violin isn't right. This is the most common reason beginner violin students give up. They believe they can't play, become frustrated, and stop learning when, in fact, the instrument simply does not work. 

Factors like too much space between the strings and the fingerboard, poor-quality violin strings, and cheap plastic bow hair can affect an instrument's playability and sound quality.

A good-quality violin is typically crafted from traditional woods, such as solid maple for the back and spruce for the top. Genuine ebony fittings for the tuning pegs, fingerboard, tailpiece, and chin rest are essential for durability and playability.

It’s advisable to visually inspect the violin before purchasing or renting, checking for uniform tuning peg lengths and an appropriately curved bridge that positions the strings correctly. Insufficient curvature can make it difficult to bow individual strings, while excessive height can make pressing down on the strings challenging and uncomfortable.

The correct size

Violins are available in a variety of standard sizes. They are usually expressed as fractions, ranging from 1/32 (suitable for young children) to 4/4 (frequently known as full-size), which should fit most adults. 

If you're smaller in stature or have smaller hands, you might prefer a 3/4 or 7/8 size. If you’re not sure which you need, you may need to have a professional fit you or measure yourself to find the perfect-sized first violin for you. 

The setup 

Most musical instrument stores employ luthiers who build and repair stringed instruments and fully inspect and tune them before you make your purchase. This means that all parts of the instrument, including the strings, pegs, bridge, and bow, are thoroughly examined, and your violin will be ready to play as soon as you receive it (you'll still need to tune it, of course). 

On the other hand, instruments purchased from big e-commerce sites such as Amazon aren’t always inspected. So, you will need to take your new violin to a local music store for proper set-up. When a luthier inspects your violin, they look for flaws that may impair playability. Repairing a cheap violin can sometimes be more costly than a new instrument itself.

New or used

When buying your first violin, you'll face the classic conundrum: Should you go for a shiny new instrument or a pre-loved veteran? Each option has its charms, and your decision should hinge on a few key considerations.

  • New violins: Nothing beats unwrapping a new violin, smelling the fresh varnish, and knowing that you are the first person to play it. Plus, new violins often come with warranties, so you’re covered if something goes wrong.
  • Used violins: Some of these instruments have beautifully matured over time and produce warm, rich tones that new violins can't match. They've got a history, a story, and a character all their own. But remember, old does not necessarily mean gold. 

Be cautious about the condition of the violin. A used violin may have wear-and-tear issues, so you’ll want a professional to check it thoroughly before purchasing.

Ultimately, the choice between new or used will come down to your personal preference, budget, and the specific violins you come across in your search.

Buying vs. renting

Buying or renting are two viable options for acquiring your first violin. However, each approach has pros and cons, and the choice will depend on your financial situation and personal preference.

  • Renting is a great choice if you're unsure about your commitment or prefer the convenience of recurring payments. Rental agreements often offer a low monthly rate, making it more affordable than the upfront purchase cost. Additionally, most rental policies allow you to switch or upgrade your instrument as you progress or explore different options. 

But it's crucial to ensure your rental agreement includes accidental damage protection to avoid unexpected expenses for repairs or damages. Additionally, the monthly rental fees will add up over time and may cost more than purchasing a new or used violin.

  • Buying can also be a worthwhile option. If you're certain about your dedication to playing the violin, purchasing an instrument can be a better long-term investment. Not only do you avoid recurring rental payments, but you also own the violin outright. 

Buying can also be financially beneficial, as a well-maintained instrument retains its value and may even increase in worth over time. However, remember that you may have to invest extra for proper setup and maintenance after purchasing.

Seeking expert advice 

Consulting with an expert or violin teacher isn't just a good idea — it's a necessity. They can guide you through the maze of violin selection, setup, maintenance, and learning. An experienced eye can spot the subtle imperfections or nuances of a violin that could make or break your experience as a beginner. 

They will help you find the perfect violin for your size, budget, and skill level. Plus, they can recommend reliable violin shops or online stores to purchase from.

Trala is an innovative learning platform connecting violin learners with world-class violin instructors who offer tailored lessons to fit your pace and goals. You get instant feedback on your progress, and there’s no need to worry about syncing schedules with a tutor or commuting to a music school. 

Trala brings expert-led violin lessons right to your fingertips — anytime, anywhere. Whether you're a complete beginner or an advanced player, Trala has lessons and resources to help you continuously improve your skills.

Where to find a good violin 

Trala has partnered with two celebrated violin shops to help our students purchase some of the best violins for beginners. Thanks to our friends at StringWorks and Fiddlershop, you can find your first violin at a price point that makes sense for student violinists of all ages. 

If you don’t live near a music store, these online violin shops have helped countless beginner violinists find their first instrument.

StringWorks

StringWorks, founded in 1997, is a family-run business in the greater Chicago area with an impressive selection of handmade, quality instruments suitable for players of all levels. In addition, they also offer exceptional rental options to ensure you have access to the instrument that meets your needs, including a special rental package just for Trala students. 

With a highly experienced team, StringWorks is dedicated to providing one-on-one, personalized guidance to help you find your ideal instrument.

Fiddlershop

Fiddlershop is a family-run business that caters to beginner violin students, hobbyists, and professional musicians. They carry a wide range of quality violin brands that make some of the best instruments for beginners, including Fiddlerman, Holstein, Ming Jiang Zhu, Scott Cao, Yamaha, Cecilio, and more.

Tips for finding a beginner violin

Finding the best beginner violin is about striking the perfect balance of quality, playability, and affordability. To help you find a high-quality violin, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Check the return policy before making a purchase. Ensure that the shop offers a trial period or a clear return policy. You’ll be able to evaluate the product for a few days to see if you like the sound, and you can return or exchange it if you don’t. If you cannot return your instrument, that’s a red flag.
  • Look for violin shops or music stores that offer a violin trade-in program, allowing you to apply some or all of your purchase price toward a future upgrade. Many advanced students begin with a high-quality entry-level violin, then upgrade as their skills progress. 
  • Consider purchasing from a music shop that offers a warranty or insurance plan to protect your investment. Violins are delicate instruments and can be easily damaged, so it’s important to have coverage in case of accidents or repairs.
  • Prioritize good customer service. Violins are not static instruments and are affected by various factors such as temperature, humidity, string tension, and frequency of play. When you find an instrument shop with excellent customer service, you have the peace of mind that you can pick up the phone and talk to a knowledgeable person about your instrument whenever you need help.

6 best beginner-friendly violins

Now that you know where to look for a beginner violin and what to keep in mind when making your purchase, here are some of our top recommendations for the best beginner-friendly violins.

1. Trala Basic Violin - StringWorks

The Trala Basic Violin Outfit sold by StringWorks is an excellent option for beginner violinists, and it’s available in sizes 4/4, 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4. It offers a perfect blend of affordability and quality, making it an ideal starter violin. 

The violin is crafted from solid tonewoods, promising a rich, warm tone and long-lasting durability. Its hand-carved spruce top and maple back and sides enhance its sound quality and projection. The outfit comes with other essential accessories, including:

  • Wood violin bow with horsehair
  • Light rosin
  • Shoulder rest
  • Lightweight oblong case
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Practice mute

You can pay the full price ($299) upfront or opt for a monthly payment plan with Affirm, a popular buy now, pay later provider, starting at $27/month.

2. Crescendo violin - StringWorks

Both beginners and advanced violin players rave about the Crescendo violin, a step up from the Trala Basic violin. Available in 1/16 to 4/4 sizes, the Crescendo is an intermediate violin with expert craftsmanship, a dense, warm tone, and superior playability. It's a visually striking violin with features like:

  • Solid carved flamed maple back, neck, and sides
  • Solid carved spruce top
  • Lightly antiqued varnish
  • High-quality ebony fittings
  • Composite tailpiece with inbuilt fine tuners
  • Inlaid purfling
  • D'Addario Pro-Arte strings

At $495, it offers exceptional value for its price range and comes with the StringWorks Setup™ to ensure the best possible playing experience. Affirm payment plans are also available, starting at $45/month.

3. Artist violin - StringWorks

StringWorks' Artist violin is an excellent choice for beginners who want to start with a higher-quality instrument. Priced at $595, this intermediate-level violin delivers superior sound quality and playability compared to other student violins. It's professionally set up and inspected by the expert luthiers at StringWorks, ensuring optimal playability and sound quality. Its features include:

  • Premium, hand-carved Himalayan spruce and flamed maple
  • Lightly shaded varnish
  • Ebony fittings
  • Inlaid purfling
  • Composite tailpiece with inbuilt tuners

The tone is rich and deep, with excellent projection. The Artist violin comes in sizes 4/4, 3/4, and 1/2 to cater to beginners and students of all ages. And you don't have to pay the total price upfront — you can pay for it over time with Affirm, starting at $54/month.

4. Tower Strings Entertainer Violin - Fiddlershop

Fiddlershop's Tower Strings Entertainer violin is a high-quality beginner outfit with excellent playability, tonal quality, and durability at a budget-friendly price. It's hand-carved from high-grade solid spruce and maple tonewoods that have been dried for at least 24 months, ensuring consistent quality and sound. 

The Entertainer violin features a well-rounded Asian wood bridge for easy and comfortable playability, 100% ebony fingerboard, pegs, and fittings, and a carbon composite tailpiece with inbuilt fine tuners. The outfit comes with the following accessories to get you started:

  • A sturdy, lightweight violin case with carrying straps, two bow holders, a music pocket, and a small storage compartment
  • Brazilwood bow
  • Rosin
  • Digital tuner
  • Shoulder rest
  • Polishing cloth
  • Practice mute

Choose from sizes 1/16 for the little ones to full size 4/4 for adults for $249.99. Shop Pay offers four interest-free installments or a monthly payment plan starting at $22.56/month to help you spread out the payments. Fiddlershop offers 45-day hassle-free returns and a one-year standard warranty on the violin.

5. Tower Strings Entertainer Easytune - Fiddlershop

Another great violin from Fiddlershop is the Tower Strings Entertainer Easytune violin. This beginner-friendly outfit is easy to tune, thanks to the Wittner geared tuning pegs, and it has fingerboard marker tapes to help you learn the proper finger placement. 

It's a great option for those who struggle with tuning and intonation, making it easier to start learning the violin. The sizes range from 1/16 to 4/4, and it’s priced at $329.99, with the option to pay over time via Shop Pay (starting at $35.11/month).

6. Fiddlerman Concert Violin - Fiddlershop

The Fiddlerman Concert violin stands out for its superb sound quality, playability, and craftsmanship. Its deep, rich tone and powerful projection rivals that of professional violins, making it a top choice for advanced beginners and intermediate players. It's made from carefully selected aged tonewood (dried for six years), high-quality ebony fittings, and a hand-applied varnish for a beautiful finish. 

The Fiddlerman Concert violin exceeds all Suzuki and Music Educators National Conference (MENC) standards with precisely measured string height, string spacing, and fingerboard scoop for easy playability. It comes with all essential accessories, including a bow, case, rosin, tuner, shoulder rest, and mute, so you can play right out of the box. 

Priced at $519, with Shop Pay monthly installments starting at $46.84/month, this violin will take you to the next level in your musical journey.

Essential violin accessories for beginners 

All beginner and advanced violinists need a few accessories to get the most out of their playing. Here are a few recommendations to help set you up for success! 

Violin strings 

When you buy a beginner violin, it almost always comes with steel core strings. They are better for beginners because they stay in tune for longer periods and are easier to tune. Synthetic core strings have a warmer, more pleasant sound and, when tuned properly, can make learning more enjoyable. Whatever type of violin string you choose, it's always a good idea to keep an extra set in your case in the event you need a quick replacement!

Violin bow 

The bow is your most valuable tool for producing a good tone from the violin. A good bow improves the tone and playability, making it easier and more enjoyable to play. You don't have to spend a lot of money on a bow, but cheap quality bows can be very soft, heavy, or out of balance, making it difficult to play.

Cheap bows have low-quality plastic hair that will not hold rosin. Good bows will have horsehair and will hold rosin better. The weight of the bow is also important. Beginner bows should have some weight so that new students can easily make sounds and balance between strings. When the bow is too light (due to cheap materials), you’ll need to apply more pressure to get it to sound. This may result in a screechy, unpleasant sound. 

Wooden bows are said to have the most pleasant sound. However, carbon fiber bows are better at maintaining their shape and consistency across a wide range of humidity levels, and they typically have great bowing action and response. Carbon fiber bows are also more long-lasting. 

You can always use the bow that comes with your violin outfit and then decide on the perfect bow for you as you progress to intermediate and advanced bowing techniques

Rosin

The rosin you use greatly influences the sound of your violin. It is made primarily from tree resin that has been cooked and molded into a hardened shape. When you rub rosin into the horsehair of your bow, it leaves a sticky residue. This residue is what allows the bow to make a sound when you draw it across your strings. The rosin, not the hair, is what is in contact with the strings. The sound will be abrasive if it’s too sticky. Poor-quality rosin can even make it impossible to produce a good-quality sound.

Don’t be afraid to try different kinds of rosin to find what works for you! You can always use the type that comes with your violin outfit and experiment later. 

Shoulder rest

In the beginning, playing the violin can feel awkward and uncomfortable. You may find your violin slipping around during your violin practice or your neck aching because you must bend it to keep your violin up. 

A good shoulder rest can help you avoid pain and posture problems! Shoulder rests allow your violin to sit more comfortably on your shoulder and ensure you keep your neck straight. Because each person’s build is unique, it’s important to find a shoulder rest that is comfortable for you. 

Chin rest

The violin you rent or buy will come with a chin rest, but you don't have to use it. There are several types, including some that sit higher up over the violin or tailpiece. The chin rest that works best for you fits comfortably against your jaw. It all depends on the shape of your shoulders and neck and the type of shoulder rest you get. 

Many beginners use the chin rest that is already attached to their violin at first. You can always work with a violin teacher or shop to figure out what type of chin rest works best for you! 

Mute 

If you live in an apartment building, have roommates, or want to practice while the kids are in bed, purchase a violin practice mute so you can play for as long as you’d like without bothering anyone. 

A mute works by sitting on or close to the bridge (depending on the type you choose) and lessening the vibration of the strings, which in turn dampens the sound your violin produces. 

Humidifier

The environment plays a significant role in your violin’s condition. Weather conditions and heat could cause your violin to get too dry. When this happens, the wood can split, or the seam could begin to come apart. It’s a good idea to either purchase a humidifier for the room you keep your violin in or some humidifiers sit inside your violin case.

Tuner

Violins are sensitive and go out of tune often. You’ll want to tune your violin every time you get it out of the case to play.  A tuner will help you know how far to turn the tuning pegs or fine tuners to tighten the strings. 

When you download Trala on your iPhone or Android, you’ll have a tuner built right into the app! It will tell you exactly which peg or fine tuner to turn and when each string is in tune. 

Fingerboard tape and stickers

Because the violin doesn't have frets like a guitar to signal where you place your fingers, it can be difficult to tell if you're putting your fingers in the correct place. Fingerboard tape can be used for beginning violins to help play in tune. These tapes or stickers go on the fingerboard to clearly label all the notes. As you become a more advanced player, you'll want to take all the stickers off your violin.

Although these tools are useful, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you think you’ll need, there is no need to purchase them all at once. Many people begin with a violin outfit. A violin outfit includes everything you need to get started. Other than the violin, the outfit should include a carrying case, a bow, a rosin, and a polishing cloth. 

Get the best tools and learning resources for beginners with Trala

A good beginner violin balances quality and playability with affordability for an instrument that will help you progress in your musical journey and grow more confident in your playing. Thanks to Trala’s partnerships with highly reputable music stores, you can get an excellent beginner or intermediate violin at a price point that works for you.

And if you’re ready to take your violin learning to the next level, Trala has world-class instructors who will teach you how to play the violin, read sheet music, improve your violin skills, and much more. 

Trala will match you with the best private lesson teacher for your unique needs and interests, and you can learn online from the comfort of your own home. 

See what our students are saying about their experience with Trala and get matched with a violin instructor today!

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