What Is the Actual Cost of a Violin?
So, you’ve finally decided to learn the violin. But before you rush off to the nearest music shop or order your new instrument on Amazon or eBay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the cost.
You’ve probably heard that violins can be expensive, ranging from $100 for beginner models to thousands for higher-end Italian-made violins. Why the huge difference? The cost of a violin can vary greatly depending on various factors, such as the quality of materials, craftsmanship, and brand reputation.
As a beginner violinist, it can be confusing (and overwhelming) to figure out how much to spend on a high-quality violin. Below, we’ll break down the cost factors to give you a better understanding of how much you can expect to pay.
How much does a beginner violin cost?
When starting out on your violin journey, invest in a good-quality beginner violin. Beginner violins are usually made with affordable materials, such as spruce or maple wood, and may not have the same level of craftsmanship as higher-end violins.
Since they are mass-produced, beginner violins are more budget-friendly, with a price range of $100 to $500. These violins may not have the best sound quality, but they’re perfect for learning the basics and building a solid foundation for your skills.
You’ll also see lower-priced pieces below $100, but they are typically made from steamed wood or plywood and covered with a thick and glossy furniture varnish that affects the sound quality. So we recommend paying a little more for much better quality.
Trala students can take advantage of our partnerships with Stringworks and Fiddlershop! These partnerships provide students with discounts on violin outfits, making it more affordable to get all the equipment you need to get started. These partnered instruments are Trala teacher and student approved!
How much does an intermediate violin cost?
Once you master the basics, you might start yearning for a richer, fuller sound. Your first violin might begin to feel inadequate for your growing skills. This is when you’ll need to upgrade to an intermediate violin.
Intermediate-level violins are made with tonewood (usually maple or spruce that has been aged for 10+ years), have a more refined craftsmanship, and produce a full tone with better resonance. As an intermediate player, you can expect to spend between $500 and $2,000 for a good-quality intermediate instrument.
How much does a professional violin cost?
You might consider a professional violin as you continue honing your skills and playing more complex and advanced pieces. Professional violins are hand-crafted by luthiers (master violin makers) and are made with the highest quality tonewood, expertly assembled, and have superior sound projection and dynamic range.
Unlike the mass-produced student violins, everything on a professional violin, from the fingerboard to the bridge, is hand-carved and adjusted for optimum performance. With such meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail, it’s no surprise that professional violins can range from $2,000 to $20,000 or more, depending on the brand, age, condition, and maker.
Stradivarius, an Italian violin-making family, is known for producing some of the most expensive violins in history. The Messiah, made by Antonio Stradivari in 1716, is valued at $20 million.
What impacts the price of a violin?
Violin prices can differ from store to store, online retailer to online retailer, or auction house to auction house. However, certain key factors significantly impact the cost of a violin.
Quality of materials
A violin comprises various parts — body, neck, fingerboard, bridge, strings, and pegs. The type and quality of wood used for these parts greatly impact a violin’s sound quality, aesthetics, and durability.
Higher-quality tonewoods, like spruce, maple, and ebony, are more expensive but produce better tone and projection. They also have better resistance to warping and cracking, making them better investments in the long run.
Cheaper violins often use lower-quality wood, such as plywood, steamed wood, or wood composite, which can greatly affect the sound quality and longevity of the instrument. A violin teacher or luthier can help you identify the quality of materials used in a violin so you can make an informed decision.
Believe it or not, a violin’s origin country can significantly impact its price. It might seem like a marketing gimmick, but different countries have their own unique styles and techniques for making violins, which can affect playability, sound quality, and price.
Italian violins are often highly sought after for their rich sound, quality, and rarity, which makes them more expensive. German violins are known for their precise craftsmanship, while French violins are renowned for their elegance and history.
China is also becoming a hub for violin making, producing quality instruments at affordable price points. Many Chinese violin makers have won prestigious awards in several Violin Society of America (VSA) competitions, rivaling European instruments in terms of quality.
The size of a violin can also influence its cost. Violins come in various sizes to suit different age groups, arm lengths, and body physiques.
A full-size 4/4 violin is the largest, typically used by adults and teenagers. Smaller sizes include 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16, and are suitable for younger children. Since smaller sizes require less material and labor, they tend to be more affordable than full-size violins.
However, don’t let the price be your only deciding factor when it comes to size. A violin that is too big or small for you can greatly affect your playing ability and comfort level, so it’s essential to find out what size feels right for you. The best violin perfectly balances sound quality, comfort, and playability.
Brand and pedigree
Like other products, violins from established and reputable brands tend to command higher prices. A brand’s reputation is often built on years of experience, quality control, innovation, and use by famous musicians.
Violins crafted by reputable luthiers can increase in value, particularly if they are well-maintained and have a rich history — a phenomenon called “pedigree.” So, how does pedigree affect the price of a violin?
- A violin from the golden age of violin making (the 17th and early 18th centuries) or an instrument once played by a famous violinist can command a higher price than a similar one made today.
This is because these instruments are scarce, have proven craftsmanship, and have a story to tell. For instance, the Lady Blunt by Stradivari is a 1721 violin that was once owned by Lady Anne Blunt, granddaughter of Lord Byron, and was played by Itzhak Perlman and Yehudi Menuhin. It sold for a record $15.9 million in 2011!
- Like a fine wine, a well-maintained violin can actually improve with age. The wood matures and becomes more resonant, producing a richer and more complex sound, which is highly prized among musicians and collectors.
- Only a limited number of antique or vintage violins are available on the market, especially those made by prestigious makers like Stradivari or Guarneri. As more and more of these instruments get lost, damaged, or deteriorate over time, the value of the remaining ones increases.
- Some investors purchase expensive violins to diversify their investment portfolios. This creates a demand for rare and high-quality violins, further increasing the prices.
Popular auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Tarisio hold annual auctions for rare violins, attracting bids worth millions of dollars from investors, collectors, and musicians alike.
Additional violin costs to consider
Purchasing the violin is just one component of its cost. There are other expenses that come with owning a violin, such as:
Like any other musical instrument, a violin needs regular care to maintain sound quality, playability, and longevity. This includes cleaning the violin and bow, changing strings, and re-hairing the bow. These costs may seem small, but they can add up over time. It’s important to factor in these costs when budgeting for a violin.
A violin doesn’t come as a standalone instrument. You’ll also need to purchase additional accessories, such as:
- Shoulder rest
- Violin case
These are essential components for playing the violin, and our teachers at Trala can provide affordable and level-appropriate recommendations. You can compare different music stores and online retailers to get the best deals or consider purchasing a violin outfit that includes all these accessories.
Lessons and music
You won’t become a professional violinist overnight. Learning to play the violin takes time, practice, and dedication. This means investing in lessons from a qualified instructor who can guide you through proper bowing techniques, music theory, and performance skills.
Lesson costs can vary depending on the instructor’s experience, location, and duration of lessons, ranging anywhere from $10 to $100 per session. You’ll also need sheet music and other learning materials, which can add to the cost.
Trala is a revolutionary online violin learning platform that offers affordable, interactive beginner violin lessons with world-class instructors experienced in 30+ genres. You’ll get instant personalized feedback to help you improve your playing and save on the cost of in-person lessons.
Find a Trala teacher today!
Need help buying a violin? Trala can help
At Trala, we understand that buying a violin is an investment and want to ensure you get the best value for your money. We partner with leading brands like Stringworks and Fiddlershop, giving Trala students access to exclusive discounts on violins! Our team of experts can also help you find the right violin for your budget, skill level, and sound preferences.
Get matched with a Trala instructor and sign up for your first lesson!