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Violin/Which violin for my daughter?


Dear Jim,
Hi! I have a simple question for which I never get a simple answer. First, some background. I want to buy a good violin (4/4) for my 11 yr old daughter. See, my daughter is a beginner in violin, but she is pretty advanced in piano and hence does appreciate a good tone.
We currently rent a Eastman violin and would like to buy a better instrument for her. She recently played a Yamaha AV 5, but said that she hates the tone.
Given the above, my question is - which is a good violin for a student, but far better than AV 5? My budget would be $1000-$3000.  She likes a dark tone and hates bright sounding instruments ( whatever that means, cause I don't understand music much!) I believe that a student should have the best possible instrument to begin with. Also, we don't have a lot of shops around for her to try and most of them only carry Yamahas, which she doesn't like.
Any suggestion is welcome. Thanks in advance.

Hi Atul,

Thanks for your question.  If you were to search the web and string forums for what makes a good violin, you'd have volumes of material to sift through.  And, everyone seems to have a different opinion about which brands are good and which ones are not.  But, I'll be happy to give you one more opinion - my own.  I hope it's helpful.  

Eastman actually makes a very nice instrument at an affordable price.  But, their fiddles do tend to be on the brighter side.  But, I'm not going to review different makers here.  There are many fine instrument makers.  A much more important consideration is the quality of the setup.  To take Eastman as an example . . . the Eastman violin that you buy from one shop can be very different from the same model purchased elsewhere.  The dealers decide what strings to put on, and do the final adjustment of the bridge, post, after-length, etc.  A good setup makes a world of difference to playability and tone. So, rather than discuss different makers here and their merits, I would strongly advise you to find a good dealer .  

Find a string shop in your area with a good reputation.  Or, since you said that you don't have one local, travel to a city that has such a shop.  Make an appointment and sit down with a knowledgeable professional and ask them to show you some instruments in the price range you're looking for.  In addition to providing you with a good instrument, they can adjust it for you to suite your daughter's likes - dark vs bright, for example.  Obligato strings, for example, will make an instrument sound much darker than Evah Pirazzi strings.  A minute adjustment to the post can do the same thing.  They can also help to insure that her chinrest is comfortable and her shoulder rest is appropriate and adjusted for her.  Don't rule out used instruments.  They are often the best sounding, if they have no major problems.  But, again, you've got to get it from a dealer who knows what they're doing.  At that price, you should be able to get quite a nice older fiddle, with a warm tone and easy playability.  And, don't skimp on the bow.  That's almost as important as the violin!

One other suggestion.  When you're there, try out as many instruments and bows as possible.  And, if possible, visit several different shops.  Finding the right instrument for the right person is often a matter of trial and error.  

Good luck!

Jim Fisher  


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James S. Fisher


Please Note: For an accurate appraisal of your instrument's value or history, I must advise you to take it to a local luthier or string shop for an evaluation. It's really not possible to do this with any accuracy via email.

However, I am happy to answer other questions about violins, bows, violin playing, and violin/bow repair. I can also talk with you about what bows, rosin, strings, cases, shoulder rests, etc. might work best for you and your particular instrument. (There are some great new products on the market.) I've taught violin and fiddle playing for the past 18 years and will answer questions about playing and technique.


I've been studying the violin for over thirty years. I started teaching in 1996. In addition to my training at Lebanon Valley College and at the Violin Institute, I handle violins, bows, and customer questions of all sorts on a daily basis in my shop - J.S. Fisher Violins,


I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Lebanon Valley College, as well as certificates in violin repair, violin maintenance, and bow rehairing from the Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

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