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Violin buying for beginners

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Should have added @Miranda in the title. Would love your thoughts on this.

We have two beginner violinists in the family. One measures slightly above 24" one measures 1/8" shy of 24". Can we buy a full sized instrument for the two to share? Will that 1/8 " make a difference? The one who is just shy of 24" won't be growing (shrinking would be more likely - ha!)

Renting is not an option.

And where do we start In selecting an instrument? We have no dreams of playing in a symphony, we just want something to learn on and enjoy at home. It doesn't have to be pricey, but it shouldn't sound horrid either - something enjoyable. How much $ can we expect to pay? Should we look at used? I'm really not wanting to leave the hundreds.

Any other accessories selecting tips that a newbie wouldn't necessarily know?

My selection may be limited to the local Long and McQuade.
Edited by Indian summer - 2/8/14 at 9:37am
post #2 of 9


post #3 of 9
What measures 24"? Regardless I don't find violin fitting to be something you can do with a measurement or two. You need to take into account finger length and flexibility, shoulder width and shape and arm length. Also different teachers teach the early skills with different emphasis, techniques and priorities, and will be more or less willing to tolerate kids being on a slightly larger or slightly smaller instrument.

Generally being on a too-big violin makes it very very difficult to learn the basics, while a too-small violin is much easier to cope with: you mostly just can't get as much sound for the price.

For what it's worth my 11-year-old is slightly small for her age but has long arms and long fingers as well as really nice broad shoulders. She's on a half size violin, and because she's experienced with good posture and technique she's almost ready to move up to a three-quarter size. I would definitely get the teacher your kids will be studying with to size them.

post #4 of 9

Oh, and in terms of selecting an instrument, you could probably get what you want for $350-500 or so. Definitely look at used! Violins may get cosmetically dinged up with age, but their sound actually tends to improve. That's the advantage of going to a dealer or shop that specializes in stringed instruments ... you'll likely find a huge range of used instruments with better sound quality than new for the same price. Also, teachers often know about used student instruments being privately sold ... like "Emma just outgrew her three-quarter and I don't suppose her family has sold it yet." Don't buy anything without taking it to your teacher first. Make sure the sound quality and the set-up are acceptable. Especially if you're dealing with a private seller or a general music store than it's easy to buy something that needs several hundred dollars of work and replacement of ill-fitting parts in order to be easily playable. 


You'll want a bow with real horse-hair (don't settle for fake hair). These days the *composite* student bows -- not fibreglass, but a combination of resin and carbon fibre, I think -- are generally pretty good, and less prone to breakage, which is nice. Look for a violin that has fine tuners integrated into the tailpiece ("Wittner" or "Thomastik" style tailpiece in one piece like this, rather than with separate metal fine tuners added on like this). 


You'll need rosin. Doesn't need to be expensive, but don't get a tiny little rectangular hunk in plastic or wood that comes in a fiddly box: those tend to get smashed easily when they rattle around in the case. Most of the round ones with integrated foam-cloth wrapper are fine.


Hope that helps.



post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
What measures 24"? That would be from neck to mid palm when arm is outstretched to the side - I thought that's how one measured for violins, but I see your point that doesn't take into account finger length (in this case short and short- ha). Okay, so get fitted by a pro. Got it.

We don't have a teacher - we were going to play around with an at home program (theviolinbook.com *miranda cringes*)and just have fun with that without the pressure of real lessons for now. I'm sure it's a second rate way to go - I do appreciate the importance of excellent music teachers. We're just looking for some cross patterning exercises and to maybe spark something with a kid with little confidence, so zero pressure, learning something together, adult and kid time and just having silly fun, and younger (musical)kids who will inherit the instrument if the experiment is a failure, so no loss. Eventually there will be a real teacher .

I'm ready to push/nudge this kid to be challenged in a non threatening (ie private) way. There are sort of special circumstances going on that make this the best way for us for now.
post #6 of 9
Have you thought about guitar? Is there a particular attraction to violin? Because the only people I know who have tried to self-teach violin have ended up very frustrated and it hasn't been good for their confidence at all. On the other hand guitar (and piano, but it doesn't cross-late realize nearly as much) is an instrument that people do often self-teach with some success. Just a thought.

Good luck either way!

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
We've already done some guitar lessons. And mandolin and piano. I was leaning toward violin because of a preference for smaller instruments for smaller hands and this weird sort of gut feeling/dreams/coincidences despite a long held aversion to the idea. And because I'm told the music reads like piano which is somewhat familiar already.

Will have to give the whole idea some more thought. I'm not thrilled about making another outside commitment right now. But maybe I'll have to make peace with that and just do it. Waaaaaahhhhh!
post #8 of 9

Trying it out on your own could be totally the right choice for you. Who knows? I'd never say never. This is a good beginner video on position of the violin. 



post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you for all of your help.

I don't have much musical training and when I see brilliant music teachers working with my kids I'm in awe of their experience and intuition. I do get it. I don't know what I don't know. I'm going to take some time to think about it. We do have one activity ending, so if I'm serious about switching things up, adding a challenge, I should probably just call a teacher and jump in.
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