Evaluate your instrument purchase options using these 7 criteria
1. Playability You should be able to move from string to string freely with an even tone across the strings.
2. Tone and Sound Are you looking for a violin with a warm upper register or do you prefer a bright sound in the higher strings? Check for any buzzing as you play and be sure that you are getting the projection and tone that you desire.
3. Price Does it fit your budget? Be sure the quality of the violin and outfit you are buying match the price tag attached. Ask teachers you trust, as well as fellow students, where they purchased their instruments and how much they paid.
4. Craftsmanship Is the finish sprayed or brushed? Is the top hand carved or factory pressed? The craftsmanship of the violin contributes greatly to the instrument’s quality, sound, and potential resale value.
5. Setup Do the pegs, chinrest, and bridge fit well? You should be able to play each string clearly without brushing against other strings—if not it could mean the bridge or fingerboard needs adjustment. Do the pegs feel tight? Is the neck set at the correct angle? You should be able to press each string all the way down at the part of the fingerboard nearest the bridge.
6. The Package If you’re buying an outfit, is the quality consistent across the board, including the bow and case? Some dealers are open to mixing and matching their outfit options. You may find that you can purchase a better bow and safer case for the same price, or a just fraction more.
7. The Dealer or Shop Check with friends, fellow musicians, and your teacher about where they like to shop for instruments and accessories. Be sure to ask about trade-ins and trade-up policies. Some shops selling starter fiddles will buy back instruments and direct part of that cost toward your purchase of a step-up violin.
Looking for more in-depth information about buying an instrument? Try Strings’ Your Dream Instrument.