How To Choose a Violin

Choosing a Violin at Zelia Ltd. Edgware, London.
Advice on how to choose and buy a violin.




1. The price and the tone of a violin are not necessarily related.

2. A violin that is expensive may not necessarily be a good playing instrument.

3. Avoid violins with a back length of more than 360mm, unless your hand is very big.

4. Players with a small hand may prefer a back length of around 355mm.

5. Try several violins: see by comparison which works best for you in different acoustics.

6. Ask a good player to try your preferred instrument, and listen from a distance.

7. The tone should be strong and clear right across the instrument.

8. Different bows can make different sounds on the same violin.

9. A wolf tone on a violin is not easily tamed.

10. Don’t trust a label in a violin: anybody can put one in.


How To Choose a Violin


Buying a Violin - Help from Violin Retailers Zelia Ltd

If you are looking to buy a violin that looks good and sounds well, consider the following before buying a violin or forming an attachment to it.


Is The Size Correct?

Measure the length of the back.
351cm - 359cm is considered to be the safest.
Some players of large build like up to 363cm.


What Is Your Preferred Type of Sound?

Brilliant and powerful - can be heard against a grand piano or orchestra
Warm and sweet - quality of sound before quantity


Is It In Good Condition?

Have any cracks been well restored?
Are there any bad cracks in the back or is there a soundpost crack?
Is there any sinkage or twisting of the table? If so, a new bass bar may be needed.
Is there any woodworm damage?
Have there been any repairs to the neck?
Is the neck set at the correct angle? Check this by measuring the total height of the bridge. This should be between 30mm and 35mm.


Is It Authentic?

The instrument could be a copy of a maker's work so don't necessarily expect the label to be correct. The label could have been inserted, possibly a long time ago, for an attempted financial gain.


How Easy Is It To Play?

It should have a clear sound that is even on all four strings.
Try it in different rooms and in a big hall.
The tone should not be shrill or dull, although violins (especially new ones) can improve with playing, they should sound well from the beginning.


New Violins

Well-made new violins can have strength and quality of sound. During the first year of use the tone will further improve, especially if it is played frequently.
New instruments need more adjustment than old ones. Neglect of this may be responsible for the idea, sometimes expressed, that their sound can deteriorate.
However, it is true that some new instruments are made thinly in an effort to make them easier to play. This can usually be detected by sinkage in the table.
The solution is to choose a maker with a good track record.


Small Size Violins

It is important for young people to have the size of violin that is suitable for them now. Not one to grow into. One possible test is whether, with the left arm fully extended the scroll can rest in the palm of the hand. It should be possible, in the 1st position, to place the little finger on the string, with the others comfortably spaced behind it.

Similarly, the bow should not be too long. It should be possible to play with a straight bow, to the point on the E string without undue effort.


See our violins for sale page if you are considering buying a violin.



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