Isn’t it obvious?
The best violin brands are the traditional makers who have been fashioning quality instruments for years.
Well….that’s not entirely true anymore.
Sure, those brands produce some of the best instruments on the market. But they are also prohibitively expensive.
These days, there are a lot of newer brands, many located in Asia, that also produce great violins. And they do so at a much lower price.
Sure, they are not necessarily hand crafted in the same fashion as the famous traditional makers. But they deliver a similarly great sound and playability and again, they cost far less. In short, they provide better value.
So which brands are any good and which should be avoided?
This guide gives you an overview of the top violin brands, along with some general info about each of the companies. It also includes one of the most popular models from each brand toward the bottom, in the sections covering brands for intermediate, advanced and professional violinists.
Best Violin Makers
The following are the top instrument brands that make violins. The majority of violinists own a violin made by one of these companies.
Violin Manufacturers: A List Of The Top Brands
Cremona is an award-winning company for stringed instruments. They are internationally renowned not just for their high-quality violins but for various other stringed-instruments and accessories as well. They make quality instruments affordable, and offer packages that include everything you need for your violin playing.
The company is also one of the first major violin brands to be imported to the USA from Asia. Even though their products are very affordable, the quality of violins they craft is not compromised, because they use top quality wood. But obviously, they can not compete with handcrafted models.
Cremona violins are particularly popular among beginning students and intermediate players. The violins they offer have stylish designs. You can choose between different color finishes and sizes, according to your preference. We have a review of one of their entry-level models here. It is one of our top recommended beginner violins.
Hoffman violins are made in China. Although the company is typically considered to be a producer of entry-level violins, they also have high quality options. In fact, their top-of-the-line violins are some of the best quality instruments for their price range.
Built by Franz Hoffman, the company aims to sell violins that are beautifully crafted, with a dependable tone for their price.
Yamaha manufactures all sorts of musical instruments, such as keyboards, beat-boxes, pianos, and guitars, in addition to their superior acoustic-electric violins. They also make some of the best electric violins.
Their corporate philosophy even states that they are committed to creating worldwide excitement and cultural inspiration for music-making. If you are looking for one of the best contemporary violin makers, the Yamaha Corporation has become a household and music store name for good reason.
Merano Instruments was established in the year 2000, and have been working on their goal to make it possible for everyone to play quality instruments ever since. They offer brass, wind instruments, and bowed stringed-instruments, and all are carefully crafted by artisans.
The company promises that they would never present a product that they would not use themselves. Some of their violin models might resemble toys due to their colors but, their higher-priced items are great for novice players to intermediate musicians.
Fiddlerman instruments are top quality and highly respected among violinists. They are proud to say that they produce the best string instruments in the market. Pierre Holstein, a.k.a. Fiddlerman, curates, and tests the violins that his company offers. Pierre is a professional violinist with more than four decades of experience, including many years playing in orchestras.
Kennedy Violins was founded by Joel Kennedy. He said that he built the company as a response to his observation that a lot of new violin students are using Violin Shaped Objects (VSO). Since he believes that VSO instruments only hinder learning, instead of being a vehicle to learn violin playing, he started his brand to offer higher-quality instruments that beginners can still afford.
Scott Cao Violins
Scott Cao Violins is one of the best providers for stringed instruments all over the world. Over the years, musicians of all skill levels have relied on Scott Cao Violins for their special needs. From soloists to chamber or orchestra musicians to professional players or students, Scott Cao Violins is on top of the list. Even instrument collectors adore and love their stringed instruments!
Crafted by the master maker, Scott Shu-Kun Cao, top-quality instruments are available from this company. He is rightly considered one of the best contemporary instrument makers in the world. If you are looking to purchase a violin with a maker’s name attached, Scott Cao Violins has that reputation.
Karl Joseph Schneider
Karl Joseph Schneider is one of the most recommended violin makers for violinists seeking high-quality craftsmanship. They make carefully crafted German-style violins with a wonderful “Old German” antique varnish. All Schneider violins are made for musicians who want an instrument that is capable of bringing out a wide range of musical expression.
Best Violin Brands For Intermediate Players
While some beginner violins are beautifully manufactured, upgrades are sometimes necessary. Here are some of the best intermediate violin brands that you can find in music stores and online, along with a suggestion for a specific violin that is ideal for the intermediate violinist.
Kennedy Violins (Louis Carpini G2 Outfit)
We already know that Kennedy Violins is dedicated to providing handcrafted violins to musicians of all levels.
What makes the Louis Carpini G2 model perfect for intermediate players, apart from the affordable price, is its sound, with rich, smooth, and dark tones. It also looks great, with a warm, brown-amber varnish, with light flaming style on the ribs and backside.
With this model, you won’t just offer eargasmic sounds to your listeners, but a gorgeous looking violin to boot. It is also one of the only violins on this list that are available on Amazon.
Fiddlerman (Concert Violin Outfit)
The Fiddlerman Concert Violin is an outfit that has a big, bold sound with a great hand feel. This violin has a powerful projection and fine balance. Fiddlerman luthiers crafted this violin with carefully selected tone wood that is aged to perfection.
It is fitted with ebony and has precisely-functioning components, which provide it with a cool, natural, and inspiring look. Some violinists even say that it looks and feels like an antique Italian violin!
Merano (Antique Finish Flamed One Piece Back Concert Violin VN-820
Merano violins might not be in any professional violinist’s top 3 list, but this model is perfect for a budding intermediate violinist on a tight budget. It is great for musicians who want to upgrade, but are limited by budget.
It is crafted with a high-quality spruce top and flamed, one-piece maple back with boxwood and ebony fittings. This outfit comes with an oblong case, Aubert brand bridge, and a bow strung with white horsehair.
Best Violin Brands For Advanced Students
Violins for advanced musicians? We’ve got you covered. Here are some brands you might want to check out, including one of their best models for advanced learners.
Scott Cao (STV 600)
Scott Cao is one of the best violin makers you can find for high-quality instruments. Unlike other advanced violins available in this price range, the Scott Cao 600 features higher flamed, aged woods and an upgraded varnish.
It has a European spruce top, and a modern Italian finish, intricately varnished by hand. It is the best violin you can find under $800 and is perfect for more advanced players.
Karl Joseph Schneider
As mentioned above, this brand makes extremely high quality instruments, so you can expect a correspondingly high price. I don’t have a specific instrument recommendation, but any of their models is great for the advanced learner who wants to upgrade to a violin they can continue to use into their professional career.
Best Violin Brands For Professionals
After spending a couple of years of playing, you’ll realize that at some point you need to upgrade to a professional violin. This is even more true if you play for living or do concerts and gigs often. Here are the best brands for professional violinists, including recommendations for a good model from each company.
Cremona (SV-1600 Master Series Violin Outfit)
Professional players can attest to this high-quality violin from Cremona. Premium aged solid tonewoods, fittings, and exceptional design make this a standout master violin. And the price is far lower than you’d expect, because Cremona manufactures in China.
Though it is made in China, the SV1600 is put together by skilled violin makers and it produces sophisticated sound with depth. Some may not consider Cremona a professional violin brand, but this instrument is worthy of a master violinist, though it does lack the character of a traditional European maker. You can find this model on Amazon.
Karl Joseph Schneider (Master Art Violin)
If you are looking for a violin that has a full, warm tone, but is still reasonably priced, then the Karl Joseph Schneider Master Art Violin should be on your list. Many violinists love this model’s superior tone and quality.
And if that is not enough, know that it has a lot of power to project in a large hall, making it perfect for you to show off your soloing skills, especially if you love to play in halls for concerts and recitals.
Yamaha (YVN500S Handcrafted Stradivari-Style Violin)
The YVN500S handcrafted Stradivari-style violin is the ultimate acoustic violin from Yamaha. Its design is based on the principles of the famous Stradivarius.
But obviously, no one will mistake it for one of those, even someone who doesn’t know how to tell a real Stradivarius violin.
Yamaha workers handcraft these instruments from specially-grown and carefully selected tone woods with acoustic properties that have been further optimized by the company’s ‘Acoustic Resonant Enhancement’ technology (ARE).
After decades of research and planning in conjunction with some of the world’s greatest violin players, the result is a model violin with an unsurpassed tone, response, and playability.
The Best Violin Manufacturers: Final Thoughts
Remember that it is not necessary for you to buy a million-dollar Strad to have a very fine sounding instrument. Over the years, the art of violin making at a high level has become more accessible to everyone, which has resulted in great violins from newer brands (at lower prices), in addition to the traditional brands.
If you are debating on what brand to choose or what model to pick, the list above is a good starting point. If you are considering an unknown brand learn the telltale signs of a cheap violin, so that you can be sure you do not end up with a substandard instrument. And when you do get a quality violin, make sure you take the proper precautions to protect it, so that it lasts a long time.