Shopping for a violin is difficult.
There is a vast price range, with one model going for a few hundred dollars, while another model sells for tens of thousands of dollars.
As a beginning violinist, you definitely want to stay near the lower end of the price range.
It makes no sense to spend a ton of money when you may be tired of the violin by this time next year.
The problem is: it is difficult to find a good instrument in the lower price ranges.
You need to know what to look for and, more importantly, what to look out for. We cover all of that toward the bottom of this article in our buyer’s guide
First, we give you the best violins for beginners currently on the market. We’ve sifted through all the choices and found 5 quality instruments selling in the lowest price ranges.
Each has unique characteristics, so you’ll have to decide for yourself which one is right for you.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top Beginner Violins Compared
- 2 Best Violins For Beginners Reviewed
- 3 Violin Buying Guide
- 4 Best Violin For Beginners: Final Thoughts
Top Beginner Violins Compared
Best Violins For Beginners Reviewed
The following are our favorite violins for beginning students. We have included some at various price levels and even have one clearance model that sells at a lower price because it has some cosmetic imperfections (that do not affect the sound at all).
Ricard Bunnel G2 Violin Outfit
The Ricard Bunnel G2 by Kennedy Violins is designed for the beginner and is constructed from maple, solid spruce from the Himalayas, and ebony fittings, including an ebony fingerboard and pegs. It has a Giuliani carbon fiber shoulder rest.
This is a lightweight model that comes with learning violin strings, bow and carrying case. The quality construction and lightweight design ensure user comfort, encouraging longer play time.
This is an instrument that stays in tune very well. It doesn’t require the violinist to press very hard, because of its higher action. The high-quality horsehair and smooth wood bow with no sharp edges moves easily along the strings without stutter.
Overall, the Ricard Bunnel G2 is easy to play and not taxing on the performer at all. This, along with the friendly price, makes it a great choice for any beginner. It also comes with a free book entitled Intro to Violin, which is a nice bonus for the budding violinist.
Cremona SV500 Premier Artist Violin
- Even For Advanced Students: Cremona's most popular violin for sound has a tone quality good enough for advanced students.
- Flamed Maple: with a rich, hand applied reddish-brown varnish finish, hand carved solid spruce and solid maple body
- Set-up to MENC Standards: set up done at the Cremona workshop in California with French-made Aubert bridge and US-made Prelude strings
- Accessories: low profile, lightweight and well designed Stradivarius-style chinrest, deluxe Brazilwood bow and lightweight oblong rigid foam case with four bow holders and hygrometer
The Cremona SV500 violin features a transparent, elegant varnish, high quality tone wood and is made from straight grained hard spruce and solid maple. This violin comes with a carrying case and user bow with genuine horsehair.
The SV500 is sold as a complete starter package for the beginning violinist, but it is also a great instrument for a more advanced musician and even for pros.
This solid wood violin boasts top-quality workmanship and a beautiful tone, thanks to the lightweight four tuner tailpiece and prelude steel strings.
This model is a step above a pure beginner’s instrument. It produces a tone quality that will satisfy even more advanced musicians. Cremona is a Chinese manufacturer, but their customer service actually gets great reviews.
If you’re looking for an instrument with which to learn, but don’t want to have to upgrade as soon as you get good, the Cremona SV500 is a great choice.
Bunnel Premier Clearance Violin Outfit
The Bunnel Premier Clearance Violin Outfit is the same as a regular Bunnel beginner’s violin, but much cheaper. It costs less, because the clearance models have minor cosmetic flaws, but they do not affect the sound or the playability at all.
The clearance model is a great way to get an excellent instrument at a very good price. It is one of the highest rated violins on Amazon and Bunnel violins as a whole have extremely high ratings from customers.
Bunnel also boast the number one rated customer service. In short, they are a great company and this violin is a way to get one of their high-rated instruments without paying a fortune.
If you’re a beginner and you can overlook the minor cosmetic flaws, this is your best option and that is why it scored a rating of 5 out of 5.
D Z Strad Violin Model 101
- Wonderfully Hand Carved Violin: finished with a quality spirit varnish to bring out the best sound from the aged tonewoods
- Included Accessories: case, brazilwood bow, shoulder rest and rosin
- Completely Set-Up: ready to play with Wittner-style tailpiece with four built-in fine tuners
- Warm And Round Tone: delivers a virtuous sound
The D Z Strad violin model 101 is designed as a learning instrument and features a lightweight straightforward design that offers warm tones and a well-rounded sound. This package comes with a carrying case, rosin and bow.
D Z Strad is a well-known brand, famous for making a variety of instruments for all skill levels. They have a reputation for hand-carved quality and even their beginner models, like this 101, are well-crafted. That said, it is not made from the same high-quality materials as their top of the line models. Of course, this is only natural, given the low price.
This model is marketed to beginners and is great for anyone starting out. But it is not an instrument that you’ll want to continue to play as you get more advanced.
When you look at customer feedback, it has gotten tons of positive feedback from beginners and a bit of negative feedback from advanced students. The 101 is the best pure beginner violin on this list, but it simply does not have the quality to satisfy the advanced student.
Bunnel Pupil Clearance Violin Outfit Review
The Ricard Bunnel Pupil Violin by Kennedy Violins is also a clearance model designed for the beginner. It is a bit lower than the other two Bunnel violins on this list.
It also costs less, but only slightly less than the Premier Clearance model. That is why we recommend that one over this one.
The Pupil Violin is constructed from maple, spruce and ebony fittings. It comes with learning strings, a Brazil wood bow, a carrying case and several other extras. The quality construction makes for a comfortable playing experience and great sound quality..
This instrument is made by Kennedy Violins, a company that enjoys a stellar reputation and is rated number one on Amazon for customer service. Should anything ever go wrong with your instrument, you can rest assured that they will take care of you.
Overall, the Bunnel Pupil Violin is easy to play and not taxing on the performer at all. This, along with the low price, makes it one of the best student violins.
Like other Bunnel models, it also comes with a number of bonuses, including a free book entitled Intro to Violin, which could come in handy for a beginning student.
Mendini MV500 Violin Review
- Elegant Design: hand-carved 1-piece maple back, neck and sides, beautiful varnish finish and inlaid purfling.
- Learning Kit: includes 2 bows, extra set of violin strings, a quality rosin, adjustable shoulder rest with padding, a chromatic string tuner with metronome, and a lightweight hard case fashioned with backpack and shoulder straps.
The Mendini MV500 is the better choice by far among the two extremely low cost options on this list. It is much better made than the CVN-300, though Mendini does have some quality control issues.
Some units will be great, but others might have dents on the fingerboard, or the paint on the fingerboard might rub off onto your fingers, or the bridge might be shaped incorrectly and need to be sanded down.
In addition to the small possibility of getting a unit with some of these quality control issues, most of the extras that come with this instrument are simply not very good.
The shoulder rest is uncomfortable, the strings are cheap and should be replaced for a huge increase in sound quality, the bows are not good and the rosin is crumbly and you’ll need to do a lot of re-rosining.
So why do we recommend this model over the cheaper Cecilio one?
Because the body is well-constructed and if you replace the parts that are not good, you actually end up with a pretty good instrument. That said, we definitely recommend you spend a little more and get one of the Bunnell models.
The Clearance and Pupil models both only cost a bit more and if you add in the cost of replacing the strings, getting the bridge sanded, etc., you’ll actually come out ahead with those.
This Mendini violin really only makes sense if you are buying for an absolute beginner who does not yet know if they will enjoy learning the violin and will want to continue playing it long term.
Cecilio CVN-300 Violin Review
- Great Violin For Beginners: includes all the necessities to start learning how to play.
- Elegant Design: solid spruce top and antique finish with inlaid purfling; ebony fingerboard, pegged chin rest, and tailpiece.
- Violin Learning Kit: Includes Cecilio violin dressed in D'Addario Prelude strings, 2 bows, an extra bridge, a quality rosin, adjustable shoulder rest with padding, a chromatic string tuner with metronome, and a lightweight hard case for transport.
- Basic Technique Book: includes a Mendini Violin First Lesson book with instruction on basic techniques and lessons on how to read music. Also, a companion download (available online) has exercises and pieces recorded with solo violin and piano accompaniment.
The Cecilio CVN-300 is the lowest cost violin on this list. The manufacturer made a lot of sacrifices to get the cost down and we don’t really recommend this instrument.
That said, if you have a very strict budget and can’t afford to spend more, this is the best option by far at this price. It is really the only option worth considering at this price.
That’s because it at least plays well and sounds good, despite a number of construction flaws and cheap components (the included bows, rosin and shoulder rest are especially weak). That’s more than you can say about other models selling for a similar price.
However, if you can afford to spend a little more, we recommend getting the Mendini violin above. Even better, if it fits in your budget, get the Bunnel Premiere Clearance Violin. It is the lowest cost model we really like.
As mentioned, you should only consider the Cecilio CVN-300 one if you absolutely can’t afford to pay more, or if you suspect that you or your child may tire of playing the violin fairly soon and you don’t want to spend a lot on an instrument that might not see more than a few weeks or months of use.
Violin Buying Guide
Essentially, most violins are the same.
Each model comes with four strings that are stretched over a small body, with a chin rest and tailpiece at one end and a peg box and neck at the other.
Most models don’t feature the design variations that many newer instruments have, but any musician will tell you that each instrument is unique in sound and quality.
The important factors that can determine a violin’s playability and tone are the skill with which it’s constructed and the tone woods.
The quality and type of wood that is used to construct a violin is probably the most important factor when it comes to a violin’s sound. While many models use the same types of tone woods, such as maple sides, backs and necks and spruce tops, the quality of the wood that’s used can vary greatly.
This will be reflected in the cost difference between instruments. It is also a major factor that differentiates a professional violin from a student violin for beginners.
The wood that amplifies the sound that’s produced by the strings is called the soundboard. Often, spruce will be used for this because it’s naturally dense and stiff. The strength of this wood means that it can be delicately carved while still maintaining its shape. The density of the wood allows for better resonance.
The quality of the spruce wood used will be an important part of what will determine how much a model costs. There are many species of spruce that are used for soundboards and most musicians have their own preferences. Trees that are found in colder climates can produce more resonant, denser spruce. The longer spruce is left to age, the stronger and drier the wood becomes.
The beauty of the grain is another consideration. The best quality spruce will feature a gorgeous, almost flame like figuring.
The neck, sides and back of a violin are made from maple, but again, not all maple is created equal. Models made from tightly grained aged wood that has been carved with great care and precision will go for a higher price.
High quality violins come with a Brazilwood bow and quality cat gut strings, like the Addario prelude strings.
The types of wood that are used to construct other components of a violin will also determine its value, sound and durability. For example, fingerboards are often made from ebony, but lower priced models will use less expensive wood. Some models can also have plastic or alloy chin rests and lower quality bridges.
A violin’s finish will also reflect the price. Varnishes contain pigments that are responsible for the patina. They also bring out the natural beauty and quality of the wood.
Once you understand the basics of construction, you can begin to narrow your search to find a model that’s right for your budget.
Violins come in a total of nine sizes. People ages eleven and up will use a full-sized model. If you’re shopping for a younger violinist, you’ll need to consult a size chart prior to purchasing a model, in order to get the appropriate violin size.
Acoustic and Electric Violins
Acoustic models stretch four strings from the tuning pegs to the tailpiece.
An electric model features built-in pickups that work to amplify sound. In order to avoid feedback that’s caused by resonance in the body, electric models will feature a solid body and minimal designs, which can help to keep the violin’s overall weight down.
Acoustic violins produce rounded, warm tones due to the natural resonance of the tone woods. Electric models feature signals that can be enhanced and tweaked, but they will typically produce a rawer, brighter sound than acoustic models
Folk and classical musicians often prefer acoustic models, while jazz and rock musicians favor electric models. Electric models are good choices for musicians who play in amplified bands. Read our article on the differences between acoustic and electric violins for more.
If you’re shopping for someone, consider the type of music he or she plays and their personal preference.
Best Violin For Beginners: Final Thoughts
Whatever violin you end up buying, you always want to ensure that your instrument is well cared for and maintained, in order to keep it in top playing shape. You should keep your violins in moderate humidity in mild temperatures and keep it clean and dust-free at all times.
If you’re shopping for your first violin, there are a few accessories you should consider, in order to properly preserve your instrument. These accessories include the strings, case, humidifier, and cleaning supplies. If you know a violinist, any accessories like these always make for great gifts.