Violins have this reputation for being pricey instruments, probably because they are often used to play classical music. The training needed to play the violin is also not cheap. It’s no secret that the world’s most accomplished violin players have devoted a large portion fo their lives learning to play this instrument well.
However, it may surprise you to know that violin prices range from a few hundred dollars for a beginner model to thousands of dollars for luthier-made professional instrument. The difference is due to a large number of factors, from the kind of materials used, the precision and technique utilized in making the violin, the reputation of the manufacturer, among others.
Read on to know how much violins cost, what makes them as expensive as they are and why all these matters if you are serious about learning how to play this instrument.
How Much Do Beginner or Student Violins Cost?
The cheapest violins can set you back around $100 to $400. For this amount, you can buy a child-sized violin or a cheap full-sized violin. The difference between partial or child-sized instruments and full-sized lies in the neck which is longer or shorter depending on the length of the player’s arms.
Partial-sized violins are cheaper because they are often made for children who are expected to move up to full-sized instrument as they grow older. The sound they produced are also of a lower quality than that of a full-sized violin, with lesser range.
Often, beginner violins in this price range are mass-produced and can be easily bought in your corner music store or even the mall. They are built to have a quality and durability that is enough for beginner students to learn the fundamentals of playing the violin.
Violins in the higher end of the cost spectrum that are meant for students or beginners are often made to grow with the musician as he or she moves up from being a beginner to an intermediate player. Violins known for their quality violins in this category include Windsor, Stentor Student I 1400, and Forenza Prima 2.
Intermediate violins range from $3000 to $5000. Violins in this range are made using better materials and more precision to offer a higher dynamic range and a more complex sound quality. You will find these in the hands of intermediate and advanced players who may have not have made the leapt to professional playing. Musicians with at least 5 years of playing the violin as a hobby are likely to invest in instruments in this price range. Violins in this price range are also good as back-up instruments for professional players.
The higher-end violins starting from $5000 upwards are often made of the finest quality of materials and higher quality workmanship. A violin that costs $5000 or $7000 is often made by one or two craftsmen and by hand. Violins in this price range are often dated and signed by the maker. You can easily find these violins in the hands of highly -skilled musicians, those who have spent years and decades perfecting their music. This is because higher-end violins are more responsive and produce a more nuanced, complex sound, amplifying even the slightest error or inconsistency when played.
Antiques and Collectors’ Items
These are high-end instruments with values compounded by their age, the maker, and the condition of the instrument. Violins in this range can set you back $10,000 or more.
What Makes A Violin Expensive?
The cost of a violin depends on a number of factors. These include the kind and quality of the wood, the production quality, the quality of varnishes use and how the wood has matured over time.
Violins under $500 are often called conveyor-belt instruments because they are often machine-made using inexpensive materials. Violins priced at $100 or below $500 often come with plastic fittings, flimsy fingerboards, poor tone, with low-cost materials used to make the bow and other accessories. These instruments are likely made in factories using templates and not by expert luthiers. This is understandable, considering that instruments in this price range are targeted towards children and beginners who often make the move to intermediate violins after 6 months or one year.
Violins that cost $3000 and below are often made of solid tone woods, usually with a combination of spruce and maple. Violins $3000 upwards tend to be made with a higher quality of woods and varnishes and a higher level of precision and workmanship goes into the construction of each instrument.
You can find violins in the higher end of professional violins to made by highly-regarded craftsmen, luthiers who studied the craft of violin making and who have won awards, who make the instrument by hand from start to finish. The type of wood used and how it is aged also add to its value. Maple and spruce may be aged for up to 10 years before they are used to construct one instrument. These are the types that can easily last a lifetime with good maintenance.
Antiques and collectors’ items are valued as such because they have lasted for decades and even centuries. For example, instruments made by Antonio Stradivari can easily fetch $10,000 or more. Actual values are determined by careful examination of the authenticity of the instrument, its condition and history. Violins made by famous names and dating back to early 1900s are usually regarded as high-end antiques and sold as collectors’ items in auction houses.
The total cost of playing the violin is not limited to the instrument alone. Accessories needed to play the violin and for proper maintenance all add to the overall cost. While most sellers include the bow, case and rosin in the purchase price, other accessories like the shoulder rest, tuner, extra strings and even a violin stand can add to the overall cost.
A violin is one of those instruments that require the same level of craftsmanship and expertise to produce quality music. The good thing is that violins can be affordable for those who are just starting out. You have every option to invest in a more sophisticated instrument as your skill progresses over time.