Violins have a reputation for being expensive which creates a high barrier to entry for beginners.
Whilst many violins are expensive, it’s certainly possible to purchase a top quality beginner violin for around $900. It’s important to purchase from a well known source and to try out the instrument. A well known source will be trustworthy in production quality and reputation.
Within this article, we’ll detail exactly why violins cost so much, how much you should be spending, and what to look out for.
The cost of violins varies from around $100 to millions of dollars. Maker reputation, production quality, and age are the main factors in determining the price of a violin. The good news is that the cost of well-made violins is gradually decreasing.
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How Much Do Violins Cost?
The cost of Violins varies greatly. There’s also much debate around how much one should spend on a good violin. Here’s a poll violinist.com did on the cost of their user’s Violins:
As you can see, most people spend a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars on their violin.
The cost of Violins ranges from $100 for a cheap and cheerful Chinese model, to in the millions for a state-of-the-art Stradivarius. The price depends on many factors ranging from the quality of craftsmanship to the reputation of the Luthier.
Price is not an absolute indicator of sound quality. Good violins can be found in the lower range. We’d recommend staying well clear of the extremely cheap violins as they are very poorly made. Equally, do your research before spending thousands of dollars on a lemon!
The good news is that the cost of good violins seems to be decreasing. During the 1700s (often claimed to be the pinnacle of instrument making) fantastic violins were produced. However, those violins are few and far between. There are now more talented violin makers working in the USA today than there ever have been. There are also high-end workshop violins from China and Eastern Europe producing very good instruments for between $1500 – $2500.
It’s also worth noting that bows can be a significant factor in the cost of owning a violin. Bows can often cost up to one-third of the instrument’s value.
We’ve divided the cost of violins into three main categories:
Cheap, mass-produced factory violins.
It’s possible to pick up a violin for well under $100. These violins are typically produced in large quantities out of Chinese factories.
If you can afford something slightly better, we’d recommend staying well away from this type of instrument. Often the body of the instrument is made from part-plastic rather than a resonant wood. This severely impacts the sound quality.
Quality control is also poor. Dimensions and production will be sub-optimal leading to poor quality sound production as well as a poor user experience.
If you do have to purchase a much cheaper violin like this, take the violin to a string shop to have the violin properly set up. This could make a big difference.
You should be able to pick up a good beginner violin for between $300 and $1000. In general, we’d avoid purchasing violins online unless you have tried the specific model first.
The online violin market can create a false economy of poorly-sounding instruments. In addition, most reputable shops will professionally set up the violin.
Many of these violins would be produced by factories out of China. This is why it’s so important to purchase from a professional shop and try out the violin first.
Once a player gets deeper into the art, their ears become more trained and they would start noticing the flaws of their cheaper violins. The sound probably won’t project as far as you’d like, and perhaps the instrument sounds harsh when playing technically challenging pieces.
An intermediate violin could cost anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000. Players would notice a noticeable level of difference in sound, ranges, and complexity.
At this level, violins are likely to be produced by violin makers out of workshops rather than mass-produced in factories. Eastern Europe and China offer excellent value for money at this level. It would take a very well-tuned ear to tell the difference between an excellent intermediate violin and a professional violin.
Professional and Antique Violins
Many professional violinists rent violins rather than purchasing them. This is because professional violins can easily reach the hundreds of thousands and sometimes into the millions. Considering the average salary of a violinist in the US is around $65k, it’s no wonder professional violinists are renting.
A professional violin will almost always be handmade by a well-known maker. Often professional violins would be passed from professional to professional after retirement.
At a bare minimum, you’d expect a professional violin to be at least $10k.
Why are Violins so Expensive?
There are many reasons why violins can be so expensive:
Crafting the violin is probably the biggest factor in influencing its price. The average salaries of good violin makers are high, especially in the US. This is why many violinists are now turning to Eastern European or Chinese violins.
The quality of wood, the skill of the craftsman, and even the age of the used wood are all reasons for the craftsman to charge you more.
Violins are produced by many brands just like most products. Good violin makers develop a reputation by producing well-crafted violins and winning awards such as the SVA makers competition.
A good brand will have a solid track record of producing top-quality instruments.
There are many well-known older violin brands that arguably charge a premium based on the brand name alone. Stradivarius is a good example of an extremely well-known family of violin makers. Their violins can fetch as much as $18m.
The longer it takes to craft a violin, the more it costs. We’ll refer to Stradivarius again, where it took around 150 hours to make a single violin!
That’s over six days of non-stop work.
This is also one of the driving factors behind mass-produced Chinese violins being so cheap. It takes hardly any time within a production line for the instrument to be made.
Age is becoming less of a factor in determining the cost of violins, with so many high-quality workshops appearing. However, many people still think that older violins sound better.
Violins that are hundreds of years old build up a lot of value, especially if they’re in good condition. On average a good quality violin will increase by around 6% in value per year.
These are antique violins made by famous craftsmen, like Guarneri del Gesu’s Carrodus Guarneri. This violin is around 280 years old and it costs a whopping $10,000,000!
Violins come in various sizes with the full-sized 4/4 violins being the most expensive. In general, the smaller violins cost less but very small (and hard to find) sizes may be expensive.
Violins can go as small as 1/32 which is considered a baby model. Beginners often start at 1/4 or 1/8 and make their way up to full-sized 4/4 violins.
Violins come with multiple accessories that increase the cost. Extra strings, shoulder rests, music stands, and rosins are all examples of accessories that make a violin more expensive.
Are All Violins Expensive?
Many violins aren’t expensive. You could purchase a cheap violin for $100, but it would be a poor-quality instrument.
All “good” violins are on the expensive side. You could probably perform in a show with a $2,000 violin.
However, once you pass the $10,000 mark, you’re mostly talking about professional instruments and the value leans more towards showmanship than practicality.
How Much Should a Good Violin Cost?
It depends on whether you’re learning or playing professionally. Most professional violins cost upwards of $10,000.
A good beginner-to-intermediate violin should cost an average of $900 or so. These prices apply on the 4/4 size violins only, the smaller size, the cheaper it gets.
It’s possible to purchase an excellent quality intermediate-level violin for as little as $1500. If your budget is limited, look into Chinese or Eastern European produced instruments.
What Is the Most Expensive Violin?
Proudly displayed at the Ashmolean Museum in England; the Messiah Stradivarius is the most expensive violin in the world.
Valued at a ridiculous $20,000,000, it exceeds the second most expensive violin in the world, the Vieuxtemps Guarneri, by a big margin of $4,000,000.
It was crafted in 1716 by Antonio Stradivari and it was rarely played. Only a few violinists were fortunate enough to play it. A couple of examples are Joseph Joachim and Nathan Milstein.
Do Expensive Violins Sound Better?
As long as the violin exceeds around $2,000, the difference in sound isn’t that different to the untrained air. To the trained ear, however, slight differences can be perceived.
Also, The response of the violin becomes notably faster the more expensive it is. But the margin for error also becomes narrower because every mistake will be more obvious.
On the other hand, we have professional and older violins that have more historical value than practical value. These expensive violins usually don’t have an edge over today’s professional violins.
What Are the Quality Differences Between Factory-Made and Handmade Violins?
Most handmade products are better than their factory-made counterparts. Factories focus more on quantity, while hand craftsmanship focuses on quality.
The most important aspect of a violin’s quality is the materials used for crafting.
Factories tend to use cheaper materials that cost less on mass production. They also use spray paint to cover the violins.
Handmade violins, on the other hand, use high-quality materials as well as hand varnish, which produces both better sound and appearance.
Additionally, hand-crafted violins gain much of their value and quality from the skilled hands that work on them, while factories use less skilled labor for reduced costs.
Finally, the attention to detail in hand making a violin makes a huge difference in the sound quality produced. Whilst not all factory-made violins are of poor quality, a good handmade violin will often be far superior.
Why Are Violins So Much More Expensive Than Guitars?
There are a few reasons why Violins are so much more expensive than guitars. The reasons alone are not as simple as differences in material and labor costs.
The biggest reason behind the disparity in costs between the violin and the guitar is around rarity and production. There are fewer skilled and knowledgeable violin makers who produce less volume than guitar manufacturers.
The other reasons included rarity, size, and sound quality.
- Rarity and production
The guitar is one of the most popular musical instruments. Because of that, there’s an abundant number of guitars produced in comparison to violins.
There are also many factories producing high-quality guitars, whereas high-quality violins are often handmade. This inherently makes violins more expensive than guitars.
Guitars can be expensive as well, David Gilmour’s Black Strat is the world’s most expensive guitar at $3,900,000, but this is nowhere near close to Messiah Stradivarius’ $20,000,000 violin.
The main difference between how guitars and violins are played is in the bowing and plucking technique.
Since Violins are bowed, there are more intricacies around how a violin is manufactured in order to produce a high-quality sound. The wood, for example, tends to be spruce, willow, maple, or ebony – all of which are expensive.
- Sound Quality Loss
Guitars have much larger air boxes in comparison to violins. This works more in favor of masking errors while crafting the instrument.
The smaller your instrument is, the more it would get affected by low-quality materials and less skilled craftsmanship. Therefore many high-quality guitars can be mass-produced by factories whereas high-quality violins tend to be handmade.
Do Violins Cost More Than Pianos?
Violins don’t necessarily always cost more than pianos.
Good beginner’s violins cost you anywhere between $300 to $900. On the other hand, a beginner’s upright piano could range between $3,000 and $6,000.
The same concept applies to intermediate violins and pianos as well. Entry-level and intermediate pianos cost a lot more than their violin counterparts.
However, if we talk about antiques and historical instruments, the violins dominate. The most expensive piano of all time is the Crystal Piano, Heintzman, which costs a little over $3,200,000.
That’s around $16,800,000 less than the world’s most expensive violin!
Maker reputation, production quality, and age all come into effect when determining the price of a violin. Violins can reach millions of dollars at the top end.
However, it’s very possible to purchase a well-made beginner violin for around $900. Although this is a higher barrier to entry, we’d recommend purchasing a high-quality instrument if possible.
Why are violins so expensive? ›
There are many factors that determine the value of a violin, including the maker, condition and rarity of the instrument. It's not uncommon for a high-quality violin to sell for tens of thousands of pounds, and even cheap student violins can be relatively expensive!Why are violin strings so expensive? ›
There are reasons why some violin strings are so expensive or cheap. It all depends on the quality of materials used to forge the string, and on the way the string is manufactured and distributed. A cheap string may be made from cheaper materials, however, it may last longer than a more expensive string.Why are expensive violins better? ›
Higher end violins have a more desirable look, sound, and ease of playing that will keep you motivated on your journey to learn the violin. A cheaper model violin can easily start to be associated with the difficulty of playability, sound, and more of a hassle than an enjoyment.Why are violins more expensive than guitars? ›
They are extremely durable and they are highly adaptable. “A violin from 1550 can still be used to play Beethoven,” says Guy Harrison, a violin dealer in Ottawa. “The basic body is still there.” By contrast, a 250-year-old guitar would not be playable today.What is the average price of a good violin? ›
A good violin for a beginner costs about $500. A good intermediate violin will cost ca. $1,000-2,000 while a good violin for a professional violinist may cost anything between $5,000 and $50,000. Of course, you can always buy a more expensive violin as an investment, even if you're a beginner.What determines the price of a violin? ›
Wood and workmanship are the primary components in the 'cost' of a violin. The age and quality of the wood (straighter, even grain on spruce, well-flamed on maple) determine its cost in raw materials. A truly fine set of tonewood for violin is over $400, just for the wood!Does violin string Quality Matter? ›
The short answer is yes. The strings you use on your violin not only dictate the character of the sound you're able to produce, but they also impact how easy or difficult it is to coax those sounds from your instrument. However, different strings have different features that are designed to produce different outcomes.What strings do professional violinists use? ›
Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Green are the most popular violin strings amongst professional violinists in orchestras over the world as well as soloists. D'Addario Helicore is a popular choice amongst top fiddlers.How many hours do violin strings last? ›
Violin strings have an “average use span,” sort of like car tires. The string experts at Connolly Music have found the optimal life of orchestral strings is around 300 playing hours – give or take 10%.Why do some violins cost millions? ›
Supply and Demand: One reason the value of a Stradivarius violin is so dear is because there are so few of them left, and they are no longer being made. Simple economics dictates that when there is a demand but little supply, value increases.
What is the highest quality violin? ›
Stradivarius: They are the most outstanding, valued and expensive violins in the world. The price of a Stradivarius violin can range from thousands to millions of euros. Suzuki: Japanese company dedicated to the manufacture of high quality instruments since 1953.Why do older violins sound better? ›
Before a violin is even made, aging is already a factor. Tonewood is cut from the oldest trees possible, and then it is sealed and aged for even longer in a controlled environment. This process allows the wood to dry out and oxidize, resulting in a more durable and more resonant piece of wood.Why do expensive violins not have fine tuners? ›
And even when steel strings became more popular and well-made, the tradition of leaving only one fine tuner for the E-string on more expensive instruments stuck. Therefore, the amount of fine tuners you see on a violin is more a matter of tradition and preference than anything else.Who owns the most expensive violin? ›
The Vieuxtemps by Guarneri del Gesù
It sold for $16 million to an anonymous bidder and is now lent to Anne Akiko Meyers for the rest of her life. It is the current world record holder for the most expensive violin.
They can be made to be playable, but because of the quality of the wood, they will shrink and distort over a short period and be rendered unplayable fairly quickly. —The cheaper ones have wood that is often not dry enough, but the more expensive ones will often have much better wood.How can you tell a good violin? ›
When you look at the seams of the violin, they should be elegantly sealed with no visible glue or rough edges. The more finely carved the scroll, the higher the quality of the violin. On a quality violin, the purfling, or the thin black lines that outline the top of the violin, will be inlaid, rather than painted.Are cheap violins any good? ›
If a violin has inferior components the sound, structural integrity, and playability will be compromised. A poorly made violin will be prone to warping, cracking, going out of tune, and just plain sounding bad. A beginning student needs a reliable instrument!Can you negotiate violin price? ›
It is also appropriate to negotiate the purchase price of the instrument. If you are going to a violin shop, most have a room or a place where you can test out an instrument that interests you. Do not come straight out and tell the dealer your price range.Why are some violins more expensive than others? ›
Geographical origin is the most important thing (Italian violins sell for at least six times the price of a comparable French or English violin, and German violins lag far behind). The other factors would be the quality of the craftsmanship (how well regarded the maker is) and the age of the instrument.What are the richest sounding violin strings? ›
Peter Infeld (PI) strings are the highest-end strings in the Thomastik-Infeld lineup, named after the late Peter Infeld - the son of Otto and Margaretha Infeld. PI strings are revered for producing the richest and most varied spectrum of sound color available.
What are the best violin strings made of? ›
Catgut strings are prized by many professional violinists, violists, cellists, and bassists for their warm, supple tone. Nowadays, these strings are commonly wound with various kinds of metal (usually tungsten, silver, or steel), but a brave few prefer the tone of bare gut.What makes a violin sound better? ›
The researchers found that a key feature affecting a violin's sound is the shape and length of its “f-holes,” the f-shaped openings through which air escapes: the more elongated these are, the more sound a violin can produce.What are the best violin strings for old time? ›
The standard string for most bluegrass and old-time players. Helicores are relatively inexpensive, they respond quickly and easily and give fiddlers just enough of the bright overtones they need but with a strong, warm-sounding fundamental tone. Helicores go for around $30-$40 a set.What is the best warm a string violin? ›
One of the best strings for a warm violin sound is the Pirastro Obligato. Pirastro Obligato is an easily playable synthetic core string that maintains the complexity of a gut core string. Many violin players prefer these strings because they create a deeply warm and full tone which is rich with overtones.Do professional violinists use fine tuners? ›
Many professional violinists use one fine tuner or none. If musicians do have any, it will likely be on the E string. Using the pegs to tune is a sign of maturity and professionalism.How long should you practice violin a day? ›
1 Hour + One hour will give you enough time to make good progress, as long as your violin practice is deliberate, effective, and not simply a mindless repetition of things. If you're an advanced player and want to make real progress, you can do 1.5 to 2 or more hours a day.Should you loosen violin strings after playing? ›
If you loosen your bow, should you also loosen the strings of your violin? Answer: Nope! Please don't untune your violin. It is better for your instrument, for your strings and save you a lot of work!Should you clean rosin off violin strings? ›
The most dangerous kind of grime is rosin dust, which accumulates on the face each time a violin is played and can damage the varnish if it is not wiped away after each playing session. Rosin dust should always be wiped off the strings and fingerboard as well. For this purpose, it is best to use a soft cloth.Are older violins worth more? ›
The oldest violins are the most valuable, but even a relatively new instrument can be worth a lot of money if it has an interesting history or was made by a renowned builder. In recent years, the market for vintage violins has exploded, with some instruments selling for millions of dollars at auction.How many Stradivarius violins are left? ›
Violins Bearing a Stradivarius Label
About 650 of these instruments survive today.
Do violins depreciate in value? ›
Unlike other instruments, good violins do not depreciate in value, so buying used will not necessarily save you a lot of money. A good option to outright purchase is instrument rental.Which country makes best violins? ›
Cremona, Italy, is the world capital of violin-making, and is the birthplace of the famous Stradivarius violins that can be worth millions of dollars.Who is the best violin maker today? ›
- Joseph Curtin.
- Francesco Toto.
- Gonzalo Bayolo.
- Stefan-Peter Greiner.
- Paolo Vettori.
The violins of Antonio Stradivari are considered to be the world's best violins because of the tone which they are capable of producing. Even in a large concert hall with an audience of thousands of players, musicians playing on Stradivarius violins can be heard from even the furthest seats in the venue.How many years does it take to sound good on the violin? ›
So how long does it actually take, to sound good on the violin or viola? As a teacher, I would say that most students take around three to five years to start sounding good and probably 10 years to sound like a completely fluent player.What is an old violin called? ›
The Arabian rabab and the rebec, which came from the orient in the middle ages and was played widely in Spain and France in the fifteenth century, are said to be the ancestors of the violin. Near the end of the middle ages, a bowed stringed instrument called a fiddle appeared in Europe.Why do new violin strings go out of tune? ›
There can be two reasons your violin keeps going out of tune: either you have brand new strings on your violin, or your pegs are slipping. New violin strings stretch and go out of tune for about two days until a week before they settle.How much does it cost to put fine tuners on a violin? ›
|Restring, including tuning||$7.5 per string (strings not included)|
|Fit pegs||$25 each/$80 set|
|Install fine tuners (without restringing)||$7.5 per tuner (tuner not included)|
Tuning the violin can be difficult, especially if the violin is your first instrument. Violin strings are very fragile, and even just a half turn too far is enough to break a string. Because of this, beginning violinists should be very careful when tuning their violins!What is a decent violin brand? ›
If you're looking for a high-quality instrument that will last you a long time, a Guarneri violin is a great choice. If you're looking for an affordable option, one of the best brands for advanced players is Cremona. Cremona violins are well-made and offer a great value for the money.
Who is the most famous violin player of all time? ›
Paganini was the most famous violinist-composer of the Late-Classical/Early-Romantic period. His technique was so advanced, only he could play the most he wrote for the violin during his time.Who owns a real Stradivarius violin? ›
The real violin was linked to Felix Mendelssohn's family. The heir of a wealthy American industrial family acquired the violin in 1990, before passing it down to his then 16-year-old granddaughter Elizabeth Pitcairn, who still owns it today.How much should I spend on a decent violin? ›
A well-crafted beginner violin ranges between about $500 to $1,000 in price and is made by a larger number of workshop workers. Moving up to the next level of expertise are the intermediate violins, which stand between the student and professional levels.How much should I spend on a new violin? ›
Ideally, you will want to obtain the best quality violin for the lowest possible price. A quality beginner violin can start at about $600, with intermediate, university-level violins at $1,500, and professional violins at several thousands of dollars.Is it better to buy a new or used violin? ›
Generally speaking, violins (or violas or cellos) are like almost any other purchase you make: except for certain professional instruments, they are most valuable when they are new and will not increase in value over time. This is especially true for beginner instruments.Is it worth it to buy a violin? ›
That said, buying a violin almost always makes more sense than renting one. That's because long-term rental fees add up quickly, so an entry-level violin can often be purchased for less than what it would cost to rent one for the year. Not only that, but violins hang on to their value quite well.How do violinists afford violins? ›
Some major orchestras have loan programs so their players can get better instruments and pay the orchestra back over a period of several years. Soloists often have top-level instruments loaned to them.Should I buy a cheap violin as a beginner? ›
The Beginner Violin Checklist
Steer clear of instruments that are under $300. You can find bargain priced violins for less than that amount, but generally, these instruments contain inferior tonewoods, and other materials that negatively effect the sound quality.
The mental, emotional, and physical benefits of playing the violin are definitely worth the time and effort it takes to learn this instrument.Do violins sound better as they age? ›
The Science of Antique Violins
Antique violins are well-aged, but seasoning is not the only factor that gives vintage instruments their unique tone quality. Violins sound better and become more responsive the more they are played. Before a violin is even made, aging is already a factor.
What is the best age to learn violin? ›
The Verdict: The Right Age for Violin Lessons
If your child is motivated and able to focus, between the ages of 5-7 is the ideal time to start violin lessons. But don't be put off if your child is a little younger or older. Talk to the music center or teacher and get their recommendation.
How much does a Violinist make? Violinists make $53,615 per year on average, or $25.78 per hour, in the United States. Violinists on the lower end of that spectrum, the bottom 10% to be exact, make roughly $26,000 a year, while the top 10% makes $110,000.Is 1 hour of violin practice enough? ›
One hour will give you enough time to make good progress, as long as your violin practice is deliberate, effective, and not simply a mindless repetition of things. If you're an advanced player and want to make real progress, you can do 1.5 to 2 or more hours a day.What age is too late to learn violin? ›
Anyone can learn to play the violin, at any age. Mastering a new skill, regardless of what it is, always involves desire, discipline and determination; and learning violin is no different. Your age does have a factor in how quickly you'll be able to adapt to the instrument.Is it hard to learn violin at an older age? ›
The violin can be a challenging instrument to learn, especially as an adult, so it's important that you find a teacher who has experience teaching adult learners.Is playing violin healthy? ›
Violin lessons boost memory and mental capacities.
It can also improve your reading skills, language processing, speech and attention span. Research has found that children and teens who play the violin have stronger verbal and visual pattern abilities than those playing other instruments.
However, neglecting your violin can cause it to stagnate and become unplayable, especially if it's left to collect dust on a shelf or in a closet. But, you can make sure that your violin lasts, even if you can't play it every day by following some very simple rules about humidity and temperature.