VIOLINS FOR THE BEGINNER, INTERMEDIATE AND PROFESSIONAL VIOLINIST
Are You Looking For Your First Violin Or Thinking Of Upgrading Your Current One?
With so many brands on the market today and the abundance of choices it has become a real task in deciding which violin will be the best one for your needs regardless of your playing skills – beginner or pro.
In order to help you make the right choice, we have created a MASSIVE collection of all the leading and best selling violins out there today. Some of these violin brands may be familiar to you already but I assure you that there will be some really affordable violins you have not come across before.
This article is very in-depth and you should treat this as a guide, you don’t have to read it all at once as it contains a lot of info and not just on the instruments themselves but goes into some facts as well. You can always come back to it later.
A lot of thought and work has gone into this article and I hope it serves you well so you can find a great violin to play on and make some great music with.
The violin family of instruments was believed to have been developed in Italy in the 16th century. At that time, it was named viole da braccio and was the name of the entire violin family. On the other hand, the viola family was distinguishable with the name viole de gamba.
The modern violin family consists of four instruments – the violin, cello, viola, and double bass.
What Is A Viola?
Most of the instruments in the violin family got their names from the word viola – a derivative of the Latin word ‘vitula.’ Vitula means stringed instrument. Violin means “little viola,” a violone is called bass violin or big viola, and the violoncello is a small violone.
Today, the violone is no longer part of the violin family. It is replaced by the double bass – an instrument that is a mix of the characteristics of a violin and a viola.
Characteristics Of The Violin family
The instruments of the violin family tend to overlap each other in terms of playing range, but they become distinct from each other in terms of tone quality and size. The ranges of each of them are as follows:
- violin – G3 to E7
- viola – C3 to A6
- violoncello – C2 to A5
- and double bass – E1 to C5
Both violin and the viola are played by placing them under the jaw. The viola is bigger than a violin, and its playing range reaches a fifth below that of a violin. The cello is played in between the knees while sitting down. Its playing range is an octave below that of the viola.
The double bass is played in a standing position or while sitting on a stool, and its playing range is a minor sixth – which is a ninth or an octave below that of the cello.
The cello was developed from the bass violin, and it is a member of the viola de braccio family along with the viola and violin. The double bass, on the other hand, has an origin that is usually called to question. It is believed to be a part of the viol family due to its sloping shoulders, tuning, four strings, and flat back.
Some others point out that there is no need to question its origin since its external properties are either arbitrary or arose from a relationship other than the viol family. These suggestions point out that the internal construction of the double bass is more of the evidence needed than the external features.
These internal features include the bass bar and the sound post, just like other violin family instruments.
All in all, all string instruments share a similar form, parts, function, and construction. There is no doubt that the violin resembles the viola family, but their differences are in their shape, tuning, and history. We all know that violin instruments have only four strings that are tuned in fifths to each other – except for the double bass tuned in fourths. They have four rounded bouts and no frets.
They also have a sound post and a bass bar on their inside. The viola family on the other hand, usually come with five to six strings, and they come with a fretted fingerboard. They are tuned in fourths and thirds, have sloping shoulders, and do not have a sound post or bass bar.
The violin is a wooden string instrument that has a small hollow wooden body. It belongs to the violin family, and it is the smallest in the family. It has a very high pitch and is one of the most consistently used members of the family. There are other smaller types of violins such as the violin piccolo and the kit violin, but the downside to these two is that they are not popular – meaning that they are not commonly used.
Violins are very important in the vast number of music genres today. They are often found in the classical western music in ensembles such as chamber music and orchestras. They also function in solo performances such as country, bluegrass, and jazz.
Due to the diverse use of the violin, there are the acoustic and electric types. The acoustic types are more common than the electric types. They have a hollow frame that makes the sound resonate loudly.
The electric types, on the other hand, are made with solid bodies, and they have piezoelectric pickups for transmitting the sound to the amplifier. The pickups are plugged to the amplifiers and speakers to produce the sound either wirelessly or with the conventional jack plug.
They are used in different forms of rock, jazz, and fusion music.
Today, the violin is used in a lot of non-western music and cultures such as in Indian and Iranian music. Although, a lot of people refer to it like a fiddle in these non- western cultures.
The violin dates way back to the 16th century and is believed to have originated in Italy. It was until the 18th and 19th centuries that it began to receive modifications to enable it project sound powerfully. It served as the foundation of the development of other string instruments in Western classical music. One instrument which comes to mind here is the Viola.
A lot of people have the violin confused for other string instruments, and that leads to a number of questions.
HOW MANY STRINGS ARE ON A VIOLIN?
The violin has only four strings – no more, no less. This is unlike some guitars that come with a custom number of strings depending on the player’s taste. The strings of the violin are tuned in perfect to one another, and they are played with a bow.
There are some players (Pizzicato) that pluck the strings with the fingers, while some (Col Legno) play it by striking the strings with the wooden part of the bow. However, the generally accepted way of playing the violin is by drawing the bow across the strings.
IS A FIDDLE A VIOLIN?
In fiddle is a colloquial term for the violin. A lot of people call a violin a fiddle, and this is very true. The twist is that the opposite is not the case – a fiddle is not a violin. This is because all bowed instruments are called fiddles, but a fiddle is not necessarily a violin. A violin is a fiddle, and so are other bowed instruments. But a fiddle is not a violin only; it is the general name for all bowed instruments. It should be clear enough now.
We are going to take look at some of the most interesting facts about the violin. Let us see how many you know and how many you don’t.
The violin we see today has been around for over 500 years, and it can be traced back to the 1500s. It was designed by Andrea Amati, a professional luthier. The Amati family is one of the top producers of the instrument, and they have been around for a very long time.
Playing the violin consumes a substantial amount of energy. No matter how hard it is to believe, the violin burns approximately 170 Cal each hour. This is a great way of working out, and it’s better to practice the violin every day than working out at the gym for hours.
All violins are made out of spruce and maple wood. These two types of wood are typical to the violin, and they have functions which they serve. Spruce is a solid wood used for the surface of the violin. Maple is a hard type of wood, and it is used for the sides and the back.
They come in lots of sizes. This is a very common fact, because how would kids learn if all violins are the same size? Students of the violin who at a very young age often use the 1/32 or 1/16 size on average. As the student grows, the size of the violin increases until the student has grown to use the standard size.
Violins are one of the most complex and simple instruments in the world – that’s right, complex! It is made with more than 70 different pieces of wood which are put together with the aid of technology to form a strong and durable material with the best tone output as possible.
The word ‘violin’ was gotten from a Medieval Latin word called ‘vitula.’ This word is believed to mean a stringed instrument, and it covers the entirety of the violin family.
Someone created a world record playing the violin. This record takes a lot of skill and a gut to perform successfully. The violin was played on a bike while cycling backward at a distance of 60 km in 5 hours 8 minutes – talk about practicing every day!
The most expensive violin in the world today was made by the famous Guiseppe Guarneri in the year 1741. Over time, that violin rose in worth and its value increased. Now it costs about $18 million and is more likely the dream of most violin players.
There are about 150 to 200 hairs in the bow of violins in general. They are made with a lot of special material, and two of which are nylon and nose hair. These easy play and produce a better tone quality.
The first strings of violins were made from the gut of sheep; which was known as catgut back then. They were stretched, dried and completely twisted. Other materials in violin strings include the stranded reel, solid steel, and synthetic materials. It is often strengthened with various metals, and it is sometimes plated with silver, depending on the user and the price range.
If you are making your first steps in becoming a violinist then you will undoubtedly need a great musical instrument to learn on which is why you should take a closer look at these really great reviews on the beginner to the best intermediate violins on the market today to start learning on.
All the major members of the violin family were made in the early part of the 16th century in Italy.
A lot of paintings testify of their evidence, and one of the earliest is the paintings of Gaundenzio Ferrari. However, the only downside to his paintings was that the instruments he drew had only three strings.
In the treatise; Academie musicale, written by Philibert Jambe de Fer in 1556, the violin there gave the basic description of the violin we know today.
THE HISTORY OF THE VIOLIN
Let us take a short and deeper glance into the violin history …
Violins are often believed to have been developed from some string instruments that were present in the 15th and 16th century. These instruments include the rebec, Vielle, and lira da braccio.
In Europe, the history of the bowed string instruments dates back to the 9th century – this was the time of the Byzantine lira. Ever since their invention, they began to undergo a lot of changes over the years, and the final model was set in the 17th century.
These models were the handiwork of professional luthiers like the prolific Amati family, Antonio Stradivari, and Jakob Stainer of the Tyrol. Although, there were many other makers at that time.
EARLY VIOLIN HISTORY
The violin is believed to be a descendant from the Byzantine lira. As far back as the 9th century, the first sighting of the bowed Byzantine lire was by Ibn Khurradadhbih the Persian geographer. It was a typical instrument of the Byzantines, and it was also similar to the rabab used by the Muslims at that time.
The Byzantine lire spread westward through Europe and became part of the European writers write-ups in the 11th and 12th century. At that time they called it a lira and a fiddle, using the names interchangeably as the general name for all bowed instruments. On the other hand, the rabab was introduced to the western part of Europe through the Iberian Peninsula.
This quick spread of the instrument gave rise to the development of various bowed instruments native to Europe.
Centuries passed, and Europe continued to have two unique bowed instruments; the Lira da Braccio and the Lira da Gamba.
The former was shaped like a square and held in the arms, and it got its name from an Italian term meaning ‘viol for the arm.’ The latter had sloping shoulders and was held in between the knees, and it got its name from an Italian term meaning ‘viol for the leg.’ It was during the Renaissance that the ‘gambas’ became important and elegant for use.
But they eventually lost to the lira da Braccio family over time. This is the family of the modern violin.
HOW IT EMERGED
Some violin facts for you. After all the years, the violin became popular very quickly. It was a favorite among noble and street musicians. Charles IX of France was believed to commission the wide range of string instruments in the latter part of the 16 century.
The violin began to grow, and it became the ever popular instrument that everyone knows today.
There are a lot of violin brands all over the world today, and they are shaking the ground with lots of cool violins to meet the needs of all levels of violin players. No matter your skills or budget, you would find the right one for you!
Let us have a look at some of the best in the business.
Which Are The Top Beginner Violin Brands?
✅ CREMONA: this is one of the affordable brands of violin in the market today. It is a favorite of the beginner and intermediate levels of violin players for its quality and price point. The Cremona SV-175 Premier Student violin boasts of being the best for beginners in the market.
✅ KNILLING: this is one of the most popular violin brands for students. It is usually recommended by instructors for its price point and unique design. It is easy to play and easy to tune. It is also a great investment for the beginner.
✅ STENTOR: there is a lot of talks that the Stentor brand is bad at producing professional-grade violins. Truth or lie, they are one of the best student grade violin producers in the world. Their products are affordable and quite reliable. It is believed that the Stentor Student I Violin is the best for beginners, and it has a lot of qualities that you should check out. [This is a highly recommended violin for beginners].
✅ MENDINI: Mendini violins are one of the approved violins by instructors. It is one of the easiest violins to assemble, and its sound quality is quite remarkable. You should get one because they are also quite affordable.
✅ FIDDLERMAN: this is one of the leading brands in the market, and they are really making a wave among their competitors. They produce only the best, and the violins are tested by Pierre Holstein himself!
✅ WINSOR: this is one of the most budget-friendly violin brands in the market today. They focus their product on the beginner and student market. Most of their products are factory made, with only a few made by hand.
Violin Brands Picture Gallery
BEST VIOLIN BRANDS
There are a lot of violin brands in the market today. Some are perfect for beginners, while some are great for intermediate students. However, some are only purchased by professional violin players.
These professional violin brands usually customize the violins to meet the exact need of the professional.
Now let us take a closer look at 4 of the best violin brands today for the beginner violinist
This is one of the most affordable brands of violins in the market today. The Cremona brand focuses on the needs of students, and their products are usually for the beginner and intermediate violin players.
They make use of the best quality woods and materials, and they are a brand that takes quality very seriously. They boast of just 22 reliable staff in charge of quality control, and you can rest assured of a great product when you purchase it.
Talking about making a quality purchase, you should check out the Cremona SV-175 Premier Student Violin. This violin costs about $300, and it is a great investment for the beginner or intermediate student.
Stentor is one great violin brand known for its strong market in the student and beginner section. Their products are cheap and are usually less than $200.
Players rely on their product quality because each of their products is properly built and are reliable in any situation a beginner or student might find their self. One of the popular products among students is the Stentor Student I Violin.
It is known for its quality fingerboard and pegs. Intermediate students are not left out. There is a special one for them too called the Stentor Student II Violin. It is a great violin with a lot of wonderful features and tone.
This is another popular brand among beginners and intermediates. Its products are made with the best craftsmanship and quality. Its violins for students come with unique pegs to make tuning efficient and easier – this is one of the reasons why the Knilling brand is one of the best in the industry.
Their tuning pegs are made for perfection, and they are nothing like the regular friction tuning pegs of most other brands. The pegs work with a 4:1 ratio gear to ensure that tuning is precise and faster — violins with features like this are usually a bit pricey, but not more than a student can afford.
Mendini is one of the best brands for beginner and intermediate violinists. A vast majority of their products are factory made, and they are made affordable for students.
These student line of violins are usually about $200 or less, and this makes an affordable investment for students. The low price might scare some students, but it is safe to say that the Mendini brand of violins focus on making durable products that you can rely on whenever and wherever you play.
The only things you have to replace is the strings, and this is the same for all brands of violins. You have to change strings often to ensure the tone quality remains the same. The only catch is that the strings that come with the Mendini Violin aren’t as good in quality as that of other brands.
Violin Brands Conclusion
Violin brands are really putting a lot of efforts to meet the needs of all levels of violin players. This is why purchasing a beginner violin is still as exciting as purchasing a professional accessory.
The only set back is that not all students buy the idea of using beginner equipment – they feel that using professional equipment would make them improve faster and adapt quickly to a professional atmosphere during play.
However, it’s important to note that these brands mentioned above are the best in the industry today, and you can rely on any one of their products at any time. Just ensure to take a lot of advice from the instructor on the brand to choose – it is very likely that it is one of the brands mentioned above.
There are many other great Violins Types on the market today made of great quality materials and are made with a very affordable price tag. Take a closer look at the top ones we reviewed in this comprehensive and very detailed Violin Buying Guide: Types of Violins
You can also learn how to use a Violin Tuner and tune your instrument by yourself.
As a violinist, it is important that you are familiar with the different parts of the violin. Knowing the names of these violin parts is essential for beginners as it gives a clear understanding of the ones the player might interact with frequently.
Things like re-tuning, re-stringing, and the basic care of the instrument are vital and would require being familiar with the common parts.
PARTS OF THE VIOLIN
This is located at the top of the violin, above the pegbox. It has a characteristic curly design, and it is believed that older instruments that have scrolls were elaborately carved with animals or figures.
TUNING PEGS AND PEGBOX:
These are located at the top of the instrument, very close to the scroll. The strings are attached to this part of the violin at the top. The end of a string is inserted into a hole in the peg and then wound till it gets tight. This is the basic way of tuning a violin string, although some players use the fine tuners for minute adjustments that are not up to a semi-tone.
This is the part that connects the pegbox and the fingerboard. It has four grooves in which the strings sit to ensure that they are spaced properly. In restringing a violin, it is very important to check that the strings are sitting on the grooves in the nut before tightening.
We all know what the strings are and what they do. They are tuned to the notes G, D, A, and E, from the lowest to the highest string. However, the quality of the string is very important, and it is a huge factor in the tonal quality of the violin. This is because strings are made with different metals such as aluminum, steel, and gold. Today, there are many types of strings including synthetic materials and ‘cat gut.’
This is the wooden part glued behind the fingerboard. It carries the majority of the stress of the strings. The neck is a very slender part, and it is longer in modern violins than baroque violins.
This is the smooth part on top of the neck where the fingers are placed. It is glued to the violin neck and does not have any frets.
This is the part of the acoustic violin that amplifies the sound. It is made with different types of woods as its back is a mostly two pieces joined together with a seam in the middle. However, one piece backs are preferred because of their increased resonance.
This part is the round post on the inside of the violin that extends from the front piece to the back piece under the violin bridge. It helps the violin produce sound and also support the structure of the violin on the inside.
THE F HOLES:
When the bow is drawn, the sound reverberates in the body of the violin and these waves are directed out of the body through the F holes. For a beginner, directing the F holes towards the audience is the best thing to do in a live performance, unless you are using an electric violin. This allows the audience to experience the best sound as much as possible.
There are several types of bridges in terms of angle of curvature. Smaller angles of curvature make it easier to play double and triple stops – playing two and three strings at the same time. On the other hand, the curved bridges help to hit the right string without accidentally scraping the wrong string. Classical violinists often use curved bridges, while country players often use flatter bridges.
These are usually found at the bottom of the four strings. Although, there are times when it is only found on the E string. Beginner violins usually come with four fine tuners for each string so that the player is less likely to break a string during fine tuning. The fine tuners work as screws that press down a lever that fractionally tightens the string. When the fine tuner reaches the end during tuning, it should be completely unscrewed, and the peg should be tightened before it is used again.
This is the part that the strings are attached to at the bottom of the violin. It is very close to the player’s chin, and it is attached to the bottom by an endpin or end button – a small button on the side of the violin that touches the neck of the player.
This part was designed to support the chin of the player during play. It is a very important part of the violin as it helps the player hold the violin in place while moving the fingers freely on the fingerboard.
PARTS OF THE BOW
This is the part of the violin that touches the strings during play. It is made of synthetic materials, but some are also made horsehair. Either way, rosin has to be added to the hair for it to produce sound when drawn on a string.
This is the part the violin player holds.
This is located at the end of the frog, and it is used to tighten and loosen the hair as required. Loosening the screw completely makes the frog come off the bow while tightening it stretches the hair towards the end of the bow.
This is the main part of the bow. It is made of wood and sometimes has a metal core. It is designed to be supple and bendy to enable the player to tighten and loosen the hair of the bow. A good bow is usually light and has a balance point which is usually a quarter of the way up from the frog. A good balance point on the stick allows the player to perform advanced technical movements like the spiccato.
This is the part that makes holding the bow more comfortable than it would normally be.
What are violin notes? How do you read then? And where are they positioned?
What Are Violin Notes?
Music is written on a grid called the staff. The staff contains five lines and four spaces, and this is where the violin notes are located.
You read these violin notes from left to right, where there is a symbol on the left called the clef. The clef shows the reader the names of the notes on that particular staff. There are types of clef such as the bass and treble clefs.
As we know, the treble clef is also called the G clef because it looks like the letter G and its bottom circle touches the second line. The second line is the G note in the treble clef. The bass clef is known as the F clef. It resembles the letter F, and it has two dots that surround the second line from the top.
However, a violinist would only deal with the treble clef because this is where the violin notes are located.
VIOLIN NOTES FOR BEGINNERS
First of all, we would start with the Key signature. The key signature is marked next to the clef. It consists of sharps and flats, and it indicates the notes that are altered in that piece of music.
These altered violin notes are usually sharps and flats, which you must have heard of by now. A key signature is a general or universal way of marking notes.
For example, if it shows “Ab,” all the “A” notes in that music piece should be played as an A-flat. It is like a musical shorthand, and it makes reading music much easier.
VIOLIN NOTES VIDEO TUTORIAL
WHAT ARE THE VIOLIN NOTES FOR BEGINNERS?
Violin notes in sheet music use the treble clef, as we have clarified earlier. But we have to know the name of each violin note. There are seven musical alphabets, and they are the seven major notes.
They are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, and they also come with their corresponding sharps and flats. Since we are new to these names, we should find an easy way to remember them as they are arranged on the staff.
The five lines on the staff contain the violin notes E, G, B, D, and F, and a great mnemonic for these notes is “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.” The four notes on the four spaces are also in the same manner from top to bottom. They are F, A, C, and E, with a mnemonic “FACE.” As a beginner, you have to learn and perfect these notes with the aid of the mnemonics.
However, have you heard of “Leger lines” before? There are more than nine notes in music, and these ledger lines help extend the range of the staff. These lines can appear anywhere above or below the staff lines.
For example, since the top line of the staff is the F note and the note above the F note would contain the G note, then the ledger line above the G note would contain the A note.
THE NOTES ON A VIOLIN
Learning the notes on a violin involves a lot of practice with sheet music. Sheet music tells you all the notes you are to play and how to play them.
The violin notes are the same as that of western music. They are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Once you get to the G note, continue with the A note again and keep going on and on like that. Each time you repeat the notes, you are entering a new octave.
The violin strings have open notes. These notes are G, D, A, and E on each of the four strings, with E as the highest and G as the lowest note string. You can alter these notes by applying pressure with your fingers.
As the player adds pressure to the violin strings with each finger, new notes are formed. However, we would discuss that below.
HOW TO PLAY VIOLIN NOTES
Playing the G note on the first string does not require any finger pressure. However, the note produced by applying pressure with the first finger is the A note.
Notes produced by the other fingers are the B and C notes. The violin strings are separated by fifths, and the second string is the D string. Applying pressure to the D string produces the E note.
The A string produces the B notes, and the E string produces the F note with pressure from the first finger. The first finger in playing the violin is the index finger.
It is important to note that the notes on the violin strings are five notes apart. Each open string note after the G string of the violin can also be played with the fourth finger on the previous string – this means that the E note can also be played on the A string with the fourth finger. This is why you can play the last note on the violin with the fourth finger on the E string.
We have been mentioning notes all day, and it seems too much to remember. But, we can use a few memory tricks to help us never to forget these notes. Since the notes on the lines of the staff are E, G, B, D, and F, we can use “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” as a great way to remember. We can also use “FACE” to remember the four notes on the spaces of the staff.
However, that is one of the fastest ways to memorize the notes as a beginner, and it would do you a great deal if you use it often.
As you advance in rehearsing daily, you would be able to tell these notes by ear and by finger placement. You can also try downloading manuscripts online to practice writing these notes by yourself – this way, you can practice the notes as you write them down.
Mastering writing and reading sheet music would make you a great sight-reader with time, as consistent rehearsal makes it become habitual. Do not forget it! Consistent rehearsal is the key in learning how to play the violin notes perfectly. The more you keep rehearsing, the more you get confident in your skills and yourself.
So, by now you should have a clearer understanding of what violin notes are and how to play them.
If you already own a violin than all that is left to do is start making some music. That being said, if you are still shopping around and want to know which string musical instrument is best for you then you should read this comprehensive guide on Types of Violins where we cover the pros and cons of the leading violins on the market today.