Over the last couple of years, I’ve traded quite a few “entry level” or “beginner” violins. One thing I’ve noticed, quite logically, is that price is usually the primary consideration for someone who is just learning, or considering learning to play violin.
I’ve also noticed quite a disparity in quality amongst the many brands on the market today. Here is a summary of my observations:
-Virtually all new violins, particularly fractional sizes (1/4, 1/2, 3/4) are made in China. Quality-wise, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For those with an aversion to Chinese products, Romania and to a lesser degree, Hungary appear to have violin-making industries. Bear in mind that labour is a huge component of any instrument, and violins produced outside China are close to double the price. Having never owned one, I can’t speak to quality.
-Perhaps because the major brick and mortar musical instrument store in Canada uses the Stentor and Stentor II violin in their student rental program, they seem to have become somewhat of a standard in entry level violins. Having observed this, I have also heard more than one music instructor disparage their quality.
I began to wonder if the differences and price comparisons could be quantified in some way. Therefore I went about accumulating a collection of violins in this category. In this first video, I describe the four instruments on which I hope to do a (unscientific) comparison test:
Violin #1. Brand name Corelli, made in China. The Chinese seem to like giving their products Italian names to better help them sell. This violin comes with a lot of stuff, though as with the quality of fittings, quality of accessories isn’t great. Case, 2 bows, shoulder rest, rosin, chromatic tuner are included.
Violin #2. Stentor Student II. Comes with case and bow.
Violin #3. Aiersi Model MVT700. Comes with nicer case and bow. I imported this violin myself from China.
Violin #4. Glen C Larson finished and fitted white violin, made in China. Hand applied oil varnish. Full disclosure… while the other 3 violins have stock steel strings fitted at the factory, I always start my new violins with a set of synthetic strings. This one has a set of D’Addario Ascente strings that retail for about $35. Would be sold with case and bow.
Let me know what you think. Is this a worthwhile exercise?