Regardless if you call yourself a fiddler or a violinist, before buying a new instrument you’ll want to know what the best violin brands are so you can make an education buying choice!
By the time you are an advanced player you are going to have seen and experienced enough that you probably won’t need our advice. Beginners and intermediate players don’t have that experience though, and may have only owned one or two violins, Or, maybe you’re shopping for your very first!
We’ll start with brand recommendations for beginners, then move onto intermediates. We’ve also highlighted some of our favorite instruments from each in the article below! Lastly, we’ll end by touching on some violin brands to avoid!
The Best Beginner Violin Brands
Many of the best violins for beginners are from brands that have found the perfect mix of quality and price. Let’s face it, most of us don’t want to spend thousands on a fiddle we may only play for short while. Granted, we hope you play for years to come, but the reality for most is that will not happen.
Maybe you’re buying for a child, definitely don’t need to spend a ton on that instrument either!
Either way, the brands that made the best violin brands for beginners sections generally sell good instruments for people to learn on, while keeping the price mostly under $200.
Eastar is a brand that is well known for their entry level instruments, from drums to saxophones, trumpets to violins. The brand puts each and every instrument through two in house quality inspections before leaving the manufacturing floor.
The drawback of the wide selection of instruments is that they don’t specialize in any one sort of instrument, so you won’t find the finer details that other purely violin manufacturers will have.
On the plus side, they have the manufacturing process down to a science, giving them the ability to produce a good beginner violin for less than many other manufacturers. Their violins also generally come with accessory kits, so a beginner will have everything needed to tune, store and play their violin!
Stentor bills themselves as a leading manufacturer of student violins and orchestral stringed instruments. We agree!
While you will never see a Stentor on stage in a professional orchestra, you will see plenty of the in school performances and in the hands of those trying to learn to play. One of my first violins was a Stentor and I still have a soft spot in my heart for these instruments!
Most of their instruments use a combination of spruce and maple construction to produce a quality sound, but at the same time keep the price down. You’ll also see things like nylon strings and alloy bridges and tailpieces which help them provide lower costing quality instruments!
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The 1400 series (shown above) is one that we often recommend for beginners and one of our favorite violins under $200!
Mendini from Cecilio
Mendini is actually the beginner line of violins from Cecilio, and both brand names offer a great selection of beginner violins! This is very similar to how Fender has Squier guitars under their wing as well.
We really like the value that Cecilio is able to bring to the table with Mendini. You get the experience, quality, and dedication to the craft of making violin with a value minded approach to keep costs low.
The Mendini MV400 has long been on our list of best violins for beginners, so it’s not surprising the brand ends up here as well!
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Bunnel, like Mendini, has a parent company. For Bunnel, it is Kennedy Violins. Kennedy is known for its great selection of artist violins from designers such as Antonio Giuliani and Louis Carpini.
This violins are quite a bit more expensive than the average beginner wants to spend, and that is where the Bunnel brand comes in.
While a little more expensive than Mendini or Eastar, these are instruments that will last you well beyond the beginner stage of playing. Most of their offerings come with hard sided carrying cases and an assortment of accessories to start you playing right away!
Primavera is a United Kingdom based company, and might be a little hard to get in the United States.
That being said, no violin list is complete without them as they are often the most popular brand for schools and educators. Each instrument is inspected and set up by a professional in their workshop before being delivered, so they come ready to play.
If you want to shop for a deal on shipping, or are already in the UK or Europe, there aren’t too many better options than Primavera for beginner violins!
Best Violin Brands for Intermediate Players!
Our list of best violin brands for intermediates was a little harder to decide on than the beginner brands. There are many violin makers who cater to players looking for their 2nd or 3rd instruments, as well as beginners who want to pay a little more for a instrument they won’t have to upgrade right away.
Many of these brands also have a better range than the ones listed in the beginner section, so you can choose the best model for both your skill level and your budget!
The last brand of violins in our beginner section is Cremona. Cremona actually offers a wide range of fiddles from the beginner instrument that will cost just a bit more than $100, all the way to instruments ranging in the thousands.
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The Cremona SV-600 Premier (shown above) is a perfect example of the quality, style and price that you can find for a good intermediate violin.
The Cremona brand is owned by Saga Musical Instruments, who is a leading manufacturer of student violins, violas, and cellos. They are very good at making bowed instruments, and you could do much worse with a beginner or intermediate instrument than the offerings from Cremona!
You have heard of Yamaha, we have heard of Yamaha, really, who hasn’t heard of Yamaha? Yamaha makes a huge assortment of consumer goods from motorcycles to musical instruments. While motorcycles are cool, we are more interested in their other noise makers. Their guitars are probably more well known, but we think their violins are top notch and stand apart from the competition.
From a price standpoint you aren’t going to find any inexpensive instruments from Yamaha, they tend to be more expensive than most of the other brands on the list. To justify the price, Yamaha does use material like 3-layer maple in many of the offerings, which is something that even top end violins share with them.
Yamaha is also our recommendation if you want to play the electric violin. Yamaha specializes in electric and brings a range of instruments that will fill any concert hall.
D Z Strad
D Z Strad is the first brand our our list that makes truly world class instruments. While we focus on their intermediate offerings, they offer a line of professional violins that even the best drool over.
Most of their intermediate line-up shows on Amazon.com, but if you want to see some of their nicer instruments you’ll want to visit the D Z Strad site directly.
I have two D Z Strad violins in my collection currently, and can’t say enough of their quality and sound!
The drawback of D Z Strad is that the price of their student and intermediate level instruments is generally higher than many other brands. Just like Martin and Taylor guitars, the name brand carries a premium with it.
The Carlo Lamberti line of violins in made by a Chinese company called SHAR music. The owners of this company are both active string teachers and attended the Juilliard School of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, two renowned institutions. Having that knowledge and pedigree supporting the company, it is easy to see why they produce great violins!
We feel like both D Z and Carlo violins are slightly expensive for what you are getting, but that being said, you are getting a LOT from both manufacturers!
You can find their full catalog of products at SHAR Music!
Fiddle and Violin Brands to Avoid
We aren’t going to list any specific brands when we talk about violin brands to avoid. We haven’t played every violin brand out there and we haven’t been able to put many models through our grading criteria.
What we talk about here are going to be more of general guidelines to find out the quality of the brand of fiddle that you are considering.
Good Violins are made from solid maple, or sometimes a 3 or 4 ply maple. Beginner and intermediate instruments often will have a less expensive wood, like spruce, as part of the makeup on the instrument to help with price.
Poor instruments are often made from cheap woods that aren’t much better than plywood. They are often labeled as basswood, hardwood, or some other generic description that doesn’t give you specifics.
The other common material you’ll see is plastic. Often to keep price down important components like the tailpiece, pegs, chin rest, and even the fingerboard are made from some plastics compound. While this helps with price, it really kills the sound quality you’ll get from the instrument.
Plastic on any musical instrument is a good sign to stay away!
You can find violins on Amazon for under $50… great, right? Wrong.
These instruments are more toys than they are musical instruments, and the sound quality and difficulty playing them will make you want to quit. Violin is already hard enough to learn, don’t make it worse with a super cheap fiddle.
We start looking for beginner violins at about the $100 mark. This is where the beginner instruments we recommend start and you can get a surprisingly good quality violin for this price. Under that mark, you’re probably not going to be happy with your violin.
The Final Note on Best Violin Brands
The brands on this list are by no means an inclusive list of every good beginner or intermediate violin brand. These are simply ones that I have played or had students own that really showed quality and value.
As will most instruments, looking into the quality of the materials used to make the violin will often give you a really good idea of the overall quality of both the brand and the fiddle in question!
Ruby has spent much of the last 20 years touring both North America and Europe in a number of Orchestras, playing lead chair for several. More recently, she has started to teach kids and young adults both the fiddle and violin, with interest in spreading the love for both bluegrass and classical music.