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Used Violins - Pros And Cons

Whether you are just getting started or are a lifelong professional musician, used violins are one of the few things you can buy where there is no shame in it not being new. In fact, used instruments can be a better deal all around, both in terms of quality of workmanship, sound quality, and price.

When people are just starting to learn the violin, they will very often use a rent to own service for their violin, especially if the student is a child and still growing. This allows the student to ‘trade up’ to the next size of instrument as he or she gets bigger and more skilled, with the option to keep it permanently when he or she reaches the full size instrument.

If you are already of adult size and wish to learn to play the violin, you have a choice between renting one, (which will likely be used,) buying a used violin, or buying a new one. All violins, both used and new tend to be on the pricy side, and if you are paying less than $300 for a new one, don’t bother. Take it from someone who has had to listen to recital after recital of beginning violin students all squeaking away on their cheap beginner instruments. The main reason they sound so awful is not that they are bad players, it is because their instruments are new and incapable of producing the singing, mellow tones one should expect from a violin. Violins, like fine wines, have to mature before they are of any quality. The wood in used violins has likely had time to age and mellow the sound, whereas that shiny new red thing from Walmart very likely has not.

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Additionally, the phrase ‘they don’t make ‘em like they used to’ springs into mind. If you are looking to buy a violin for long term (and not student) use, make sure it did not come from an assembly line! The creation of a violin is an art, and as everyone knows, great art does not come from conveyor belt factories in China. Look for an instrument that was made by hand in a workshop. In fact, if your prospective violin is more than about 30 years old, you’re probably safe, and even if it is at least 10 years old, it will still have had time to mature.

I’m not saying you can’t get a good new violin, but you will be paying a premium for it. Of course, to those who know what to look for, good used violins actually have far more value, but the odds of one showing up in a pawnshop or yard sale are fairly good. If you are looking for a good quality instrument, your best bet is to find grandpa’s old fiddle in the attic, get it fixed up and go from there.