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Antique Violins: What to consider when buying them

If your child has expressed an interest in seriously continuing their violin studies, especially at the university level, it may be time to upgrade their instrument. Buying an antique violin for your child, especially from a reputable shop, can get them the instrument of their dreams, that will carry them through years of making music. Here is a quick look at what to consider when purchasing a violin:

Where to shop

When looking for an antique violin, your best bet is to go to a store that specializes in string instruments. Your average music store may carry a few violins, but the likelihood that they will be of the quality your musician needs is small. Antique shops will sometimes have violins available as well, but there is no way to guarantee the quality or background of the instrument before you buy, which could leave you with an unsatisfactory purchase. A shop that deals only in orchestral strings will have many more options for you to look at, and they will generally have a better knowledge of the instruments themselves. They will be able to guarantee that the instrument is in the best condition possible, and that it has been looked over by a luthier to ensure it has been properly set up to put out the best sound it can.


Antique violins range in price from several hundred dollars, to price tags in the millions. Make sure you set a budget and decide what you are willing to spend when buying an antique violin for your child. Usually, up to the $5,000-$8,000 mark is perfect for a student looking to play at the college or university level. If your violinist is already playing on an owned instrument (as opposed to one that is rented), many violin shops will accept it in trade for a part of the price of the new one. This option helps expand your budget and offset a portion of the cost.

How to choose

Perhaps the most intensive part of buying an antique violin for your child is actually choosing one. The best process is typically to have your child play many different violins, and choose the one they like best. This will likely require several hours in the violin shop, but those who work there see the same process daily, and are set up to help you. It is good idea to have your child play some scales and exercises, as well as some songs, to get an idea of how each violin feels and sounds. It is also a very good idea to bring your child’s teacher along. Have them also play the violins so that your child can hear what each instrument sounds like, but don’t ask them to offer an opinion, as different players can be critical of different things. Let your child make an opinion and a choice of their own, as they are the ones who will be playing it for years to come.


Buying an antique violin for your child ensures that they will have a time-tested, quality instrument that they can play for many years to come. Additionally, buying an antique violin for your child doesn’t have to break the bank or cause a headache. Be sure to find a reputable violin dealer, and invest in an instrument that will keep your musician happy and satisfied throughout their playing career.


photo credit: discopalace via photopin cc

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