The Right Violin

Finding the right violin can be really hard, especially if you have never done it before. It can be good to get your teacher to come and help you look. But if you can’t, here are a few tips to help you know what to look for.

First, getting the proper size is essential. The most basic method of sizing a violin is to compare it to the length of the player’s arm. People come in all shapes and sizes! Other important measurements are the size and proportions of the hands and fingers. If the player has short arms, but long fingers, a slightly bigger violin to fit their hands could be the way to go. Although the length may be a little off the compromise could eliminate finger cramps.

Next you want to make sure that the violin you choose is properly set up. This means that they have good quality strings, and a bridge that is sitting straight and fits flush with the top of the violin. The other thing to check for play-ability is to make sure the bridge isn’t too low or too high. If the violin buzzes when you pluck the strings then the bridge is too low on the violin. But if the strings are hard to press down (especially in the higher positions) than the bridge may be too high.

You should also make sure you like the sound of the violin. Every violin, even different copies of the same make or model, will sound different, due to the natural variability of wood and slight variations in the dimensions of each instrument. Every player has a different idea of what sound they like or want. Some people like a brighter sound, while others may prefer a darker sound. The sound that you do want to stay away from however is a nasal sound. This can be unhelpful when you are trying to listen to your tone and dynamics. It’s your violin that you are going to be playing on, make sure you like the sound of it!

The last thing is your bow. I like to use the Harry Potter analogy. Mr. Ollivander says that the wand chooses the wizard. Well, in the violin world, the bow chooses the violin! Every bow you play on a violin will make the violin sound different. Sometimes it is very subtle, but other times it can be quite a big difference! The feel of a bow is also important. Some people like to play in a heavier bow while others like to play on a lighter bow. Just as important as the overall weight of the bow is the distribution of the weight which can alter the balance point and the way the bow moves.

The violin is challenging to learn. A quality instrument that fits the player and a complementary bow can reduce unnecessary hardship during the learning process. Happy playing everyone!


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