Instrument Quality

At various stages in musical and technical development, each player comes to the realization that a new instrument or bow may be required in order to make further advancement possible. Sometimes this decision is made alone, particularly when players are experienced in the instrument or bow search process. For the less experienced or younger players, this need for change is determined by teachers, parents, colleagues or friends.

Beginning Outfits (violin estimated cost $200-500)

Beginning players require an instrument that possesses pleasing tone, balanced response, contrasts in dynamic range (volume) and forgiveness of general response to help instill confidence in an inexperienced player.

Beginning instruments are typically manufactured in a production setting, where a good deal of the carving is done by machine to keep the costs to a minimum and for consistency and predictability of tone. The instrument set-up is the single most important stage of production, where a skilled worker's careful attention to detail brings out the best possible tone and playability. Be wary of any instrument that costs less than $200. DO NOT purchase instruments from the internet (especially if they cost less than $100).

Intermediate Outfits (violin estimated cost $500-1200)

Intermediate players require all of the attributes that beginning players require, plus a broader range of tone colors and dynamics for learning musical expression, faster response for the introduction of off-string bowing techniques, and additional volume for ensemble playing.

Instruments in this category, even of the same model, begin to exhibit individual characteristics and can be adjusted to the player's preferences. A string instrument sales person would be helpful in assisting you in selecting the best model for your needs. It is also possible to select an instrument without a qualified sales person, as long as there is at least a week trial to take home the instrument. and try it out.

Advancing Outfits (violin estimated cost $1200-$4000)

As a student concentrates on the development of agility, accuracy, and breadth of expression, they will require an instrument that combines full tone, even balance, and good projection. A certain amount of "forgiveness" and ease of playing will provide confidence in controlling a wider range of tone color and volume than they have experienced in the past.

Instruments in this class are made in workshop settings, overseen by master luthiers. Select tonewoods are used in these instruments, and makers perform specific adjustments to enhance and optimize the tonal qualities of each individual instrument as it is being made. As with an intermediate instrument, a string instrument sales person will be helpful to you in selecting the best model for your needs and a tryout period should also be available. An appointment at a violin shop is strongly reccommended for this type of purchase.

Fine & Rare Instruments (for the really serious student)

Advanced and professional players have a well developed sense of expression that is characterized by highly evolved technical and artistic abilities. These include a mature range of tone colors and bow strokes, and an individual style that can be tailored according to style of music, ensemble type and audience characteristics.

This classification of instruments is wide- ranging in value, but all these players require an instrument that possess a full "palate" of complex tone colors, even balance, and powerful projection. You will need the help the help of an experienced string instrument
sales person to help you select an instrument which combines the sound and playing characteristics best suited to your personal tastes. Plan ahead to schedule an appointment in a violin shop to make a purchase of this type.
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