Learning how to play a musical instrument can be a fun and rewarding experience.
It presents new challenges, helps us grow, and produces beautiful sounds, in theory.
However, different instruments require different levels of skill and practice, some being much more complicated and nuanced to learn than others.
Plus, every instrument costs different amounts of money, making them more or less appealing to the novice musician.
The violin has been a cherished musical instrument for centuries, dating back to the 16th century.
It has found its way into many different musical styles, such as classical and even modern rock, making it enticing for new musicians to pick up.
However, there are some monetary factors to consider before deciding to learn to play the violin.
How Much Does A Violin Cost?
The average price for a good intermediate violin is between $1200-$2500.
Decent beginner violins will be between $100-$500, while a professional might spend between $5,000 to $75,000 for the finest quality.
When learning to play, you won’t want the cheapest violin or the most expensive one, so it’s best to do some research before making your investment.
The craftsmanship, material, age, and size will play into the final cost, in addition to the lessons and accessories you may need along the way.
Here are some considerations that affect violin cost.
1. The Violin Maker And Country Of Origin
A violin’s country of origin and who crafted it greatly determines its overall cost, as well as quality.
The cheapest violins you’ll find are typically made in factories in China as part of an assembly line.
Chinese and Romanian workshops offer a bit more quality when it comes to violins, but they still are not great.
Violins made in workshops in France, Germany, or Czechoslovakia will have great quality, as these violins often date back over 100 years, giving them a better handmade quality.
Excellent French and German violin craftsmen, or luthiers, include Ernst Heinrich Roth, Heinrich Theodor Heberlein Jr., Neuner and Hornsteiner, George Aparut, Leon Mougenot, Didier Nicolas, Paul Blanchard, and H. Derazey.
However, you’re looking to spend between $7,000 and $15,500 when you purchase a violin made by these master luthiers.
Violins made by luthiers from Cremona, Italy, such as Antonio Stradivari, also have an incredibly strong reputation as some of the finest violins in the world.
However, violins from Italy, and even those made by contemporary luthiers from Cremona, like Daniele Tonarelli, will cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
2. Violin Material
Violins are made of different materials and different types of wood, giving them different sounds and different levels of quality.
The cheapest violins produced in Chinese factories are usually made of unaged greenwood and held together with a sprayed-on synthetic lacquer.
These $50-$400 instruments are likely to break easily, crack, and start to come apart at the seams.
The neck will usually be flimsy, and it will be hard to tune these poorly constructed instruments, giving you shrill sounds that hurt your ears.
Decent beginner violins are typically made of ten-year-aged tonewoods, like spruce and maple, and are held together with spirit varnish.
Violins in this $550-$1350 price range will give you better sound quality, as they’re mostly constructed by hand in Chinese workshops.
Good intermediate violins will be made with even higher quality tonewoods that have been aged for ten years or more.
They usually are built with European spruce and Maplewood.
Because violin wood should not be kiln-dried to speed the aging process, as this affects its acoustics, building a great violin takes decades, as its best if its raw wood material ages at room temperature.
Great violins use wood aged ten to fifty years, making these violins the most cherished and expensive.
Overall, “the most commonly used wood species for violin manufacture are spruce, willow, maple, ebony, and rosewood.
In general, maple is used for back plate, rib, neck and scroll, while spruce is an ideal wood for the front plate of a violin.”
3. Violin Size
There are different sizes of violins, based on the size of the player, that affect how much a violin costs.
Generally speaking, the smaller a violin is, the less it will cost.
This is due to a couple of reasons, such as the lesser amount of material used and the fact that smaller violins are grown out of fast as children grow taller, making them not as worth putting intense labor into.
There are eight sizes of violins, seven of which are referred to as “fractional” as opposed to “full” since kids outgrow their violins as their arms grow longer.
The sizes include the following, measured from the neck to end of the arm: 1/32-under 14 inches, 1/16-14 to 16.5 inches, 1/10-16.5 to 17 inches, 1/8-17 to 17.5 inches, 1/4-17.5 to 19.5 inches, 1/2-20 to 22 inches, 3/4-22 to 23 inches, and 4/4-23 inches and up (full size).
Violins in sizes 1/32 –3/4 will typically be cheaper than full-size violins, as full-size violins are usually made of better material, crafted more professionally, and taken more seriously as adult instruments.
Like violin materials, the craftsmanship that goes into the violin-making process has much to do with its quality, and therefore, its retail cost.
Good violins are not mass-produced in factories, nor are they built using the cheapest and flimsiest materials.
There’s a reason why those violins are so cheap, as they won’t last you long and sound horrid when you try to play them.
True violin-making is a craft performed by skilled apprentices with knowledge that has been passed down for centuries.
The details that go into violin making are meticulous and tedious, making the process longer than most people assume.
Crafting a quality violin takes months and sometimes years, even after waiting for the proper wood to dry out.
Luthiers describe the process as painstaking, as each tiny step needs to be executed perfectly.
It takes patience, attention to detail, a keen eye, and dexterity to build a quality product, and is more like the lost art of woodworking and carpentry than anything.
The longer it takes for a violin to be made, the more it will usually cost, as you must factor in the hours of labor that went into crafting the violin.
5. Violin Age And Condition
Many professional violin players and collectors search for collectible violins made by well-known luthiers from countries like Italy, Germany, and France.
Antique violins from the 1700s and 1800s are still available to purchase but will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Refurbished antique violins are probably the most desired, although some enthusiasts like the challenge of refurbishing and might be able to talk a seller down based on its condition.
An example of a rare antique violin currently for sale is one by famed luthier Alessandro Gagliano from Naples, Italy, crafted in 1720 and selling today for between $300,000-$500,000.
Another pricy violin is one made by the famous luthier from Cremona, Italy, circa 1680 which has a listing price of $500,000+.
Of course, as a beginner, you do not need to purchase such rare and collectible violins, as they are much more affordable the more modern they become.
However, old, antique violins have a highly desired, richer tone that some professional violinists prefer.
A violin’s sound seems to get more vibrant and nuanced the older the instrument gets, gaining its own personal sound throughout the years, decades, and centuries.
6. Added Accessories
When people want to buy a violin, they oftentimes do not consider the extra expenditures that go into maintaining and learning the instrument.
Some of these added expenses are one-time purchases, like a violin case, while others will be frequent consistent purchases, like bow hair and strings.
You can buy a decent violin case for under $300 with good cases running at around $200-$250.
Some of those are hard cases and some are soft.
Softer cases will not offer as much protection as hard cases, while hard cases are made to endure bumps, drops, spillage, and more to keep your violin safe.
Higher-end violin cases cost between $500 and $900, and they offer more safety and security features.
They may be lighter, but more durable, and many of them have secure locks to prevent theft.
Like with violins themselves, violin bows range greatly in cost based on material, size, and craftsmanship.
Pernambuco wood bows are probably the most expensive due to their endangered source material, costing anywhere from $300 to $3500.
Bows made from brazilwood are much less expensive, costing between $50 to $430.
Carbon fiber is the newest innovative bow material, costing between $345 and $1,500.
It’s more environmentally friendly, lightweight, and is slowly being accepted into the violin world.
Bows usually are made of horsehair and must be re-haired as the bow starts to fray.
This usually costs around $50.
Violin strings can cost between $5 to $150+ based on their gauge, brand, and quality.
It’s also common to buy individual violin strings without having to purchase a whole set.
Single strings cost around $5 or more.
7. Violin Rentals
If you are just learning or your child is interested in playing the violin, you might not want to pay thousands of dollars for a violin.
However, a violin that costs less than $100 will probably not sound great and give you an inaccurate assessment of your skill level.
This can make it extremely frustrating when you’re first learning, as you’re not hearing the sound as it should be heard.
If you don’t want to spend $500 on a decent beginner violin or invest in a cheaper fractional violin, you also have the option of renting a violin.
Violin rentals can start at roughly $18-$22 a month for a standard 1/16″-4/4″ violin to about $48 per month for master violins sized 1/4″-4/4”.
Advanced and intermediate violin rentals average around $32 per month.
You can typically rent violins for three, six, nine, or 12-month periods, with the price getting more affordable the longer you rent your instrument.
Some restored antique European violins can be rented for around $60 per month plus maintenance fees.
Each rental company is different and offers different violins to choose from and packages to purchase, so doing some research online might be advantageous for you and help you find exactly what kind of violin you’re looking to learn on and where to find it.
8. Violin Lessons
Most people cannot pick up a violin and learn to play it on their own.
Investing in a professional teacher will save you a lot of trial and error and also save your family members’ or housemates’ ear drums.
Learning violin is hard and takes hours and hours of practice and frustration.
Hiring a violin teacher may cost you around $55-$75 an hour, but chances are you’ll learn faster and learn to do things the right way.
Of course, every teacher will charge a different amount based on their availability, skill level, professional experience, and other factors.
Whether you’re taking individual lessons or taking group lessons will also affect the cost, as personal lessons will cost more.
Besides renting a violin to ensure you enjoy playing it and ensuring it’s truly something you want to pursue, there are also more cost-effective ways to learn than by paying hundreds of dollars for one-on-one music lessons.
Websites like ArtistWorks and Masterclass allow you to purchase educational packages, including sessions taught by some of the world’s best violinists, as well as receive tutorials, lessons, and more.
YouTube offers a lot of free lessons and has many different skill levels to choose from.
Instead of purchasing sheet music, you can also find a lot of free sheet music online when learning to play.
Though learning from someone one-on-one may be more time efficient, there are many resources online that are more cost-effective for beginners.
9. Maintenance Costs
Like your car, violins should receive maintenance checkups every so often.
This doesn’t have to be a constant thing, but it should be done regularly enough to ensure your violin maintains its functionality and intended sound and performance.
Basic cleaning for a violin costs around $20- $40 while polishing costs around $60-$90.
The price depends on the shop you take your violin to, as shops with only one or two luthiers in a wide radius may charge more as their services are in greater demand.
If you chip or wear down your violin, you might also need to spend money on repair costs from time to time.
For example, fingerboard replacements can cost anywhere from $100-$150, while fingerboard resurfaces will cost between $60-$75.
Chips and scratches can usually be polished and buffed out for around $30.
Taking care of your violin and storing it properly will save you money in maintenance and repair costs.
Storing it at room temperature, away from moisture, and avoiding dropping your instrument will save you a lot of money and heartache along the way.