There are 3 sub markets within the market for Student Violins. First there is the Beginner. The next level up is the good violinist or fiddler who will pursue the violin for personal pleasure only. Finally there is the elite Student violinists who are those destined to be in Symphony orchestras and play professionally. They may already be in youth orchestras or in schools focused on music.
When shopping for a student violin all groups have the challenge of balancing cost versus quality. There is a trade off between price and quality in everything and violins are no exception. There is also the trade off that if you go too cheap and get a poor quality violin; you may ruin your student’s violin experience. There is nothing that will frustrate a child more quickly than a violin that is always broken or if it sounds like a cat squawking when it is in perfect working order.
For the beginner violin the initial shopping technique is to go to the local music store, online or online to eBay and find a Chinese factory made violin to buy. These have been described to me as “those terrible Chinese violins which are entirely machine made and then sprayed with a high-gloss finish (shellac or polyurethane) that makes it shine like a hotrod. Those violins have a honking sound which is beyond dreadful to the experienced ear of a violinist.” These are made of plastic and german violin for sale what wood is in their manufacture is not good quality. They are cheap though. The next level up is to buy and vintage Japanese or German violin. These are available especially through internet outlets. The advantage is that they are made of wood and have already endured 50 to 100 years of what a beginner violinist will dish out for abuse. All the beginner sizes are available and prices are reasonable. However, venture into this shopping experience with or through somebody who is familiar with the market. If you have a beginner who has great expectations, there are violins available that are at the level of your ambitions. They are worth it as they sound very nice and they will hold their value as a collectible.
For the good violist or fiddler there are lots of nice quality vintage and antique violins available on line. The challenge is that you can buy one that is good but needs repair or you can buy one already repaired but it will be more expensive. Once again, venture into this shopping experience with or thorough somebody who is familiar with the market. There are lots of Strad copy and Amati copy violins on the market that have a nice sound and have stood the test of time. As long as any damage is repairable and any past repairs have not done more damage than good, you can have a violin that should give you years of pleasure.
The ambitious student will already have friends and mentors who know the market. The grapevine is especially important for serious violinists. Good quality instruments are expensive and you need to deal with someone who has a good reputation. There are many pretenders in the market and when you are spending thousands of dollars, the charlatans are in hot pursuit of your money. There are books available but many good ones are out of print. Educate yourself before shopping and take a teacher or a very good violinist along with you when you are trying out the violin before final purchase.
In all cases your teacher should help you with your shopping and your choice in violins. They will appreciate you including them in the process so that they can show you how nice a violin can sound when played properly. They are more successful as a teacher if you and your audience enjoy a nice violin which means you will be back to hire them next year.
My father in law was a collector of antique violins. He loved violins. It was his passion. So he accumulated a violin collection of over 60 violins and bows. The oldest was approximately 150 years old and the newest was probably made in the 1950s. When he passed away he left this collection to us.