I have been learning music for two years now. From the beginning I have been using a very cheap violin (that was the cheapest in the market). I am thinking of buying a new better violin in next month.

As a student I see a advantage in using a cheap violin. I am speculating that because I have to add more effort to get a good, smooth sound from a cheap violin my ability of getting a good sound from any violin will improve. I specifically think that it will make me good at bowing.

Am I right on this? If I am right how long should I use my current violin.

  • 1
    The fact that the violin is cheap is, in itself, a good thing, not a bad thing. What are the bad things about the violin? Jan 18, 2017 at 14:02
  • Just curious, do you intend to learn violin for recreation, or consider to make music for living? Jan 18, 2017 at 16:57
  • 1
    @LasithaYapa, I rephrased a lot of your question to more standard English grammar. If I changed the meaning of your question, feel free to roll back the edits.
    – Karen
    Jan 18, 2017 at 18:39
  • Are you looking to play for money right now? Using "career" implies it, but looking at the text of your question, I'm not sure if you mean career as in work for money, or just that you've started playing with a cheap instrument.
    – Karen
    Jan 18, 2017 at 19:03
  • Actually I am 25 years old now. I think it's too late to start earning from music. This year i am going to face ABRSM grade 5 exam. (If that helps u to understand my level. Do you think that i should add it to my question?). Jan 19, 2017 at 4:24

4 Answers 4


If you can learn to sound good on a poor instrument, you might sound great on a nice instrument. But if you sound great on a nice instrument, you will still carry those skills to the poor instrument and sound good on it. The advantage to sticking with the cheap instrument is that it saves you money, and until you are very good, it is unlikely to severely hold back your skill. If you aren't playing professionally or auditioning for high quality orchestras, an upgrade probably isn't necesary to progress.

Money alone won't guarantee a good instrument. With good luck, you can find an inexpensive instrument whose sound is much, much better than you'd expect from the price tag. On the other hand, I once tried a $3000 violin that sounded worse than my $500 violin. If you are considering upgrading, take your time. You know your current instrument. Try enough violins that you know the kind of sound you can expect at different prices.

Try violins in person yourself, and have a second person play them for you because they sound different under your ear and across the room. Have a musician who is a better violinist than you come with you when you test the violins. Shopping in person is much better than ordering through the mail. If you have to mail order, have the shop play the violins over Skype or a phone, and use that to judge the sound. Pick a shop that lets you order a few instruments and test them in person and return the ones you don't want, even if that's all of them. If you can't afford that now, then stick with your current violin and keep saving money until you can.


Have you tried using better strings? I've been playing a cheap violin for more than 20 years. About 3 years ago I started using Dominant strings and I'll never go back to cheap 'n' nasty student strings.


I'm pretty sure the answer has to be vague & opinion-based, but try this...

...until the point at which you decide the reason you're not getting bookings is because of your sound rather than your ability.

  • Does that means you agree with my idea? Jan 18, 2017 at 9:45
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    There's not really anything to 'agree' with. You will either get work or not; it will depend on your ability & your sound. At some point, one of those will surpass the other, you can only hope that it's ability that wins. If you get to the point where you are absolutely certain that it is your sound holding you back, that's the point at which you must change instrument, or lose work. After only 2 years playing, you are unlikely to have reached that point yet.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 18, 2017 at 9:51
  • @Tetsujin - Getting work is usually not a goal for a violinist at OP's stage of study. Aug 30, 2019 at 3:23
  • @aparente001 - it's right there in the question title That's what a career is.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 30, 2019 at 5:39
  • @Tetsujin - It takes many years to get to the paid work stage, in the case of a string instrument such as the violin. It doesn't sound to me like OP is at that stage yet. Aug 30, 2019 at 21:47

Low-priced instruments are showcased by players who hone their chops on much better instruments.

It doesn't work the other way round since a player only playing cheap instruments does not even know what sound qualities are worth and possible of bringing out.

A good violin does not sound good on its own: it provides more transparent and obvious feedback of a player's improvements and keeps his focus on those things where he rather than the instrument can make a difference.

When your goal is to do car races, practice on a tractor will provide diminuishing returns rather soon, never mind how strong your hands get at cranking that steering wheel.

  • @LasithaYapa - if I understood user39921 correctly, that you'll progress better with a better quality, more responsive instrument, I agree. Also the advice to use good quality strings is good. Finally, I'll note that the quality of the bow makes a huge difference. It's the responsiveness that's very important. You want a set-up that will give you different results, from slight changes in what you are doing. A crude instrument and bow generally don't respond in the subtle ways. But we should talk about money. If you have the money, yes, you might as well upgrade sooner rather than... Aug 30, 2019 at 3:28
  • ... later. After all, a good student instrument will hold its value or appreciate. But note: at your stage, I suggest you set your upper price limit no higher than $6000. // Try to find a shop that will guarantee to buy it back at at least the same price you are paying now; make sure to put a rider or "attachment" onto your homeowner's or renter's insurance, with a precise description of the violin and the bow, and the price you paid. Aug 30, 2019 at 3:32

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