Buying a new violin can be daunting for both beginners and advanced players alike. Some of the best tips for purchasing one are to find a respected instrument maker, often referred to as a luthier, and take along a friend or teacher knowledgeable in music. Before playing the instrument, inspect it thoroughly for cracks, dents, or warping. It is also important to test out the instrument to get a feel for both the sound and the comfort. Taking the instrument home for a purchase trial is also a good idea, especially when buying an expensive violin.
While many music stores often sell violins, it is generally best to go to a respected luthier when purchasing a new one. Talking to other violinists in the area and looking in the local classifieds or phone book are one of the best ways to do this. If no one local is available, many luthiers will work with a long distance buyer to find him or her the perfect new violin. If this is not feasible, a local store that specializes in stringed instruments is ideal, as general music stores typically have a limited selection.
Bringing another person along when purchasing a new violin is often a good idea. Having someone else to look over the instrument can often provide another perspective on its condition. It can also be helpful to have another person listening when the instrument is tested. A violin often sounds slightly different to the player than it does to the audience, and a trusted musical friend or teacher can help the buyer to have a good idea of what the instrument sounds like to others.
All violins, even new ones, should be inspected thoroughly. Cracking in the instrument can indicate shoddy construction and will alter the sound. Warping in the wood may show that it has not be made or stored correctly, and the new violin may develop cracks shortly after purchase. As with all string instruments, inspecting the sound post inside of the violin is also important. It should be secure, solid and straight.
Playing the instrument for at least 10 minutes will give the buyer a good idea not only of the sound of the violin, but also how comfortable it is to hold and play. While many believe that a violin, outside of student instruments, is only one size, the length of the neck can vary significantly. The placement of the chin rest can also play a role in how comfortable the instrument is to play. No matter how beautiful of a sound the new violin makes, it will be difficult to work with if it is not comfortable to play.
Most reputable luthiers or new violin dealers provide serious buyers with the option to do a purchase trial. As a new violin requires breaking in for its true sound to come through, this is often a good idea before purchasing the instrument. The buyer will be able to take the instrument home for a week or two to play regularly and get a good idea of its sound. This can be essential when buying an instrument, especially if the item is meant to be an investment.