There may not be a more recognizable instrument in the world than the violin. But if you’re just starting your journey with this beautiful instrument, we understand that it can feel overwhelming and complicated. If that sounds familiar, then you’ve come to the right place! In the video above and this corresponding article, we will go over what you need to know – whether you’re brand new or somewhat familiar with the violin and simply looking to upgrade. This post will focus on three major points: finding the correct size, understanding the quality of the instrument, and how to perform basic maintenance on your instrument — once you’ve decided on your violin.
Sizing Your Violin
Sizing a violin is straightforward, simple, and is one of the best ways to initially make sure you get a beautiful sound from your instrument. All you have to do is stretch your left arm out (left arm because that is the arm that actually holds the violin and presses down on the strings), put the violin into the crook of your neck, resting on your left shoulder, and see if you can comfortably wrap your hand around the scroll at the top of the Instrument, where the tuning pegs are located. If you can’t quite get your hand around the scroll, even with your arm all the way stretched out, then the violin is too big! If you can get your wrist all the way around the top and are able to come back down the neck with your hand, then the violin is too small. Simple as that (we are happy to help size you in one of our retail stores or virtually…just say the word and your wish is our command)!
Violins only go up to a certain size, commonly referred to as “4/4” or “Full Size” in the orchestra world. If you have long arms, you may be able to reach all the way around the scroll and back down with a full sized violin. If that’s the case…that’s ok! If, however, you are really tall and a full sized violin just feels too uncomfortable for you, you may want to look into a Viola! They get about 50% bigger than a violin and may be more suited for your body type.
Finding The Right Quality of Violin
Like all Instruments, violin’s come in many different levels of quality manufacturing. From $50 Plastic Amazon violins, to $10 million, 200 year old custom, beautiful pieces of art. Here at Boothe Music, we sell Krutz String Instruments, a company located in Kansas City, Missouri, who make absolutely incredible instruments, from beginner level to handcrafted Artisan.
Krutz violin’s come in different sizes, as well as what they call “series.” A 100 series violin is your basic, beginner level violin. The 100 series violin is an instrument you can pick up for the first time and still get an amazing sound out of. A 900 series violin is your professional, handcrafted, aged wood violin. This is the kind of instrument that an experienced, professional violinist is going to be looking for. If you’re just starting out and not sure if you are going to stick with it, we recommend renting a 100 or 200 series violin from our online rental shop. If you are an experienced student and looking to upgrade, a 250 or 300 series violin would be a wonderful upgrade.
One of the biggest ways to tell the quality of the violin is to play it! Unfortunately, technology hasn’t given us a way to test instruments over the internet (yet!), so we’ve put an example in the video above — starting at 2:00. Koralee demonstrates three violin series (100, 250, 800), to show the difference between the three.
If you’re a beginner, you may not immediately notice the difference between the three violins mentioned in the video above. The sound does get smoother and richer as the series increases, which is a factor of the wood aging. But the main difference is going to be in the smoothness of playing, and the feedback the violinist gets from the Instrument itself. That has to do with the violinist’s technique. So, if you don’t have technique yet, start with a lower series and work your way up as you need and are able to. The real key to getting a beautiful sound is your ability to play, so practice, practice, practice, and keep checking back here for new lessons and tips for improving your ability!
Once you’ve chosen your violin, you need to keep your instrument maintained and healthy so that it will last and provide beautiful music for years and years to come. Some quick, basic things you can do:
- Keep the instrument out of extremely hot/cold temperatures, or wildly fluctuating temperatures.
- Heat and Cold can dry and crack the wood of your violin, so make sure you don’t ever leave it in the car/attic/etc. Going from below freezing to blazing with heat can warp the body or neck, making it difficult or impossible to play. These repairs are expensive, so make sure you keep it safe!
- Wipe the Instrument down once you’re done playing.
- The rosin from your bow will get on the instrument itself as you play. That’s not good for the wood itself and can cause dryness and cracking, so just take a microfiber cloth and quickly give it a wipe when you’re done for the day.
- Loosen your bow once you’re done playing.
- Keeping your bow in tension is necessary for getting a beautiful sound from your violin, but once you’re done playing, you need to loosen the hairs. Keeping the bow tight will (not might, will), cause the bow to warp. A warped bow ruins your technique, causing you to play at weird and uncomfortable angles.
Congratulations on your new violin! The world of Orchestra Strings is wonderful, and we welcome you to the family. Here at Boothe Music we are always ready to help if you have any questions. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll have a member of our team help you out.