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Violin Prices: What Do Violins Cost?

The price of a good violin can vary from about $1,000 up to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. (This refers to antique or historic instruments created by famous violin makers.) Here is an overview of what you can expect in each price range, as well as how to match the violin to the player.

In the Beginning: The Violin Student

For someone just starting on the instrument, renting a violin is the most economical option. Johnson’s rental program allows the player to rent until they’re ready to purchase an instrument, then apply a portion of the cost of renting toward the purchase. In addition, the violinist can begin with a smaller size instrument, but exchange their violin for a larger size as they grow.

Purchasing the First Violin

Once a player has reached a certain level, it makes sense for them to buy an instrument of their own. The initial price range runs from about $1,000 to $3,000.

“In this price range are instruments for people who have started playing and shown some interest or some capacity,” says Matthew Fritz, director of sales and acquisitions at Carriage House Violins, Johnson String’s dedicated sales and workshop departments.

These instruments will be composed of “all solid tone woods,” he continues. “You’ll have a hand-carved spruce top, and the back and sides will be of maple.” Even at this level, these instruments “are constructed the same way that they have been, going all the way back to [Stradivari’s] time.”

Moving up to the Next Level of Instruments

Next are violins in the $3,000 to $6,000 price range. What you find here are “better workshop instruments,” continues Fritz. These violins are “produced in the same workshop as the first level, but made with more carefully chosen materials and also a lot more man hours.”

To the player, “this means a larger complexity in the sound. There should be a greater dynamic range,” and the capacity to draw more out of the instrument, based on the violinist’s own skill and technique.

You’ll find “more beauty in the woods that are chosen,” and an increase in the quality of varnishes “and the time that it takes to apply a nicer varnish,” says Fritz. “Now you’re getting into the type of instruments that really should last a lifetime, as long as they’re well maintained.”

In addition, at the upper end of this price point “you’ll see actual antique instruments that have been made, let’s say, by the early part of the 1900’s,” he explains. This age itself, and what that means to the maturation of the wood over time, adds value to the instrument.


Additional Resources

Carriage House Violins

Carriage House Violins

Located in Newton, Massachusetts, Carriage House Violins is the instrument sales division of Johnson String Instrument.

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The Johnson String Project

Johnson String Project

A charitable foundation whose goal is to provide high-quality instruments to children who live in underserved communities and who are participating in El-Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts.

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The Johnson String Blog

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