A great violin can set you back $300,000, although it does a lot of things well. But before putting a major dent in your budget, know the market.
A good violin can help you play it for years. It has no shortage of great players, too. Most of today’s top violinists can tell you some of their favorite models, all within the $300,000 price range.
“This makes a good violin more important than an expensive one,” says Jason Boulton, a world-renowned classical trumpet player who uses a Baroque-era violin from the 18th century to play the cello. “A great violin also has a good sound, so you know all the time that it’s not really going to cost you a fortune.”
As for how much you should pay for a good violin, this varies widely by player and by instrument.
For example, a Baroque-era violin should cost about as much as some high-end electric instruments — like a new upright bass — and that’s assuming it comes with a full set of strings and a comfortable bow. On top of that, the violin is built especially for the job.
“If the price is the same in a good violin and a bad one, go for the good violin,” says Tony Bostwick, a veteran violinist. “But I’d prefer a $500 Baroque-era to a $300, and I’d never say never to a $500 Baroque-era violin.”
Still, some players are willing to pay a bit more if they can get great service and sound. The $300,000 Baroque violin is a great example, for example, of how to do things right. But if you really want to make a statement, you shouldn’t just pay a high price.
“My rule of thumb is, when I can find a good instrument in a good place for $300, then it’s worth the risk,” says Steve Heffron, a fine violinist based in New York.
“There are a lot of great instruments out there that are worth a lot less, so don’t get too worried if you can get a bad one,” Heffron says.
For example, this Baroque-era violin has been in Bruce Weber’s possession for decades:
It starts at $15,000 on Craig’s List. But you can get one of the more affordable
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