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Violins are versatile instruments, used in everything from classical sonatas to bluegrass songs. When looking for a violin, it's important to consider the skill level of the player. These instruments are available in a range of sizes and qualities, with variations designed for both beginners and professional musicians available.

What types of violins are available?

There are three primary types of violins: student violins, intermediate violins, and professional violins.

Instruments made for students are generally made from different woods than professional models. They also lack the handcrafted features found on professional instruments. Some parts may be made of plastic, like the chin rest and the tuning pegs. They are ideal for students who aren't yet ready to invest in a full-size instrument.

As students advance in their practice, they often use intermediate models. They have improved features, and may be constructed out of aged woods or have a hand-applied finish. Thanks to these upgrades, they often have improved tonality, allowing intermediate players to achieve their musical goals.

Instruments designed for professionals are made with fine wood and outfitted with excellent components, like a wooden tailpiece or an ebony fingerboard. They are hand-assembled by experienced luthiers, which ensures they have the balance and musical integrity professional players require. Romanian violins are especially sought-after.

What sizes do violins come in?

Most adults and older children play on full-sized violins. Younger children, however, often use smaller instruments and bows that suit their arm length. They come in many sizes, with the 4/4 model representing the standard, full-sized instrument. Sizes include:

  • 4/4 size: 23 inches long
  • 3/4 size: 22 inches long
  • 1/2 size: 20 inches long
  • 1/4 size: 18.5 inches long
  • 1/8 size: 16.5 inches long
  • 1/10 size: 15 inches long
  • 1/16 size: 14 inches long
  • 1/32 size: 13 inches long
What are violins made of?

These instruments are constructed out of a combination of wood types. The wood needs to be strong enough to provide an adequate amount of tension for the strings. Without this tension, the violin will not produce music with the right resonance. Violins are typically made of the following materials:

  • Spruce: Spruce is usually used for the linings, blocks, and tops of these instruments.
  • Maple: Maple is used to make the scroll, neck, ribs, and back.
  • Ebony: For high-quality violins, ebony is used on the end pin, the tailpiece, the pegs, and the fingerboard.
  • Boxwood: Intermediate violins often substitute boxwood for ebony.
What types of strings are available?

Choosing the right strings is important for players of all skill levels and music types. There are three major types:

  • Gut Core Strings: These are made of sheep intestines, and they're known for their warm, complex sound. Frequently used by professionals, they're suited for baroque and classical music.
  • Synthetic Core Strings: These are durable than gut core styles and ensure stable pitch.
  • Steel Core Strings: These are coated in metal, and they produce a loud, bright sound. They're often used for music genres like folk and bluegrass.