Best Acoustic Violins in 2020



Mendini 4/4 MV300 Solid Wood Satin Antique Violin with Hard Case, Shoulder Rest, Bow, Rosin and Extra Strings (Full Size) Review:


I bought this for my 8 year-old niece for Christmas. She's been begging to have a violin for as long as I can remember, and I can guaranty she won't be disappointed with this instrument.

There are some things that need to be said in this review though.

First of all, I've played guitar for the last 33 years. I began playing when I was ten. By the time I was a teenager, I was not only playing guitar and bass, but I was doing repair work for myself and other people. I know electric guitars and basses inside and out. About the only thing I can't, or won't do with one of these instruments is a re-fret - mainly because I don't have the space or the tools for it. I've been setting up stringed instruments for more than half my life.

That being said...

I firmly believe a lot of the negative reviews I've read here are written by people who felt the violin should have been in tune and playable right out of the box - which is ludicrous. This is a small, acoustic instrument. Shipping one of these things tuned to pitch would nearly guaranty a broken instrument upon arrival. These are shipped out with the strings slacked. The one I purchased had the bridge in place, but it was by no means in the correct place - directly between the middle of the two f-holes. It couldn't be. With the strings slacked, the slightest bump to the package could dislodge it.

I presume the majority of the negative reviews I read were written by people in the United States, where the people are taught by their televisions that everything is easy, nothing requires effort, and when you buy something, it has to work right out of the box - otherwise it's defective. I know, I live in the US.

If you're considering buying this, or ANY acoustic stringed instrument through an online retailer like Amazon, you're either going to have to learn some new skills in setting up an acoustic instrument, or take it to someone (reputable) who has the skills the set up an acoustic instrument for you. If you bought one of these instruments in a local music store, the set up would be done in the store prior to sale, and I'm sure the house luthier (instrument repair guy) would give it a "once-over" and a final tuning before you took it home. You're paying for this. It's why this same violin would be twenty or thirty dollars more if you bought it in a local music store.

For a guy like me, learning how to set up a whole new instrument was a joy.

Here are some quick tips on how you can do this yourself:

1.) The rosin cake that comes with the violin has a glaze over it to keep it from powdering up everything in the case during shipment. You'll need to "get it started". Take an emery board (nail file) or a little bit of sandpaper and sand off that top glaze until the cake starts to get powdery.

2.) The tuning pegs WILL NOT hold a proper tuning on the strings right out of the box! I don't care if you paid fifty grand for a new violin - if it has new pegs and new strings, they WILL slip. Take the strings off one at a time (I started with the G string) and apply your now powdery rosin to each peg - get the ends really good - and also apply some rosin to the holes in the headstock where the peg was. Replace the peg and the string. You'll now notice that there's a stiffness and a tackiness when turning the peg in its holes. This will prevent string slippage. If it's still a little loose, rap the peg head loosely with your knuckles to seat it a little better in the peg holes. Don't pull out a mallet or anything drastic like that - just knock on the peg head as if you were knocking on a door. It should seat it better. Again, even the most expensive violins require these adjustments to stay in tune. Follow these steps for each string, removing only one string at a time. When you tighten each string back up, only get it tight enough to allow the bridge to stand up. Don't try to tune the strings to pitch until you completed this process for all four strings.

3.) When all your peg holes and pegs are rosined up and back in place, make sure those strings have enough tension on them to keep the bridge erect, but not so much that the bridge is immovable. Start turning your pegs, G-string first - tune from low to high. The bridge will move around as you tune, that's fine. Just keep nudging it back into place. You're not tuning yet, you're putting tension on each string to secure the bridge in place. Once you feel you have an even tension (more or less) across all four strings and the bridge is staying where it should (between the very middle of the two f-holes), then you can start tuning the instrument to pitch.

4.) Rosin your bow. Without rosin on the bow, the hairs will just glide across the strings without producing any appreciable vibration - in other words - no note. The rosin creates friction between the two surfaces and causes the string(s) to vibrate. Playing your new violin without rosin is about the same as playing it without strings.

5.) Your new violin will still go out of tune! Yes. Why? Because it was shipped to you with new strings, that's why! I know this from playing guitar for as long as I have. New strings have a certain "breaking in " period. Once the strings settle into their tuning, try to avoid tuning with the pegs and use the fine tuners in the bridge to make minute adjustments to the tuning of your new instrument. Righty tighty, lefty loosen. Tightening the fine tuners will bring the pitch of the string up, loosening the fine tuner will bring it down. During your initial set up, make sure the fine tuners are tightened mid-way - that way you have room to move either up or down in pitch once the strings are broken in. The fine tuners on the instrument I purchased pretty much arrived this way, but it doesn't hurt to check.

6.) One last piece of advice, if you break a string, change them all, don't just change one. It's like tires on a car. It's better to replace all four at once than it is to replace one at a time. Your violin will just sound and respond better if you do.

Now that all that stuff is out of the way, I'll conclude this review with an actual review.

As far as the construction of the instrument goes - it's okay. It's maple - maple is a good, solid, tone wood - not too expensive, but certainly not plastic, like I've seen for other instruments in this price range. The maple finger board (stained dark to resemble ebony) is okay, again MUCH better than plastic. I'd personally like to see rosewood or pau ferro. It wouldn't be too expensive in violin size to substitute one of these tone woods - either one would have a "slicker" feel than stained maple and still be cost-effective for a beginner's instrument. The stained maple pegs are just fine, they do the job and again, infinitely better than plastic.

The tone bar seems to be seated well and in its proper place. I'm happy it's there to begin with. At this price range, it isn't unexpected to not see one at all.

I'm not an experienced player by any means, so I don't know much about the accessories, but the included chin rest and shoulder rest seem pretty adequate. Adding the shoulder rest made it a lot more comfortable for me to play - well, squeak out some notes anyway.

I'd say, all in all, it's a solid little first instrument. It's not mind-blowing. You get what you pay for, and I think in this case, you might even be getting a little more. The instrument itself, aside from its chin rest and shoulder rest, is all wood and metal - no plastic - which is a wonderful thing.

In conclusion, I'd say, put in some TIME. Put in some EFFORT, and you'll have a decent instrument to learn with.



Eastar EVA-2 4/4 Violin Set Full Size Fiddle for Kids Beginners Students with Hard Case, Rosin, Shoulder Rest, Bow, and Extra Strings (Imprinted Finger Guide on Fingerboard) Review:


I'm kind of amazed they can sell this so inexpensively and make a profit. There's a lot of value in this violin: even the case is well-designed and sturdy seeming. All the parts appear to be well crafted. There's an extra bridge - I'm pretty sure the bridges are good maple, even though it doesn't say it in the description. The crafting seems quite careful - I don't see some of the signs of sloppiness that are sometimes apparent on intro-level student instruments.
I've gotten a couple other Eastar instruments, and they all seem like this: really good value, well made for intro-level instruments. Playable, and inexpensive enough to give to a 6th grader (or whatever) to take to school without worrying too much. They won't be soloing at Carnegie hall, but at this level you want an instrument that's solid, works right, and won't turn the student off from learning. Everything they need is included - rosin, chin rest, etc. So, you can pay a music store $15/month or whatever to rent a violin, or just pay 4-5 months up front to buy the dang thing. If your student doesn't stick with it, sell it to some other parent. What's the down-side??



Cecilio CVN-300 Solidwood Ebony Fitted Violin with D'Addario Prelude Strings, Size 4/4 (Full Size) Review:


I purchased this violin 10 months ago, so I've had ample time to evaluate it. I played violin all though my teen years and quit in my sophomore year of college. As a middle aged adult, I decided I wanted to play again, but didn’t want to invest a lot of money until I saw if I would be successful at it. I’ve been very happy with this instrument. It has a clean sound and blends well with other instruments. The only change that I’ve made is that I’ve replaced the strings with a set of Dominants, which produce a warmer sound. Our church has an active music program and, after becoming comfortable with playing again, I’ve been accompanying the music at services. I’ve also performed a duet prelude with our music director, who also plays violin, and the tone of our instruments blended together nicely; she was impressed with its sound for an inexpensive violin. The violin holds its tuning well and is comfortable to play. My opinion is that it’s a great deal for the amount of money spent and is an excellent option for a beginner to intermediate player. I expect to continue enjoying mine for years to come.



Mendini MV400 Ebony Fitted Solid Wood Violin with Tuner, Lesson Book, Hard Case, Shoulder Rest, Bow, Rosin, Extra Bridge and Strings - Size 4/4, (Full Size) Review:


If you are a professional violinist, this violin is not for you. If you are a violin teacher with an elite mentality, then NO VIOLIN FOR YOU!

To my semi-trained ear this is a good sounding instrument. There are several reviews on YouTube from actual violinists who say this is a great beginner violin. If you want to try out playing a violin without having to rent one, this is a great choice.

I've never played the violin, but I do play other instruments and I can read music, so this isn't exactly starting at zero for me. However, I was able to rosin the heck out of the bow and get the violin tuned using the included tuner. I got some fairly nice sounds (again, to my ear) out of it. I can tell when a note is flat or sharp and it takes a bit of fiddling around (pun intended) with the pegs and fine-tuners to get this thing into tune. You tune one string and then that will throw another one out of tune, ad infinitum. But eventually I found that the best way to tune this is to turn all the fine tuners to the middle of the screw and then use the pegs to get close (within +/- 15 cycles) of the note you're tuning. Once you get that done with the pegs, then go back and use the fine-tuners to get it as close to the note as possible. You could also do it by ear if you have a nicely-tuned piano if you have the musical background for it. I don't have a piano, so I trusted the tuner. And the GDAE strings sounded close to the violin tutorial I found on YouTube, so I know the tuner works and is useful.

Once I started playing I was able to get some clear and very resonant sounds from the violin, with the help of a nice tutorial on YouTube, I also discovered what too much rosin looks like. Like I said, I rosined the heck out of it and spent a fair amount of time wiping the fine rosin dust off of the violin. Then I loosened the bow very slightly and rubbed the back side of the bow lightly with my fingers until all of the small rosin clouds disappeared. So, I recommend starting off with maybe 10-15 swipes along the included new rosin then test and add more if necessary. Also, rosin dust will make you sneeze and leave you with sticky-fingers.

I've always wanted to learn to play a stringed instrument, but never really looked into it seriously. I have several friends who play professionally and I learned from them that good violins (I mean really, really, really GOOD violins) can run into the 6 figure range, so I never pursued it seriously.

For me it will likely be just a hobby, so for less than a C-note (pun intended) I can try out playing the violin. It may not be the best, but look at it this way: If I go to the store to pick up a gallon of milk and bring it back home, whether I drive there in a 1972 VW Bug or a brand new top-of-the-line Jaguar, the job gets done and the milk tastes the same either way. People may sneer at you for driving a "clunker", but that's their problem, not yours.



Mendini Size 3/4 MV300 Solid Wood Violin with Tuner, Lesson Book, Shoulder Rest, Extra Strings, Bow and Case, Satin Antique Finish Review:


For all future buyers with no experience or knowledge of violins, this needs to be said because many of these instruments have been sent back with nothing wrong with them. Do more research than just reading reviews. Ive seen dozens of reviews complaining about the finish on the neck. The neck normally is not finished, and hasn't been for centuries. The finish can cause your fingers to not slide, causing sour notes due to poor fingering. I've also seen claims of the violin being broken on arrival because the bridge had fallen in transport. The bridge is not fixed to the instrument like on a guitar. String tension holds it to the violin. If the strings are loosened or if the bridge tilts forward, the bridge will fall. It just needs to be set back up between the notches in the f-holes. The tuner has 4 modes on it: guitar, bass, violin, and cello. When tuning the violin for the first time, be certain to set it to violin or you will likely break a string. And finally, the tuning pegs. Unlike a guitar that uses a set of gears in the tuning machines, the tuning pegs on a violin are tapered and held in place solely by friction. When tuning, you must push in when you turn the pegs to seat the taper or they will slip and not retain tension on the string.

Please future buyers, do your homework so you wont be disappointed or believe something is wrong with what you've bought when it is exactly as it should be.

With that said, 100% satisfied with my purchase. Tuner worked fine, already playing my first notes within an hour of unboxing.



Mendini 4/4 MV-Black Solid Wood Violin with Tuner, Lesson Book, Shoulder Rest, Extra Strings, Bow and Case, Metallic Black Full Size Review:


For all future buyers with no experience or knowledge of violins, this needs to be said because many of these instruments have been sent back with nothing wrong with them. Do more research than just reading reviews. Ive seen dozens of reviews complaining about the finish on the neck. The neck normally is not finished, and hasn't been for centuries. The finish can cause your fingers to not slide, causing sour notes due to poor fingering. I've also seen claims of the violin being broken on arrival because the bridge had fallen in transport. The bridge is not fixed to the instrument like on a guitar. String tension holds it to the violin. If the strings are loosened or if the bridge tilts forward, the bridge will fall. It just needs to be set back up between the notches in the f-holes. The tuner has 4 modes on it: guitar, bass, violin, and cello. When tuning the violin for the first time, be certain to set it to violin or you will likely break a string. And finally, the tuning pegs. Unlike a guitar that uses a set of gears in the tuning machines, the tuning pegs on a violin are tapered and held in place solely by friction. When tuning, you must push in when you turn the pegs to seat the taper or they will slip and not retain tension on the string.

Please future buyers, do your homework so you wont be disappointed or believe something is wrong with what you've bought when it is exactly as it should be.

With that said, 100% satisfied with my purchase. Tuner worked fine, already playing my first notes within an hour of unboxing.



Mendini Full Size 4/4 MV300 Solid Wood Violin with Tuner, Lesson Book, Extra Strings, Shoulder Rest, Bow and Case, Satin Antique Finish Review:


For all future buyers with no experience or knowledge of violins, this needs to be said because many of these instruments have been sent back with nothing wrong with them. Do more research than just reading reviews. Ive seen dozens of reviews complaining about the finish on the neck. The neck normally is not finished, and hasn't been for centuries. The finish can cause your fingers to not slide, causing sour notes due to poor fingering. I've also seen claims of the violin being broken on arrival because the bridge had fallen in transport. The bridge is not fixed to the instrument like on a guitar. String tension holds it to the violin. If the strings are loosened or if the bridge tilts forward, the bridge will fall. It just needs to be set back up between the notches in the f-holes. The tuner has 4 modes on it: guitar, bass, violin, and cello. When tuning the violin for the first time, be certain to set it to violin or you will likely break a string. And finally, the tuning pegs. Unlike a guitar that uses a set of gears in the tuning machines, the tuning pegs on a violin are tapered and held in place solely by friction. When tuning, you must push in when you turn the pegs to seat the taper or they will slip and not retain tension on the string.

Please future buyers, do your homework so you wont be disappointed or believe something is wrong with what you've bought when it is exactly as it should be.

With that said, 100% satisfied with my purchase. Tuner worked fine, already playing my first notes within an hour of unboxing.