Finding the perfect violin can be a stressful experience. You need to carefully consider the brand, the budget, and the quality, in addition to all sorts of additional factors. However, it must be said that finding violins for children presents even more challenges.
There are many violin sizes out there, but ½ violins are by far some of the most common. This means that there are tons of options available. How are you supposed to find the best ½ violin, where can you find them, and what qualities should you look for in such a violin?
These are great questions, but don’t panic! I’ve been playing the violin for almost two decades, and not only did I once have to find a ½ violin for myself, but I’ve had to recommend them to students in more recent years. To help you with your search, I’ve compiled my experience into the following guide on how to find the best ½ violin. Read on to find out more!
Is A ½ Violin Right for Your Child?
Before we dive into what you should look for in the perfect ½ violin, you must consider whether it is the correct size in the first place. You might be reading this because you found information that states that ½ violins are best for children between the ages of six and twelve years. Whilst this is a good general guideline, there is more to it than that.
To be more specific, 1/2 violins are suitable for children with an arm length of 20 to 22 inches. Not every child grows at the same rate, so don’t just blindly follow this advice – measure your child’s arm span and see if it’s going to be an appropriate fit.
Another important thing to consider is that children experience unexpected growth spurts. If your child currently has an arm length of 22 inches and shows no sign of slowing down, it might be worth considering purchasing a ¾ violin for them to grow into. Similarly, if your child is growing fast and currently has an arm span of 19 inches, a ¼ violin may go to waste, so consider upsizing to the ½.
Ultimately, there’s only one way to ensure that a ½ violin is right for your child – take them to a violin store and test out a variety of different sizes. This way, your child can get hands-on experience with ¼, ½, and ¾ violins to see what feels most comfortable to them. After all, they won’t get much violin practice done if the instrument isn’t comfortable to handle!
Qualities To Consider When Looking for the Best ½ Violin
If you’re certain that a ½ is going to be appropriately sized for your child, you now have the problem of dealing with the enormous amount of variety on the market. There are hundreds of different ½ violin models to choose from, varying greatly in all sorts of different ways. To make sure that you find the perfect ½ violin, let’s take a look at exactly what you should be searching for.
Learning the violin is a tough task that requires tons of patience and determination, even as an adult! It’s even more difficult for children as they often struggle to concentrate on the long-term benefits of mastering such a hobby, so it is important that they feel as comfortable as possible when practicing to keep their motivation high.
Size plays into this massively – learning the violin requires you to hold the instrument in a certain way and to be able to navigate the fingerboard comfortably, and this simply is not going to happen if the instrument is too big or small. Heading to a music store and finding a violin size that is comfortable for your child is going to be one of the most important contributing factors to their comfort when practicing.
However, it’s not all about size – you will also need to consider the weight of the instrument, the strings that are used, and the wood that the instrument is made out of. Once again, testing ½ violins in music stores is a great way to experiment with different qualities to optimize one’s comfort when playing the violin.
Quality Vs. Budget
It can be tempting to splash out on a super expensive ½ violin – after all, surely the more expensive a violin is, the higher quality it will be, right? Whilst this is partly true, there is no point in spending outside of your budget. Children grow fast, so they may need a ¾ violin in a couple of years, and the most important thing for a child to learn the instrument is comfort – not swanky woodcraft!
If you have the cash to spend, it’s undeniable that more expensive ½ violins are going to resonate better, louder, and be more of a pleasure to practice with. However, I would recommend that you only spend a lot of money if you have the money to spare. It’s a great idea to save up for a big upgrade once your child requires a full-size violin as this will be expected in orchestras. However, any ½ violin of reasonable quality and budget will be fine for a beginner violinist.
The next thing that you are going to want to consider when looking for the best ½ violin is the accessories included with the instrument. Every violin should include four pre-fitted strings and a bow, but other essential accessories may be included in your purchase.
Some examples of such accessories include a chinrest, a violin case, spare strings, rosin, a music stand… the list goes on! Luckily, many violin brands will sell a ‘beginners violin bundle,’ including the majority of those accessories with your purchase. Sure, you could buy these items separately, but I think it’s a great idea to look for ½ violins that include these accessories. There’s nothing worse than buying a brand new instrument, only to discover that you need to buy more equipment to start learning it!
The final thing that I would recommend you look for in a ½ violin is a violin brand that has a reputation for excellent customer service. This can exist in a variety of ways, from having a customer support team who can answer any of your questions, to insurance and warranty schemes that will protect your ½ violin from cosmetic damage.
That second point about insurance and warranty is particularly important. Let’s be honest. Children can be clumsy. I couldn’t even count the number of times that I dropped my violin as a child. Luckily, my parents always purchased violins from reputable brands that provided warranties and insurance policies, and this meant that whenever my violin got damaged, it was quickly fixed or even replaced on one occasion!
If you find a ½ violin brand that provides customer support such as this for a slightly increased fee, go for it. Trust me, it’s going to be worth it in the long run when your child inevitably drops that violin!
My Top ½ Violin Recommendations
If you were unsure whether purchasing a ½ violin is the right decision, or you wanted to know what to look for in a good ½ violin, hopefully, my thoughts so far have cleared the air. Now, let’s take a look at some of my top picks for the best ½ violins on the market right now. I hope that they will serve as some inspiration to you, I’ve ensured that each choice covers all of the aforementioned points.
Forenza Uno Series Student Violin
I mentioned earlier that you shouldn’t let a small budget get in the way of purchasing a ½ violin. Sure, it can be tempting to save up those extra dollars for something fancy, but not everyone can afford this, and your child might not enjoy playing the instrument or may simply have a growth spurt.
If this sounds like you, I would highly recommend the Forenza Uno Series Student ½ Violin. Forenza’s Uno violins are specifically sold with beginners on a budget in mind, and I have seen them in just about every violin practice room that I have come across. It can be bought online for under $100 which is an insanely good price for a beginner’s violin, and the package even comes with a bow and a lightweight hard case.
It comes in four different colors (Natural, Black, Purple, and Red), a hardwood fingerboard, and tuning pegs, and I have heard from students that they are surprisingly comfortable to use considering the price.
- The $100 price tag makes it a great option if a child is unsure whether they want to learn the instrument or if they may soon grow out of it
- The bundled hard case features convenient compartments to store bows and other accessories
- It comes in four different colors, including natural wood
- Whilst the price tag is very appealing, the build quality is not particularly great
- It’s mass-produced in a factory, as opposed to being hand-carved by a luthier
- Hardwood is used for the fingerboard and other parts, as opposed to the sturdier ebony
Eastman Strings Samuel Eastman VL80
Some children are adamant from a young age that they want to pursue learning the violin, and if you have plenty of cash to spend on encouraging their hobbies, the Eastman Strings Samuel Eastman VL80 could be exactly what you are looking for.
This is a top-range ½ violin, coming in at around $600, and I must say that this is a lot to spend on a beginner’s violin. However, this price tag is reflected by the superior quality of the instrument. Not only does it feature a body optimized for fantastic resonance, an ebony fingerboard, and a variety of essential accessories, but it’s also hand-carved!
In case you are not aware, hand-carved instruments always sound a lot better than those that are made in a factory. Professional luthiers will age the woods used to increase their longevity and stability, they will ensure that every instrument has been carefully detailed to an optimum standard, and overall a lot of love and professionalism is put into the production. Eastman Strings has always stood out when it comes to hand-made and fine-quality instruments, and to see them apply this to a ½ violin is truly delightful.
- Hand-carved by professional luthiers, as opposed to being assembled in a factory
- The fingerboard and other parts are made with fine ebony
- There aren’t many other ½ violins that can match such resonance, amplification, and craftsmanship as this
- $600 would be considered to be too much money to spend on a ½ violin by many people
- Many professional violinists would claim that the high quality and craftsmanship of this violin would be too much for a child to appreciate, and would be better saved as an upgrade when they are older.
DZ Strad Violin Model 100
Finally, if you’re on a modest budget but don’t mind spending a little extra for some quality craftsmanship, I would highly recommend the DZ Strad Violin Model 100. This is a violin that was initially designed for adult beginners, but thankfully the people at DZ Strad have released the violin in various other sizes including ½.
I’m particularly fond of this option since it goes all out in terms of quality – the fingerboard, pegs, and chinrest are made from ebony, the resonance is stunning, and the instrument is set up individually by professional luthiers.
These are qualities that are generally expected for violins that cost a thousand dollars, but the price tag of this ½ violin is under $300! Considering the amount of care that DZ Strad put into their violins, this is pretty phenomenal. I would particularly recommend this as an option if your child is only just in the range for a ½ instrument. This way, you know that they will have several years to play it, and this makes splashing out some extra cash a lot more worth it.
- DZ Strad has an excellent reputation and provides great customer service and warranties
- Set up by professional luthiers
- The fingerboard is made from ebony, as are other parts of the violin
- Under $300 is a small price to pay for an instrument that has had such care put into its production
- Despite being excellent value for money, $300 can still feel like a lot of money to spend on a ½ violin, especially if a child is unsure whether they will enjoy playing the instrument
- Whilst the instrument is set up by professional luthiers, it is not hand-carved
Well, that just about covers everything you need to know about finding the best ½ violins. We’ve taken a look at why ½ violins should be considered, what makes a good quality violin, and some of my favorite picks throughout my career as a violinist. Let’s now round things off with a quick FAQ. Hopefully, it will help to answer some of your burning questions.
Answer: Whilst ½ violins are generally considered to be appropriate for children between the ages of six and ten years, it’s best to consider it in terms of an arm’s length of 20 to 22 inches.
Answer: Many people consider it to be a good idea to buy a ½ violin for a five or six-year-old child to grow into but bear in mind that they will not be able to comfortably play the instrument until they do so.
Answer: Whilst there are many excellent budget ½ violin brands such as the Forenza Uno series, brands such as DZ Strad and Eastman Strings produce ½ violins of significantly higher quality.
I hope that this guide on finding the best ½ violins has been helpful to you! There are a ton of things to consider when buying a violin for your child, but comfort and sizing is by far the most important thing in my opinion.
Sure, the quality of an instrument will massively improve how pleasurable it is to listen to and to practice with, but this isn’t completely necessary in my opinion if the child is young and still learning. This is why I recommend DZ Strad’s Model 100 – it finds a fine balance between providing an excellent quality violin with ebony fittings whilst keeping the price moderate at under $300. Sure, it may not be hand-carved like the Eastman Strings ½ violins, but I think it’s an excellent play to start for young musicians.
So, what are you waiting for? Get into your local music store and try these ½ violins out for yourself. There is no better way to find an instrument that fits than to let your child try it out for themselves. Just don’t forget about this guide that I wrote when your child has upgraded to a finely crafted 4/4 violin in the distant future!
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