Best Eastman Violins Brand Guide

Eastman violins are some of the best hand-crafted instruments for advanced players and students. Curated, classy, and with a rich tone, these violins range from affordable to highly expensive. With such a large selection of models, this article is meant to guide you towards the best Eastman Violin for you.

My Bottom line up-front:

Eastman is a step-up brand for beginners and intermediate players and an excellent choice for professionals that look for a refined quality violin. What sets this brand apart from most others is its 19th-century handmade craftsmanship reminiscent of traditional German luthiers. Even though the violins are manufactured in China, every instrument is handled with care and hand-carved out of fine Tonewoods.

The price of an Eastman violin of all series is higher than your standard student violin brand. Yet, considering the quality, it’s still affordable until you get to high-end premium models dedicated only to pros.

About Eastman Violins

The roots of the Eastman craftsmanship tradition date back to 17th-century German luthiers.  Many associate Italy with the finest violin makers of that era, yet German master builders of the time contributed equally as much to the instrument’s history.

The modern Eastman brand was founded in the early 90s in China. Even though the founder, Quan Ni, was not directly related to German heritage, the brand became successful by bringing back this tradition. The Eastman workshop operates similarly to the 19th Century European ones. The instruments are handcrafted from fine tonewoods with handheld tools. All the violins are later hand-varnished and go through the same rigorous care that traditional artisans put in their work.

The brand is, formerly known as ‘Eastman string’, recently changed its name to ‘Eastman Music Company’ and vastly expanded its manufacturing, becoming one of the top brands for high-quality student violins and professional instruments. Most of the instruments are crafted in China, yet some models are made in Romania and Germany. 

Selection Criteria 

Considering we are dealing with a high-quality brand aimed toward a vast selection of players, the selection criteria for the best Eastman violins very much depends on where you are with your playing.

For the beginner or just Intermediate players looking to replace their first violin, the main criteria, in order, are.

  • Playability 
  • Build Quality/Parts
  • Budget
  • Tone 
  • Extra accessories 

For a student, the main criteria should be playability before all. If you’re still developing your technique, a poor violin can hinder your progress if it does not play well. The tone starts to become important once you can bring out the best sound of your violin.

Keep in mind we are leaving the world of very affordable brands such as Stentor or Cecilio. The most affordable Eastman violin is around 500 USD and handled with care in the workshops, so an acceptable level of built quality is assured.

For advanced players who need an instrument that responds to all their needs in a professional musical setting, the main criteria to consider are the Tone, Tonewoods, and Craftsmanship and how they relate to the price. If you’re an experienced player, you will be able to tell if the Violin is right for you just by listening to the tone and evaluating your budget.

My Top Picks At a Glance

  • Samuel Eastman VL80 – Best choice on a budget: The VL80 is ideal for replacing your poorly made first violin or an outstanding 1st violin for you or your child. Even though it’s priced lower than 500USD, this violin still goes through the same treatment as Eastman’s premium instruments.
  • Andreas Eastman VL405 – Best step-up violin: The VL405 quality traditionally hand-built instrument is carved out of selected Spruce and flamed Maple. With a rich sound and great care in the building, it’s the perfect violin for advancing players who are yet to jump to professionals. It’s not a cheap violin; however, it’s completely worth it.
  • Albert Nebel Series+ VL601+ – Best Electric Violins: The VL601+ is a fine warm sounding traditional violin that adds a whole new dimension to the sound when plugged in. The flat Series+ pickup system heightens the aged European Tonewood and fine craftsmanship. A fantastic violin for any stage.
  • Raul Emiliani VL928 –  Best Premium Violin for Advanced Players: The Raul Emiliani is a violin that can fit in any orchestra. In the hands of an advanced or professional player, the instrument shines for world-class performances. As a top-tier instrument, it’s costly yet worth it.

Samuel Eastman VL80 

If you are serious about your or your child’s progress on violin, the VL80 is a perfect choice to help you advance. 

The VL80 is made of a solid spruce top, maple back, and a genuine ebony fingerboard. There’s truly no comparison between the Tonewoods on this violin and the ones used in cheap factory-made ones. The violins are hand carved and hand varnished, making the VL80 stand out from most student violins at first sight.

The Despiau bridge, quality tuners, and fine tuners make the violin easy to play and no need for further setup. Similar qualities are usually found only in more expensive instruments.
The built quality and fine parts used, lead to a well-balanced sound that projects to the listener. It does not have the same richness as violins priced 1000 USD and above, yet it’s more than enough to make playing enjoyable. It’s available in all sizes, making it an excellent choice for kids.

Samuel Eastman VL80 Pros

  • Great playability and built quality
  • The tone is well balanced and rich enough 
  • The bow and case that come with the violin are good

Samuel Eastman VL80 Cons

  • The strings might need replacing to get the best tone out of the violin
  • The tonewoods are not aged

Andreas Eastman VL405

Going up the price range, the Andreas Eastman VL405 stands out for its superior playability and tone. 

Once you have achieved a certain level of proficiency, affordable violins won’t be able to respond to your needs. Before jumping to an extremely expensive violin, a quality yet not overly costly VL405 might be what you need.

The violin is hand-carved out of aged European or Chinese Spruce and Maple, giving it a bright, open, and resonant sound. The tonal quality of the violin is truly impressive and matches many other more expensive ones. When you consider the process Eastman violins go through in their traditional workshops, it’s understandable they have a superior tone to most brands that don’t follow the same procedures.

The Antiqued Spirit Varnish is Eastman’s final touch in making the violin look like it’s made in a 19th-century traditional German shop.

Andreas Eastman VL405 Pros

  • Super built quality and tonewoods
  • The tone is exceptional
  • The strings, case, and that come with the violin are good

Andreas Eastman VL405 Cons

  • Available only on 4/4 size

Albert Nebel Series+ VL601+ 

The list would not be completed without a quality electric acoustic violin made for every kind of stage.

Without considering the electric part of the violin, this is a splendid instrument. It’s made entirely of aged  German Spruce and Maple with Ebony fretboard and fitting. This exceptional tonewood combination results in a warm, rich sound that projects well to the listener.

The main advantage of this violin is its superb versatility due to the unique pickup system and output jack. You can plug the violin on any PA system or amp and get a fantastic tone without excessively equalizing the tone.

If you are into modern genres and need to be heard on stage and need all the small dynamics of your playing heard properly, a fine electric acoustic violin like the VL601+ will serve you exceptionally well. The extra money is fully worth it for just slightly more than the standard non-electric VL 601.

The antique spirit varnish and genuine Hand-Inlaid purfling were all applied by expert luthiers, and handheld tools set the violin.

Albert Nebel Series+ VL601+ Pros  

  • Stylish look and superb built quality
  • Very responsive and flat pickup system
  • Excellent tone both plugged and unplugged

Albert Nebel Series+ VL601+ Cons

  • No volume or tone control to make it more versatile for modern music

Raul Emiliani VL928

The very best of Eastman Violins, the Raul Emiliani, is the instrument to look up to if you’re a professional musician. A refined instrument made out of the very best parts and artisans.

The Tonewoods of the violin are aged and rare. The Top is made of Italian Spruce, while the Back and Ribs are Bosnian Maple. Nothing is left unchecked, and the utmost details are placed in the oil varnish and hand-inlaid purfling. 

The tone is nothing less than superb and rich. As a soloist, you will appreciate how this violin stands out in the orchestra with the slight overtones and coloring taking over the already deep sound. 

There are not many reasons why you should not buy this violin apart from its price. Even though it’s expensive, the quality and why you would buy it ultimately justify the cost. The long list of seasoned players that have played and loved this Violin is the best assurance you need.

Raul Emiliani VL928 Pros

  • Superb in tone, built, look, and parts.
  • Aged Tonewoods that improve the violin tone over time

Raul Emiliani VL928 Cons

  • The price keeps it limited to only professional players

Alternatives to Eastman Violins

If you are considering other brands, some great models from quality builders to keep in mind are the following.

Cecilio 4/4 CVN-700 

A fantastic violin for beginners and intermediate players, the CVN-700 rivals the VL80 in many aspects.

Compared to the VL80, this violin has better-aged tonewoods while the built quality is on pair. On the other hand, Eastman has a unique craft style that makes the violin looks more refined and with a great tone. Both sound well balanced and play more than good enough for beginners or intermediate players.

The CVN700 is more expensive but has more extra accessories than the Eastman.

D Z Strad Violin – Model 511 – Royal Violin 

This handmade violin for advanced and professional players is an excellent alternative to the Eastman advanced series.

Considering the very high price, it has all you need to perform; aged tonewoods, excellent playability, full and rich tone, and a unique finish. The hand-carved floral pattern on both sides of the scroll and the back is a classy rare extra touch.

You should mainly consider your personal preference at this price point and if it’s the right time to invest in an expensive violin.

Final Tips on Choosing The Best Eastman Violins

Eastman offers a vast range of hand-carved violins for all levels. This means any violin, no matter the price, will deliver its promise without further enhancement. Your budget and playing level should be the main criteria to make you decide.

If you are after a student violin, Eastman’s are expensive for a first choice yet will last much longer than fabric mode ones. If Intermediate and Advanced players, all the Eastman violins priced 1000$ and above are fine instruments, every luthier will approve. If you can’t try one in your local shop, ensure you have the body measurements rights before ordering, and then enjoy your new instrument.


Question: What is the difference between beginner and professional violin?

Answer: The main difference between a beginner VL80 and a professional VL928 violin is the tonewoods, design, and craftsmanship.
Professional violins used seasoned rare tonewoods that result in a much resonant tone. If you’re playing in an orchestra, you need a certain level of sound quality to match the rest of the instruments, which usually are also expensive. Another major difference is in the reliability that a professional violin offers. They rarely have tunning issues and are made to last for many years, sometimes even improving the tone. On the other hand, a beginner violin is meant to be replaced after a few years of playing to level space to a better one.

Question: What is an advanced violin?

Answer: An advanced violin is a fully hand-carved instrument, fit for advancing students and even professionals. The range of what is called an advanced violin is vast, and some models might cut professionals, some not.
Generally, the main criteria for advanced violins are seasoned Tonewoods and detailed craftsmanship by the luthier. It could be either a new or used instrument.

Question: Does a violin get better with age?

Answer: Only violins made out of fine rare Tonewood improve their tone in time, even though the difference is very subtle, and it takes around 25-50 years for one to reach its peak tone quality.

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