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Stentor is one of the leading quality student violin builders in the world. They are known for offering affordable violin than takes you from your first lesson to a professional level. The brand offers so many options that a best Stentor violins brand guide is necessary to make the right choice. I will be careful and point you to the best Stentor violin depending on where you are on your playing journey.
My bottom line up front: From day one of playing the violin to becoming an advanced player, there’s a Stentor violin fit for you. The best quality of the brand is how it manages to keep the price low on the well-built instruments in all its series. I recommend them for all beginners and intermediate players and perhaps for advanced players that consider that they will outgrow their Stentor and look for a more expensive option in the future.
About Stentor Violins
Stentor is a UK-based orchestral stringed instrument builder with a history that spans more than one century.
Starting at first with a different name and only as a reseller of imported violins, the company built its own violins in the 60s and continues to do so today. You can find excellent first violin for you or your child and high-quality intermediate and upper-intermediate ones shipped worldwide.
With many different series of instruments, you will find what you are looking for on a budget.
The production of all instruments is in China, yet good quality control assures that the brand stays one step above other affordable violin builders’ quality. Unlike other builders, Stentor’s range of violins is so vast that you are sure to find the best violin for you.
My Top Picks at a Glance
- Stentor Student II; The best affordable violin for adults and children
This model is probably the most well-known Stentor violin and the first that comes to mind. Its a stable for students for many years. Everything about this violin, including the price, is friendly for beginners up to their first intermediate years.
- Stentor 1542 Violin; Best for intermediate players
If you’re looking to replace your first student violin with a better instrument, this violin is an excellent choice. It’s hand-carved with quality tonewoods and a well-balanced tone. It’s slightly more expensive than the average student’s violin, yet it delivers on the promise.
- Harlequin electric violin; Best affordable electric violin
If you are after an electric violin, the Harlequin from Stentor is a perfect choice as your first one. This violin combines modern and traditional, adding a piezo to an already good instrument.
- Stentor SR1865 Violin Messina: Best for advanced students
An individually hand-crafted violin worthy of being played by advanced players that inspire them to become professionals. The tonewoods and crafting quality are excellent, while the price is still low enough for most musicians with years of practicing behind them to own.
Selection Criteria for the best Stentor Violins
This guide is meant for every player level, whether you are in your third year of playing or if you never touched a violin before. Your progress and musical journey are unique, so the criteria should be put in context to your situation.
The main reason why we purchase student violins is that they are expendable. Buyin’ a 500$ violin would not make sense for a child that will outgrow it in one year. The same goes for an adult that has yet to master the basics of playing the Instrument. An affordable instrument is always the best choice for the first month and perhaps years. A good balance between quality and price has to be made the higher the price is.
- Built Quality
Build quality is connected directly to value and the manufacturer. While it’s true that beginner violins use cheap tonewoods and sometimes skip details, some brands are better than others to make something good out of not too great components. The violin should be at least well built enough to not have visual flaws.
Even though every violin feels hard to play at first, a poorly built violin can slow down your progress. A poor neck design and neck angle and fine tuners that don’t keep the string in tune can stop you from improving as a player. It’s hard for a student to tell if it’s the techniques or the violin’s fault, so it’s essential to have a decently playable one.
I put the tone as last in the list as it should not be considered before the other three criteria. For instruments that cost less than 200-300 USD the maximum, you can expect the tone is to be balanced enough not to sound bad. A starter violin will usually start thin, but at least it should not sound metallic and pointy on the high end. The more expensive the violin, the richer the one gets
The Standard Student Violin from Stentor is one of the most sold affordable violin series. Among the cheap Student I 1400 violin and the Student II 1500, I choose the second as I believe it’s the best choice as a first violin and replacement for your first one.
The Stentor Student II looks classy and features a solid spruce front and solid maple back, neck, and ribs. The tuning pegs and fretboard are made out of Ebony, setting this violin apart from the usual boxwood-made cheap student ones.
Even though it’s slightly more expensive than the Student I violin or similar starter violins, the Student II has great playability, and you could play it for at least 1-3 years before you feel the need to change it. It’s available in all sizes, and considering the price, it’s an excellent fit for a child.
The only downside of this violin is that it has not much tone, and you could find minor flaws like out-of-place pegs. Most of the issues, if they exist, can be fixed with just a simple setup.
Overall, you should look at this Violin before deciding on another student violin from Stentor or other brands.
Stentor Student II 1500 Violin Pros
- Reasonable price for a good quality built
- It’s made out of solid wood
- The case that comes with the violin is a quality one.
Stentor Student II 1500 Violin Cons
- The tone is well balanced yet slightly flat
- Slight minor flaws may be present
Once you outgrow your first violin, better tonewoods and craftsmanship is needed. The Stentor 1542, also called Graduate, is perfect for the intermediate player that is yet to make the jump to becoming a professional musician.
Like many premium violins, the violin is hand-carved and almost entirely made out of Ebony. The satin finish makes it look attractive and fitting for an orchestra. Compared to the Student II series, the violin has an excellent balanced warm tone that is pleasant for live performances. From practicing to performing, the Stentor 1542 has all you need.
It’s not, however, made out of the same aged tonewoods you find on a premium violin, and the tone does not have the overtones and richness professional violins have. If you are not using it in a professional situation, you probably don’t need a more quality violin.
The helpful accessories that come with the violin are worth mentioning.
Stentor 1542 Violin Pros
- Excellent solid tonewoods and beautifully done finish
- The bow and case that come with the violin are both high quality
- The String are quality ones
Stentor 1542 Violin Cons
- You will eventually outgrow it and require a violin with a better tone.
Even though an electric violin might not be the first choice for beginners, many intermediate players, especially non-classical players, are now looking up to them. The Harlequin is a blend of acoustic and electric, not limiting you to only playing it plugged in.
The unique aspect of the Harlequin is the Artec Piezo pickup which is a very flat and responsive system. Set under the bridge, the pickup does not add much to the guitar’s weight nor heighten any bad frequency. You can connect the violin to an output jack or amplifier, making it perfect for use in any stage or genre.
The violin’s tonewoods are quality ones, yet not as expensive as the Stentor 1542. Considering that you get an electric violin with an excellent bow and great playability, some slight compromises have been made to keep the price in the affordable range.
Harlequin Electric Violin Pros
- The piezo pickup is flat and responsive.
- You have both the qualities of a traditional and electric violin
- The output jack and volume and tone control make it versatile for any live setting
Harlequin Electric Violin Cons
- The unplugged tone of the violin is not rich and full
- Better for modern music rather than classical
The Messina series is dedicated to advanced players that need an affordable yet good enough violin to get in the high-quality violin range. This is the best violin out of the four and the only one whose tone could impress a professional.
The violin is built out of a seasoned grained spruce top and Ebony fretboard and pegs. The excellent tonewoods combination gives the violin a bright open tone. This violin can, at its limit, hold its own in an orchestra of seasoned musicians, even though it’s not as pricey as you would expect from a violin of this quality.
It’s a major step up from your usual student violin, so it’s not for everyone to own and play. I would suggest this violin for players serious about their improvements and who need a responsive instrument. It still is a violin at the limit of being called advanced student violin, so there are some areas when a 1000USD+ violin beats it.
Stentor SR1865 Violin Messina Pros
- Excellent tonewoods and built quality
- Rich tone, good enough for an orchestra
Stentor SR1865 Violin Messina Cons
- You will outgrow it fast if you aim to become a professional player
What Are Some Alternatives to Stentor Violins?
The Mendini MV500 is a fantastic student violin for its price. It’s similar in quality to the Stentor Student II 1500, yet it has a somewhat fuller tone. The Mendini has a grainy, dark look, making it look more expensive than it truly is.
I’d put this violin among the top choices as a first violin and an excellent alternative to your existing one.
The CVN series ranges from the affordable CVN200 to the premium student violin CVN800. The CVN500 is a great middle-of-the-line choice with the intermediate player in mind.
I picked this violin among all the CVN series because for where it stands in the range, it offers superb quality for the price. Going up the series to the CVN600 and above will give you more options if you want to have finer tonewoods and richer tones.
Final Thoughts on Best Stentor Violins
With all the information available on the best Stentor Violins, you need to assess your situation and make a final choice.
Consider how advanced of a player you are by asking your teacher. If you feel like you need a highly responsive instrument, it might be worth waiting until you have the budget to go for the premium Stentor series.
Question: What is the difference between a Stentor student 1 and 2 violin?
Answer: The Student II violin is hand-carved and made out of better tonewoods. I’d recommend the Student II for beginner and intermediate players alike. The Student I is more limited in tonewoods quality and tone and should only be considered as your first violin.
Question: How much should I spend on my first violin?
Answer: If you aim only to learn, are on a budget, and don’t mind purchasing a better one in the future, you could spend less than 200$. If you have the budget, I’d recommend you spend around 300-400USD for a better-sounding violin that doesn’t need replacing soon.
Question: What size violin should a beginner get?
Answer: An adult usually uses a full 4/4 size, while a child needs to be measured before deciding. You can read our full guide on violin size for a better understanding.
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