What is a good violin? 8 judging tips


What is a good violin and what is a good beginner violin? Everyone's opinions and standards will be different. There are international judging standards for violin making competitions, and we can judge violins by analyzing these standards. The international di Liuteria Antonio Stradivari Triennale Competition has 8 grading criteria:

1) Artistic/constructional qualities:
a) Technical level of work
b) Set up
c) Quality of varnish
d) Overall style and character
2) Acoustic characteristics:
a) Quality of timbre
b) Strength of tone
c) Balance between strings
d) Playability

The explanations of these eight evaluation criteria are very clear, and we can also use it as a reference when purchasing violins. Of these eight criteria, the first four belong to production; the last four belong to performance. The production determines the performance, and the main factor that affects the production is the work, followed by the set up. Work includes production materials and production methods. Let's analyze one by one:

1.Production materials. The main difference between the production materials is the type, origin, and drying time. The wood species used to make the violin was explored by the predecessors, and the common ones are spruce, maple, ebony, etc; The origin of wood is generally in Europe or China, and the essence of the influence of the origin is the influence of latitude and growth environment on wood; The freshly felled trees have a lot of moisture and are not suitable for violin making. They must be air-dried. The longer the air-drying time, the better the wood.

2.Production methods. The production methods are mainly divided into machine-made and hand-made. Let’s talk about machine production first. Models of various parts of the violin are made by machine, and then pasted together. The production capacity is very powerful, the price is very cheap, but the sound quality is very poor, we call it VSO; Besides hand-made, hand-made is divided into division of work and single-person production. Division of labor means that different people are responsible for different production processes, the production capacity is relatively high, the price is low, and the quality is guaranteed; single-person production means that one person completes all the production processes. The violin-making competition requires a single person to complete the production, capacity is very low, price is high, fine quality.

Craft Capacity Price  Quality
machine-made  heigh  low  low
division of work medium medium medium
solo low heigh heigh


3.Set up. Settings to maximize the performance of the violin. 


If you are a professional player, you can refer to the international violin making standards:

a) Technical level of work
b) Set up
c) Quality of varnish
d) Overall style and character
e) Quality of timbre
f) Strength of tone
g) Balance between strings
h) Playability

If you are a beginner, the main reference:

a)Production materials. The general top is made of spruce, and the back panel is made of maple. The low-end violin may be replaced with something like basswood.
b)Material origin. Generally in Europe and China, the European ones will be relatively better.
c)Production methods. Master single-person making > multi-person collaboration > machine crafting.
d)Varnish. On cheap violins the varnish is usually a thick, shiny, smooth polyurethane. This actually stops the instrument from vibrating as it is too hard. Look for a violin with a quality oil or spirit based varnish. By the way, it is cold knowledge that Faux Vintage Paint Style are not allowed in violin making competitions, but the public still likes retro-style violins very much.
e)Set up. The set up of a hand-made violin is not a fixed set of data, but a dynamic balance process. The character of each violin is different, it should be set according to the integrity of the violin. The good news is that our violins are all set up before they ship, you just need to fine-tune them while you play. Check out our 11-point Adjustment.

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