Handmade musical instruments

Why one violin together with bow and case costs $150 and another $10,000 and above?

2019/01/17
Nikolai Tambovsky

My name is Nikolai Tambovsky, I have a Master degree as a violinist and violin teacher, and also I have 40 years experience of Violin making. I produce violin, viola, cello and sometimes on request double basses. Already for 29 years since 1990, I work in USA. I started in New York and now I work and live in Florida.

The most frequently asked question for me during all my work, is why violins have such different cost the cheapest around $150 including a bow and a case, expensive modern Violin price around $10.000-$20.000 thousand and above.

The cost of a violin depends on the quality of workmanship and material quality. Student violins are manufactured with standard sizes and measurements. There is no individual adjustment or involvement by a maker.

Making a professional or solo violin is not a simple mechanical copy of a wooden box, it is a creative process the same as the work of an artist, musician, entertainer. Where the main importance is the knowledge, skill and talent of the master.

I will try to answer this question in detail, for this we need to divide the violin into two categories:

  • 1 category: Student violin.
  • 2 category: Professional violin.

Student violins can be broken down into three subcategories.

The first subcategory of student violins includes violins for beginners. All these violins are made according to the standards and should have a good sound. However, in the manufacturer of such violin was not giving too much attention to the choice wood and the thoroughness of the work, and the quality of the final mounting details and sound is not necessary.

Therefore, the violin of this level is best to buy in a professional store, in this case the professional master will make the correct mounting of parts and adjustment of sound. If you buy a violin on the internet then you have no guarantee that the instrument will be properly adjusted. You still have to ask the master to make the adjustment, it will cost the same money, and maybe more than if you immediately come to the professional violin master.

The second subcategory of student violins is the Intermediate Category. This violin is of the same level as the violin for beginners only made with better wood, more meticulous work, and better adjusting.

The third subcategory of student violins is advanced or improved. This is the highest category of student violins. It is made from much better wood, much better work, and already encountered sound adjustment. Sometimes these violins produce a good sound, but it's like luck.

Professional violins also divided into three subcategories:

  • 1 Subcategory is orchestral violin.
  • 2 subcategory is ensemble violin.
  • 3 subcategory is the highest solo violin.

The first subcategory is orchestral violins.

Usually the violin of this Categories are made by a personally master. They have a very good level of wood and the work here is done with professional qualities of the master and his knowledge about the structure of the violin. The sound is manifested from these violins should have a softer and stronger sound to be heard in a group of musicians.

The second subcategory is ensemble violins.

In these violins, besides the wonderful wood and professionalism of the master, should be the skill of the master to choose a model, to pick up wood on its density and acoustic qualities. In case of a successful combination of spruce on the top and maple on back, the instrument attains a voice characteristic, which is very necessary in the ensemble game to express the musical character of each instrument party.

The third subcategory is violin solo.

This is the highest category of violins. Here, in addition to professional knowledge and high skill, there needs more talented master and luck. Why you ask need luck is because it is necessary to successfully bring together all steps making of a violin: to pick up wood, to choose a model, make distribution of thicknesses, to adjust correct decks, adjust air column inside a violin, a primer and a varnish, and then still correctly to unmount. When successfully collected together all these steps, is mastered a solo violin, which possesses stronger and deeper sound similar to the human voice, the classic Italian technique of singing belcanto. In the hands of a talented violinist, the violin can sing, talk, and bring us pleasure.

If someone says that he makes only wonderful violins, it is not true. Even the great violin masters had high achievements and failures.

Therefore, God bless us all good luck, masters and musicians, all who serve the Great Music, and listeners of pleasure from our result of our work.

Nikolai Tambovsky