After all the countless hours of dedicated practice, you’ve mastered the basics of playing on your violin and your focus is shifting toward sound. It’s finally time for you to graduate from your beginner violin.
With a better violin, you can give your craft the full focus it deserves. We think the best violin for intermediate players is the Antonio Giuliani Primo Violin 1/4, but we’ve compiled a list of other excellent contenders as well.
Top Violins For Intermediate Players
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the features, pros, and cons for each of our picks.
Our Top Pick
This violin arrives already set up by professional luthiers so you can play it as soon as you get it. It comes with a wooden Portland shoulder rest, a high-quality bow, and a spare set of Portland Prelude strings.
The finish is hand-rubbed and oil-based. The violin comes with an electronic tuner, a microfiber cloth, and a sheet on basic maintenance and care. It also includes a Portland Gold shoulder rest and a clear plastic tube for extra strings.
The violin comes in a full-suspension, wood-shell oblong case with padded straps and room for four bows. The foam lining is covered with fabric. The shape of the foam cutout stops your violin from moving around.
The case also comes with two large compartments and one small compartment. The top zipper compartment has enough room for quite large books and notes. The case even comes with trademark candy for the player with a sweet tooth.
This violin’s bow comes with Mongolian horsehair for a smooth, full tone and with a metal-mounted, balanced ebony frog. You can also visit the store in Vancouver, WA, or the store website to customize any feature to your liking.
Best Over 5 lbs
With a 45-day refund guarantee, this ready-to-play violin is assembled and set up by professional luthiers in the USA. It comes with four professional-quality built-in fine tuners on a composite tailpiece.
The fittings include a 100% natural ebony polished fingerboard and pegs. The back and side are solid-carved (not pressed) maple. The violin also has inlaid purfling.
This violin has a satin-oil finish, not a shiny, thick lacquer finish that can sound tinny. It also comes with Giuliani Rosin, pre-installed steel-core Prelude Strings, and a Portland carbon-fiber shoulder rest.
The bow has high-grade Mongolian horsehair, a half-mounted, 100% ebony frog, a genuine leather grip, and silver winding.
This violin comes in a Portland Oblong violin case with plush velour lining in amber, navy or light blue. The case includes a string-polishing cloth and a hygrometer. It also has an ergonomic-shaped handle for comfortable carrying and spacious room for accessories.
The case comes with double sets of durable YKK zippers, two satin-lined rotating bow holders, and strong velcro straps for securing the violin in place. It also includes a lined protective blanket to cover the violin.
You’ll also find two straps for a backpack, across-the-chest, or over-the-shoulder carrying.
Best Under 5 lbs
This violin comes with a clear orange-brown slightly shaded varnish, a tiger maple finish, and a low-profile Stradivarius-style chinrest.
As with all Cremona instruments, the final inspections on this ready-to-play violin comes are made by expert violin makers. The bow is made from genuine horsehair, and the violin comes with a hardshell case and violin-care products.
This violin arrives with the peg already adequately oiled and the bridge properly set up and well-placed.
The oblong rigid-foam case is lightweight and extremely well-insulated. It also comes with four bow holders and a hygrometer.
Best Electric Violin
With a 45-day refund guarantee, this electric violin comes with Giuliani Rosin, a powerful mini-amp, over-ear headphones, D’Addario Prelude strings, and Kennedy Violins rosin.
The bow is precisely weighted for excellent balance and responsiveness. It also comes with a half-mounted 100% ebony frog with mother-of-pearl inlay for great balance and durability. The bow also features a silver winding, an Abalone bow slide, and a black leather grip.
The control sliders on the face of the violin ensure an easy tone and volume adjusting while performing. The Portland oblong carrying case comes with a hygrometer and a polishing cloth.
This violin also comes with a 9-volt battery power supply, a Piezo ceramic pick-up, a 1/4-inch output jack for amp, and a 1/8-inch output jack for headphones.
All final assembly and setup of this violin are performed in the USA by professionally trained luthiers.
Best 1/2 Size
Professionally set up by experienced luthiers, this violin comes with a high-flamed maple back inlaid ebony purfling, and a durable composite tailpiece.
Backed by a 45-day refund guarantee, it also comes with a Portland Elite carrying case, Kaplan Artcraft rosin, a string cloth, luggage tag, and a Portland string set.
The bow is made from high-grade Mongolian horsehair and comes with a half-mounted, 100% ebony frog, a genuine leather grip, and silver winding.
The case has room for four bows with rotating bow holders, compartments for other accessories, and a large exterior pocket with double YKK zippers for sheet music and folders.
The case also features a protective weather flap with snaps to cover the exterior YKK zippers and case latch. It includes a protective blanket with velour on top, smooth polyester beneath, and double-stitched binding.
The metal bumpers make it easy to stand the case on its bottom or side. It’s also easy to carry thanks to the smooth, shaped handle on hinges.
It also comes with a built-in humidity meter, elegant faux-leather ties to secure the violin in place, and a clear plastic tube to store extra strings.
Cremona violins are so highly respected we had to include the SV-800. This violin comes in an attractive golden-brown imitation-old hand-applied varnish and highly flamed maple. It features a comfortably shaped Stradivarius chinrest.
Like all Cremona violins, it’s set up in the US to Cremona specifications with Thomastik Dominant strings. You might need to tighten the strings before you play for the first time.
There’s only one fine tuner, but you can attach add-on tuners if you find tuning the strings difficult with the pegs. This violin is famously responsive and comes with properly spaced strings above the fingerboard.
This violin also comes with real inlaid purfling and not something simply drawn on. The varnish is smooth with no runs or blotches. It’s clear and lets you see the wood grain.
The bow is made from genuine horsehair, and the violin comes with a hardshell case spacious enough for music books in the external zip pocket. The case also provides ample support for the violin body without putting any weight on the neck.
The case includes places for four bows, one large pocket for shoulder rest, and rosin and still leaves room for miscellaneous items you might want to bring along.
The case also comes with straps on the sides and one strap on the end, which lets you stand the case vertically.
This one-piece violin features hand-carved solid-grained spruce wood that has been aged for seven years. It has four removable gold-color fine tuners, inlaid purfling, and hand-rubbed oil finish.
It also comes with medium-tension D’Addario Prelude strings, a quality rosin cake, and an adjustable shoulder rest with soft foam padding & soft rubber feet.
You can play the entire fingerboard on all strings. You can also attach a transducer to the violin and play through a soundboard. The violin also comes with two removable backpack straps. The chinrest support is nickel-plated.
The Brazilwood bows are made of unbleached genuine Mongolian horsehair. The package also includes a Cecilio chromatic tuner with a metronome. This violin also has mother-of-pearl inlay details.
The lightweight oblong case has a high-quality velvet interior and comes with a hygrometer to measure humidity, compartment accessories, a padded neck restraint, and a bridge protector. It’s all topped with a velvet blanket to provide your violin with more protection.
Upgrading to an Intermediate Violin
Here’s some useful information, and frequently voiced concerns about upgrading from a beginner violin.
What to Look for in a Violin
Here’s a quick rundown to refresh you on the eight important things to keep in mind when buying a violin.
Inspect the wood grain carefully to make sure there are no cracks. Be especially careful to inspect any varnish applied to make the violin look antique. It’s a common way to hide cracks.
Your goal is to check the fingerboard is flat with no bumps. One way to do this is to hold your violin vertically and look down from the scroll.
Check underneath the tailpiece for any hidden scratches or damage. When strings are replaced, the bridge can sometimes fall and with it the tailpiece.
A properly installed bridge will slightly tilt away from the scroll while staying level with the instrument on the other side. A good way to check is to make sure the feet of the bridge are fully attached to the body with no sliver of light underneath them.
The Wood grain
The tighter the wood grain, the better quality the wood is. Some manufacturers will make a wider grain on purpose for a softer sound, but this generally applies to instruments over $5-$10k.
Inspect the overall finish to make sure there’s no haze, especially around the fingerboard and on the back. This is where the violin generally rests when it’s not being played and where dust and dirt can embed themselves into the finish.
If you can remove the strings, the tailpiece, and the chinrest, look through the hole on the bottom of the violin. Make sure the floorboards and crown molding are even and aren’t fraying.
When Should You Get an Intermediate Violin?
Do you feel like the sound of your beginner violin is starting to grate? Does it full-on pierce your ears? Do you feel held back by your violin’s abilities or that you’re now better than your violin?
If these questions feel like they make sense, now is the right time to start considering an intermediate violin.
Ideally, you’ve now made enough progress to know which characteristics you like. Your focus now is not on the basics of playing but on sound. Beginner instruments are usually of poor quality and they can limit an intermediate player’s ability to improve.
Tips When Upgrading to an Intermediate Violin
Even if you’ve decided on the intermediate violin you’re going to buy, there are a number of things you should keep in mind before you place that order.
Go to an Actual Store First
Even if you’re going to buy online, find your nearest luthier. Once you’re there, tell the assistant you’re upgrading and give them your approximate budget. Your job is to try playing every single violin in that category, or as many violins as you can.
Hearing the sound and getting a feel for the strings and the violin itself is something you can’t do online. This will show you what you like or dislike.
Bring Your Current Violin With You
Make sure you take your current violin with you on your trip to the luthier’s.
The point here is not to compare per se. Obviously an intermediate violin will be better than a beginner one. The idea is to compare with something familiar.
You know how your violin sounds and why you want to upgrade. By comparing a new violin against it, you’ll make a better-informed decision.
Bring Music You’re Familiar With to Play There
At the luthier’s, simply playing a new violin open won’t give you an accurate idea of the new violin’s abilities. Take along a piece of music you’ve played enough times to be comfortable in.
Try to choose something diverse enough to enable you to try the a-string, the e-string, the g-string, and the middle. Ideally, you should be able to play slowly and fast and use as many different bowing techniques as you can, to get the full measure of the new violin.
New Violins Will Sound Cold
This is a controversial point in the violin community.
Many experienced, even professional violin players maintain that new violins need time to warm up. This means that the more you play your violin, the warmer and more rounded it sounds.
The opposite camp believes this is nonsense and is quite vocal about it.
Regardless of whether this is real or not, one undeniable fact remains: Well-used worn-in wood responds differently than cold wood because wood expands with heat.
A violin will definitely sound colder when it’s first taken off the shelf for you to try. Keep that in mind if it sounds cold or tinny.
The Antonio Giuliani Primo Violin 1/4 stands head, shoulders, and beautiful tailpiece above the rest. The Bunnel Pupil Violin Outfit 4/4 gives it a clear run for its money, closely followed by the Cremona SV-500 Premier Artist Violin Outfit 4/4.
With a lifetime guarantee, quality components, and useful accessories, the Antonio Giuliani Primo Violin 1/4 goes above and beyond the needs of the intermediate violin player.