All students must acquire an instrument to participate in orchestra.  Please avoid purchasing instruments online.  Instruments that are painted are novelty instruments and not recommended.  Please refer to your teacher’s website or contact Ms. Rose for recommendations.

Ms. Rose is available to answer questions, and to help you select the best instrument for your child.


There are several options for purchasing new violins: your local music store, a mail order company, a violin shop, or a private individual selling a used instrument. One of the things you should consider is availability of service. Buying your instrument from a local dealer that has a trained violin repair person on staff is an advantage because adjustments or repairs may be needed from time to time.

Ms. Rose recommends Southwest Strings from Tucson Arizona.  They have great instruments for your child starting outfits from $200 - $389. I recommend the Klaus Mueller Etude or Klaus Mueller Prelude.  Choose the Thomastik strings.  Click on the Kyoto case.  And the Klaus Mueller Brazilwood Bow.  This instrument will get them all the way through high school.  Congratulations on making this decision for your child's future success in orchestra.  PRINTABLE DIRECTIONS AND LINKS are below this article for instructions.  


Because size is very important in choosing a violin, it is advisable to seek out someone that is familiar with violin sizing. A violin that is too large for the student can be very uncomfortable to hold, and in extreme cases excess stretching of the shoulder and arm can cause painful tendonitis.

A violin teacher, orchestra director or music store dealer can be of great help in determining the size you will need in relation to the arm length and hand size of the student. Violin shops that deal exclusively with orchestral instruments and music stores with string instrument departments can be good sources of education, and instrument sizing is an important part of their work. Some music stores have a very well developed violin department where children can be sized accurately, but unless this is the case, you should rely on the advice of a teacher. Often teachers or orchestra directors want to be involved in helping their students choose an instrument. It is helpful if they can accompany you to the violin shop or music store. If this is not possible, most violin shops will allow you to take an instrument for a few days on approval so your teacher can advise you on your purchase.


Violins/Violas come in a great array of price ranges. Many of the very inexpensive ones ($100 to $200) are not worth carrying home. In the violin shop, we call them VSOs -”Violin Shaped Objects.” Unfortunately, many times each year I am confronted with the unpleasant task of informing a distraught parent or an excited young student that the violin they have just bought will take over $150 worth of work just to make it playable, and then their instrument will only be worth about $100! A good quality, new European violin outfit for the beginning student should retail in the neighborhood of $650 to $850. “Step-up” instruments will be in the retail range of $1,000 to $3,500, and professional instruments are generally $5,000 and up.

Unlike other instruments, good violins/violas do not depreciate in value, so buying used will not necessarily save you a lot of money. A good option to outright purchase is instrument rental. Good rental programs will allow you to apply at least part of the rent toward the eventual purchase of an instrument, and will allow you to exchange sizes as necessary.

It is not uncommon for teachers to encourage their students to purchase used violins because they have “mellowed out” or been “played in.” This phenomenon is real! Good violins do get better as they are played, however for a beginning student the noticeable difference is negligible. If you choose to purchase a used instrument, you should seriously consider getting it from a reputable dealer. Repairs can be very costly, and are often necessary on old instruments that are found in flea markets, Grandma’s attic, etc. If an individual is offering an instrument for sale, you should have someone who is familiar with violins look at it before you buy. Violin shops will most likely charge a small fee for this service, but it will save you a lot of problems to get some expert advice. Expect to spend some money on refurbishing a used violin. Replacing the strings, bridge, and bow hair and making other minor adjustments can cost $100 or more. Crack repairs can be very expensive.


Violins/Violas are made of wood, and wood is affected by the environment. Because of this it is important to examine the body of any violin (new or used) to make sure that there are no cracks in the top or back. Well repaired cracks in the top of an older instrument may not be a problem (Seek the advice of a teacher or violin maker), but cracks in the back of an instrument can depreciate its value as much as 75 percent.

Examine the ribs (sides) of the violin to make sure that they are not bulging out beyond the edges of the top or back. This happens because wood that is not well seasoned will shrink noticeably when it dries out. As the top and back shrink, the ribs begin to bulge. Most instruments of reasonable quality do not have this problem, because close attention is given to curing the wood properly. It is also not uncommon to find this problem in used instruments over 50 years old regardless of quality. If everything else is in good order, this may not be cause to reject a used violin, but consult your violin repair shop concerning repair costs before making such a purchase.

Check to make sure that the neck of the violin is straight. Occasionally an instrument is made wrong, and somehow slips through the adjusting process unnoticed. Make sure the bridge is centered between the f-holes, then sight up the fingerboard to see if it aligns with the bridge. If the bridge must be off-set toward one side or the other to make the strings and fingerboard line up you have a problem.

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TitleCategoriesDate Modified
Concert Attire Ordering
November 30, 2016
Southwest Strings
SW Shopping List.doc
November 30, 2016
What to Shop for
What to Shop for (1).doc
November 30, 2016