Purchasing Your 1st Violin


When purchasing a first instrument for a person learning to play the violin/cello, it is important to understand the mechanics of the Action, and the relationship the Action has to the ‘’playability” of that instrument. The action on a violin family instrument is a description given to the height of the strings over the fingerboard, and is governed by the convex curve of the cross section, and the amount of concave shape (relief) longitudinally of the fingerboard. And that the curve, and the height of the bridge allows the oscillations of the bowed string close to minimum freedom to not foul the fingerboard while being played.

The playability of the action is directly in proportion to the amount of comprehension a student has in lessons on a week to week basis. And with this comprehension, the amount of progress in playing techniques that the student accomplishes. In the case of private tuition, it is good sense economically, to maximize your dollar value by ensuring that the instrument is in optimum playing condition.

It must be understood that when an instrument is being manufactured, it progresses down the production line, and when the varnish has dried, the fingerboard is then glued on, pegs fitted usually by reaming the holes out so the pegs appear to be aesthetically correct, Tailpiece and strings fitted, a bridge is usually placed under the tailpiece to stop the varnish being scratched, the instrument is put in a case with a bow and sent to the importer/ wholesaler. Very little attempt is made to set up the action for ease of playing, as that is, and always has been the responsibility of the business retailing that instrument, for the very simple fact that different types of action are required for different types of strings used by the retailer.

The main problem with instruments that are purchased from the local music shop, and indeed some shops purporting to be violin specialists is, that usually the instrument is acquired by them from the wholesaler, the bridge is stood up, and then offered for sale with little, or no understanding by them of the importance of the action being at an acceptable height, or the importance of the sound post being in the right spot. Little Jill or Johnny then try to master the techniques of learning to play on an instrument that is very hard to play, or is in fact unplayable, and will usually be quite unresponsive tonally. The student usually quits after a period, or makes very slow progress, no matter how talented or musical he or she may be.

It is wise to purchase your instrument from a violin maker of high repute, and why we believe you should purchase your violins from Smith’s Violins, and offer some reasons to reinforce this statement

1. The instruments offered for sale by us, will all have been personally selected by us from our wholesaler, and will have been judged by us to be the best value for money available, and be as close as possible to anatomically correct. For the basic beginner’s instrument we recommend the Celeste range. These instruments have Ebony Pegs, and comes standard with an Ebony fingerboard, a Tailpiece with 4 in-built adjusters (to maintain the string length), a set of strings, a bow and the moulded case is plush lined, with a blanket for the violin, and comes with an attached cover. This instrument comes from China, an is the most anatomically correct for the price that we have seen to date. A word of warning, there are marginally cheaper instruments available on the Australian market that come with an ebonized (painted) fingerboard. If there are any imperfections in these boards they cannot be corrected, we would strongly recommend that you avoid any instrument that does not have an ebony fingerboard. We do not and will not sell any instrument that does not come with an ebony fingerboard.

There are numerous instruments in the basic instrument range, that are made in various countries ranging in prices up to three times as expensive, and in some cases vastly inferior in quality to the instrument mentioned. If you are prepared to give your child the advantage of a better quality instrument, the benefits in the superior workmanship and the superior quality of sound, will manifestly enhance the students desire to want to learn the techniques to become more accomplished as a player. The Andre’ Celeste range of violins would be a worthwhile consideration, (for a very moderate increase in price) the next plateau of instruments is the Joseph Fagiollini range, followed by the Jean Leongenot range, i.e. ¼,1/2, 3/4, 4/4 Violins, violas and ½, ¾, 4/4 in cello. There are some European instruments in this price range also.

2. Because the principals of Smith’s Violins are 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation Violin Makers, with over 100 years accumulated experience, and the expertise in making, repairing and restoring instruments of the Violin Family at a professional standard, you can be assured any instrument sold by us will be in 1st class playing condition.

3. The instrument you select from us will have the action set at the optimum height for ease of playing, and, that the strings fitted will give an acceptable sound, all instruments that have 4 adjusters, will have a tailpiece with built-in adjusters to maintain the string length, and that the length of tailgut is correctly positioned. We do advise the fitting of better quality strings to improve the quality of sound.

4. The pegs will have been refitted, and a lubricant applied to allow the pegs to work properly and smoothly.

5. The sound post will have been fitted and correctly positioned

6. The nut at the top of the fingerboard is the correct shape and height

7. The bow will have been checked to ensure that it is straight, and that the hairs are even, and that the hair is rosined ready for use.

8. That the violin has no openings, or any serious fault.


Usually the child who outgrows their 1st instrument has had a number of years tuition by now, and consideration should be given to purchasing an instrument of superior quality, It is possible to purchase an instrument that is far superior to the basic student violin outfit in both sound, and physical construction and finish for $400 to $999. The best sounding instruments we have for the money is either an Andre’ Celeste, or a Joseph Fagiollini. Most of the instruments coming from China are very accurately made, and do have an enormous advantage at the moment because of Trade Tariff advantages, coupled with extremely low wage rates.

We do advise the purchase of the best quality instrument that can be afforded at this time, as the more sophisticated sound gives the student the added stimulus, and the desire to practice and to try to produce the best sound they possibly can. The older instruments of European make are more expensive still, and are generally quoted on application

At Smith’s Violins we don’t just call ourselves Violin Specialists, we are the violin specialists in Queensland and back up this claim by the fact of the family being the leading Violin Makers in Australia since 1914.

You will be pleased to discover that our prices are highly competitive!! Our set ups are superior!!! Your child’s ability to play an instrument will be greatly enhanced when you purchase your instrument from us, because everything will be right with the instrument.

We are pleased to announce that we now have a time payment purchase plan available over 1 year or 2 years on all our range of instruments.
Example’s : Celeste Violin Outfit $ 31.35 a month over 12 months or $19 over 24 months
* Andre’ Celeste Violin Outfit $40.96 a Mth. over 12months or $24 over 24 months
* Joseph Fagiollini Violin $54 a month over 24 months
We are also able to offer instruments for rental from $25 a month
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