The Total Beginners Guide To Violin
When first stepping into the world of violins, it can be a little daunting or overwhelming. With so many brands, types and terms to remember, it can seem impossible to know which instrument is going to be perfect to begin either your own or your child’s musical journey.
Today we’re sharing with you a quick and simple guide to help find the perfect beginner instrument for you, as well as explaining some of the simple terminology needed to begin making a well informed decision that is going to work best for you or your child!
Let’s not wait any longer and dive into the world of violins!
What Do You Need To Start Playing Violin?
In its most basic form, all we recommend you need to begin playing is:
- The Violin (obviously)
- A bow
- A carry case
- Rosin / Cleaning cloths
That’s all! Whilst there may be some terms in there you’re not familiar with, almost all of these items can be found in a violin outfit. These are affordable, compact kits that offer you absolutely everything you need to pick up and play straight away.
To enhance your playing further, we’d also recommend picking up a tuner and shoulder rest, but those are both bits that can be picked up a little later down the line.
There are different violin outfits for different needs, abilities and sizes so you’ll be sure to find the right one for you. If it’s a child only just beginning their violin journey, you’ll want an instrument that is:
1) Affordable – in case they decide to give up.
2) Sized correctly – Children generally upgrade sizes after a year or two.
3) Offers an enjoyable playing experience (no one will fall in love with a poor sounding instrument!)
All of these concerns are covered in our rental scheme, that allows you to return, upgrade or purchase your instrument once you’ve found the correct size and instrument for your child! For more on our rental scheme, click here.
Parts Of A Violin Explained
There are many parts of a violin and for those without much musical knowledge, they can seem a little confusing, here we’ll outline the absolute basics that you need to know in order to help enhance your child’s learning experience or get started yourself.
The Scroll – The scroll is simply the top of the violin, it is purely cosmetic but can be used to help size a violin correctly.
Pegs & Peg Box – Used for tuning the violin and holding the strings on the violin in place. These can be used to both replace strings and begin the tuning process. Do NOT undo all of the strings at once.
The Neck – The neck of the violin is simply where the player places their fingers in order to produce different notes. This is no different to the neck of a guitar.
The Body – This is how the violin creates its sound, the vibrations from the strings enter the violin via the bridge and resonate inside the body, creating sound.
The Bridge & Soundpost – Laid over the strings, the bridge is used to transfer the vibration of the string into the body. The soundpost is then found inside of the instrument and is a piece of dowel inside the instrument under the bridge, spanning the space between the top and back of the body and held in place by friction. It serves as a structural support for the instrument, transfers sound from the top plate to the back plate and alters the tone of the instrument by changing the vibration modes of the plates. On many cheaper, unchecked instruments, the soundpost can slip, meaning the violin does not play correctly. Every instrument we send out is checked to make sure it’s soundpost is secure and stable before reaching you!
The Adjusters (or Fine Tuners) – Used for incremental tuning of the instrument, these are small adjusters to help finetune the sound of the string.
Chin Rest – Quite simply, where the player rests their chin to make the instrument comfortable and easy to play.
This is of course a massive oversimplification and there are countless other intricacies that help make up an instrument, however this gives you the most basic understanding needed to engage in a basic conversation with your child or teacher.
What size violin do I need?
Easily the most common question we get and luckily there’s an easy answer! Generally speaking almost all adults will need a 4/4 violin (full size). For children aged under around 11, it does get a little more complicated, but we’ve written this handy sizing guide to help answer your questions.
Will my child grow out of their violin?
If your child is using a half size or smaller sized violin then yes, they likely will grow out of it within the space of a year or two. That is why when buying violins for children, we highly recommend renting the instrument first. Not only does this cover you in case the child decides the violin isn’t for them, but it also allows you to simply upgrade the instrument to a new size as they grow too. Learn more about our rental scheme here.
Which bows do I need?
Again, the world of bows can seem a little complicated and there are many materials, sizes and styles to choose from. Generally speaking, for the beginner, a bow provided in an outfit will be perfect to begin with and as your playing ability improves, you will need a better bow. To learn more about bows, read our guide here.
What Is Rosin?
Pretty quickly on your violin journey you’ll come across Rosin. It is a sticky substance applied to the bow in order to generate a sound when bowed across the strings of the instrument. It’s naturally made from resin and can be made in a number of ways, everything from novelty fun blocks such as pizza to handcrafted masterpieces.
The colour of a rosin indicates the tone it offers. With lighter rosin creating a brighter, sweeter tone and darker rosin creates a richer, warmer sound. A perfect beginner’s rosin would be the 3V/C Hidersine rosin (V for violin, C for cello)
How do I tune a violin? Or how do I change a string?
There are a few ways to tune a violin and generally speaking a music teacher will be able to help teach you the right method for you. However for those self-teaching or who are perhaps need of a quick tune at home, we’ve written a handy guide.
The key thing to note here is to NOT undo all of the strings at once, this releases the tension in the violin and can cause the soundpost to slip and fall over, ruining the sound of the instrument until it is repaired – which is not an easy process!
So now you’re ready to step into the world of violin, you’re probably wondering what options there are! To begin with, for a child we’d definitely recommend one of our beginner instrument outfits such as the:
Stentor Student I
These are both low cost, high quality instruments with rental schemes and the ability to increase in size as your child grows. They even have sizes as small as 1/32 (easily suitable for a 3-4 year old)
For adult beginners, we’d generally recommend the next step up such as:
As your ability progresses, or for those looking for a long lasting instrument, we’d recommend looking into:
Due to their increased quality, these instruments generally only come in 4/4 sizes or specialist sizes.
So there you have it! All you need to kickstart yours, or your child’s journey with the violin! Have a question? Our experts would be happy to help! Contact us today!