Violin & Viola Strings and Things According to your Budget

by | Apr 4, 2022

If you’ve read my article on shopping for used instruments, then you know that we sometimes have to get some strings, a case, or a bow to replace what the used instrument comes with. Even if you are shopping new, you may still be wanting to look at upgrading strings or bow. But what to buy? How much should you spend? This simple guide will give you some ideas. These suggestions assume you are shopping for beginner to early intermediate musicians. Toward the bottom, I give suggestions for more advanced players just so you can get an idea of where things go from where you are; however, if you are reading this guide, you or your child are yet a long ways from needing those things.

Budget – Beginner Beginner

Strings and bows in this list tier are really best suited for beginner violinists and violists, and early beginners at that. Intermediate beginners and advanced beginners will benefit from nicer strings and bows than these, while intermediate level players will not be able to progress with the strings and bows at this tier.

Strings

Violin: $10-$20

Overture Premium (Shar)

Super-Sensitive Red or Blue Label

D’Addario Prelude

Overture Ultra

Viola: $25-$40

Super-Sensitive Red or Blue Label

D’Addario Prelude

Overture Ultra

Bow

Violin: $35-$70

Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber bowSchmidt

Workshop Brazilwood bow

Glassner Fiberglass bow 

Viola: $35-$80

Schmidt Workshop Brazilwood bow

Glassner Fiberglass bow

Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber bow

Case

Violin: $35

Toshira Shaped Violin Case

Viola: $45

Toshira Shaped Viola Case

These cases might be cheap, but they are effective. Suitable for instruments up to $600 in value.

Nice Beginner / Budget Intermediate

The strings and bows in this tier are suitable for all levels of beginner. This tier also represents the minimum of what you might spend for an intermediate level player. Intermediate beginner players will benefit strongly from bows in the $100-$150 price range, while advanced beginners will benefit heavily from bows in the $200-$300 range.

Strings

Violin: $20-$50

Alphayue

Helicore

Tonica

And many more…

Viola: $40-$80

Helicore

Zyex

Jargar

(limited selection)

Bow

Violin: $100-300

Meinel Pernambucco bows

Holstein bows

Klaus Becker Brazilwood bow

Presto Encore or Ovation bows

Viola: $120-330

Meinel Pernambucco bows

Holstein Pernambucco bows

Presto Encore or Ovation bows

Here, you can just pick on that is at your price point and buy it, or do in-home trials with Shar or Fiddlershop.

Case

Violin: $80-$150

Bobelock 1007 Wood Shaped Violin Case

Gewa Bio-S

Thermo Plastick Shaped Case

And many many more…

Viola: $100-$200

Bobelock 2001 Wood Shaped Viola Case

Thermo Plastick Shaped Case

And a few more…

These cases are better choices for instruments $500-$1,500 in value or for parents and adults who feel more comfortable with a hard shell protecting their ‘soft’ violin or viola. You can expect plusher interiors and slightly better ergonomics.

Luxury Beginner / Standard Intermediate

The strings and bows in this tier are good for people who want to treat themselves or their kids to a higher quality set-up. This will only ever help a beginner learn and grow, so it is not unreasonable to do. For the early intermediate player, this is the standard in quality to look for in strings and bows. Anything less really will hold the student back.

Strings

Violin: $50-$80

Dominant

Evah Pirazzi

And many more….

Viola: $80-$120

Spirocore

Dominant

Bow

Violin: $300-$800

Guy Laurent bows

Codabow bows

Head to your local luthier

Viola: $35-$80

Guy Laurent bows

Codabow bows

Head to your local luthier

While I name some specific brands, at this level it is really best to do an in-home trial and buy the one you or your child likes the most. If you are looking at $500 or more, this is a good time to visit your local luthier and see what they have on offer.

Case

Violin: $200-$400

Gewa

Bobelock

And many more…

Viola: $200-500

Gewa

Bobelock

And many more…

In this price range, you are generally getting better protection, sometimes a plusher interior, and better ergonomics. I carried $4,000 worth of 120 y.o. violin and bows around in a $300 Bam Classic for 20 years without incident. That’s the kind of case you are getting here.

Advanced Intermediate / Advanced / Professional

If you or your child are advanced intermediate or better in skill, you probably don’t need me to tell you these are what to buy for this level of ability. For beginners and early intermediate players, the items in this section are really too nice for what you need at this time. This section is just for informational purposes, only.

Strings

Violin: $100-$150

Obligato

Evah Prazzi Gold

Peter Infeld

And many more…

Viola: $120-$250

Larsen

Evah Pirrazi Gold

Passione

Obligato

 

Bow

Violin: $2,000+

Viola: $2,500+

At this level, there are no brands. There are only bows made by really good bow makers. We don’t look at names or reviews online. We play, and we play, and we play – lots of bows, as many bows within our intended price range as we can get our hands on. Then we pick one (or, if you prefer, the bow picks the player).

Case

Violin: $500-$1,500+

Musafia

Bam

And many more…

Viola: $500-$1,500+

Musafia

Bam

And many more…

Cases in this tier are designed to protect instruments $5,000 in value and up (professional instruments start around $10,000). They often offer really nice form along with good protection and ergonomics.

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