The violin (often referred to as the “fiddle”) is the smallest and highest-pitched string instrument commonly used by the violin family. The instrument is commonplace in orchestras, chamber music groups such as string quartets, and solo performances. Violin/fiddle is also popular in many other musical genres, including, but not limited to, folk, bluegrass, country, and jazz.
Because the violin is such a popular instrument, it makes perfect sense that there are plenty of options to choose from on the market. Whether you're a student, intermediate or professional violinist, it's worth knowing the top brands.
Of course, the brand is far from the most important aspect of an instrument, though it's still worth considering for general knowledge and judgement. In this article, I'll share my take on the top violin brands.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I've done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance of the violins
- Longevity of the violins
- Variety of violins available
- Accessibility of the violins (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let's list out the brands.
The top 11 best violin brands are:
Let's get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best violin brands. I'll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable violin, and a link to their official website.
Pierre Holstein had been playing professionally for well over three decades when he joined forces with his brother Michael to fund Holstein violins. They set out to make great-quality affordable pieces that could help advanced students and professional players sound awesome without breaking the bank.
They not only succeeded in their endeavour but also established their last name as a synonym for well-made violins that can help shape the sound of any upcoming player. Moreover, they accomplished top-notch craftsmanship keeping costs low and sounding great.
Holstein manufactures the very top of its line in Germany. As a part of that collection, this violin represents the very best of the company's craftsmanship qualities working with the best European woods. By the very best, we mean 30-year-old wood that has been seasoned and dried for another 30 years. Moreover, the entire violin is made by only one master builder from start to finish. Because of all these features and its uncanny sound, this violin raises the standard by which affordable European violins are measured.
If it fits in your budget, you have to try one today.
Official website: holsteinviolins.com
Holstein was founded by Pierre and Michael Holstein. Currently, the company's headquarters are in China.
Scott Cao is a violin master builder who has been chasing the perfect tone for decades. Although his company was founded in 1989, he had already been making top-notch instruments for solo players for over 15 years.
Nowadays, Scott Cao's violins are factory-made and bear the same passion for excellence, being a great vessel for imagination regardless of the skill of the person playing it. In other words, you can trust a Scott Cao instrument at any stage of your learning journey with excellent results.
Notable violin: Scott Cao 1716 Messiah (link to check the price at Violin Pros)
Of all the surviving Stradivarius violins, the Messiah is the greatest one, according to most leading experts. This is a faithful copy of that one-of-a-kind marvel. Indeed, from the thickness of the wood to the last measured detail, this version of the Messiah is ready to take anyone's playing to the next level. Moreover, the wood grain and patterns generate a 3-d effect that will keep you mesmerized even beyond sound. If you are after a quality instrument that can perform every night, you have to try this model out.
Official website: scottcaoviolins.com
Scott Cao was founded by Scott Shu-Kun Cao in 1989. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Morgan Hill, California, USA.
Considered among the top 5% of violin makers globally, Ming Jiang Zhu has won 19 international awards for his creations. Moreover, together with his team of notable luthiers, that number goes up to 23, including gold and silver medals from organizations such as the Violin Society of America.
Every violin created in the Ming Jiang Zhu shop is ready to take the world like a storm. Indeed, the continuous supervision of Ming Jiang keeps all standards sky-high and all luthiers committed to excellence.
For those looking for a high-quality instrument crafted following Italian traditions by expert hands, trying a Ming Jiang Zhu is a must.
The 925 represents the highest standards for Ming Jiang Zhu's company. Indeed, these are violins made by luthiers at the Noble Heart Shop, a place only accessed by those who have been building violins for over ten years. Moreover, for the manufacture of each of these pieces, a batch of top-notch tonewood is imported from Europe. As a result, the sum of impeccable craftsmanship and material quality make these violins sound like an instrument with a price tag twice as high.
If you want the best quality for the best price and this violin fits your budget, you have to give it a try. If you want to see it in action, watch this review video.
Official website: N/A
Ming Jiang Zhu was founded in 1991 by the man himself. Currently, the main workshop and company headquarters are in Guangzhou, China.
Not many people know this, but for Yamaha, it all started with pianos. Indeed, if you take a close look at the company's logo, you'll find three intertwined tuning forks. This rich musical past and heritage explain why every musical instrument Yamaha puts out to the market is considered among the best regardless of the category.
Moreover, Yamaha's tradition is just one side of the story because they have innovated relentlessly for over a century to create musical instruments capable of taking the playing concept to the next level.
If you are looking for the best blend of tradition, craftsmanship, and innovation, Yamaha is the option for you.
Notable violin: Yamaha Silent Violin YSV104 (link to check the price on Amazon)
The ideal combination of features, playability, portability, and sound is the name of the game for this creation by Yamaha. No other classic instrument company comes even close to what Yamaha has achieved with their Silent line. In this case, the instrument has no resonant body, but the SRT-powered system will make you hear it as soon as you put on your headphones or plug it into a PA. Being a violin player has never been this easy; check the Silent Violin today and discover a new way of playing.
Official website: yamaha.com
The Yamaha Corporation was founded by Torakusu Yamaha in the year 1887. Currently, the company's headquarters can be found in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Jay Ifshin was already an important vintage violin collector, master builder, and player when he decided to open his first Berklee shop. Although business was going well, he was frustrated because he couldn't find any brand to supply good quality violins that would play well and stay in tune for students.
Thus, he and his shop foreman, Haide Lin (a master builder trained in Guangzhou, China), made a joint effort to close that gap.
As a result, they created a line of solid, reliable instruments that played well and stayed in tune with an affordable price tag. This line performed so well that soon; they had to sell them worldwide to critical acclaim.
If you look for the perfect balance of price and quality, Jay Haide violins are a goldmine.
When the hand-picked, naturally-aged, European tonewood used in this violin starts vibrating, you'll understand why sourcing the right materials means the world of difference in violin-making. Moreover, this violin by Jay Haide is entirely handmade by expert luthiers and is capable of a beautifully layered sonority with enough depth and chime to bring life to any piece you play. The Statue Model by Jay Haide represents the brand's highest standards; check them out before making a decision.
Official website: jayhaide.com
Jay Haide was founded by Jay Ifshin and Haide Lin in 1992. Currently, the company's headquarters are in El Cerrito, California, USA.
One of the foundational pillars of European master builders is that to create a masterpiece, you need to utilize the best materials you can find. In other words, it all starts with the wood choice.
After a century of making some of the best violins on the market, the company continues to honour the European tradition and deliver state-of-the-art, great-sounding instruments for the world to play.
Furthermore, there's nothing Knilling can't do since their Custom Shop takes custom orders from every corner of the planet, transforming dreams into tangible instruments.
Whichever is your playing level, you'll find a Knilling violin to satisfy your needs.
Bosnia, Germany, and Romania provide the best tonewoods for Knilling to craft some of the best-sounding violins in the market today. Moreover, the wood is the same as in famous Stradivarius violins: indigenous maple and spruce. This wood is capable of superior resonance and is rich in musical harmonic overtones giving each note beautiful complexity and depth.
These instruments are well-balanced and offer projection and response that could belong to an instrument several times more expensive.
Official website: knilling.com
Knilling was founded in 1922 by Bernard Kornblum. Currently, the company's headquarters are in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
Perhaps, DZ Strad's biggest achievement is offering such a broad, well-curated catalogue of violins to help every musician regardless of which step of the journey they are in. In other words, DZ Strad is a reliable choice for quality instruments in all tiers.
As you would expect, this company's commitment doesn't end in superb craftsmanship at a reasonable price. They also offer lessons, a trade-in policy, and a renting option for working musicians to record with instruments that are economically out of their reach.
For those in search of a company they can trust to accompany them through the sonic journey of their lives, DZ Strad might be the best option in the market right now.
This instrument is ready for students and professionals alike, featuring a 1/8″ and a 1/4″ jack for headphones and standard amplification. Indeed, this is an affordable, easy to carry, great-sounding solution for the musician on the road or the student that wants to practice without bothering others.
Moreover, this is a great-quality instrument with an ebony fretboard, chin rest and pegs, and a piezo pickup installed inside a rock maple bridge. Finally, you can even add some reverb to the sound and have countless hours of fun with this quiet, player-friendly electric violin.
Official website: dzstrad.com
DZ Strad was founded in 2017. Currently, the workshop and retail headquarters are located in White Plains, New York, USA.
Borrowing the know-how from the tradition of 17th Century German luthiers, this relatively young company managed to amass a faithful legion of fans quickly. This can be explained by Eastman's attention to detail and overall supervision of the process.
Indeed, this company started as a one-man endeavour, and today, several decades later, the same attention to detail is put into every piece leaving the factory.
Eastman is a company you can trust; plus, they offer great-quality violins at prices most people can afford.
This violin by Eastman represents the best efforts the company makes toward excellence.
To begin with, this model is made of the finest European tonewoods featuring an uncanny flamed maple back and a Bosnian spruce top. Moreover, the gold varnish finish makes the natural flame of the maple stand out in all its magnificence. Plus, the fretboard is made of hand-picked ebony. Finally, sound-wise, this violin sounds rich and deep while delivering musical harmonics that create the perfect sound for soloists. If you haven't already, try one out today, and feel the difference in your hands.
Official website: eastmanstrings.com
Eastman Strings was founded in 1992 by Qian Ni. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Pomona, California, USA.
Snow's story is that of a dream, passion for excellence, and a ton of hard work giving positive results. Indeed, what began as a small shop in Beijing with only a handful of luthiers is now a 70-people endeavour with offices in several countries. Moreover, Snow builds and distributes high-quality string instruments to most big cities in the world.
This is not random or an overnight phenomenon but the outcome of years of hard work and dedication. If you want a mix of the best in Asian precision mixed with traditional European styles, and modern ideas, you have to try a Snow violin today.
With a top made of selected European tonewoods, a back made of Chinese maple, and light Linseed oil varnish, this violin is the perfect choice for the advanced student.
But what does this combination sound like? Well, you can expect an instrument with a strong character that can make neck turns on your first note. Don't let this character scare you since the bold presence is well balanced with some mellow tones. As a result, this is a do-it-all, well-crafted violin ready to take any stage and make you shine.
Official website: snowviolin.com
Snow was founded by William Hu (Xueping Hu in Chinese) in 1989. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Beijing, China.
Klaus Heffler violins greatly represent what German precision means when met with centuries-old tradition. Furthermore, each Klaus Heffner violin is proudly made in Germany by the hands of expert craftsmen and women utilizing only the best materials.
Although you might expect such an outstanding piece to break the bank, Klaus Hellfer violins have become the best affordable option for players looking for a great sound and impeccable performance without a hefty price tag.
If you haven't already, give this company a chance; they will surprise you.
Finished with a beautiful golden-brown light varnish, this powerful instrument is a great show of what this company is capable of.
The hand-picked premium woods used in its construction are resonant and ooze the presence you need to cut through an entire orchestra. Also, the impeccable craftsmanship is perfect for the last detail. Finally, they are handmade entirely in Germany, following family traditions. The best doesn't need to have too many zeros in the price tag; try one of these today and see it for yourself.
Official website: N/A
Klaus Heffler Violins is a family company that has been making violins from the beautiful small town of Forchheim, Germany, for decades. Moreover, this is not just another town but the epicentre of Germany's rich violin-making history.
As members of the Violin Society of America for over two decades, this violinist couple has seen, held, and played more violins than most people. This first-hand experience, added to their own collection of notable instruments, gave them enough insight to create some of the best-sounding, best-crafted violins on the market today.
Moreover, the same passion, commitment to excellence, and attention to detail can be found across the catalogue; thus, you can expect great violins for all budgets.
With a powerful yet highly-textured sound, this violin oozes character and musicality to fall in love with. To begin with, it is 100% handmade, utilizing a 10-year aged spruce top and equally-aged maple back and sides. Also, the top is made entirely of carved solid wood and gives the perfect low-end balance to the snappy ebony fingerboard. Finally, the violin's Aubert Bridge is entirely hand carved and ships out with a fresh set of Evah Pirazzi strings. If you haven't already, and it fits your budget, you have to try one of these today.
Official website: stradviolin.com
Antonio Strad was founded in 1994 by Guolian Zhou and Mary Zhang. Currently, the shop and company headquarters are in San Antonio, Texas, USA.
- Carlo Lamberti
- Franz Hoffmann
- Kennedy Violins