This blog is dedicated to violins, violin makers, violin players, and all violin enthusiasts.

Gliga Violins – A violin shop in Pasadena, USA and Vancouver Canada

Being violin “illiterate”, but very analytical in nature, I would like to know what makes a violin in the “master” category verses in the beginner one. When a violin is being made, is it destined for a particular level (master, advanced, intermediate, beginner, etc), or is that determined once it is completed (meaning, after the violin is crafted, it is then played to determine what level the violin is)?  Other than the woodwork is far more elegant as the price increases, what else makes the violin more expensive?

A violin is destined to be a master, a professional, an advanced, a intermediate or a beginner’s school violin from the beginning. It all starts with the selection of the wood. We know which violin we will make from a certain piece of wood since the moment when we unload the logs from the truck. Actually, sometimes, we know it since we buy the wood, without seeing it. Wood that comes from a certain part of the country, from a certain mountain, from a certain altitude, from a certain side of the mountain, usually qualifies for a certain quality level. All these attributes dictate the quality of the wood, which is reflected in the price of the wood. Higher quality wood is more expensive, and this is one of the reasons why a maestro violin is more expensive than beginner’s or an advanced level violin for example. I took some extreme quality levels, but there is a distinct difference in the quality of the wood between all levels.

There are over 200 stages that a simple piece of wood has to go through in order to become a violin. Like trees and like people, each violin is unique. Science will explain the uniqueness of each violin very easily: wood is an anisotropic material, which means that it does not have the same properties in all directions. Also, the wood has unique and independent mechanical properties in the direction of the 3 perpendicular axes, longitudinal, radial, and tangential, which makes each centimeter of wood from the same trunk different than the next one, in all three directions. The sound produced by a piece of wood is affected by its dimensions, density, humidity content and mechanical properties. As a result, each piece of wood has its own unique acoustical properties, which will make each violin a unique entity.

So, after having said all this, the next step that influences the price of the violin and the sound of the violin is the drying up phase. Wood is dried differently for each quality level, in both drying up method and length. The slower the drying up, the better the quality of the sound is, but, at the same time, the more expensive the stage.

The other factors that influence both the sound quality of a violin and its price are the quality of the varnish, the quality of the accessories, and most importantly, the skill level of the people who actually build the violins. People with more experience and talent will deliver better finished products, but they are getting paid higher salaries.

In short, costs and quality really go hand in hand, and there is a very close connection between the price and the quality of a violin. Everything can be very easily explained and justified.

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