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There are several factors to consider when choosing the best kids’ violin. First and foremost is the size. It is important for a child to have an instrument that is the appropriate size in order to learn to play it correctly. Others factors include the quality and setup of the instrument, the type of strings used, and the presence of fine tuners on the tailpiece.
Violins come in different sizes, including smaller sizes designed for young players. A smaller violin will not have the same rich sound quality as a full size violin, but it is a necessary trade-off to make sure a child does not have a violin that is too big to play. Given the fact that size is so important, if the child is young, you might want to consider renting a violin rather than purchasing one because, chances are, the child will outgrow the instrument in a short period of time.
Generally, violins are available in fractional sizes ranging from a 4/4 violin, which is a full size, all the way to 1/16 violin. Smaller ones can be custom made, but with each downsize, the sound quality will suffer. When determining the best size for a kids’ violin, you can either measure the length of the child’s arm or simply have the child hold the violin.
To measure the child’s arm, have the child extend his or her arm to shoulder level and measure from the mid-palm area to the crook of the neck. If the measurement is 23.5 inches (59.7 cm), a full-size violin is appropriate. Anything under 23.5 inches (59.7 cm) requires a smaller size violin. Most music stores will have a chart available to help you determine the appropriate size based on the child’s measurements.
If you choose a violin size by having a child hold the instrument, he or she should place the violin on the shoulder at the chin, as if preparing to play it. Then have the child wrap his or her hand around the scroll, which is the curved end where the tuning pegs are. The child’s arm should be only slightly bent, relaxed and comfortable. If the arm is bent at a sharp angle, the violin is likely too small. When the arm is rigid or the child cannot reach the scroll, then the violin is too large.
Aside from determining the appropriate size, the quality of the instrument is important when choosing the best kids’ violin. Many inexpensive kids’ violins are available in stores and on the Internet, but oftentimes, these violins are cracked, warped, or otherwise damaged. If that is the case, the violin will not play properly, and the child might have difficulty learning the instrument.
The best kids’ violin is also one that is set up properly. When determining whether the instrument is suitably set up, consider primarily the strings, the pegs, and the bridge. The strings should be correctly attached to tuning pegs, and each peg should be properly set in its respective slot. Ebony or rosewood pegs are usually preferred over cheaper wood pegs because they will stay in place better and the strings will not tend to cut into them.
As part of the right setup, an appropriately sized bridge should be in place on the body so that it aligns well with the fingerboard. A kids’ violin that is not properly set up will not only be difficult to play, but it will also sound awful. If you obtain the violin from a music store rather than through mail order or the Internet, typically someone at the music store can help you make sure the instrument is correctly set up.