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Used Violins – The Best Deal?


Getting set up with a good instrument when you first start out can be confusing, stressful, and expensive. If you are on a budget, finding the most bang for your buck can be even more overwhelming. What to do?? Before you delve into the realm of “Violin Shaped Objects” on ebay or craigslist, first think about getting a used or blemished instrument.

Carlo Lamberti We do offer used and blemished instruments here at SHAR. We offer these at discounted prices; since they are all set up to our precise specifications and since they only have cosmetic damage, they can be a great deal if you’re looking to get a good instrument on a tight budget.

Blemished instruments are brand new, but they are being sold at a discounted price because they exhibit some sort of slight imperfection (usually in the varnish). These blemishes are cosmetic only and will not affect the sound or playability of the instrument.

Trade-in instruments have been previously owned. Upon their arrival back at SHAR, we make sure to inspect them carefully for damage and do any repair work necessary in order to ensure that they still meet our precise set-up specifications. Used violins are classified and priced in three categories: A, B, and C. “A” level instruments show the least amount of wear and tear; oftentimes there’s just a nick on the varnish to indicate their previous use. “B” level instruments show a moderate amount of wear, and “C” quality instrument bear the most obvious use. “C” level instruments, accordingly, will be the least expensive. All of the trade-ins are carefully evaluated and their wear has no effect on their sound and playability.

If you purchase a blemished or used student instrument and you decide to trade it in later, you’ll still receive our standard trade-in credit: 50% of the purchase price of the instrument. This is a great deal that can enable you to work your way up through the fractional sizes.

Take a look at our stock of blemished and used instruments here! Please note that since we are unable to predict when we will receive blemished or used instruments we are accordingly unable to accept backorders on these items.




Several weeks ago I was in the market for a second violin. I didn't want to take my primary violin with me into situations that might be in any way "risky" (playing out-of-doors, transporting in crowded situations, etc.). I thought a more "rough-and-tumble" second violin would be just the ticket. I checked on Shar's current (at that time) selection of used/traded-in violins, and found one -- a Franz Hoffman 'Concert' classified as "B" on condition -- that I felt could meet all my needs. I purchased it, and couldn't be happier with it! It has a few minor nicks in the varnish, and there was one very small gouge where it appears something had been dropped on it by its previous owner. My luthier put just a mini-drop of matching stain into the indentation, and it's only visible now from VERY close-up. 
The best part about it is its playability and tone. It sounded a bit "muffled" when it arrived, but had obvious potential. I immediately replaced the strings it arrived with -- gave it Dominant G, D and A strings, and a Pirastro Gold Label E. I already had some Liebenzeller Gold II rosin, which I use on my primary violin, so I began using it on this "new" instrument, too. The resulting improvement in tone quality brought about by the string and rosin change snapped me to attention and put a smile on my face that hasn't worn off yet! I never expected a 3/4-size, purchased-without-hearing-it student violin to sound this good! And it's a very comfortable instrument to play -- I've played it for up to three hours at a time, and my brain frazzled before my fingers did! :)  
Based on my experience with this violin, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Shar's previously-owned instruments. Price-wise, it's my "second" violin. Satisfaction-wise, I value it every bit as much as my "primary" violin (which cost several times as much).
Posted @ Friday, August 31, 2012 11:46 AM by Marsha Weaver
Thanks for the comment, Marsha! That's such a great use of a blemished or used instrument: a second instrument you feel a little more comfortable taking to an outdoor or crowded gig.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 04, 2012 1:45 PM by Joseph Chapman
For those parents who don't want to spend the money on a good quality instrument until their child is serious, I think this is a great stepping stone. I understand that children change their mind about activities they are interested in all the time. It still doesn't make for an excuse to buy a bad quality instrument that will only frustrate that child and limit his/her playing potential. This way of shopping allows for students to receive a decent violin for less. 
If students or parents are resistant, ask them "which would you rather have, an instrument that sounds great but needs a little bit of love or a cheap instrument that will never be up to par no matter what kind of expensive strings and work you put into it?"  
I always tell my students that our instruments actually get better with age if they are of good quality and that the older the instrument, the more character it may have. 
Buying a used instrument will help students get the quality they deserve at a lower cost. The student will be less frustrated and actually enjoy playing his/her instrument and may end up falling in love with the things that give the instrument character.
Posted @ Saturday, September 08, 2012 5:06 AM by Jamie
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