The Pros and Cons of Buying a Modern or Contemporary Violin

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Contemporary violin or a modern one?

It seems to be a bit controversial among violinists at the moment whether or not contemporary and modern violins are equal or nearly equal to an old Italian instrument made back in the day.

The purpose of this article is to discuss the pros and cons of the contemporary and modern violin. Anyone who is looking to purchase a violin in the near future will want to read this article. Although I am sure, many people have different opinions about this topic. My goal is not to discredit those opinions but instead educate others about the facts regarding violins so that they may choose for themselves what they prefer.

What is a contemporary and a modern violin?

The violin is an instrument that was developed about 500 years ago. Its popularity has ever since then steadily increased. Modern violins were made roughly in the years from the 1860s to the 1970s. In contrast, contemporary violins are all about the now.

Some people get confused between modern instruments and the term modernization of instruments, which, by the way, are two completely different things.

Baroque instruments have been modernized in recent centuries to reflect the changes in society, such as changes in musical tastes, trends, and innovations. The main reason for these changes was due to musicians’ demand to increase their overall sound and volume.

How do modern violins differ from old violins?

The modern violin has been developed from the old one over the last 200 years. The intricacies of the violin are fascinating. Now standing at the cusp of a golden renaissance in violin making, it is interesting to see just how much development there has been in violin research and technology in just the past century, let alone over its much longer history. Whilst the modern violin has undergone some changes, its heart remains the same: to create a beautiful sound that will continue to resonate throughout the ages.

We don’t want to disregard the old master makers of the past – they have created marvelous instruments well appreciated nowadays. The thing is that not everybody can have their hands on a Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati, and so on. You must be aware of the options available on the market today according to your budget. Sometimes a contemporary and modern violin can sound even better than old violins.


The Advantages of Owning a Modern or Contemporary Violin

  1. If you don’t have a big budget available, you should choose a good modern violin maker than the old options available within your budget. It requires a great amount of money to find an antique violin that sounds very, very well. That’s why sometimes you will find a better contemporary/modern playing violin.
  2. You get to know the maker, and he/she gets to know you. It is possible to know what happens inside their workshop and for you to specify every part of a violin the way you want. Not to mention that you can always rely on the luthier if your instrument needs repairs or changes in the future. Remember that the luthier has the best interest in keeping your instrument sounding at the best of its possibilities.
  3. The modern maker knows their instrument from the inside out. He/she knows exactly how to take good care of it. On the other hand old violins might have suffered so many restorations and changes executed by so many different luthiers across the centuries, their originality might not be intact anymore. Adjustments are easier on modern violins, for sure!
  4. The contemporary and modern violins that are already born with good quality sound, timber, colors, and projection will just get better and better over time. Different from old violins, which usually give you what they have immediately.
  5. Easier trade-in or resale of the instrument later in life.
  6. You will hardly have trouble with attributions and certificates on a contemporary violin.

The Disadvantages of Owning a Modern or Contemporary Violin

  1. It takes a bit longer to develop its sound, unlike an old violin that you already know what it sounds like. However, there are already top contemporary violin makers who are creating instruments born with a sound comparable to old Italian violins.
  2. It normally requires more adjustments within the first months or years. It’s part of the process to maintain the instrument through its development. Don’t think that the instrument has something wrong. It’s completely normal and good to make adjustments frequently.  Not to mention that it’s done according to the necessity of the musician.

Consider all options before making any purchases.

Frankly, buying a violin can be a costly investment. This is one of the main reasons you don’t want to get stuck with anything that isn’t a good fit for you and your music. So before you rush out and buy a violin, keep these things in mind. Ownership of an antique violin could cost more than owning a modern violin that sounds better.

However, it would be best to keep in mind that there is always more than one option in the violin world. It is important that you compare multiple options before making any decisions about what would be right for you.

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