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Parent's Guide

I’m a parent. I’ve never played the violin/viola, but I need to purchase an instrument for my child. Where do I start?

Kennedy Violins staff has spoken to thousands of parents asking that exact question! Here are a few places we recommend starting:

Instrument: A good stringed instrument is made of wood and finished with varnish. Avoid any instruments that are painted or have a hard lacquer exterior. Those types of finish keep the wood from resonating and severely dampen any sound that the instrument might make. Check out our page on VSOs (Violin Shaped Objects) for more information. All Kennedy Violins’ instruments are hand made with high quality wood and varnish and professionally set up by our luthiers here in Washington state.

Price range: Are you a parent who wants to purchase an instrument at a lower price point while waiting to see if your child enjoys playing before making a larger investment? Or are you a parent who would like to purchase a higher quality instrument so your child will be more motivated to practice an instrument that they can grow into? Every family is a little bit different and we have violins available across the spectrum of price points to match your needs. Call our customer service representatives to discuss which one will be the best fit for you. 1-800-779-0242

Shoulder rest: We highly recommend that violin and viola students have a quality shoulder rest. Shoulder rests help students maintain good posture and decrease neck and shoulder strain. Many of our student outfits have a shoulder rest included with the outfit. Check to see if your selected instrument has one included and, if it doesn’t, consider adding one to your order. You can find our teacher-recommended Portland Gold shoulder rest here.

String upgrades: Are they important? We string all of our instruments with D’Addario Prelude strings if there is no string upgrade specified. We chose these strings because they are a steel core string that lasts a long time and has a good tone compared to most student string sets. The downside of these strings is that they don’t add a lot of warmth to the sound of the instrument. Upgrading the strings to a synthetic core string can add a lot to the sound quality and some of our most popular synthetic core string sets can be purchased for less than $50! String upgrades also make great gifts for students who have been playing on the same set of strings for a while.

And speaking of changing strings...how often does that happen? We recommend that beginning students change their strings every year or two. Violin strings wear out over time, but also wear out from use. Regularly changing the strings keeps the sound quality of the instruments in the best possible range.

Trading-in: Students who play fractional sized instruments will need to size up as they grow. We offer a trade-in program to allow you to apply some or all of your original purchase price toward the next size up. We also offer trade-in credit for full size instruments if a student is ready for a more advanced instrument. Go to our Trade-up page to learn more.

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How to choose?

For an experienced violinist, the path to finding your "new best friend" may be somewhat simple in its initial approach. Go to a violin store, play several violins that fit into your budget, and buy the violin you like the most. However, figuring out how to buy a violin when you're not the most advanced player can be a daunting task, but the friendly customer service representatives at Kennedy Violins are just an email or phone call away!

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