6 Best Intermediate Violins (Across Multiple Budget Ranges)

If you’ve been scrolling through the internet to find an intermediate violin, then I’m happy to say you’re in the right place.

Maybe you’re a parent looking for the perfect second violin for your kid, or maybe you’re searching for the perfect upgrade for yourself.

Either way, I’ve got you covered!

I remember how exciting it was when I grew out of my beginner fiddle, so I know how important this decision is.

That’s why I’ve done my research and found the 6 best intermediate violins that will put a smile on any student’s face!

Snapshot: The 6 Best Intermediate Violins

  1. Cremona SV-500
  2. Cremona SV-130
  3. Mendini MV400Least Expensive
  4. Stentor 1550
  5. D Z Strad 220Most Expensive
  6. Cremona SV-175

Buying a Great Intermediate Violin

Best Intermediate Violin

Learning the violin has become incredibly popular over the past few years.

That’s why there are so many different makes and models out there now that range from the very cheap violins right up to the high end premium violins.

I love that the instrument has become more widely available but the amount of choice can be pretty hard to tackle!

When it comes to buying a great intermediate violin, I’ve got a few top tips. Firstly, buy from a brand you know and trust. If you’re new to the violin game and you’re not sure where to look, don’t worry.

That’s why I’m here!

I’ve found 6 incredible violins for intermediate players. Plus, they’re all handmade and incredibly well crafted. They’re from household names (well, they’re known in my household anyway!) and they’re all relatively affordable.

I’m so excited to share some of my favorite fiddles with you!

The Best Intermediate Violin in 2020

1. Cremona SV-500 Violin Review

Cremona SV-500 Premier Artist Violin Outfit - 4/4 Size
101 Reviews
Cremona SV-500 Premier Artist Violin Outfit - 4/4 Size
  • Strings Magazine reviews SV-500 as "a good choice for anyone looking for a first or second violin" See Video and Product Details PDF file below for the complete review
  • Best tone quality for the advanced student and Cremona's most popular violin for sound.Case: Lightweight oblong rigid foam with four bow holders and hygrometer
  • Flamed maple with a rich, hand applied reddish-brown varnish finish, hand carved solid spruce and solid maple body

The Cremona SV-500 is really popular amongst students and teachers. Its beautiful antique look and mellow sound are to die for. Want to know the best part? It’s really affordable. There, all of my boxes ticked!

Body & Neck

The great thing about the Cremona SV-500 is that it’s set up to the NEMC (National Association for Musical Education) standards. I think it’s great to have that peace of mind when you’re buying an intermediate violin. You already know the violin would be recommended by teachers, so it takes a bit of the risk away from online instrument shopping!

The violin has a beautiful warm brown stained body. It’s got a solid spruce top and maple back and sides. I’d steer clear of any violin you find that isn’t made of spruce and maple. We don’t want a disaster on our hands!

Bow & Hardware

The Cremona SV-500 comes with a lovely brazilwood bow. It’s not the best bow in the world, but it will certainly do the job for students. Plus, you’re better off spending your money on the violin itself. You’ve always got the option of buying a more professional bow as you progress.

This violin also comes with all 100% ebony fittings. They’re great quality and the pegs hold intonation incredibly well. It does have a tailpiece with fixed fine-tuners which are fine for intermediate players, but you may need to switch it for an independent-style tailpiece in a few years!

Sound

Cremona violins tend to be beautifully mellow. The SV-500 has a gorgeous warm tone to match its warm body which I love! You’ll notice a massive difference in the sound when you upgrade from a beginner violin to an intermediate one. Compared to your old violin, this one will have much more volume and resonance and it will sound a lot smoother as you play. Just remember it takes a little bit of time for the strings to settle in!

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Spruce top, flamed maple back and sides
  • Neck & Fingerboard Material: Maple neck, ebony fingerboard
  • Strings & Tuners: D’Addario Prelude strings, ebony tuning pegs, and fixed fine-tuners
  • Bow: Brazilwood
  • Nut & Saddle Material: Ebony
  • Bridge: French-made Aubert
  • Tailpiece & Chinrest: Ebony

The best affordable intermediate violin with a beautifully resonant, mellow sound

Final Thoughts on the Cremona SV-500

I’d say the Cremona SV-500 is the best intermediate violin. Although it’s pretty inexpensive, you wouldn’t know to hear it. It has a beautifully resonant, mellow sound which will make all the difference to your playing!

2. Cremona SV-130 Violin Review

Sale
Cremona SV-130 Premier Novice Violin Outfit - 4/4 Size,Traditional Brown
  • Cremona's top selling novice violin for more than 10 years; check out the new video
  • Every Cremona student violin comes with US-made Prelude strings; the educator's preferred strings for students
  • Properly fitted Swiss-style ebony pegs and quality lightweight composite tailpiece with 4 smooth fine tuners for easy tuning

Well, the Cremona SV-130 is even more affordable. I love Cremona violins because they’re always beautifully crafted and I trust their durability. Even Cremona’s more affordable models like this one sound absolutely beautiful and are a joy to play.

Body & Neck

We all know how much I love an antique varnished violin! The contrast of the dark purflings on the back and the fading of the color on the front is just beautiful. That sort of attention to detail is proof of Cremona’s amazing craftsmanship. Another thing I love about this violin is that it was crafted in California.

There are so many violins on the market that are just churned out by the masses, so it’s a lovely change to buy from a home-grown business. You might notice that the SV-130’s neck is a little bit skinnier than what you’re used to. As you become more advanced, you’ll be glad it is! Smaller necks make it easier to transition between the strings, but slightly harder to keep your hand positioning.

Just make sure you keep your wrist straight and you’ll be fine! Oh, another thing, the SV-130 has an oil-varnished neck which isn’t the best if you’re prone to sweaty hands. I know that sounds a bit gross, but we’ve all been there! Just keep it in mind if you’re a nervy player (I know I was)!

Bow & Hardware

Like the SV-500, this violin comes with the brilliant D’Addario Prelude strings. I think these excellent violin strings are an absolute must for intermediate players. They make all the difference to your playing! This time, however, we’ve got independent style fine-tuners, yay! I’d probably recommend keeping all four on until you’re a bit more advanced.

It is good to know that you can take them off if you’d like to though. They can cause quite a bit of unnecessary buzzing, especially when you’re miked up! I just leave one on my E string for peace of mind.

Sound

The SV-130 sounds pretty similar to the 500, it’s just not quite so smooth. You can still get a lot of volume out of it and it has a lovely rich tone. This is a really great intermediate violin and you’ll notice it sounding better and better as you advance as a player. Cremona violins are always pretty resonant. You can tell they put a lot of effort into making their student violins sound great.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Spruce top, maple back and sides
  • Neck & Fingerboard Material: Maple neck, ebony fingerboard
  • Strings & Tuners: D’Addario Prelude strings, ebony tuning pegs, and independent fine-tuners
  • Bow: Brazilwood
  • Nut & Saddle Material: Ebony
  • Bridge: French-made Aubert
  • Tailpiece & Chinrest: Ebony

A really affordable Cremona violin with a lovely rich tone

Final Thoughts on the Cremona SV-130

The Cremona SV-130 is a great little violin. I’d say it’s better for new intermediate players, rather than those who are edging towards advanced. It has a gorgeous rich tone and wonderful resonance. The only thing that lets it down in my eyes is its glossy neck!

3. Mendini MV400 Violin Review

Mendini MV400 Ebony Fitted Solid Wood Violin with Tuner, Lesson Book, Hard Case, Shoulder Rest, Bow,...
  • 4/4 (Full Size) violin, hand-carved solid wood spruce top, Hand-carved solid wood maple back & sides
  • Beautiful inlaid purfling & varnish finish, Ebony fingerboard, chin rest and pegs, alloy tailpiece with four integrated fine tuners
  • Includes: Cecilio chromatic tuner, Lesson book

If you really fancy a Cremona but don’t quite have the budget for it, feast your eyes on the Mendini 400. Fun fact – Mendini is actually owned by Cecilio. Cecilio makes beautiful orchestral violins and they started Mendini specifically to provide affordable violins to students. See? I do my research!

Body & Neck

This is quite a simple looking violin, but it’s still really well crafted. It doesn’t quite have the same finesse as the Cremonas when it comes to finishing, but I think it’s quite pretty! The Mendini 400 is handcrafted and from solid spruce and maple. You can tell it’s been given the same amount of love as the Cremonas were, which is great!

If you’ve read my articles before, you’ll probably know what I’m about to say.  I hate it when the finishing on the neck of a violin ends abruptly! I love that you can see the natural wood pattern on the neck, I just wish it blended a little better with the body. But, hey, these are just aesthetic problems. What matters is the sound! 

Bow & Hardware

I won’t go into the tailpiece, we all know I’m not the biggest fan of fixed fine-tuners (I’ll get over it someday, I promise). As affordable as this violin is, it comes with everything an intermediate player would need. Amazing, durable ebony fittings and a lovely brazilwood bow. I’m not too keen on the Cecilio strings, but they do the job. I’d recommend swapping them for some Pro-Arte or D’Addario’s if you want a bit of extra oomph!

Sound

Orchestral players, listen up! You’re going to love this violin. It has such a rich and powerful sound. It doesn’t have much color at all, so it’s definitely more suited to orchestral or classical players. It has the ability to sound quite beautiful if you give it a bit of welly. I will say, it’s not quite as resonant as some of the other violins on this list but that’s what you’d expect at this price point.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Spruce top, maple back and sides
  • Neck & Fingerboard Material: Maple neck, ebony fingerboard
  • Strings & Tuners: D’Addario Prelude strings, ebony tuning pegs, and fixed fine-tuners
  • Bow: Brazilwood
  • Nut & Saddle Material: Ebony
  • Bridge: Maple
  • Tailpiece & Chinrest: Alloy tailpiece, ebony chinrest

A super affordable intermediate violin, perfect for players on a budget

Final Thoughts on the Mendini MV400

If you’re looking for a really affordable intermediate violin, the Mendini MV400 is your guy. It’s not quite got the resonance but it’s probably the best you can find at this price point. Put it this way, I’d have been happy if my first upgrade was a Mendini 400.

4. Stentor 1550 Violin Review

Stentor, 4-String Violin (1550 4/4)
  • Hand crafted from nicely figured solid tonewoods with fine-grained Spruce top
  • Solid maple back
  • Full ebony fittings

You may have been thinking about buying the Stentor 1400 or 1500 because it’s really popular amongst students. However, I would absolutely recommend the 1550 over those models to intermediate players. It’s harder to find online (I’m not sure why) but It’s made of better materials and sounds a whole lot better! Just a little FYI before I start…

Body & Neck

First of all, I love how unique the Stentor 1550 looks. It’s stained a beautiful red-brown color which is pretty unique, I’d say. It has really beautifully inlaid double purflings on the front and back. Little details like these really make all the difference to a violin. It’s back is also lightly flamed which adds a little something extra to the design.

Another thing I love about this violin is how clearly you can see the grain of the wood through the varnish. Now, I know these things seem kind of irrelevant. However, if you can see the grain you know they haven’t used that thick tinny gloss varnish. Avoid the tinny gloss at all costs!

Bow & Hardware

The Stentor 1550 has 100% ebony fittings and an ebony fingerboard. Another tip when you’re buying an intermediate violin is to make sure the fingerboard is actually ebony and not just “ebonized”. That’s when any ordinary wood is just made to look like ebony, so you can’t be sure of the quality or how durable it will be (sorry for getting geeky on ya, but it’s worth noting). I don’t know why but I’m not a fan of stentor tailpieces.

It’s not because they’re bad quality or anything, they’re okay on that front. I feel like they’re just a bit small and cheap-looking? That’s probably just me though…

Sound

Now, this is why I really wanted to include the Stentor 1550 in this list of the best intermediate violins. It has such a pretty sound. Most of the violins I’ve reviewed so far have been pretty mellow and deep in sound. However, let me tell ya, this guy is colorful. It has such a playful sound but it’s balanced and smooth at the same time. I think it would be perfect for folk players!

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Spruce top, maple back and sides
  • Neck & Fingerboard Material: Maple neck, ebony fingerboard
  • Strings & Tuners: Synthetic gut strings, ebony tuning pegs, and fixed fine-tuners
  • Bow: Brazilwood
  • Nut & Saddle Material: Ebony
  • Bridge: Maple
  • Tailpiece & Chinrest: Alloy tailpiece, ebony chinrest

The perfect violin for folk players or soloists with a playful, yet smooth tone

Final Thoughts on the Stentor 1550

This is a really underrated violin in the online community. It’s absolutely gorgeous and would make any intermediate violinist very happy. It’s definitely more suited to soloists or folk fiddlers due to its playful sound!

5. D Z Strad 220 Violin Review

D Z Strad Model 220 4/4 Full Size Violin with Dominant strings, bow, case, rosin and shoulder...
  • It produces a malleable, sophisticated sound with openness and ring with color and depth.
  • Selected seasoned Engelmann Spruce top, naturally air dried (over 10 years), Ebony fingerboard
  • 100% handmade, 100% hand varnished

The D Z Strad 220 is a classic intermediate violin. It’s beautiful, durable, and has an amazing sound. All my soloists out there will absolutely love this guy. He’s a little bit more pricey but worth any penny (I really don’t know why I insist on referring to violins as if they’re men).

Body & Neck

I mean, would you look at that color? It’s just beautiful. However, I’m not going to focus on what this violin looks like (for once) because the best thing about it is its playability. I don’t know what it is about the way its neck was carved but it fits in your hand perfectly. People don’t often mention comfort when they’re reviewing violins because, let’s face it, the violin is a pretty uncomfortable thing to play. I mean, who designed these things?

I’m just kidding, I love playing the violin but I have to say that the Strad 220 makes it that bit more enjoyable. If you’ve been struggling with your scales, you won’t be anymore!

Bow & Hardware

All of my Strad violins sound great with Dominant strings, so I’m glad that’s what they come with. No complaints there! We’ve also got a nice brazilwood bow, strung with genuine unbleached Mongolian horsehair. Why horsehair, you ask? Well, it’s got a lot more grip than synthetic fibers. You’ll still have to lather it up with quality rosin, but you’ll get a really great sound and excellent playability from it.

The only downside for intermediate players is that it only comes with one fine-tuner on the E string. As I mentioned earlier, most advanced players prefer it this way but I know some intermediates will be shaking in their boots at the thought. Don’t worry, you can always fit the extra three if you want. They’re super affordable!

Sound

Resonance, resonance, resonance. That’s all I have to say. Who am I kidding? That’s definitely not all I have to say about this violin. It has such a sophisticated tone that rings with beautiful depth and a hint of color. It’s not edgy or anything, it’s just got that perfect balance of playfulness and depth. I absolutely love this violin. It’s open, deep, and pretty soulful for a violin.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Spruce top, maple back and sides
  • Neck & Fingerboard Material: Maple neck, ebony fingerboard
  • Strings & Tuners: Dominant strings, boxwood tuning pegs, and one fine tuner on the E string
  • Bow: Brazilwood
  • Nut & Saddle Material: Ebony
  • Bridge: Maple
  • Tailpiece & Chinrest: Boxwood

A gorgeous violin with a deep, sophisticated and open tone

Final Thoughts on the D Z Strad 220

The D Z Strad would be perfect for either soloists or orchestral players. It’s got a really sophisticated tone, so playing it will feel a lot different from playing your beginner model! Don’t worry though, it’s definitely a good different.

6. Cremona SV-175 Violin Review

Cremona SV-175 Premier Student Violin Outfit - 4/4 Size
  • Music Inc. Magazine reviews SV-175 as "designed to meet the needs of beginning and advancing students."
  • Select tonewoods for the finest possible sound. Model SV-175 is Cremona's top selling student violin for more than 30 years
  • Every Cremona student violin comes with US-made Prelude strings, the educator's preferred strings for students

Cremona kind of dominates the intermediate violin market so here’s another one from them. The SV-175 is such an amazing violin. Oh, it’s also Cremona’s best-selling violin (and it has been for more than 30 years). Have I saved the best ‘til last? Quite possibly…

Body & Neck

Okay, let’s talk about this wood. I love seeing the grain on the body of a violin, and the SV-175 takes that to a whole new level. There’s no wonder it’s been Cremona’s best-selling violin for so long. It looks so rustic and pretty. The purflings almost blend in with the grain! So beautiful. I think it’s safe to say I’ve fallen in love! This violin is also made to MENC standards which is brilliant and it’s really lovely to play.

When you start learning how to play in the second position, you’ll realize how well the neck has been carved. Also, it’s super lightweight so you can get those practice hours in without killing your arm!

Bow & Hardware

The Cremona SV-175 has amazing quality tuning pegs. I mean, I’m not sure how they made them but they hold intonation like it’s their job (well, I guess it is their job). I really like Cremona’s fine-tuners as well. Have you ever used those tuners that have hardly any grip? The ones you couldn’t turn even if your life depended on it? I certainly have. Sorry, that was a bit of a rant. Just know you won’t have an issue with these guys and it comes with all four (yay)!

Sound

The Cremona SV-175 has a really full, lively tone and is so much fun to play. You get such a mellow tone from playing the G and D strings, but it still sounds quite playful on the A and E, if that makes sense? It’s really quite beautiful.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Spruce top, maple back and sides
  • Neck & Fingerboard Material: Maple neck, ebony fingerboard
  • Strings & Tuners: D’Addario Prelude strings, ebony tuning pegs, and independent fine tuners
  • Bow: Brazilwood
  • Nut & Saddle Material: Ebony
  • Bridge: Maple
  • Tailpiece & Chinrest: Ebony

A really unique-looking violin with a mellow, yet lively tone

Final Thoughts on the Cremona SV-175

I’d say the Cremona SV-175 is mellow enough to blend perfectly with other instruments but lively enough to be played alone. It would be perfect for a student who’s not quite sure whether they want to go down the orchestral or soloist route!

Your Intermediate Violin Will be Your Best Friend

Intermediate Musican Playing the Violin

The violin I played when I was a student is still my favorite to this day.

Because you’ll become an advanced player with this fiddle, you’re really going to fall in love with it. The violin is by far one of the hardest instruments to learn.

Transitioning from being a beginner to an intermediate player is a big step and you should be really proud of yourself. So, it’s time to reward yourself with an amazing new violin and I hope I helped you choose the perfect one.

You’ll be a professional in no time!

Further Reading: