You may or may not know that the best professional violins in the world were made by the famous Italian violin makers Stradavarius, Guarneri, and Amati. These violins cost upwards of a million dollars and are not within the budget of most professional violinists.

I’ve been working in the professional music world for more than 15 years and recognize what makes a violin “high-end” or “professional.” My list only includes the best professional violins that have been handcrafted by a single luthier from start to finish.

My extensive knowledge with bowed string instruments (I founded the Lazarus String Quartet) will help ensure that the violins on this list truly are the best.

Quick Look: Best Professional Violins

#1 Best Professional Violin Overall: Stefano Gibertoni

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Whether you’re looking for an antique, a modern, or an electric professional violin, I’m excited to share the best professional violins available on the market this year.

What Is a Professional Violin?

The best professional violins are handmade acoustic instruments made by luthiers, rather than factory-made instruments made by big brands. The best luthiers use historical violin making methods, created by great Italian violin makers such as Stradivarius, Amati, and Guarneri.

A close-up of violin for professionals

Typically made from the best aged spruce and maple wood, professional violins each have an incredibly beautiful and unique sound with a price point starting in the thousands and ending in the millions.

There are many different violins being produced these days, but these high-end violins are usually made solely by one maker with incredible attention to detail.

Types of Professional Violins

You can opt for an antique professional violin that will have a mature sound, or you can choose a modern professional violin with a strong and powerful sound. Electric and acoustic-electric professional violins are also available on the market.

Antique Acoustic Professional Violins

Antique violins are extremely valuable — aged wood contributes to a superior sound. Purchasing an antique professional violin can be one of the best investments, and those from violin makers Stradivari, Guarneri, and Amati are the most valuable.

Modern Acoustic Professional Violins

Nowadays many luthiers are creating state-of-the-art violins. Modern professional violins are known to have a powerful and vibrant sound, and there are plenty of affordable options out there.

Electric Professional Violins

High-end electric violins are being used by famous violinists all over the world. The best ones will have fantastic playability, comfortability, and durability, with the best pickup systems and sound you can imagine.

Acoustic-Electric Professional Violins

There are not many acoustic-electric professional violins on the market, as it’s best not to compromise at a professional level. But, I’ve seen one model made of carbon fiber that’s durable and suitable for professional violinists.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Professional Violin

Choosing a professional violin is much different than choosing a beginner or intermediate instrument. You should be looking for something with a fantastic sound that will be a good investment and can appreciate in value.

Size

Almost all professional violinists are fully grown adults, meaning all professional violins are available in just one size: 4/4 (full size).

Wood

Wood for a professional violin is the same as for most violins: a spruce top, maple back and sides, and ebony or rosewood fittings. The difference is that the wood will be aged in special controlled settings before being handpicked by the luthier himself.

Finish

After a violin has been finished by its maker, it will be set out for days or weeks before multiple layers of varnish are applied. The varnish of an antique instrument is a big contributor to its worth.

Each luthier has his or her own recipe of varnish, and many attribute the magic of Stradivari violins to the maker’s secret varnish recipe.

Color

Common ingredients of violin varnish are sun-thickened natural oils, with added color for a beautiful appearance. These colors can vary and make all violins unique. Electric violins come in an endless variety of vivid and imaginative colors.

The Bow

A professional violin bow can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s responsible for producing the sound of the instrument and requires as much delicate craftsmanship as the violin itself. Weight and balance are important for a great bow.

The Overall Tone & Sound

The best professional violins have an outstanding sound. It should be completely resonant and full of sound, with a powerful deepness in the low notes and vibrancy in the high notes. Every violin has a unique sound that’s an extremely subjective factor when you’re choosing a violin.

Price

Professional violins can cost more than a house, and many of the world’s best violinists are playing on instruments worth millions of dollars. In the end, price reflects sound, but you can still find yourself a professional violin for a few thousand dollars.

Extras

Professional violins don’t typically come in an outfit package. You’ll most likely already have many necessities if you’re looking for a professional instrument, but if not, you’ll need these things:

  • Bow
  • Good quality case
  • Rosin
  • Tuner
  • Metronome
  • Music stand
  • Violin string cloth
  • Shoulder rest
  • Extra strings
  • Hotel mute
  • Rubber mute
  • Wooden mute

5 Best Professional Violins Overall

These are my picks for the top 5 best professional violins currently available on the market. All of these violins are high-quality, handmade violins from individual luthiers with a fantastically unique sound and beauty.

There’s something for every professional violinist in this list, including both antique and modern violins with a range of prices.

Stefano Gibertoni, Guarneri del Gesú “Ysaÿe” 2020 Violin

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: Optional
  • What’s included: Violin, oblong case, certificate of authenticity
  • Material & finish: Split spruce front from Val di Fiemme, medium and regular grain (fell 2014), Balkan maple back, ribs and scroll with deep and narrow flame (fell 2012), ebony fingerboard, European boxwood and ebony fittings
  • Best for: Professionals, concert violinists

The Stefano Gibertoni, Guarneri del Gesú “Ysaÿe” 2020 Violin is an Italian-made modern violin (made in 2020) that’s a replica of the famous 1740 Guarneri “Ysaÿe” violin. It has a gorgeous “antique” finish and a sound to die for.

Pros:
✅ Best overall sound
✅ Beautiful antique look
✅ Fast response
✅ Award-winning Italian luthier
Cons:
❌ High price tag

Why I Recommend It

This beautiful violin is right up my alley. It has a deep and round sound that’s evenly balanced, perfect response and clarity, and powerful projection.

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Francesco Pierotti Fine Italian Violin 2020

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: Optional
  • What’s included: Violin, oblong case
  • Material & finish: Spruce front, maple back and sides, ebony fingerboard, boxwood fittings
  • Best for: Professionals

The Francesco Pierotti Fine Italian Violin was made in 2020 in Cesena, Italy. It has a wonderfully warm tone and great playability.

Pros:
✅ Italian luthier
✅ More affordable price tag
✅ Warm sound
Cons:
❌ Limited diversity in sound colors
❌ Modern look

Why I Recommend It

If you’re looking for an Italian made professional violin without a hefty price tag, this is a great option. With its warm and powerful tone, you’ll be purchasing a unique handcrafted instrument.

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Antique Thomas Balestrieri Fecit Mantuae Violin

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: Optional
  • What’s included: Violin, case, appraisal certificate
  • Material & finish: Spruce front, maple back, reddish-brown varnish over a tawny gold ground
  • Best for: Professionals

The Antique Thomas Balestrieri Fecit Mantuae Violin is a French violin of the Francois Fent School c. 1825 based on a Guarneri model. It’s labeled “Thomas Balestrieri Fecit Mantuae Anno 1772.”

Pros:
✅ Antique violin
✅ Dark unique sound
✅ Medium price tag
Cons:
❌ Label probably fake

Why I Recommend It

I recommend this violin, or violins like this, as it’s an antique instrument with a matured sound but it doesn’t cost a fortune (because of the likely fake label). Buying a violin like this is always a one-of-a-kind trusted investment.

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Scott Cao Superior Signature Series Violin

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: Optional
  • What’s included: Violin, case, certificate of authenticity
  • Material & finish: 30+ year-old Bosnian maple and Italian spruce, ebony fingerboard, boxwood fittings, oil varnish applied using traditional methods
  • Best for: Advanced students, professionals

The Scott Cao Superior Signature Series violins are handcrafted violins by Shi Liao, one of the workshop’s award-winning luthiers. These violins are custom made upon request, and they’re available in 15 different replica models.

Pros:
✅ Custom made replica models of your choice
✅ More affordable price tag
✅ Beautiful sound
Cons:
❌ Limited vibrancy and power
❌ Waiting time of six months

Why I Recommend It

It’s uncommon to have a violin custom made to meet your needs. Scott Cao is a trusted violin workshop that I can highly recommend, and this one sits in the price range of a medium budget for a Scott Cao professional violin.

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Ming Jiang Zhu 909 Violin

  • Size: 7/8, 4/4
  • Strings: Thomastik Vision (or optional preference)
  • What’s included: Violin, case, certificate of authenticity
  • Material & finish: Spruce front, maple body and sides, boxwood fittings
  • Best for: Advanced students, professionals

The Ming Jiang Zhu 909 Violin is made by senior master violin makers at Ming Jiang Zhu’s workshop and is sometimes known as the AAA model. It has great power and projection and is based on a Guarneri model (but can be requested to be based on a Strad model).

Pros:
✅ 7/8 size available for younger/smaller professionals
✅ Low price tag
✅ Powerful sound
Cons:
❌ Limited diversity in sound colors

Why I Recommend It

This is the best cheap professional violin. It’s uncommon to find such a powerful sounding violin at a low price tag like this, and I’d definitely recommend it as a first professional violin for advanced students on a budget.

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Best Antique Acoustic Professional Violins

There are many antique violins out there and each is one of a kind, making it impossible to write a “best of” list. In the end, violins made by Stradivarius, Guarneri, and Amati will always keep their place at the top of the list in being the best in the world.

Fiddlershop.com is continuously selling antique acoustic professional violins on consignment, and I’ve found one that they currently have to offer that’s worth checking out:

Antique Thomas Balestrieri Fecit Mantuae Violin

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: Optional
  • What’s included: Violin, case, appraisal certificate
  • Material & finish: Spruce front, maple back, reddish-brown varnish over a tawny gold ground
  • Best for: Professionals

Made in the French Francois Fent School c. 1825, the Antique Thomas Balestrieri Fecit Mantuae Violin is based on a Guarneri model. It has a label inside: “Thomas Balestrieri Fecit Mantuae Anno 1772.”

Pros:
✅ Antique violin
✅ Dark unique sound
✅ Medium price tag
Cons:
❌ Label probably fake

Why I Recommend It

I own an instrument (a cello) just like this. It’s an antique instrument with an incredibly beautiful and deep sound, but because of its “fake” label, it can be purchased for a lot less than what it’s worth. Simply a great deal.

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Best Modern Acoustic Professional Violins

Modern violins have the upside of being more affordable than antique violins while having the same great craftsmanship. Modern violins often have a powerful and vibrant sound and are played by famous violinists all over the world.

Stefano Gibertoni, Guarneri del Gesú “Ysaÿe” 2020 Violin

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: Optional
  • What’s included: Violin, oblong case, certificate of authenticity
  • Material & finish: Split spruce front from Val di Fiemme, medium and regular grain (fell 2014), Balkan maple back, ribs and scroll with deep and narrow flame (fell 2012), ebony fingerboard, European boxwood and ebony fittings
  • Best for: Professionals, concert violinists

The Stefano Gibertoni, Guarneri del Gesú “Ysaÿe” 2020 Violin is a replica of the famous 1740 Guarneri “Ysaÿe” violin and is handmade in Italy. Although it’s modern, it has an antique finish. It’s a fabulous violin and has the best sound of any violin on this list.

Pros:
✅ Best overall sound
✅ Beautiful antique look
✅ Fast response
✅ Award-winning Italian luthier
Cons:
❌ High price tag

Why I Recommend It

This is the best violin on my list. It’s simply fantastic with its beautiful antique finish and entirely diverse and powerful sound.

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Francesco Pierotti Fine Italian Violin 2020

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: Optional
  • What’s included: Violin, oblong case
  • Material & finish: Spruce front, maple back and sides, ebony fingerboard, boxwood fittings
  • Best for: Professionals

The Francesco Pierotti Fine Italian Violin 2020 is an Italian made violin, made in 2020. It has great playability and a deep tone.

Pros:
✅ Italian luthier
✅ More affordable price tag
✅ Warm sound
Cons:
❌ Limited diversity in sound colors
❌ Modern look

Why I Recommend It

This violin is a fantastic pick for someone wanting an Italian handmade violin without spending an absolute fortune.

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Scott Cao Superior Signature Series Violin

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: Optional
  • What’s included: Violin, case, certificate of authenticity
  • Material & finish: 30+ year-old Bosnian maple and Italian spruce, ebony fingerboard, boxwood fittings, oil varnish applied using traditional methods
  • Best for: Advanced students, professionals

Handcrafted by Shi Liao, one of Scott Cao’s award-winning luthiers, the Scott Cao Superior Signature Series Violin has a fantastic sound. They’re custom made — available in 15 famous replica models.

Pros:
✅ Custom made replica models of your choice
✅ More affordable price tag
✅ Beautiful sound
Cons:
❌ Limited vibrancy and power
❌ Waiting time of six months

Why I Recommend It

Scott Cao offers a great option with these custom made violins. I highly recommend these violins to someone with a medium budget. A great violin from a trusted violin maker.

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Best Electric Professional Violins

Professional electric violins are serious, and it can be difficult knowing what sets them apart from the rest. My favorite brand for professionals is by far NS Design. I’ve made my top picks from personal experience based on quality, sound, and durability.

NS Design CR Electric Violin

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: NS Electric strings by D’Addario
  • What’s included: Violin, case
  • Material & finish: Solid maple with amber stain
  • Best for: Professionals

The NS Design CR Electric Violin is the best electric violin on the market today. It has direct amplification and recording possibilities and a beautifully fine tone that replicates the sound of an acoustic wooden violin perfectly.

Pros:
✅ Best sound
✅ Easy tuning
✅ Available in 4-string and 5-string models
✅ High quality
Cons:
❌ Only one color option

Why I Recommend It

This is by far my favorite electric professional violin. It comes in either a 4 or 5-string model, which gives extra diversity to an already diverse and unique violin.

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NS Design WAV Electric Violin

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: NS Electric strings by D’Addario
  • What’s included: Violin, case
  • Material & finish: Solid maple. Available in black, sunburst, and transparent red
  • Best for: Professionals on a budget

NS Design has this fabulous violin that’s for a serious violinist on a budget. The NS Design WAV Electric Violin is a joy to play with its professional-level quality and playability.

Pros:
✅ Low price tag
✅ Three color options
✅ High quality
Cons:
❌ Limited capabilities

Why I Recommend It

This violin is simple and elegant — it gives you just what you need for a good quality electric professional violin, and it’s my pick for someone on a budget.

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Best Acoustic-Electric Professional Violins

There are not many acoustic-electric violins that I consider to be at a professional level, as it’s a compromised instrument. But, I think the following violin is worth checking out because of its unique qualities.

Mezzo-Forte Carbon Fiber Design Line Acoustic Electric Violin

  • Size: 4/4
  • Strings: Evah Pirazzi green
  • What’s included: Violin, padded gig bag, external bow tube
  • Material & finish: Carbon fiber
  • Best for: Advanced players needing durability for playing in extreme conditions

The Mezzo-Forte Carbon Fiber Design Line Acoustic Electric Violin is made in Germany using state-of-the-art carbon fiber technology. It’s a futuristic instrument that produces a sound that’s comparable to wooden violins.

Pros:
✅ Durable
✅ Warmer sound than other carbon fiber instruments on the market
✅ Available in 4-string and 5-string models
Cons:
❌ Not a “real” professional violin

Why I Recommend It

This violin is great for taking with you anywhere you go. You can take it with you camping, or play it at an outdoor festival. A great second instrument for professionals on the go.

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Buying Professional Violins New vs Used

You can either go down the antique violin route or the modern violin route. Each has its pros and cons in terms of sound, construction, and condition. When buying a used violin, check the wood for cracks and that it hasn’t been warped out of shape.

What’s Typically in the Box?

A professional violin is usually purchased alone, so there won’t be much to expect in the box apart from these things:

Violin

The main event!

Case

Your violin will come in a case, but it will usually be a lower quality case than what the worth of your violin deserves. Check out my list of the best violin cases to learn about which cases are available to purchase for your professional violin.

Certificate of Authenticity

When buying a professional violin made by an individual luthier, you should always receive a certificate of authenticity. Hold on to this for the future appreciation of your instrument.

Best Professional Violin Brands

The best professional violin brands are not necessarily made by brands at all, but by individual luthiers or violin makers. These luthiers spend a lot of time and attention choosing wood and handcrafting each violin from beginning to end.

A close-up of a professional violin

Here, I’ve listed my favorite violin luthiers that are well-known and who make violins that are readily available on the market for anyone to purchase.

Scott Cao

Scott Cao is a violin workshop with 10 luthiers who each put attention and detail into their violin making. With many award-winning violin makers, this is a great place to start to find the best professional violin for you.

Ming Jiang Zhu

Ming Jiang Zhu is another award-winning violin maker, producing fine instruments at an affordable price. There are several violins available online by Ming Jiang Zhu, all of which have great quality and sound.

Stefano Gibertoni

Stefano Gibertoni is a modern Italian luthier with a traditional approach to violin making. He strives to make the best instruments possible. His violins have the best sound and tone and are some of the most expensive on my list.

Francesco Pierotti

Francesco Pierotti is an emerging Italian violin maker with a workshop based in Cesena, Italy. He’s a slight step down from Stefano Gibertoni, but his instruments have a powerful and warm tone and have recently become available on Fiddlershop.com.

Peter White

Peter White is the current resident violin maker at Fiddlershop. He studied violin making with Jan Pawlikowski in Krakow, Poland, and makes all of his violins from scratch at the Fiddlershop workshop in Florida.

NS Design

NS Design builds the best electric violins, violas, cellos, and basses in the world. It knows what its customers are looking for and uses state of the art technology to create instruments with a comparable sound to their acoustic counterparts.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a bowed string instrument expert, I often get a lot of questions about professional violins. Below I’ve answered some of the most common questions about the best professional violin brands.

How Much Do Professional Violins Cost?

Professional violins don’t come cheap, but can begin at just a few thousand dollars. My most expensive picks are around the $20k mark, which is only scraping the surface of what the best professional violins can cost.

What Are the Best Professional Violins?

These are my top 3 picks:

Stefano Gibertoni, Guarneri del Gesú “Ysaÿe” 2020 Violin

This violin is best for its beauty and the sound it produces. It’s a modern Italian instrument.

Francesco Pierotti Fine Italian Violin 2020

This violin is the best for an Italian made modern violin at a low price.

Antique Thomas Balestrieri Fecit Mantuae Violin

This is the best antique violin on my list. Best for price vs quality/sound.

Where Are the Best Professional Violins Made?

The best professional violins are traditionally made in Italy. Today you can find them being made all over the world.

What Is the Best Sounding Professional Violin?

Stefano Gibertoni, Guarneri del Gesú “Ysaÿe” 2020 Violin

Where to Buy Professional Violins

It’s important to try different violins and to be excited by the sound and feel of the violin you end up with, and that’s why I recommend buying your violin in person.

A set of professional violins hanging on the wall

Alternatively, you can buy online — fast delivery, free returns, and great deals are perfect if you know what you want.

Amazon

Amazon.com offers violins at good prices, and they have a fantastic returns policy. Their selection of professional violins is limited, but they do offer some good deals on Ming Jiang Zhu and Scott Cao violins.

Online Music Retailers

Stores such as Guitarcenter.com and Fiddlershop.com are great for purchasing instruments online. My absolute top recommendation is Fiddlershop.com — they stock professional violins from some of the best modern luthiers, as well as individual one-of-a-kind luthier-made antique violins.

Your Local Music Store

I highly recommend going to a violin shop or a luthier’s workshop to look for your violin. Trying out multiple violins is necessary to know what you want out of your violin. Let yourself hear different sounds and feel different setups — it will be worth it.

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In Conclusion

Buying a professional violin is a big moment in a violinist’s career, and you should take the time to enjoy the process and be happy with your decision. Sound and playability are the two most important things to pay close attention to.

Play your violin against other violins for different people — try doing this blind, and try it out in different settings. Have other violinists play the violins for you too, so you can hear them from afar. At home, in a practice room, and in a concert hall are the best places to do this.

If you already own a professional violin or are currently hunting for one, leave a comment with any advice that has helped you in your journey. Feel free to share this post if you know others who are also on the lookout for the best professional violin.