So you’re thinking about buying a Stentor! This is a great beginner instrument and one which will give you everything you need to succeed at the beginner and possibly intermediate stages of your violin journey.
For 3/4 and 4/4 sized students, I’ve reviewed and recommended the Stentor II, while for smaller sized students, the Stentor I will suffice. Please keep in mind that I’m writing my Stentor violin review based on what I would recommend for someone just starting out.
I’m Just A Beginner – Do I Need A ‘Good’ Violin?
I have actually been inspired to write this review by Theresia; an adult beginner who I only met this morning. Theresia came to our first meeting extremely excited by the prospect of learning the violin; something she’s wanted to do since she was a child. Having so far learned only through the internet, Theresia thought that a cheap instrument would be more than adequate to get started on. While this is not unnecessarily true, the violin she purchased is of such low quality that we simply cannot work with it.
The bridge on this ‘bargain’ instrument is so high that the strings are painful to press down on. The neck is far thicker than it should be and the poor craftsmanship has resulted in a need to move your finger higher or lower across the different strings to hit the correct notes. To tune Theresia’s violin, it is impossible to use the fine tuners as the thread on the screws is already damaged. The pegs aren’t much better and slip around endlessly.
Don’t Get Me Wrong, You Can Always Upgrade Or Repair Parts Of Your Violin!
Any luthier worth their title could thin out the neck, shape the bridge and replace the poor quality tailpiece. But should you have to spend upwards of $200 fixing your brand new instrument?
When I first meet them, many of my students are unsure if violin is the right instrument for them to learn. Even those who think they are sure, sometimes find that over the course of the first year or so, their interest wanes or their ability and aural skills aren’t quite adequate to continue.
You Don’t Want To Waste Money On A Violin You May Only Use For A Short Period Of Time!
But neither do you want to work with something cheap and nasty that will not support your developing technique.
In the first year of lessons, you’ll develop your left hand to a stage where you should be confident playing in first position. It will be loose and well shaped and your fingers will press firmly and precisely on their tips. To have to navigate your way around a violin which is poorly shaped and difficult to play makes this process far more difficult than it has to be.
Furthermore, if your best efforts result in a sound similar to that of a cat being strangled, you’ll less likely want to persist and move forward with your violin journey. This is where the Stentor comes in and the reason that I’ve decided to write a Stentor violin review.
A Bit About The Stentor Brand
The brand Stentor was originally started by Edward Chapman Doughty, a professor of music in the late 1800’s who sought better instruments for his students. In the beginning, he would import violins and re brand them as Stentors but by the early 1960’s, Stentor had begun making their own violins.
Stentor is a well-known and trusted international company that sells many thousands of violins and other stringed instruments each and every year. The low price of the Stentor is a real selling aspect of the brand and allows even beginner students to learn to play on an instrument that will be largely forgiving of their developing technique, yet still project a good quality of sound.
The Stentor II Violin Outfit 3/4 – 4/4
Theresia was disappointed when I told her that she’d need to replace her violin but could see my point when I gave her a few of my own violins to try. Because she’s unsure of whether she’ll play for long, she doesn’t want to overspend and I get that.
I told Theresia that she’d be best to get a Stentor II Violin Outfit. Although she could save some money by getting the Stentor I, the quality of sound for the bigger sizes is far better on a Stentor II.
Quality Of Sound Diminishes As You Go Larger In Size
For my adult beginners who are not looking to spend a lot on their new violin, I recommend the Stentor II Violin Outfit. Although slightly more expensive than it’s Stentor I counterpart, the quality of sound in the bigger sizes is a lot better.
In terms of playability, the Stentor II has a smooth and well-shaped neck which will more than suffice for work in first position. If you’re at the stage of moving up the fingerboard, I’d probably suggest a more advanced instrument as the sound quality is difficult to maintain the higher up the fingerboard you go.
The pegs on the Stentor II are generally well shaped and easy to adjust
Unlike some of the other lower priced brands, Stentor pegs are the right size for the holes they fit and can be reliably used to tune your violin.
As a beginner, you’ll most likely only be tuniing with the fine tuners anyway and although the thread for the screws can deteriorate over time, I’ve only had this problem a handful of times with Stentor II models i’ve worked with.
Although there are far better violins in terms of sound quality and craftsmanship, a Stentor II is a really sound choice for a 3/4 to 4/4 student who is just starting out and doesn’t want to spend too much.
The Stentor I Violin Outfit 1/16 – 1/2
For smaller beginner students, a Stentor I is an adequate choice for a first violin. Children grow quickly and the quality of sound you get from the smaller sized instrument will definitely suffice for the beginner stages.
Kids Break Stuff – Including Violins!
Young children are less likely to be careful with their instrument. Many a time, a student will almost leave their lesson without their violin or have to reschedule because their violin has been left in their locker at school. Falls onto the carpet or tiles are a regular occurrence and younger brothers and sisters have been known to pull out strings or even put Lego in the F-holes! With all this in mind, you really might want to reconsider buying your 5 or 6 year old that 2 million dollar Stradivarius!
On the other side of the coin is that it’s usually the younger beginners that go the furthest on their violin journeys. With this being the case, you want to buy something that’s going to sound nice and aide in developing solid technique. It’s really important that young children work with an instrument they ‘like’ playing.
There’s Nothing Worse Than An Instrument Which Doesn’t Support Your Developing Technique!
You want your instrument to SOUND good and be easy to learn with! Although I wouldn’t recommend using one past grade two or three level, the Stentor I violin is well set up and easy to begin with. It creates a sound which is pleasing to listen to in the smaller sizes and enables students to ‘have a go’ before committing to buy a more expensive violin.
A Stentor Is The Perfect Compromise Between Quality And Affordability
In summary, the Stentor brand is one which I trust for my beginner students. For the amount you pay, you get an instrument which will enable you to learn all your basic technique. Many of my students have used Stentors in exams, competitions and recitals over the years and I often can’t tell the difference between their sound quality and that of students using more expensive instruments.
I hope that you’ve found this post useful and that you can benefit through my experience with the Stentor brand. If you have any questions or would like some more specific advice, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
Founder of myviolinbff.com