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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


We've Got Answers! Common Questions have been answered on this page. Click on a question to see the answer. Can't find answers in our F.A.Q.? Please call us at (855) 343 - 3535 and one of our pros will assist you.

LIVS Is Different

We're not a mega-store; the Long Island Violin Shop is a full service Violin Studio that sells, services, repairs and rents superior instruments and accessories. We specialize in the Violin family, and nothing else. Our passionate staff are professional players and skilled luthiers. We give honest consultation, and treat your instruments with utmost care.

Looking For Information about Rentals? Visit Our Complete Rental FAQ.

Most Popular Questions

How can I start renting an instrument?

Come to our shop and one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members will help you choose the right size and fill out a contract - you'll need two credit cards and a driver's license, and the entire process should take 10-15 minutes. If you are not local, or want to take advantage of our online rental system, please visit our Rentals Page.

How young can a child begin playing?

Opinions differ; public schools usually start children in 3rd or 4th grade. Many private teachers and schools, especially Suzuki programs, start children around the age of 3. Experts believe most children younger than 3 lack the developmental and motor skills needed to benefit from instrumental instruction. Very young children can participate in “Mommy-and-Me” programs that teach about music without being specifically about playing the an instrument.

How do I choose the right size instrument?

You can ask your child's teacher what size they prefer, or use the chart below. Measure the distance between your child's neck and the center of their palm. When in doubt, always choose the smaller size.Up to 15 1/4" : order 1/16 size violin or cello

I am an adult beginner. Can I teach myself to play the violin?

You can try, but we strongly recommend you get a teacher for several reasons. Bowed instruments are trickier to start playing than many other popular instruments and an experienced teacher will allow you to make rapid progress without learning bad habits. There are many excellent resources for learning the violin but no book, dvd, or YouTube video can take the place of a live person who can observe you and your particular individual needs. A good teacher knows where you are and where you need to go. To help you find a teacher we offer lessons at our store and also free lists of private teachers in your area.

Should I have an instrument before I meet my teacher?

In most cases, your teacher will want to help you in the approval of your instrument, even if you're renting. Incidentally, asking for their approval is a polite sign of respect for your teacher.

Do I need an appointment to visit or see instruments at the Long Island Violin Shop?

You are welcome to come here anytime without an appointment, but calling ahead can be useful to schedule you at a less busy time and also allow us to prepare instruments for you.

What is the difference between a violin and a fiddle?

The violin, viola, and violoncello (cello) are all members of the violin family of instruments and when speaking of all three, it is usual to simply say "violins". Fiddles are really the same instrument. Players who specialize in certain folk styles prefer instruments set-up to make it easy to play those folk styles- usually a different shape to the bridge.

What is a "horsehair" bow?

The part of the bow that touches the strings should be the actual hair from the tails of horses. The stick part of the bow is either made of wood, fiberglass, or carbon fiber.

How can I try some instruments?

You are always welcome to visit us and try instruments out with no obligation or pressure to buy. We even have tryout rooms where you can play in private. Plus our knowledgeable staff is at your disposal to assist you and answer questions. We can also ship them to you for home tryouts.

We have an old instrument in my family. Can you tell me what is it worth?

We can evaluate violins, violas, and cellos for their market value, which may not reflect your sentimental value in a family treasure. All other instruments are outside our field of expertise, and we suggest you contact the closest museum that has a collection of musical instruments or a reputable dealer in that instrument.

Can I call you and describe it to you?

Unless we have an instrument in our hands we cannot say. The labels inside instruments are easily inserted after the instrument is completed and are not significant for establishing the maker or market value. We do not charge to look at photographs or instruments in person. If you want a verbal opinion and consultation (how old is it, where is it from, how much is it worth, etc), or a written appraisal (which you will need to insure the instrument) there is a charge. Written appraisals do not establish authenticity and are not valid or necessary to sell an instrument.

Can I send you photos?

To send us electronic photos we can use, please follow these suggestions. Photograph your instrument in front of a light-colored gray or neutral (not black) background. To avoid reflections on the shiny surface use several small lights rather than a flash. Shoot 640 x 480 pixel VGA images and send them in a JPEG format no bigger than 400KB. Shoot the full back and full front of the instrument. Take separate pictures of the scroll from all sides, the corners of the back, the left soundhole, and any other unusual features. Photos of the case and its contents may be of interest. We will let you know if we will need to see the instrument.

But doesn't it count for something if it says "Antonius Stradivarius 1723" inside?

Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) was one of the greatest violin makers who ever lived. He made about 2,000 instruments of which roughly 600 still exist. In his lifetime he sold instruments to royalty and the rich, and few Strads today are not well documented. Because of his fame, his designs were widely copied and many have little or no value, just like an inexpensive print of the Mona Lisa or any other great work of art.Since the 1850's, instrument factories all over the world have produced millions and millions of cheap copies with labels that read something like "Antonius Stradiuarius, Cremonenfis Faciebat Anno 1721". The chance that you have a genuine Stradivari, while not impossible, is very, very remote. The same holds true for other great masters of violin making such as Giuseppe Guarneri, J.B. Guadagnini, Nicolo Amati, Jacob Stainer, and others. While photographs may be of interest, an instrument must be in our hands for us to give an opinion.

Purchasing Instruments

We've decided to purchase an instrument. What should we do first?

A great place to start is by asking your teacher for help; and don’t get an instrument until you have a teacher to help you. Nobody will better understand the needs of your child and your family. A knowledgeable teacher can suggest a price range equal to the needs of the student and can also help you avoid the pitfalls of E-Bay Violin Shaped Objects- these are things that only look like violins.

I have a friend who got a nice instrument on E-Bay / at a garage sale / on Craigslist. Why shouldn’t I buy there?

No doubt about it, people sometimes do get lucky. But we see a great many instruments from these sources that are just bad news or a money pit. Unless you know what you are buying, you might want to get your teacher's approval. Is the instrument properly set-up and tone-adjusted for playing? Can you get a refund if your teacher doesn't approve the instrument? Do you have any trade-in, warranty, and service guarantee with the instrument?But don’t just take our word for it- here is an excellent blog post by Laurie Niles of Cheap Violins For Sale Are Not A Good Deal.

What do you mean when you talk about the "set-up" and "tone adjustment" of an instrument?

The set-up comprises the final steps in making a violin, installing all the small parts necessary for it to be played as a musical instrument. Because violins are such sensitive creations, set-up can be adjusted to enhance tone at different times of the year.An tone adjustment is the final arrangement and dynamic balancing of these parts so they work together to enhance the tone and playability of an instrument. A good set-up and adjustment makes an instrument sound nice, comfortable, and easy to play. When you purchase from us, our expert set-up and tone adjustment are included at no extra charge.

I never bought an instrument. How do I know how much to spend?

The short answer - we have beginner outfits that include an instrument, a bow, and a case for several hundred dollars. These are all 100% hand-made instruments of good quality that will last for many years if properly maintained.The long answer - it really depends on the individual, the seriousness of their study, and the speed of their progress - all things that are very difficult to quantify only by the price of the instrument. At a minimum, we suggest an instrument of sufficient quality to let the student progress for at least the next 3 years, and that number could vary widely depending on the student. This is where the input of your teacher is invaluable. Our staff is adept at gauging the needs of students, and they can help you determine a reasonable budget to meet your specific needs.

I want an instrument to take my child all the way through high school or college. How much do I need to spend?

Your child's teacher will best be able to give a helpful answer. A teacher understands your child's needs and what kind of instrument will help them make progress.Questions like this are much easier to answer in person or by telephone, so we would recommend that you contact us for a more personalized approach.

How can I try some instruments? Do I need an appointment to see instruments at The Long Island Violin Shop?

You are always welcome to visit us and try instruments with no obligation or pressure to buy. No appointments are necessary, but you may wish to call ahead to determine a time when the store is less busy and/or so that we can prepare instruments for you to see. We have two tryout rooms where you can play in private. Plus our knowledgeable staff is at your disposal to assist you and answer any questions.If you are coming a long way, we will be glad to see you outside of our regular hours, please call for an appointment. And remember, we also ship instruments and bows to you for home tryouts - please see our Policies page for details.

Are new instruments or used ones better?

With age and play, violin family instruments develop a richer tone and are considered more desirable. We have a good selection of new and used instruments in all price ranges, all of which are maintained in excellent condition. A used instrument is not less valuable unless it has been severely damaged.

How do I trade up to a better instrument in a few years?

If you've purchased an instrument from us, you can trade-in 100% of what you paid for your instrument, minus whatever maintenance is required to return it to salable condition. Please see our Policies page for full details.Additionally, instruments purchased with rental credit maintain 100% of their value for future instrument trade-ups. Say you bought a $1500 instrument with $750 rental credit, paying just $750 at the time of purchase. Years later you want to trade up: you will have $1500 in trade-up credit.

Can we take instruments to show my son or daughter's teacher?

Absolutely; we recommend you involve your teacher in the selection process for your child's instrument. If you visit us, a one week trial is normal and more time can be arranged if needed. If we send you an instrument, you will have more time available to accommodate shipping times.

What if I bought my instrument somewhere else, can I still trade it in at The Long Island Violin Shop?

We can't promise the same 100% trade-in value, but will be glad to examine your instrument to determine if some portion of your purchase price may be applied toward one of our instruments for sale.

I am no longer playing - will you buy back my instrument?

We wish we could buy back instruments for the price you paid but regret this would soon put us out of business. We do take instruments on consignment if they are in good condition. Incidentally, many of our clients have found that holding an instrument may be worth considering. We find that many young players who stop playing during college come back to it later on with renewed pleasure.

Instrument Maintenance

Are broken strings covered by your guarantee?

The Long Island Violin Shop guarantee offers protection against defects in workmanship and materials, and for the first year after you buy an instrument we will glue open seams and adjust bridge heights for free. Damage due to environmental conditions such as cracks are not covered. Wear and tear such as worn or broken strings, rehairs, etc are not covered.

What do I do for maintenance if I am not local?

Many of our clients ship their instruments here or time repairs with trips to our area. You can also call us for a referral to a good shop in your area - we have contacts all over the world.

How do I learn more about caring for my instrument?

Our free Guide to Instrument Care is a brief introduction on caring for your instrument and protecting it from harm and a good place to start. For more detailed information see our blog page on Everyday Instrument Maintenance.

What about insurance for my instrument? Everybody I ask has a different opinion.

Instruments and bows are easy to damage and expensive to repair, and insurance is vital if you have a nice instrument. We see many badly damaged instruments and bows each year and believe that you should carefully consider a separate policy for your instruments. Some of our clients have suffered accidents three days after taking their dream instruments home, and smashed them beyond repair.If you have valuable instruments, consider insuring them with a musical instrument specialist, rather than homeowner's coverage. Our Guide To Insurance for Your Musical Instrument contains critical information about how to protect your investment.Some well respected companies that supply this insurance include:Clarion Associates (800-VIVALDI) www.clarionins.comHeritage Insurance (800-289-8837) www.heritage-ins-services.comLark Insurance (610-544-2323) with any insurance, be sure you understand the "exclusions of coverage" which can invalidate your coverage.

Electric Instruments

Why would I want an electric instrument?

If you are interested in playing music outside of the standard classical and romantic repertoire, electric instruments are the perfect tool for finding "your sound". Since they are typically made from a solid piece of wood, you won't have feedback issues and you can add effects without a problem! Imagine your favorite guitar solo on your violin, filled with distortion, reverb, wah-wah, and delay. or playing violin with a jazz band. Truly anything is possible with an electric instrument.

What does an electric violin sound like?

An electric violin sounds much like an acoustic violin with slightly less resonance. The true tonal differences come with the addition of effects (mentioned later) to modify the sound into something entirely new. You can effectively change the sound of your electric violin to be fairly specific to your personal preferences, be it a really crunchy and distorted guitar-like sound, or an acoustic “concert hall” type sound

What is a "silent" violin? Can you hear it?

A “silent” violin refers to the fact that it is a practice-ready instrument. You may turn it on, plug headphones directly into it, and practice. It makes some noise, but much less than an acoustic violin would, even with a practice mute on. Any electric instrument can be played “silently” by using an amp or an effects pedal that has a headphone jack in it.

I've only ever played acoustic. How do I get started playing electric?

It's easy! In many cases you can use the same strings, bow, and shoulder rest to get started. You just need to decide if you want to put a pickup on your acoustic instrument, or play a dedicated electric instrument.Pickups attach to any regular acoustic and cost less than buying a second instrument but have limitations. While they are an easy way to start with electric strings, installing and removing them can get tiresome, they do not give you the power and tone of a pure electric, and you cannot play them as Silent Instruments.Our free pamphlet Guide to Starting with Electric Instruments- may also be of interest, as it is full of tips on how acoustic and classical players can get a painless start with electrics.

Can I use my regular bow? Strings? Rosin?

While you can use the same bow, strings, and rosin for your instrument, there are certain types which we recommend to make playing your instrument ideal. A carbon fiber bow is a nice tool to have, so you can dig in a bit more and use percussive strokes without worrying about damaging your wooden bow. Steel core strings are great for getting a little more grit to your sound (and are also a bit more cost effective). Cello and/or bass rosin sometime is helpful for 7 string instruments to get more pull on the lower strings.Questions like this are much easier to answer in person or by telephone, so we would recommend that you contact us for a more personalized approach.

Which pick-up should I buy for my instrument?

If you have an instrument which can be used solely for amplified playing, a bridge replacement pickup is your best bet. L.R. Baggs, Yamaha, and Fishman all make fairly affordable bridges with embedded piezo pickups. They must be professionally installed, however, which is an added cost.Many players only have one instrument for playing both amplified and acoustically. In this case, a removable pickup is often the best or most convenient solution. If removability is a serious issue, then “The Band” by Headway, which goes around the instrument’s lower bout, is your best bet.One of the most popular pickup types is inserted into the bridge wing-slot. Fishman and MiSi both make these pickups, with the MiSi having a built in preamp which is helpful against feedback. The others are best with a preamp or an acoustic amp, like those by Kustom, Roland, and Fishman, optimized for piezo pickups.The Realist pickup, by David Gage, is placed between the feet of the bridge and the instrument. The tone of these pickups is quite good, as it combines the resonance of the bridge and the instrument’s top. The installation is more complicated however, especially for someone to remove on a regular basis.

How different from acoustics are pure electric instruments?

The basics of technique are the same, you can use any brand of string, bow, shoulder rest, etc on both. Things can really get interesting with the addition of electronic effects like looping, changing the sound, etc. It is a huge topic and only possible to mention here.

Why get a 5 string (or more)?

Getting a 5 (6, or 7) string instrument or extended range instrument presents the opportunities to play well into the viola, cello, and even bass range! While this is also possible with a droptune pedal, having the strings themselves is ideal and makes for seamless transitions. Power chords and funky bass lines sound great on an extended range instrument and also give the user the possibility to make their loops fuller (by looping a bass line and deeper harmonies).

Will a 5-string harm my technique?

Just like changing instrument sizes, starting on a 5 (6, or 7) string instrument will take some adjustment. As long as you continue to practice equally on your acoustic 4-string however, your technique will not be harmed. If anything, your playing should benefit from exploration with an additional string!If you are younger player or just starting to learn, ask your teacher's opinion. Some teachers have little, if any, experience with a five-string violin, and they may tell their students to stick with a four string. If this is the case and you still want to purchase a 5-string, its a good idea to make sure that your teacher will be O.K. with it. The last thing you want to do is make them angry!If you get a 5 string, make use of the extra low string!

Will I need a cable and amp?

If your instrument has a headphone jack and you are just looking to practice silently, you won’t need them. If you want to play out in public or simply rock out in your home, you will need at least one cable, an amplifier, or a connection to a PA system. Any amp and cable will work - just don’t use a guitar amp for a cello or bass, which will blow the speakers.Amps and effects pedals are not just useful, they are what make playing electric FUN! You can visit us to experiment and find out what you like and also borrow them from your friends who play guitar- the technology is identical and any guitar pedal or amp will work for a violin.

What are effects? How can I add them?

Some common examples of effects are distortion (to sound like electric guitar), reverb (to sound as if you are in a concert hall), and delay (to create and echo of your melody).Effects Pedals are used achieve different effects for your instrument. You can buy individual effects pedals (or stomp boxes), but a multi-effects processor is a good introduction for discovering what you want.One side of the effects pedal is connected to the instrument, and the other side is connected to an amplifier or PA system. Many musicians will form a "chain" of pedals - with each pedal added connected in succession to the chain (a new patch cable is needed to connect each additional pedal). You can use one at a time or multiple ones at once.

Which Multi-Effects Processor Is Best For Me?

Multi-effects processors are best for getting multiple effects on a budget. Depending on what you are using them for, each pedal can be fine tuned to your liking. Many prefer to have an expression pedal incorporated to adjust volume, wah, and modulation. Some multi-effects processors include a phrase looper with overdubbing. This is a fun introduction to looping but limited in that they typically store only one short phrase.For a beginner, the inexpensive plastic models are fine, allowing experimentation with many effects without paying for a durable shell needed for playing out. For more advanced gigging players, a sturdier model with metal casing and more options is suggested.All multi-effects processors allow each stored effect to be fine tuned. However, once the effect is set it can’t be changed mid-performance. For those who change tones often during sets or songs, you will need a processor with a few buttons for stompbox-type controls.

What is a preamp? Do I need one?

A preamplifier (or preamp) is technology that refines the signal of an electric instrument to reduce noise and interference. Preamps allow a musician to adjust the EQ of the instrument to their liking for a smoother and more even sound.Generally, instruments described as 'active' are equipped with a preamp and instruments described as 'passive,' are not. External preamps are available for instruments with a passive pickup.Passive instruments may or may not require an external preamp - it depends on what the instrument is being used for (i.e. practice or performance), the space the instrument is being used in (i.e. small music hall or a large, open venue), the type of pickup on the instrument, the quality of its signal, and the amp it is paired with.Most players that perform should consider a preamp if their instrument isn't equipped with one. Its easiest to provide advice on this topic on an individual basis, as every case merits a different recommendation. Please call or email us and one of our staff members can offer sound advice.

Where do I learn more about this?

As mentioned above, our free pamphlet Guide to Starting with Electric Instruments- is a great resource, brief and to the point, for acoustic and classical players to get a painless start with electrics.Additionally, we have expert electric players on staff and regular electric seminars with performing and recording artists. To receive notice of upcoming electric events at the Long Island Violin Shop, sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page.

Teacher Questions

I am an Orchestra Teacher and want to learn how to maintain and repair instruments. What do you suggest?

We have a free pamphlet Guide to First Aid for School Instruments, which would be an excellent place to start. We also teach courses in our shop on instrument care, and you can let us know you are interested or sign up for our newsletter at the very bottom of this page to be informed the next time we offer a course.If you are interested in delving more seriously into instrument repair, there are many excellent summer courses which you can easily find searching on the internet.

How can I be sure my students will know my preferences when school starts?

Please contact us to register your preferences and your students will be able go online and see your personalized list of accessories and music books that you want them to have.

What if I use teaching materials that I don't see in the online store?

We try to serve our teachers with their preferred teaching materials; please call or email us and we will be happy to help. Incidentally, your favorites might be in stock, but not yet posted.

Do you visit schools and provide rentals and repair pickups?

This is a growing part of our services and we would welcome your call to see if we can add your school to our list of schools.

How can I find funding to start an electric strings quartet or program in my school?

If your regular music budget cannot help, many teachers use district Technology Grants as the electric instruments have a technological side to their use. Contact us and we will be glad to help you get started. As Yamaha dealers we also can partner with Yamaha to bring a Yamaha Special Educational Development Seminar (YSEDS) to your school to train teachers in the use of electric instruments.

Why should I encourage electric strings in my school?

We have found that electric strings will help you grow your bowed strings program. Let's be honest- lots of kids don't think orchestral strings are cool. But electric strings? Just as cool as an electric guitar!Students who would not want to play in orchestra will jump at Jazz Band or Alternative Styles programs. Some teachers use the electric quartet program as a plum for their elite chamber music players. Students also want to compose and arrange and motivate themselves because it is their own music.We could say much more, and if you are interested we would love to help you develop your program. Just give us a call to learn how we might be able to help.

Shipping Instruments

I am not close to your shop. How can I show you my instrument?

If packed properly, instruments can be sent with the same amount of risk as driving them here yourself. We frequently ship and receive instruments for evaluation or repair, as well as for sales and rental clients.If you would like to send us your instrument, please contact us first by phone (855-343-3535) or email as we prefer to make arrangements with our carrier. We will bill you the cost of shipping and send you a prepaid shipping label.

Are there special instructions to ship instruments to The Long Island Violin Shop?

After you've made arrangements to return or send us an instrument, you must follow our shipping instructions closely. Instruments can only ship safely if proper procedures are followed.

What about insuring a shipped instrument?

Every shipment that we arrange make includes insurance for their full value of any instruments. If we clear you to make your own arrangements, instruments must be insured for their entire market value.The best insurance against damage is proper planning and preparation - if you are returning a trial instrument please make sure that you follow our shipping instructions closely. You are responsible for any and all damage that occurs until our merchandise is received back into our store.If you have any doubts or questions, contact us before you pack or ship the instrument.

I am unable to find a safe box for shipping. Can you help me?

As the quality of the packing materials is of primary importance in protecting shipped instruments, we have our own custom made boxes, and can ship you box with (packing materials and a prepaid return label) for a nominal fee.


What happens to my personal information when I register with you?

Personally identifiable information is stored on password-protected servers by the Long Island Violin Shop and our Technology Partners in E-commerce and digital marketing. All information is protected with state of the art security. Our online transactions are secured on an SSL server with https// protocol. Only authorized The Long Island Violin Shop staff and technology partners can view or retrieve your data, and only for the purposes of serving you, our customer. We do not sell your information to third parties. From time to time we may deliver information from third parties, but you may opt out of receiving these types of e-mails at any time.

I am crazy about instruments. How can I learn more?

A great way to start is to ask your teacher or mentor their favorite book or website about instruments.Our director, Charles Rufino, presents The Art & Lore of the Violin at schools and museums throughout the year. This PowerPoint lecture brings to life the fascinating history of the violin with his unique perspective as a maker and historical researcher.

Do you give classes in Violin Making?

Not at present. If you are interested in making instruments, you will find abundant opportunities if you search "violin making courses" on Google. Some are short introductory summer courses and can give you a taste of the work.

How do I apply to work at the Long Island Violin Shop?

Please email us. We are always interested in meeting new friends, and even if there are no openings at present, we will keep your information on file.