While I did post about why you shouldn’t buy a cheap violin as your first instrument, I’m still all about saving money if I can. While I was shopping around for my improved violin, I discovered that a few places online provide clearance sales on some of their instruments. I did some looking around, and found a couple locations – Shar Music and Kennedy Violins.
When I purchased my Bunnel, I was drawn to the idea of picking up a deal in exchange for a slightly less than perfect instrument. Clearance violins are functionally the same as a full-price instrument — they sound the same and perform the same. There’s simply some cosmetic imperfections in the make. Maybe the finish isn’t perfect, or there’s a tiny dent that doesn’t change the way the violin sounds (as was with mine). Whatever the reason, it cosmetically did not come up to the maker’s standards, so rather than trash it as a failure, they sell it at a clearance price.
I’ve not purchased from Shar, but I’ve heard lots of good things about them. They’re one of the online sellers who provide pre-setup violins, and they also have a clearance section on their website. In the case of Shar, they offer an upgrade/exchange system if you buy a new instrument through them. This means that you send in your used instrument (as long as it meets their resale standard) and put it towards the cost of an upgrade.
Their clearance section often provides the pre-owned instruments at a discount, along with blemished brand new instruments. Because of this, the stock you’ll see on this page varies, so keep checking back.
My second violin was a Kennedy Bunnel Premiere, which I bought on clearance from Amazon. I was a little antsy about getting something on clearance, but overall, for the the cost in savings, I’m very pleased with the instrument I got. I had to actively look for the blemishes on my violin — they were nothing you’d outright see if you weren’t aware of them. And I figure, over time, I’ll probably end up nicking it here and there, anyhow.
There’s a couple places to browse the clearance violins from Kennedy. You can do it from their main website here, or you can look for the items marked as clearance on their Amazon storefront. I picked the Amazon store because of the fast Prime shipping, and because Amazon is pretty good about refunds if anything big happened to go wrong. Unlike Shar, I don’t think Kennedy sells pre-owned as clearance, so all of these are blemished new instruments.
So far, I’ve had my Bunnel for about a month, and I’m quite happy with it overall. I’d like to change out the strings on it eventually, but it’s exactly what I was looking for in a lower-range priced violin.
If you’re violin shopping online, keep an eye out for clearances – don’t dismiss them as they can be great little instruments for a lower cost! There may be other makers who provide something similar, but in my searches, these are the two I found. Good luck!