Violins are made of wood, hence it is organic and can be affected by the environment and the weather. As such, you will need to scrutinise the body of the violin to ensure there are no cracks. Examine both the front and back of the violin shop online to ensure this.
Big cracks in a violin may depreciate its value by as much as 80%. So whether you are looking to buy a brand new one or an antique hand made violin, ensure that the body of the violin is in good condition.
Next, check out the sides of the violin to ensure that the wood is not bulging out. When this happens, it means that the wood used to make the violin is not seasoned enough and shrinks when it dries out. When the top and the back of the violin shrinks, the sides of the instrument will begin to bulge.
Thirdly, examine the neck of the violin to ensure this is straight. You may notice when comparing different violins, that some violins have slightly thicker neck than others. As such you will need to measure your grip against the neck of the violin to ensure that the neck width is perfect for you.
Fourthly, ensure that the bridge is properly centered between the f-holes on the body of the instrument. The bridge must align well with the fingerboard, ensure this is straight. If these two are not properly aligned, it will affect the placement of the strings and subsequently, how the instrument plays.
Finally, the “set up” on a violin is important. By “set up”, I refer to details such as ensuring the pegs fit the violin properly so that the pegs can turn smoothly and lock in the strings, setting the soundpost for perfect tone adjustment, ensuring the strings are set at an adequate height from the fingerboard so that the strings do not buzz and so forth.
The quality of the hardware used to set up a violin is also important. Hardware here refers to the pegs that secure the strings to the instrument, chinrest, tail piece and bridge. The type of material used for these hardware range from ebony, rosewood, boxwood, pernumbuco, snakewood and so on. Some premium hardware come with handcarved details, art deco style or plain. No matter what, investing in a violin that is set up with quality hardware is important as this determines the performance of the instrument.