When Is it Time to Upgrade Your String Instrument?

There comes a time in every musician’s life when you need an instrument upgrade. It’s common for players to “outgrow” an instrument, both physically and emotionally. For musicians who play violin, viola, cello, guitar, or any other string instrument, there are several signs that may indicate when it’s time for a string instrument upgrade. 

Whether you rent or own your string instrument, you’ll likely reach a point in your journey as a musician where it no longer serves you. When it’s time to upgrade your string instrument, say goodbye to your old instrument and replace it with a better model. Often, beginner students choose an instrument upgrade after they have been playing for three or four years. 

Here are some common factors that indicate it’s time for a string instrument upgrade:

When Players Physically Grow

First, consider the player’s age. Young students often begin with a 3/4- or 1/2- sized string instrument because it’s easier for their small hands to play. When the player physically outgrows the instrument, it will become difficult for them to continue developing their playing skills. Their hands may become cramped on a smaller instrument and it may be more difficult to create a clean, strong tone. 

Becoming too big for a violin or cello is one of the most obvious signs that it’s time for an instrument upgrade. If you’ve been renting your child’s instrument, you can most likely get a string instrument upgrade in a larger size from the instrument shop. Otherwise, it’s time to sell the instrument, place it on consignment, or pass it down to a younger child.

When Your Instrument Wears Out

Another sign that it may be time to acquire a new string instrument is when the instrument wears out. Many high quality instruments can remain in playable condition for decades, or even generations, but only if they’re well maintained and stored in proper conditions. String instruments that incur damage or misuse will require an instrument upgrade much sooner.

At Music & Arts, we believe musical instruments should be treated with great care and repaired as often as possible rather than tossed aside. That’s why our Repair Shop services players at over 200 nationwide locations. However, sometimes instruments simply wear out, and even the most skilled technician can’t fix them. When this is the case, it’s time for a string instrument upgrade.

When Sound Quality and Playability Decline

Similarly, the sound quality and “playability” of a string instrument may decline over time. Your instrument may begin to slip out of tune more frequently or experience resonance issues. String instruments that use bows, such as violins and violas, may need an upgrade if the bow hair becomes worn down and makes the instrument too difficult to play.

Many “beginner” model instruments simply degrade in quality as they age. This is because these inexpensive instruments are often mass produced from lower quality materials. Unlike a handcrafted string instrument, beginner models aren’t designed to last. While they’re a great value for hobbyists and new players, beginner models will eventually need to be upgraded.

When Players Get Serious

When you first start out playing a string instrument, you won’t need anything expensive or fancy. As mentioned above, beginner model instruments are a good choice for players who aren’t fully committed yet for whatever reason. But when you or your child becomes serious about playing a string instrument, sooner or later it will be time to upgrade. 

Higher quality string instruments produce richer sounds and clearer tones. Once you reach an intermediate level and have been playing for several years, most players are able to truly hear the difference between a cheaper beginner’s model and one that’s been made from better materials. When playing your string instrument becomes a true passion, it’s time for an instrument upgrade. 

When You Need to Feel Inspired

Finally, consider upgrading your instrument if you hit a plateau in your playing. Purchasing a new string instrument can be very inspiring and help renew your love of music. Just as a new car is more exciting to drive than an old one, a new string instrument can reignite your playing.
So are you ready for a string instrument upgrade? If it’s time for a new violin, viola, cello, guitar, or other string instrument to enter you or your child’s life, visit Music & Arts for one of the best selections of string instruments in the nation.

Music & Arts

MUSIC & ARTS IS A NATIONAL MUSIC RETAILER WITH RESOURCES FOR PARENTS, STUDENTS, EDUCATORS AND MUSICIANS. WITH OVER 250+ STORES ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND THE LARGEST PRIVATE LESSON PROGRAM IN THE UNITED STATES, MUSIC & ARTS IS AN AUTHORITY ON MUSIC EDUCATION AND A RESOURCE FOR NEW AND EXPERIENCED MUSICIANS ALIKE.

1 Comment
  1. This resonates so much with me. I work at a music school for a few years and I also have a piano tuning business. The amount of students we have seen join an grow up to be great musicians is crazy and yes strings will ware out. Honestly the more your skill level increases the harder it will be for your high school instrument to keep up with you. Granted, an upgrade can be pricey, but if music is your life and passion it is definitely worth it!

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