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Appendix B.  String Instrument Buying Guide


Stringed instruments are very complex and require a great deal of craftsmanship to make. Because of the intricate nature of these instruments, it is best to purchase or rent from a store or dealer who has experience with stringed instruments. Mr. Roberts has flyers for dealers in the area who sell or rent instruments.  These dealers are also listed in Section IX.


If you would like to purchase an instrument for your student, be sure to purchase a properly sized instrument. Trying to play on an instrument that is too large will be uncomfortable for the student and could possibly cause injury. Your child will also have a difficult time holding the instrument with proper posture and their hands might not be large enough to easily play in tune. If your child is sized for a smaller instrument, check the store’s policy on trading up. Some stores or online retailers will have a program allowing you to trade in the instrument for a larger size as your child grows.


Music Department Handbook



If you find an instrument in a store (or online retailer) that does not specialize in stringed instruments you should go through the checklist on the following page to be sure that you are purchasing a quality instrument. It is STRONGLY recommended that you contact Mr. Roberts BEFORE buying any string instrument!


PEGS: Provide easy, stable tuning. Are the pegs fitted into the peg box? Do the pegs work smoothly? Can they hold the string in tune?


NUT: Provides proper placement of strings.  At the very top of the fingerboard, there is a small piece of notched wood that helps to align the strings.  The nut should be about the height of a business card above the fingerboard. Check for string damage at the nut.

NECK and FINGERBOARD: Provide a durable playing surface.  Lightly pull up on the bottom of the fingerboard. It should be securely fastened to the neck.  Is the fingerboard centered between the f-holes?


BRIDGE: Provides proper string height and spacing.  Is the bridge centered between the notches of the f-holes?  Is the back of the bridge perpendicular to the top of the instrument?  Are the feet of the bridge flush with the top of the instrument?  Check for string damage at the bridge.


BODY:  Are there any cracks in the instrument? Is there any varnish damage?  Do you know if the instrument is made of solid wood?


SOUNDPOST: Without this piece of wood, the pressure the strings place on the bridge can cause cracks in the top of the instrument.


CHINREST (Violin and Viola only):  Is it loose or broken? Is there cork on the bottom to protect the instrument varnish?


END BUTTON (Violin and Viola):  Is the button centered?  Is it held firmly in the instrument?  Are there any cracks on the bottom?


END PIN (Cello and Bass):  Does the end pin move easily? Is it bent? Is there a rubber stopper on the end?  Does the screw hold adequately?


ACESSORIES:   Does the instrument come with a case? Does the case securely latch?  Does the instrument come with a bow? Check the bow stick for cracks at the tip.

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