Buyer’s Guide: Should You Buy Viola Online?

The marketing scheme had a drastic change over the years. From personally visiting a store, these days almost everything can be bought online, even musical instruments. If this is your first time to buy an instrument, such as viola, and you’re thinking that buying online can be risky, here are some of the tips and techniques you may use to ensure that you are purchasing the right viola:

1. Seek professional advice, may it be through your teacher or a violist you know. They could give the pros and cons of purchasing a viola online. 

2. If you’re already decided to buy the instrument online, ensure that the seller has swap policy just in case the viola did not live to the standards as mentioned on the site where you found it.

3. Do not forget the reviews received by the seller as this would serve as your reference if the viola they are selling is legitimate and of good quality. However, be wary of the reviews if it seems too good to be true as there are sellers who may create accounts or hire someone to do the job just to post good reviews on their own products.

4. As a golden rule, always buy a viola that has a label or is branded. There are many brands of violas you can choose from, you can research about the best viola brands to see which will fit your budget and standards. You may also confirm with the seller where and when the viola was manufactured. Do not hesitate to ask questions and be inquisitive enough as you are going to spend money on it.

5. Do not expect that you’ll get yourself a high-end or at least efficient viola if you’ve spent less than a hundred dollars for it or two. Such cost can lead you into having poor tone making it hard to play viola compared to authentic viola brands.

6. Refrain from buying mass-produced violas, especially those that were mass-produced in some Asian countries (e.g. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc.) as they tend to have low-quality tune and aren’t pieced together properly. While the low price is tempting, it’ll put your viola learning venture into jeopardy.

7. Always ask for the height between the fingerboard and string. Remember that the higher the measurement, the harder it will be for the strings to be pushed down. The standard length is around 5 to 7 mm. Even if it’s just more than one mm, do not intend to purchase this viola.

8. Of course, always check the size. There are designated sizes for specific violists: full-size viola for adults and customized size for learning children.

9. Any musical instrument should have a professional set up or adjustments that have been made before you purchase it. This is essential, especially for viola, since as a beginner, you have little to no experience on the proper tune of the instrument and to minimize the buzzing sound coming from the instrument every time a sound is made. Adjustments should be made on the following:

  • Bridge
  • Nut
  • Fingerboard
  • Pegs
  • Sound Post
  • Tailpiece
  • String Adjusters
  • Chinrest

10. Definitely not the least, make sure that you are getting a complete package from the seller. It should have necessary accessories such as case, bow, and rosin. However, here are some items you might want to add to complete your viola setup:

  • Viola stand
  • Tuner
  • Shoulder Rest
  • Sheet Music
  • Spare viola strings
  • Viola Cleaning Kit

While buying viola online is considered cost-saver and time-efficient, there’s nothing wrong if you’ll be comfortable doing it traditionally which is through canvassing available physical stores until you find the viola that goes along with your budget and suits your personality as well.