Hands-On Review: Strunal Violins

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Genuine European craftmanship you can really hear.

By Harold Moore

Built by expert luthiers in the Czech mountain town of Luby, Strunal violins deliver old-world know-how and attention to detail for amazingly affordable prices. Strunal violins are precision-made with carefully selected woods and are available through Musician's Friend in a range suitable for all beginning and intermediate students of the violin.

Strunal 260 Series Violin Outfit

Pedigree makes the difference

As a violin instructor of 27 years, I have been exposed to a wide variety of beginner and intermediate student instruments. Sadly, the vast majority of these have been of such poor quality that even a student with promising technique could not produce a sweet tone with them. This is discouraging for teachers like me and much more so for students.

Twenty years ago I discovered Strunal violins, and I've been recommending them ever since. Hence, when Musician's Friend approached me I was glad to write a recommendation. I believe the secret of the Strunal violins is in their heritage. Most of the Strunal luthiers are from families who have been making stringed instruments from as far back as the middle 1600s. Many of them are the cream of the crop from Luby's school of violin making, which has been training luthiers since 1908.

I was actually lucky enough to visit Luby in the late 1990s and tour the Strunal factory. The fresh mountain air and beautiful surroundings seemed to impart a refreshing sense of calm purpose in the fine craftsmen I saw working there. There was no feeling of urgency in the factory-each craftsperson took the time to do the job right.

A focus on the student

Though some fine concert-quality violins are produced at the factory, from my point of view as a teacher Strunal's strongest suit is in their beginning and intermediate instruments. There is a great deal of handwork on these instruments, but some of the processes which require great precision have been made inexpensive through the introduction of computer-controlled state-of-the-art woodworking machinery.

Being located in the middle of one of Europe's largest forests, Strunal has a large supply of very well-seasoned and fine-grained top woods. Since they don't have to pay premium prices for these woods, neither do players. These two factors, combined with a number of cost-saving techniques that do not diminish the instruments' tonal quality or playability, have resulted in a very affordable line of student and orchestral models.

Strunal does not skimp on quality when making smaller-scale instruments. Indeed, I have encountered several small-scale Strunal violins that amazed me with their tonal quality. This makes a huge amount of difference in the motivation of a beginning student. The 220 model comes in sizes from 1/8 to 4/4 scale, the 260 comes in 1/4 to 4/4 scale, and the 1750 model comes in 1/2 to 4/4 scale. Overall, I have found Strunal violins to be superior in performance, craftsmanship, and value to any other student and intermediate violins I've encountered.

Tags: Orchestral Strings & Accessories

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