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If you are hunting for a student violin, there is a good chance you’ve come across the brand Mendini.
Mendini is a child company to Cecilio that focuses purely on student model instruments and accessories. They carry instruments in the orchestral strings, woodwind, brass, and percussion families. Unlike Cecilio, Mendini largely focuses on smaller instruments; they don’t offer Cellos or other larger instruments. Still, they do offer a larger range of accessories like reeds, mouthpieces, and cleaning kits. Their instruments are incredibly inexpensive but follow a similar pricing model to Cecilio. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what separates Mendini instruments from Cecilio instruments entirely. Some fittings are different compared to their equivalent, but the overall build, style, and tone are the same.
Neither Cecilio nor Mendini have a lot of information as to their origins. Still, they’ve been around long enough to make a name for themselves. So let’s take a look at their different violin models.
Top Pick: MV500
Mendini Violin Models
Before we talk about the individual features of the Mendini violin, I want to mention a few things that will apply to all of these violins.
- All of these violins are factory-made in China and shipped to their warehouse in Los Angeles for a final test.
- All of these violins will need to be set up by a luthier. I’m not entirely sure if these violins come with the bridge up or down, and sometimes it varies by seller. Either way, shipping can cause things to move around, and a proper adjustment is needed. They can address peg and fine tuner issues as well. This will add to the cost of the instrument, and the price varies by location.
- Upgrade the strings to at least D’Addario Prelude Strings, unless noted. The Cecilio stock strings are flimsy and break easily. Preludes are the standard student strings and make a difference with cheaper instruments.
- Upgrade your bow to something nicer and more reputable. Cecilio bows are known for being unbalanced or warped. Carbon fiber bows are my personal favorite for their durability. I prefer them over wood bows for a young student who might be clumsy or someone wanting a bow worth re-hairing.
- The tailpiece and pegs will likely be the first parts of the violin to fail; you can replace them, but it’s time to upgrade to something better once these pieces start breaking. Mine started to break after about 400 hours of practice time. That might seem like a lot, but it’s only a little over a year of daily practice.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The violin models MV, MV200, and MV300 are the same. The only difference is the finish of these models. The MV comes in fun colors like white, blue, and pink. The MV200 comes with a natural finish, while the MV300 has a satin finish. The finish can affect the sound, but this will barely be noticeable for a student instrument of this quality and price point. Get the violin that sparks the most joy, even if it’s pink. These models feature a solid spruce top with a maple back and sides. The fingerboard is maple, but there is no mention of material used for the other fittings. I imagine it’s some form of painted hardwood similar to the CVN200. The tailpiece comes with 4 fine tuners, and the outfit includes a bow, extra strings, rosin, shoulder rest, and a hard case with straps.
- Comes with all your starter gear
- Solid carved tonewoods
- Fun colors
- Available in sizes 1/32-4/4
- Questionable fitting quality
- Maple fingerboard
- Poor quality accessories
You can compare these models to the Cecilio CVN-200.
The MV400 is a big step up in comparison to their lower-end models. This violin looks more like a serious student model, featuring a hand-carved solid spruce top with a maple back and sides. The fingerboard and fittings are genuine ebony, and the tailpiece has 4 fine tuners. This violin only comes in four sizes, 1/4-4/4 but is still suitable for most younger players. The violin has a natural finish similar to the MV200 but comes with a bright and responsive sound. This is a good violin for its price; while not my top choice in terms of quality, a student will see some growth with this instrument before needing to upgrade. For the price, it’s a good deal. The outfit comes with a hard case, extra strings, two bows, rosin, a shoulder rest, a music book, and a chromatic tuner.
- Ebony fingerboard and fittings
- Hand-carved solid tonewoods
- Comes with everything you need to get started
- Cheap price for quality
- Perfect for a student
- Smaller size range
- Poor quality accessories
Compare this model to the Cecilio CVN-300.
Before I start talking about this model or, I guess, models. I want to make note that while not 100% certain, the MV500 and MV650 are the same instrument under different labels. After comparing the listings side by side and digging through some old forums on Fiddlershop, those who purchased an MV500 on Amazon received an MV650 violin with the one-piece back. If you received a violin with a two-piece back, then you can assume you received an actual MV500. The other possibility is that they phased out the MV500 two-piece backs in favor of the 1 piece back of the MV650 and are now only selling the MV500 instead of two models with different backs. Regardless the instruments are identical outside of the back pieces.
This violin caught my eye right away. It has a warm dark varnish that stands out to many brighter colored student models. You really can’t beat this violin for the price, and that is exactly why it’s my top pick. Featuring a hand-carved 1 piece maple back, neck, and sides with a spruce top made with beautiful, highly flamed wood. The dark varnish rounds out the body making this is a lovely instrument. Coming in under 200 dollars currently, I’m surprised by the quality. It’s not very often you see one-piece backs on violins of this price level. The fingerboard and fittings are ebony, and the violin contains four fine tuners. This is a great student instrument. If you wanted a quality violin, this is worth the extra money compared to the MV400. One of my favorite things about this violin’s sound is that it has that growl on the lower registers that I enjoy out of a violin while maintaining a bright and clear upper register.
- Solid hand-carved flamed tonewoods
- One-piece back
- Full outfit has everything you need to get started
- Will grow with the student for a longer period
- Higher resale value than previous models
- Gorgeous finish and tone
- Accessories are of poor quality
- Tailpiece and pegs will need to be replaced
- Only available in 1/2, 3/4, and 4/4 sizes
Compare this model to the Cecilio CVN-600.
Mendini is a great brand with rock bottom prices for instruments, but you still get what you pay for. So if you don’t feel satisfied with any of these violins, check out some of these other brands.
Has been around for a very long time. They offer a wide variety of instruments suitable for all levels. My personal favorite violin is the Eastman VL305. All of Eastman’s instruments are made from solid spruce and maple tonewoods with ebony fingerboard and fittings. If you want a quality instrument that will grow with you, look no further than Eastman Strings. Eastman strings are sold by many different music stores and hallmark for student rentals.
Is another amazing brand that has been around forever. I love their instruments, and I’m a huge fan of their student line Tower Strings. You won’t find a better quality to price ratio anywhere. Their acoustic instruments use aged solid carved spruce, maple tonewoods, and 100% ebony fittings. Each outfit comes with everything you need and then some to get started! If you have problems or questions, their team is there to support you. They have some of the best customer services out there. If you have a hankering to check out their violins in person, you can find their storefront in Miami, Florida.
Kennedy Strings Bunnel
Student outfits are great quality outfits with everything, including the strings you need to get started. These violins feature sold spruce and maple tonewoods, along with ebony fingerboard and fittings. Kennedy Violins is based out of Vancouver, Washington, so if you want to pick out our violin in person, you can.
Cremona has been around since 1989 and crafts high-quality string instruments. Similar to Cecilio, I find Cremona to be a big step up for not much more money. They offer quality, affordable instruments using solid carved tonewoods and ebony fittings. Their instruments are strung with D’Addario Prelude strings and ready to go out of the box.
Answer: Allison Sparrow from the Online Piano and Violin Tutor has some of the most in-depth reviews about Mendini and Cecilio instruments around. She taught me pretty much everything I need to know about finding a violin and getting started with playing. All around one of the most fantastic resources for music around, and I couldn’t recommend her channel enough. She also reviews some of our other favorite brands, like Fiddlershop.
Answer: Nope, not at all! Here are another one of my secrets I’m almost entirely self-taught. I spent 3 years teaching myself before getting a teacher. Using video resources and books, I took my time learning how to hold the bow and the violin correctly. While I’m no master violinist, I can play well enough for my needs. The decision to start with a teacher is almost entirely up to your goals. I play as a hobby and a way to annoy my family members at Christmas. Still, those who have serious goals of joining elite Orchestras or want to be soloists will want a teacher from the start. Nothing can compare to the proper direction and feedback. If you do choose to learn on your own, take your time with posture and bow hold. Don’t be scared to play using the tip and the frog of your bow, either.
Answer: The bridge isn’t the only thing that needs to be adjusted once you receive your violin. The sound post and pegs will need some attention as well; the bridge will likely need notches put in as well. This is best left to an experienced luthier; while it may seem easy to adjust things, it’s not as they are very picky. Even a slightly wrong adjustment will mess with the sound and playability of your instrument.
The MV500/MV650 is my favorite for its lustrous varnish and surprising quality of all of the Mendini violins. There are a lot of things to like about this violin, but the one-piece back is probably one of my favorite features. If the MV650 had aged wood like the CVN600, then I wouldn’t hesitate to scoop this violin up any day. While the MV400 makes for a good student violin, don’t expect much from the MV/100/200.
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