A 1/2 Size 1985 Suzuki Violin. Anno Model. No 220.

Ursula Donnelley Plays the Suzuki 1/2 size Anno model violin No. 220

This violin has been approved by the Suzuki school of violin in Japan. Suzuki is one of the most respected violin methods in the world, making this a great choice, for a student’s first ever violin, or as they step up in quality, the next violin for a student of classical music. I teach the Suzuki method and learned this way myself.

This violin is 1/2 size, which suits children of around age 7-9 depending on the length of your child’s arms. You can measure this by Googling “violin sizing chart”.

From the moment I picked this violin up I just wanted to play Baroque music on it, due to its sensitivity and ease of playing. I much preferred the lower strings to the E string but for a new starter violin, the tonal quality is phenomenal. Suzuki are all about developing a great tone from the beginning so I can see how this violin has been approved by them.

It was easy to play, which isn’t a surprise given it’s origins either. However, what makes this violin stand out from the rest is that the set up is particularly good, as are the strings. The violin has been set up by Dr Mike Sutton, who is passionate about refurbishing old instruments with new strings and optimising the set up.

If you bought a 2nd hand violin on ebay ordinarily, the chances are it is not set up correctly. Over time, violins need adjusting by someone who knows what they are doing to optimise the sound and playability. This one has already been set up meaning that you will not have to pay someone else to do this for you.

This would be an absolute no brainer first violin owned for a talented student. It would be a shame for this to sit in a cupboard so unless you have a musical child who is desperate to learn the violin, leave this well alone.

Ursula Donnelley (Professional Violin Teacher and Performance Violinist)

History, repair and refurbishment notes

Surprisingly, these violins are relatively rare in the UK.

This was the first violin my youngest daughter played – other than the dreadfully set-up Stentor her school provided us with as a rental instrument. When I bought this violin on eBay the bridge was the wrong size, being a far too big full sized bridge, and the stings were a poor quality all steel variety. I paid a visit to a very respected violin dealer in Nottingham whose Luthier carefully fitted it with a refurbished far better quality vintage bridge. I was surprised to hear that he had never worked on a Suzuki violin of any kind before and knew nothing about them.

I later fitted a new light alloy tailpiece with integral fine tuners. Next, I improved the set up by cutting and then fitting a new sound post in the optimal position and giving the violin a set of Alphayue good quality synthetic core strings.

This very robust little violin is in very good condition of its age.

My youngest daughter first learnt to play on this instrument with the above set-up and loved it until she outgrew it and then adopted a nice 3/4 size German antique violin from my collection. This violin gave her a love for playing the violin that is now seeing her progress with dedication through her ABRSM grades.

Dr Mike Sutton (Violin collector, restorer, repairer and patron of the arts)

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