November 2017
I played the violin a lot as a child, getting to grade 8 and playing in various amateur orchestras / folk groups, but only really started playing regularly again a few years ago.

I wanted a much better violin than the one I grew up with, but was not sure where to start. In particular, I’d had go on a friend’s violin (a professional, with a c.£250,000 Italian violin), and struggled to make a good sound on it, so knew it was not just about price!

I initially tried buying a violin on eBay. It seemed better than my existing instrument and I was initially happy with it, until I joined an orchestra when I realised I couldn’t hear myself play without bowing practically on the bridge. I went back to my original violin, and started looking again.

After spending a few months trying instruments from local violin dealers, I was struggling to find anything sufficiently better than what I had for my budget, and some googling/”research” took me to Martin Swan’s website. I liked the description of his own label “artist violin” in particular, as I was looking for a violin that was responsive (read: relatively easy to play!), as well as having a great sound, and volume. I spoke with Martin and he had a choice of three, and I went for the brightest sounding one as the instrument I grew up with was very bright. 

I’ve now had my instrument for a year, and love it! I feel it has really helped me develop as a player, with the violin being a lot more resonant than I’ve had before, particularly in the higher registers, and it’s capable of making a much wider range of sounds. I wish I’d had an instrument of this quality from about age 14/15, however it’s better late than never!
John Coulthard, London, UK

John Coulthard