I'm a soon-to-be violin beginner - still in the "research" phase, which is how I found your lovely forum. I'm a trained musician but specialize in woodwinds. I took a semester of group violin for my degree over 10 years ago, and enjoyed it, but didn't have much time to focus on it. I'm looking forward to getting started on a new adventure!
Hi, @sunandstars. Welcome to the forum.
Just wanted to pass on a couple of bits of info about violin buying I found out the hard way, since you're in that phase of things.
Biggest one is don't get something that's not set up well, just because it's cheaper. I didn't find out about fiddlerman/fiddlershop.com until after I had mine. I got a Stentor off Amazon, after doing what I thought was a fair amount of research. It's a decent (although not great) student instrument, but it had some pretty serious problems. I was lucky enough to find a good luthier here in town and he worked some minor miracles on it. It's a pretty nice instrument now, for a student instrument. But that didn't come cheap. The original violin cost me $250. The work to flatten the overly aggressive scoop of the fingerboard, lower the action on both the nut and the bridge, rework the pegs, and a half-dozen other things I've forgotten, cost me $350. So by saving money and buying a not-too-expensive violin, I cost myself a lot of money. Get one that's already had a good setup done on it - it will be cheaper in the long run.
If you'll let us know what your rough budget is, we may be able to help make suggestions. (They'll tend to be heavily weighted towards Fiddlerman's stuff, because we like them - it's part of why we're here - but you may find a few other recommendations floating around, too.)
Welcome @sunandstars ! @Charles has given some very sound (no pun intended ) advice above !
Just a warning though - at just over 3 years into playing I now own 4 violins (OK, one is a cheap EV, one an ancient Skylark strung as a viola, a 3/4 factory replica 1930's thing from e-bay (which oddly enough is awesome for "fiddle" tunes now I've adjusted it) , and my FiddlerMan Concert (which is a lovely beginner/intermediate instrument - well set-up and perfect out of the box. On all the other instruments I have had to make "running adjustments" to get them to sound and play properly - be it nut height, bridge, soundpost and so on). I'm looking at the cash situation and hopefully I'll soon upgrade the Concert to... well... haven't quite decided yet, but it will undoubtedly be from FiddlerShop...
I'm certain you'll enjoy the journey !
I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh -
Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)