2021 Buying Guide: Cremona SV-1220 Maestro Violin Review

A suitable first violin for adult intermediate players.

When searching the market for a violin there are certain models that seem to crop up often. A widely available model has its appeal, there’s a chance you can grab it locally rather than having to order it, but the real question is are they any good? 

The Guangzhou Cremona violins are one such series that seems ubiquitous on the internet and beyond. We decided to look into them so we could give you our thoughts, specifically on the Cremona SV-1220 Maestro First Violin (shortened for the sake of brevity in this review to Cremona Maestro) as an option for student and hobby violinists.

Defining Features of the Cremona Maestro

The Cremona Maestro violin is one of the nicer Cremona violins. Other models include the Debutte, Cannzona, SV-500, and SV-600 all of which exist on a scale between very beginner to intermediate-advanced. The Cremona Maestro exists at the high end of this, being recommended towards intermediate growing to advanced players by its makers. It stands out in the following ways:

Construction – The Cremona Maestro is one of a few Cremona violins that is constructed in a small workshop rather than larger workshops or factories. So, it has a more handmade touch to go along with aged spruce and maple (how long these woods are aged is unclear from our research), boxwood fittings, and the Cremona maple bridge (which is not included in their other models).

Strings – Most of the time it seems the Cremona Maestro includes Anton Breton VNS-150 Perlon strings, though this depends on where you buy the instrument — we’ve also seen D’Addario Prelude strings included in the outfit instead. If you don’t mind the bright, slightly tinny sound of steel core strings you might want to go for the Preludes over the Bretons which aren’t bad but don’t suit the quality of the instrument in our opinion. Further, the Cremona Maestro isn’t may or may not be set up if you order it online, so you will have to bring it to a local violin shop to get the bridge set and to string the instrument properly. Or you can order from a violin shop that gets the instrument unset-up and then sets it up for you in shop with an experienced luthier, like for example Antonio Strad. Never order a violin that is set-up if you aren’t sure it’s been done by a luthier who knows what they’re doing.

Cremona Maestro Overview

The Cremon SV-1220 Maestro is an instrument best suited to adult violinists around the intermediate level. It’s sturdy and resistant to any everyday jostling or damage that you might run into so you can expect it to stay with you for a long time, which is a good thing too, because it’s certainly not one of the best deals you could get for an instruments at this level. You can find it from various sources around $530-$800. It is not pre-setup by the sellers so most likely you should take it to your local luthier to make sure everything is in playing order. However, it is made in a small workshop out of quality materials and has a warm sound and handles more advanced techniques well. 

The sellers who sell the Cremona Maestro at its cheapest (within the $500 range) often do not seem to offer it in any size smaller than full size, which is why we recommend it to adult players — it’s simply a better value, because a) the cost is lower b) if you are at 4/4 size you don’t have to worry about growing out of it.

Key Features:

What to Expect from the Cremona Maestro

Bow – The Cremona Maestro comes with a J. LaSalle LB-17 brazilwood bow is, of course, a wood bow. It’s well-balanced and is precise though is probably best in the hands of advancing players rather those closer to the early end of intermediate.

Outfit – The outfit that the Cremona Maestro comes in includes the above bow, and the Travelite TL-35 deluxe suspension case. The case is a wide rectangular model that zips shut and has a lock built into the clasp. It has one interior and one exterior pocket, two bow holders, a hygrometer, and shoulder straps.

Ordering – You can get the Cremona Maestro from Amazon, so your ordering experience can potentially include all the Amazon bells and whistles. Free returns, two day shipping, and free shipping but only if you have prime, etc, etc. Other suppliers may vary in terms of their shipping policies.

Remember not to order from a shop that doesn’t have professional luthiers set up the instruments they sell. If you get the violin and it is set up, but not (as far as you know) by an experienced individual, take it to your local shop and ask them to check it. A poorly set up instrument will hurt your playing and the violin itself.

Should you buy a Cremona SV-1200 Maestro First Violin?

Are you an adult violinist at the intermediate level looking to purchase a violin that matches your level with the convenience of being able to buy it from multiple sources including Amazon? Do you want a decent sturdy instrument that will stick with you until you’re ready to upgrade? If you said yes to both of those then the Cremona Maestro might be for you. 

There are two other related considerations, however: 1) The outfit is a bit sparse, if you already have rosin, a cleaning cloth, a shoulder rest, etc. then this may be ideal, if not you’ll have to purchase those separately, 2) given that the standard accessories are not included in the outfit, you may feel that $530-$800 (depending on where you buy) is not the amount you’d like to pay. In the grand scheme of things this is not a high price to pay for a violin, considering violin prices can reach far into the tens of thousands and higher, but for a hobby violinist, or a student expecting to upgrade again soon this may not feel like a steal. 

Price aside, this is a violin made of solid aged woods, in a small workshop and accompanied by a fitting wood bow. It handles intermediate playing well and has a mellow voice that is good for orchestral playing. If that sounds like it fits your needs then the Cremona Maestro could be the instrument for you.