2021 Guide: Scott Cao STV-017E Violin Review

When searching the market for a beginner 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 Scott Cao 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 Scott Cao STV-017E Violin (shortened for the sake of brevity in this review to Scott Cao STV) as an option for student and hobby violinists at the beginner level.

Defining Features of the Scott Cao STV

The Scott Cao STV is the most beginner oriented violin of the Scott Cao models. Other models include the Scott Cao 750, 750e, and 850 all of which exist on a scale between upper beginner to intermediate-advanced. The Scott Cao STV exists at the beginner end of this, being recommended towards beginner players buying their first violin by its makers. It stands out in the following ways:

Construction – The Scott Cao STV is handmade from European spruce and maple, and utilizes ebony or Indian rosewood for the fittings, so you can be assured that its made from quality materials. It’s also hand-finished in a traditional varnish style, giving it a good look as well as protecting it from any damage. 

Setup – The Scott Cao STV may or may not be set up for you (a.k.a the strings haven’t been put on and tuned, and the bridge hasn’t been set properly by an experienced luthier) 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.

Scott Cao STV Overview

The Scott Cao STV is an instrument best suited to beginner violinists around the early levels of their playing. 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, until you’re ready to upgrade to a more advanced instrument. It’s also very affordable You can find it from various sources around $500 – $600. 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. 

Its outfit does not include all the bells and whistles that some others do, but you may already own most of the things you need. It comes in every size under the sun, so regardless of what age or size you are there is a Scott Cao STV-017E for you. Further, it has a great bright sound that’s beginner-friendly so it’s easy to pick up.

Key Features:

What to Expect from the Scott Cao STV

Bow – The Scott Cao STV comes with a brazilwood bow which is of course, a wood bow. It’s well-balanced and is precise and will handle well in the hands of a beginner player.

Outfit – The outfit that the Scott Cao STV comes in includes the above bow and an oblong student case. The case has space for two bows, a hygrometer, an inner and outer storage compartment, and a shoulder strap. It zips shut and has a clasp to close the case securely. 

Ordering – You can get the Scott Cao STV from various violin shops online and in-person, but 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 Scott Cao STV-017e Violin?

Are you a violinist at the beginner level looking to purchase a violin that matches your level with the convenience of being able to buy it from multiple sources? 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 Scott Cao STV might be for you. 

The one major consideration is that 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.

Price aside, this is a violin made of solid aged woods, handmade and accompanied by a fitting, wood bow. It handles intermediate playing well and has a bright voice that is good for tackling beginner music. If you are looking for a nicer beginner violin, without hoping that it’ll last you into the intermediate level, the Scott Cao STV-017E might be for you!