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A Small Viola by Paolo Castello, Genoa circa 1770

An outstanding 18th century Italian viola by Paolo Castello. This viola has soul – the sound is bristling with energy, warm, lively and very dynamic. We are currently in a period where small violas are out of favour, but there are really no tonal arguments for bigger instruments – this one would hold its own in any professional context, and it has a smoothness and complexity of sound which are hard to find on an instrument of any size. I would recommend it particularly to a solo performer exhausted by decades of playing a big instrument.


Welcome to Martin Swan Violins - a genuinely modern violin shop.

This website is our store-front and we update it daily. You can browse the listings of cellos, violas and violins for sale, and if you'd like more information or help with choosing a violin, just email or phone Martin for advice. He's often away violin hunting, but he's always happy to take your call or reply to emails. If you'd like to try out our instruments in the peace and quiet of our workshop in the Scottish Borders, you're welcome to make an appointment to visit.

We sell most of our violins directly from the website. As a professional player, Martin knows what violinists are looking for; he will find the right instrument to suit your particular requirements of tone, playability and budget. You can relax about buying a violin from us online - look at our reviews! We have sold around 1,000 instruments to date, around 80% of these to online customers. We have comprehensive insurance for sending instruments internationally, and all purchases are covered by a 14 day no quibble return policy.

We stock instruments and bows which are suitable for serious classical and traditional players, professionals, students or amateurs. We’re primarily interested in violin tone rather than the antique value of instruments, so we don't stock expensive instruments unless they also sound good. If you’re looking for a fine antique or collectible violin, you’ll find a good selection for sale on this site, all with tonal qualities we are happy to endorse. If you‘re choosing an instrument solely on the basis of sound, our new handmade violins, violas and cellos are fantastic value for money. We also stock an excellent range of violin bows, viola bows and cello bows, including outstanding new Brazilian bows.

Thanks for visiting! Please do contact us if you have any queries.

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Fine Violins for Classical and Traditional Players




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