In-Home Trials: 14+ Days with Free Symphony Violinist Guidance

strawberry blond 40-something woman smiling while playing violin with many others in the background

The best way to know if a violin, viola or bow "fits" is to take it out on trial

Here you can run it through your own auditioning process and hear what it sounds like in your home, at church and at school. You can seek the input of your teacher or fellow musicians (or you can do your trial in secret if you know these well-meaning people will only confuse the situation!)

And, of course, the whole time you will have a super patient and helpful symphony violinist standing by to coach you to get the best sound from the instrument possible.


Our Four-Step Trial Process is Simple

  1. Contact us to sort out all the details

  2. Make a 50% deposit

  3. Enjoy the instrument 14+ days in your hands

  4. Keep it and pay the balance or send it back for a refund less shipping

How Fiddleheads' Trials Work

Before we get into explaining the steps, here's an important message from our owner, Rhiannon:

I have assisted countless violinists and violists of all skill levels trying out my instruments since the early 2000s. I estimate in all my years of playing cupid, matching people to their "loves," 90% of the trials are successful, resulting in elated customers who now have the right instrument for their budget and needs.

As for the other 10% when the trial ended with an instrument coming back to me, there's a consistent factor: the budget was too low for their needs, or their needs were too high for the budget.

Raising the budget during the second round of trials has almost always resulted in an awesome email along the lines of, "I LOVE this violin! I'm keeping it!" Understand, I'm not saying everyone needs to spend a fortune to have a violin that makes them happy... [Read the rest of her article]

Visit our Testimonials from many elated customers:

Instrument Trials - Our Service Excellence - Match-Making Players to Instruments

Round number 1

Step 1: Contact Us and We Sort Out the Details

We are frequently told by our customers how easy we make the trial process: Read testimonials here

Is there an instrument you are interested in trying out before buying? Email us the following details:

  • Your location: This will help in determining currency.
  • The instrument/s: Please indicate the items you are considering so availability can be confirmed. We can send up to four violins/violas and four bows at a time. Special-order and "final sale" instruments cannot be sent on a trial basis.
  • Special Requests or Considerations: String upgrades, case options and other special requests are discussed so the all is exactly to your liking during the trial.
  • Your budget: Some customers set a soft (anticipated) and hard (cannot budge) budget. Don't worry, we will never push you into spending more.


Round number 2

Step 2: Deposit

A 50% deposit is required for all loans/ trials of instruments due to increasing fraud. The customer makes the deposit with the clear understanding that they will be refunded this amount (less incoming shipping costs) in the event the instrument does not meet their requirements. Rhiannon makes all the arrangements quick and easy so this amount can be paid via:

  • Bank/Online Banking: Wire transfer, Zelle (USA), Interac E-transfer (Canada) or direct cash deposit
  • Credit Card: (via Paypal, our merchant server) Membership is not required to place credit card payments).
  • Paypal*: Tied in with your bank or credit card
  • Mailing Paper Payment: Certified Money order, certified Bank draft, or cheque/check

Paypal, Wire transfers and Zelle/E-transfers are strongly encouraged as they do not require time to clear in the banking system.

*As of May 2020 orders payments made using Paypal (Paypal balance, bank to Paypal, credit card), that are returned for refund are subject to the Paypal fees (~3.5%). Trial deposits cannot be made using Paypal unless the customer agrees to pay the Paypal fees in the event the trial items are not purchased. Many trial customers prefer other payment methods as such.


Round number 3

Step 3. You have 14 or more days with the instrument in your hands!

You provide your mailing address then the instrument is packed and shipped as soon as the deposit payment to Fiddleheads clears. Customers are then granted at least 14 days* after receipt of the instrument to play before they can be returned for complete refund less outbound shipping.

Rhiannon will personally touch base with you during the trial and will be available to answer any questions or concerns you have in order to help you bring out the best possible sound from the instrument. Take advantage of her expert consultation to get the most out of your trial.

*The 14 day period is a recommendation-- if you require more time you are most welcome to request extra time up-front or for an extension during the trial. You are encouraged to take more time to feel comfortable and choose to buy from Fiddleheads.


Round number 4

Step 4. Decide if it's a keeper

Green box with check mark and


YES! You love the violin and want to keep it!

When you're ready to purchase/adopt, you simply send the remaining 50% (balance owing) to Fiddleheads and become the happy owner/parent of the instrument.

Perhaps you tried a couple violins during your trial and are keeping only one. In this scenario you will keep the preferred violin and return the other. The deposit may cover the cost of the remaining instrument, but a real human at Fiddleheads will adjust your invoice to reflect the balance owing. We will extend an additional discount if you find a buyer (friend, colleague, student) for the spare instrument. Just ask!


Red box with X and


Sorry, it's not the right violin for me...

Even if Rhiannon's tips and advice to bring out the best sound from the instrument don't help the customer decide this one is a keeper, they still have the option to return it. After we've communicated about the customer's desire to send the instrument back, we will email them an address label with a Returns Authorization (RA) number and detailed instructions.

The payment minus the outbound shipping cost is sent back to the customer once the instrument is received in its original condition.

You might consider a second trial to get it just right. Remember what Rhiannon said at the top of this page: "..when the trial ended with an instrument coming back to me, there's a consistent factor: the budget was too low for their needs, or their needs were too high for the budget." 


beautiful black woman with beautiful curly long hair and a green sweater smirking while playing a violin

Exceptions & Boring But Necessary Legal Stuff

Shipping Details

Customers are responsible for paying shipping for trials (and return shipping should the item be returned). This applies to higher-end instruments, which only receive free shipping when purchased. Similarly, additional insurance and customer-requested faster shipping methods are extra.

Please keep the packing materials in which the instrument/s were sent so that it/they may be returned safely. Typically return shipping costs range depending on the instrument, type of service used (USPS or Canada Post) and distance shipped. Return insurance is at the customer's discretion and the customer is responsible for any damage from the time the instrument leaves our shop and until it arrives back with us.

American and overseas customers: Due to brokerage fees from couriers, we DO NOT use UPS, FedEx, DHL for outgoing or incoming shipments to the USA. Please send your returns back using only US Postal Service (US Mail). All returned items from outside Canada must have the contents described on the customs forms as "CANADIAN GOODS RETURNING: Tariff ID 9813.00.00.97."


Damage & Loss

Damages to the instrument/s forfeit return of the deposit. 

What constitutes damage is at Rhiannon's experienced discretion, but please note she is very fair and honest in this regard and adds this for her protection and to encourage careful handling of her instruments. A new high end violin with a scratch or ding cannot be sold for full price, so you are asked to be very careful and conscientious with the instrument while it is in your care.

Just use common sense: Handle the violin with clean, dry hands and by the neck only, keep it safe from the elements and other risks and store it in the case when not in use. Send it back cleaned with a soft, dry cloth so it is not covered in rosin dust.

Instruments lost, damaged, stolen or destroyed during shipping and which were not insured by the customer are then the customer's loss. Such damage or loss rarely happens if the package is properly wrapped. Customers may choose to insure their returns and are responsible for it while in their care.

If the instrument/s are in the customer's possession for an exceptionally long time [for example 6 weeks in their possession without return], the trial may be cancelled and no refund can be granted. The customer is asked to then pay the remainder owing on the instrument in order to purchase it. We have not had to resort to these measures but this policy stands "just in case."


Some Items Not Available for Trial

Trials are typically only offered on in-stock instruments over $1000 USD or bows over $250 USD. We may allow lower-priced instruments and bows on trial on a per-case basis.

Commissioned (custom, made to order) instruments are not available for trial and require a non-refundable 50% deposit for work to commence, the balance due upon completion of the instrument.

Instruments which we must special order for our customers must be paid in full before they are shipped and are not available for trial. Should the customer cancel their special order before it arrives, they can only receive a refund of 40% of the purchase price.

To prevent wear and tear on cases, they are for purchase only and not trial.

End of boring legal stuff.


Thank You!

We want to see all our customers completely thrilled with her service and to experience an enjoyable trial and purchase. Thank you for your consideration and for allowing Fiddleheads the opportunity to earn your business and loyalty!