Ming-Jiang Zhu makes one of the best violins available as of 2014. Zhu has won many awards for his creations, including two gold medals from the Violin Society of America. These violins are considered easy to play and have superior tone.
Zhu's violins are considered appropriate for advanced performers and start around $2,500 as of 2014. Scott Cao Kreisler violins have a smaller price point and are considered excellent violins for the intermediate player. Stentor, Knilling and Cremona violins are considered top choices for beginners and are very easy to play. It is important for beginners to start out with a very playable violin to avoid getting frustrated with the instrument.