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  1. quote: Originally posted by: JCHungerpiller I was under on estimate shipping to Europe...more like $400-500. I really like my SW cello. It seems it would be fun to "leave no stone unturned" in looking for a comparitively priced cello in Europe. Your daughter could try out a lot of instruments. Do you have a school "spring break" in Switzerland? Good luck either way! Hey - thank you - that was a very kind thing to do! In terms of spring (or summer) breaks - one thing I've actually considered is a "field trip" to, say, Romania, the Czech Republic or Hungary. Wouldn't know where to start, though, and I'm a bit leery of it. (I've also been watching auctions by a Czech and an Italian eBayer, both with a decent track record, and they have things in my price range; however, I'm worried about putting my daughter at the risk of ending up with something that won't work well for her.) I like the Scott Cao path since she has already knows and likes the instruments. Even given inevitable differences between them, I have a pretty high degree of trust that we won't end up with a banjo. At this point, I'm tending toward investing a good hard shell case and having my mother bring it along - and assuming I'll spend some more money on further setup here in Switzerland.
  2. quote: Originally posted by: JCHungerpiller Have you inquired whether US based internet strings companies will ship to Europe? I have asked the company I use and will post their reply. John Southwest Strings does, although I'd have to call for a quoite on the price. (I'm guessing international shipping for a cello would be somewhere in the $200 - $400 range, plus - in my case - 8% customs.) However, since my mother will be visiting us this summer anyway, I think it would be easier to have her bring it in person. (Although - as an earlier poster mentioned - that does involve surrendering it to baggage handlers.) Among other things, since I have family members who play, it ought to be possible to have them check out the instrument before my mom leaves, just to make sure everything is as it should be.
  3. quote: Originally posted by: Darren Molnar That's too bad he doesn't have a rent to purchase plan, that would have made things a whole lot easier. How much money would you be saving by bringing the cello in? Well, going by what I see on the STC750 sets at Southwest Strings - and that's about the extent of my shopping so far - we'd be saving about $2500 on the same model cello and getting a bow (a $150 Klaus Müller model - I'd like to look into upgrading that) and case (hard shell "prelude" model) into the bargain. Again: buying locally we would have excellent, friendly service, professional setup and plenty of help. Heck, if I had $20K to spend to have a luthier make a really good cello - and if my daughter were that serious about playing - I would consider one of his cellos an excellent investment. And if rent to buy were an option I'd be open to paying the extra $2,500 over a longer period of time just for the ability to keep our options open. But as it is, I feel like I just can't play in this league. (In case some of the relative numbers seem whacky, please note that Switzerland was, comparatively, a very expensive place, even before the dollar fell so low .)
  4. Hmm. You know - and just for the record - I'm all for supporting the local guys. And if my local luthier had either a rent to buy program or a trade up program, I would go ahead and do it - but he doesn't have either. As it is, I'm going to be living on intern pay and academic grants for the next two years, and I'm burning frightening amounts of money on guitars, guitar lessons and boys choir camps for my son- and recorders (she's been begging for a tenor recorder for a year now), recorder lessons and cello lessons for my daughter. My wife and I don't own a car so we can have more money for all of this - but I can't swing a purchase in $5K range (my luthier's lowest 4/4 cello) without going into debt - and seeing $2K disappear in rental fees over the next two years is pretty frustrating! I'm going to have to cut corners somewhere - the question is which ones to cut and how to cut them.
  5. My daughter is playing a 7/8 sized Scott Cao cello from a local luthier. I'm not sure which of his cellos this one is (there is no label), but she's delighted with the cello. She started with a 3/4-sized Scott Cao labelled STC-500, and was very happy with it as well. If we had been interested in buying (which we weren't for a less than 4/4), the STC-500 would have cost about $3,200. The one she has now (or a 4/4 sized one) would be a bit above $5,000. As far as I can tell, these prices a considerably higher than what the same cello would cost in the US - at least from what I have seen on the internet. I do not in any way mean to impugn the luthier on this! I believe that he is honest, competent - and pays considerably more himself. However, since my mother lives in the US and will be visiting this summer, it seems perfectly reasonable to have an online purchase sent to her there and have her bring the cello when she comes. The difference in price ought quite easily to make up for whatever adjustments prove necessary here. Would you agree with this line of thinking? Particularly, would you agree that the Scott Cao workshop lines - say an STC-750 - are standardized enough that we're not undertaking a foolish risk by buying sight unseen? And if so, where would you particularly advise making the purchase? www.swstrings.com seems like a reasonable place to start. Thanks for any tips, Mike Gray
  6. quote: Originally posted by: rutherford Hmm.....people are more honest in the 'top draw EU' countries or in the US or in the UK (thought the UK was a EU country but never mind)? No, of course not. People are people, and I'm not saying the "morality gene" gets lost on the wrong side of the tracks. But you can't be stupid either. There are two important principles that make some trans-national transactions safer than others: 1) It is positive if you speak the seller's native language and can be sure that communication should - at least in principle - be easy. 2) It is positive if - in the event that a bad situation develops - you can contact the local police and be able to expect them to cooperate and be interested in fighting cyber-crime. I've never actually lost money on an online scam (knock wood - because I take risks!) but I have bid on quite a few scams and have helped out several people who *did* get burned. This has lead to some excellent conversations with people in police stations in Amsterdam and some village in the UK. OTOH, my attempts to contact the authorities in Bucharest and a village in Thailand didn't work out very well at all. (In the Thai case quite simply because I didn't even know how to look - the authorities might have been great for all I know.) For that matter, my attempts to get some help from the carbinieri in Napoli when a friend of mind "bought" some hi-end electronics were very frustrating. (I mention the last bit very sadly since I lived in Sicily for 10 years as a child and studied for three years in Rome.) I love Eastern Europe, I love the people and I even lived a couple years in Hungary (yes, there too) as a kid. But many business transactions with the - OK: NEWER members of the EU - require a higher level of caution, ESPECIALLY private ones carried out over the internet. As for the UK and the EU - err - I think I've got myself into enough hot water as it is without opening that one! Peace, man - and merry Christmas, Mike
  7. Hmm. That was an interesting auction to watch. - I notice first that I may have been a general PITA by asking questions about an auction while it is still running. The seller would hardly mind having people linking to his sale, but potential buyers might not appreciate the extra interest. If I ticked anyone off, my apologies. - I see that sniping is as alive and well for string instruments as for anything else on ebay - though that is hardly a surprise. - What I also notice is that the former-eastern-block + wire transfer thing is not an automatic indicator of fraud in this field. (In others it is.) People were quite clearly bidding seriously on the auction. OTOH, I wonder what sort of bids the same auction would draw if placed in the US, in the UK or in a top draw EU country. More, I would guess! - Obviously, older instruments are going to be a crap shoot. The may turn out great or they may turn out to be a big disappointment. I exchanged a couple emails with a gentleman who had won an earlier auction from the same seller. He was very, very pleased with his purchase - but someone else might end up with an entirely different situation. All in all, very informative. I hope to learn more over the next few months ...
  8. I liked all three of those stories - both of Strauzart's and Cob3's too! Actually, this violin has turned into a special sort of Christmas story - at the fact that my son and daughter will be playing Adeste Fideles in church on recorder and guitar in church on the 24th make the reference particularly apt. (It would be even more fun if Natascha and I were doing it on cello and violin - in fact, I think I'll see if I can transpose something so she can try it. Still!) So, thanks for helping to add another layer of patinae to that mottled old back! Cob3's point is well taken, though. Wondering about an instrument is - or at least can be - more than wondering how much cash you could wring out of it. The money aspect is important - for example, when I end up buying a cello for my daughter I'd like to get her a good deal and not just a good story! - but that natural curiosity about the people who crafted the things we own is part of what makes us human. In some cases (one thinks of sweatshops), that curiosity can even help us to become *humane.* However you look at it: this whole exchange has meant something to me and taught me a lot. Thanks. Have a blessed Christmas! Mike
  9. Hi guys! I'm not on the market for cello right now, but if my daughter keeps up her passion for the instrument, I plan to be sometime around next summer. I was surfing around ebay when I found this auctions: "http://cgi.ebay.com/Rare-Outstanding-Old-Italian-Cello-with-Fright-Case_W0QQitemZ280184201925QQihZ018QQcategoryZ10178QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZV iewItem"> Rare~ Outstanding Old Italian Cello with Fright Case Hm ... So why is a rare old italian cello with real, hyperchondrially certified "fright case" stuck at $1000 one day before it closes!? Scam, right? I don't need to know just yet, but that is the kind of question I would like to be able answer quite easily next summer! What my normal ebay instincts tell me here is the following: Negative - Seller wants cash by wire to a former eastern block country. I'venever bought instruments over ebay, but in *normal* ebay language that's like walking into a bank with a ski mask and a showing the guard your pretty, new bazooka. - Seller has no address, no me page, no explanation of where he gets his stuff. - Seller has a grand total of 10 positive feedbacks. Positive - OTOH, 10 people *do* seem to have bought his stuff and left positive feedback. Of course, they could all be shills, but if so, they were done quite carefully. Anyway, I'm learning the ropes here. What would you people do with an auction like this - simply ignore or pursue further - i.e. contact the seller with further questions, contact other buyers, ask about escrow, etc.? What other things do you people look at in an auction like this?
  10. Hmm. Having looked around, I *do* see that I look pretty silly asking for a decent bow under $100! OTOH, anything that'll scratch the strings, is a big step up from pizzicato ... Thing is, I can't do a whole lot better right now. I *can* keep the loaner until next summer - I've rented my daughter's cello from the same luthier and he threw in the bow for free until then. Round about next summer I'll have to figure something out, though. I'd also like to buy my daughter a cello this summer to stop leaking rental fees. Not to mention the baroque style tenor recorder she and my wife have their hearts' set on. And of course, there's my son playing a guitar I saved from the trash ... and counting the months till he can go to his first singing camp with the Zürich Boys choir. And, of course, the pickups in my e-bass that keep on wonking out when I'm on stage ... Not that I'm complaining, exactly. I love music and my family seems to be in some kind of musical hyper-drive just now, and it's all amazingly fun. I'm an unbelievably rich man. But with grad student grants to pay the bills for the next two years, I do have to set my priorities carefully!
  11. quote: Originally posted by: yuen At least a player in the past cared. Thanks Yuen! *That's* a story I like! In fact, I hereby declare my great-great-uncle Whoever the Player Who Cared. Nobody cared enough about him to even pass down his name, and he couldn't even care for himself well enough to keep off the poppy seed - but he loved his fiddle and gave it the best he had. God speed, old man - and maybe Natascha and I can duet you a requiem. * * * * Going off on a tangent: The original bow got lost when my parents split up a few years ago. I'm a doctoral student on zero budget with two kids learning four different instruments, so money is pretty thin. My luthier has loaned me a bow for now, but he doesn't have anything I can afford (things are at a premium in Switzerland), so I reckon I'll buy something over ebay nad have a family member bring it over. I get the impression that I could get a something half-way decent for between $50 and $100. Carbon, maybe - or a chinese direct sales job? (I've had excellent experiences with chinese and taiwnese sellers in other fields.) Would some have a good tip that might fit in nicely with this instrument?
  12. Thanks for the encouragement - but I wasn't feeling at all disparaged. My daughter and I played our first duet last week, which was one of those things you can't pay for. This is just curiosity! Mike
  13. Thanks for all your input, guys! Family stories *are* the best stories, of course - but in this particular case, there isn't much to tell. No one living knows much about the uncle in question except that he wanted to be a musician and didn't live very long. Apparently, he left an antique (and well-used) morphine injecting kit to go with the violin. Not a happy story, what little there is of it! I do wonder whether he was a bit of a DIYer, though - perhaps he got the violin cheap because of a neck problem and put in the wedge and button on his own. As for the violin's "family" - I was just curious about the kind of pattern used to make it. From the things I've already heard I'm not laboring under the delusion that it's anybody's masterpiece! * * * * Quick remark about appraisals: I did ask my luthier about that - simply in terms of ballpark estimates - and he avoided answering. Perhaps he figured it isn't worth enough to justify the expense - or perhaps (being a genuinely nice guy) he just didn't want to hurt my feelings! It would have been helpful for insurance purposes, though, since I simply don't have clue. It's certainly good for me, though - and I should mention that people have generally been very positive about its sound - back in the early 80s my grade school violin teacher had a strange habit of raving about it. (Perhaps she was listening to the label?) At about the same time a shop in Libertyville IL also offered my mother $1,000 for it when she brought it in for setup when it first came out of storage. This fed a family tradition that we had something special. In retrospect, I wonder if there was less ready knowledge about old instruments at the time and that the shop offered my mother more than it would have been worth. At any rate, I'm certainly glad I spent about $300 to get it set up to play (new bridge, new strings and tailpiece, new saddle, touch-up work on the varnish, ribs coaxed back into place) and not to get it appraised! (My neighbors might beg to differ ... ) Mike
  14. Hello All! A few months ago I popped up in this forum asking some questions about a violin that has been in my family since it was purchased by my grandmother's uncle sometime around the turn of the century. It has a label claiming to be an Eberle made in Prague - which, people pointed out, even the type of printing on the label pretty much rules out. In the meantime, I've had the violin spruced up a bit and setup by a local luthier. As far as I can tell, he did a very nice job setting it up. He was going to look into its background and kept it in his shop for about three months (rather annoying, since I wanted to start playing again) but never found out anything of interest - except that he didn't think I could trust the label. Wherever it comes from, I'm delighted to have it back. My daughter has started learning cello, and playing with her is incredible fun! Here are some new shots of the violin. (BTW, there's a magnifying glass function to see the pictures in greater detail.) "http://picasaweb.google.com/mikesusangray/TheOldViolin ">Picasa Link Still, I wish I could get a little more of a story about where the violin might come from. I'm particularly intrigued by the wedge thing under the fingerboard. Was the neck originally so low? Or did somebody mess up the build and find a quick fix? Could it be some kind transitional thing? I'm also curious about where it comes from. I understand there were some Czech workshops in the 19th and early 20th century - given the Eberle attribution, might that be a reasonable guess. Also (#2), my luthier didn't seem to be too crazy about the varnish work on the back, though I didn't quite get why. I love the mottled look. Can someone educate me a little? Also (#3), can anyone tell me what "family resemblences" it shows? I've been trying to learn about this stuff, but I'm still not able to see the things you guys can. Ugh. When I made my photographs I also noticed a crack up around the left side hole of the peg that turny the E string. I'll definitely ask the luthier about that, though. I'm guessing he would have told me if it were a problem. And finally: my home insurance covers up to ca. $1,000 in case of theft. Would anyone recommend - in the vaguest possible terms! - that I raise that a little or is that probably in the right ballpark? (That last question isn't a sneaky way of finding a selling price. Whatever it is - and it seems like a decent violin, though it's no national treasure - I'm going to keep learning to play it.) Thanks for any (further!) help you can give me here - and in general, thanks for keeping this forum going. I love reading and learning!
  15. quote: Originally posted by: bean_fidhleir quote: Originally posted by: rudall quote: Originally posted by: bean_fidhleir The label looks to have been printed offset, which wouldn't have been possible in his time. Can you really tell if the label has been printed using offset lithography from that picture? I can't imagine that any maker say, pre-1980?, ever had labels printed lithographically, never mind with offset litho, which is a rather different process. I can only see offset litho being feasible if you were printing hundreds or thousands of labels. Certainly not if you just wanted to knock off one for a fake. I assume that until very recently labels - like books and other printed matter - were printed using some kind of relief technique with either a wooden or metal plate/block. An intaglio technique could also have been used, I suppose, with probably a wood-engraved block. What I meant was that I see no signs that the label was printed by either of the two job-printing processes available in his time: letterpress and intaglio. As you note, the likelihood of any real label having been printed via classic litho is vanishingly small, since that was a labor-intensive method suited only to art not commerce. And, as you know, offset litho wasn't invented til the late 19th c. and didn't begin to find its way into job shops until around the 1930s. During Eberle's time, presses were all the 6x6 timber-built, horizontal flatbed, capstan-and-screw-driven letterpress ones we see in illustrations. This label is text with a stock-rule border, so there would have been no reason at all to go to the added expense of having a plate engraved. Which leaves us with vanilla letterpress using moveable type. But I'm not seeing any of the usual debossing or squeezeout that was characteristic of job and even newspaper printing during that time. Ink was applied by hand with a dauber and was therefore unevenly distributed, and the type was also uneven, so even with shimming and padding the pressure had to be rather high to make sure all the type came into contact with the paper sufficiently to get good coverage and lock the ink into the paper's fibers. Which typically debossed the paper and caused excess ink to be squeezed out at the sides of the type faces. But as you'll have noticed, we're not seeing any of that here. The ink is lying on the surface, with so little involvement that some of it seems to have fallen off. We see that a lot in dry-process offset -- xerography, aka xerox -- but it's quite rare otherwise. I doubt that Eberle would have accepted anything like that from the printer--he would have considered it a waste of his money since printing was quite expensive. So, from all that, plus the paper showing the stigmata of being made from sulfited wood pulp rather than rags, I conclude that the label was recently printed by offset, quite possibly xerography, and is a fake. Without being able to see it up close and personal I might be wrong in that conclusion, but I can say for sure that what I can see doesn't look good. Egad! That was one of the more impressive pieces of detective work I've seen on the net so far. Wow. Only one observation: I don't think that it can be xerography, however. The Xerox hit the market around the time of WWII - and I have it on good assurance that the fiddle is old than that, at least. Unless someone added the label around then - but that seems rather unlikely. I'm very curious about the rag paper vs. wood paper thing! Would you be able to direct me to some places where I can see the difference? BTW, I'm not arguing, I'm just fascinated at the chance to learn something new. Also: quite a few people have mentioned that the varnish work is wrong for the 18th century. Can someone explain that to me? When I look at the fiddle - particularly the back - I'm struck by the light and dark color variations and the sort of chipped, bumpy look. Does that have something to do with it? Are those techniques they used to make an instrument seem older than it really was? Also: does all of this mean that whoever made the violin was *intentionally* doing a fake - or is it more of an innocent omage? As I said: this is fascinating, and thanks for being patient with me! Peace, Mike
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