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ShadowHawk

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  1. Hello MacCeol, I'm certainly no expert but have asked questions similar to your own in the past. I was pointed to Shar Products as a resource and thought the general descriptions were helpful. The site describes those aspects of the player level then aligns a few models of instruments to each player level. Their descriptions are interesting and some of the instruments come well recommended. As for differentiating the instruments themselves, it appears that it is often a combination of two things. First is the ascertained quality upon completion. I'm not sure a luthier ever truly knows what that final product is going to sound like until it is complete and played for the first time. He/she certainly has certain expectations based on previous experience, but slight differences in wood and finish can elicit surprises. This implies the decision to "rank" an instrument occurs after it is complete, but one must also remember that the quality is often a reflection of the hours invested in the creation. The time invested will certainly set a minimal expectation in price which is then adjusted (hopefully up) when the tonal quality result justifies the time and work investment. I do know that makers will pre-define quality levels by setting "investment limits" on product development. In other words, the decision is made that only so many hours and so much effort is going to be expended in the creation. The results still vary slightly, but the limiting constraints will define the level and subsequent value of the instrument. You can reach Shar by navigating to http://www.sharmusic.net/home.htm [This message has been edited by ShadowHawk (edited 03-18-2001).]
  2. I think the discussions and thoughts provoked by my earlier statements may carry more long term value than the statement content I wrote. It did at least demonstrate that there are two clearly delineated views with regards to the perceived or real value in a stringed instrument. That Jeffrey and/or Michael, our esteemed moderators, would think that any part of my earlier comments were personal flames is a bit dissapointing but understandable given the nature of the topic. Perhaps of more value is a reminder that my arguments had less to do with whether auction instruments were comparable to quality found in a luthiers shop and far more to do with the reaction of a discussion group to an individual who would simply ask a question regarding an instrument. I do believe many of the contributing authors here, and those who just enjoy reading, would find far more value in hearing the technical specifics of what makes an instrument compelling or "junk". Allow me to demonstrate by minor and obvious example. Provide that a writer asks about a Palatino violin on ebay. The general reaction MAY be a flaming tirade against the product that could easily be perceived by the inquiring author as a personal assault. If this were a gathering of master luthiers for the sole purpose of sharing inside trade secrets; sort of a "masters only" club, one might reasonably expect to experience a less than welcoming reaction. On the other hand, if the intent is a forum that fosters both knowledge sharing and good discussion of shared passions, then one should be able to reasonably expect a more intelligent response than something that sends the message, "It's junk and you're ignorant for even asking!". I'm paraphrasing of course but looking back over some replies, one can easily see the "sneering" in some reactions. That some brand offerings or ebay products are clearly poor choices or even junk is inarguable. The point to be made is that, although repetitive, there is value in a few lines indicating why? A professional luthier can offer a wealth of information that the unsuspecting buyer may not even think about. Let's use the Palatino as one example. Assume a person asks about one being offered on ebay. I believe a good response would include not just the warning to avoid, but enlighten the person as to the general reasons why? Offer a line discussing laminated woods versus carved solid. A word or two about sprayed laquer versus rubbed oil varnish. It is a fair assumption that many first time violin buyers simply need a few tips that can get them moving in the right direction. I often see violins offered that have cracks or other blemishes with a disclaimer that "it is easily fixed", or has "no effect on sound quality". These are often false statements but in fact, are statements made by people representing themselves as professionals. It's hard for the consumer to question suggest otherwise if the person owns the music store offering the product. The bottom line, after much long-winded, albeit often interesting discussion, is there is far more worth in constructive criticism of a product than in implied criticism of the person asking about the product. Some of Michaels own replies to Norman are evidence of this. In example, "I would think the mark of a good scam is that the victim walks away without both money and realization. :-)". The message here is that Norman not only was taken advantage of but was too stupid to realize it after the fact. If thats not an arrogant attack, I'm at a loss to better explain what is. I have every confidence that Michael is a master in his craft and can and does offer excellent counsel. I apologize for picking on you with this one example Michael and am even willing to yield that there are far more examples where you have done far more good than harm. I use the unfortunate example only to make the point. The first message on page one of this thread is the starting example and the reason for my earlier dissertation. If I may, we have heard from many here offering arguments from both sides of the fence. Perhaps the discussion could now take a more productive and interesting turn if we practice by example the points of both sides. Take as example a relatively inexpensive violin, from ebay or any other source, post a few pictures, and let's see a bit of discussion regarding the technical merits, shortfalls, or other areas readers may find interesting. Let the pro's tear one apart (verbally) offering discussion on fingerboard angles, C-bout construction, maple versus spruce backs, finish impact on sound, etc, etc, etc. When a person asks about an ebay violin, I really doubt if they are truly asking if a $300.00 offering is a "real strad"... most certainly know better. I believe what they are really asking is, "what is this?, Is it worth the current bid price?, why not or why, and a miriad of other questions. Even those who have already purchased an instrument, regardless of source, may often wonder how their instrument "stacks up". Grist for the mill? Certainly not the mill of the preceding three pages; but perhaps the kind of grist students, hobbyists, and professionals will find pleasure in sharing. To those who supported my thoughts here, thank you. To those who did not, my best possible regards. To the moderators who may take exception, forgive me my sins of artistic inexperience but grant me a small right to consciencous objection in the spirit of good will and the public nature of such forums. It is in this vain that I extend my thanks to all who help and those seeking help as one without the other yields little of interest to any.
  3. Your point is well made Michael, but consider all the postings where people seeking information about a violin they saw on ebay start their inquiry with something like, "I know I'm going to be flamed for this, but... ". That's a fair context and is indicative of the mentality people are beginning to adopt. A mentality that implies, "if it isn't a $10,000 violin, don't even ask...". I really have to wonder if we forget that part of the blame is the manufacturing industry, not the retailer, wholesaler, or auctioneer. It's unfortunate that so many violins include a label that indicates the maker and year the copy is modeled after rather than the modern manufacturer and year of production. Why should the novice know this by default? If they see what appears to be an old german violin, it's labeled german inside, includes a well known name, and is dated hundreds of years ago, it seems perfectly reasonable that they would ask the simple question, is it real? It is certainly annoying to those who get the same type question over and over again, but it is probably just as annoying to the new buyer that the industry has chosen such a misleading means of labeling popular, contemporary instruments. Further, it is extremely unlikely that the novice could ever hope to distinguish a poorly kept 60 year old violin from one that is a better kept 200 year old instrument. If other, manufactured products were labeled and offered in a similar manner, there would be charges of fraud flying in all directions... but in the world of stringed, orchestra instruments, we instead point an arrogant finger of omniscience at the innocent and yell, "go ahead fool! There's one born every minute". Then, after years of stuffy conservatism and practiced alienation, we look around the music classrooms of the nation and wonder why we can't find enough kids to form a student orchestra... oh, thats right... they're all playing guitar and pointing fingers at the violinist shouting "geek" and "long-hair". It does at times make me glad my daughter avoided my own stringed passion and chose to play flute in the band. The arrogance levels are about 400% lower, 200% friendlier, and actually foster an environment that draws kids in. I personally play a "cheap" $1,800 violin that I'll put up against any of the so called masters that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. You know who can hear the difference or see the difference in craftsmanship? About 1 in every 50 million people on this planet, that's who. The vaster majority would say, "they both sound beautiful". I'd say the fool isn't the poor guy who wondered if a $600.00 ebay offering was real or at least, worth the $600.00 they were thinking of spending. I'd say it's the idiot that spent more on a 200 year old piece of dryed out maple and spruce than most families can afford for a house because he/she thought it had that "special flavor" in the upper registers! What a crock of self-righteous, arrogant, ****-and-bull. I'll tell you what a master luthier is.. it's someone like donuel that takes a $200.00 clunker, spends a few hours turning it into a very playable piece of art that he then offers on ebay for a cost commensurate with what the average player should be paying for an instrument, then spends a good part of his spare time answering reasonable questions by the novice and pro alike in a fun and illuminating manner. The good news is that there appears to be a lot of donuel's here and I applaud everyone of them. I further applaud the initial author of this thread for asking if the German offering on ebay was real, fake, worth the asking price or any other question. That the violin was of poor quality was worth mentioning. That the author should take any heat whatsoever for daring to ask before buying is deplorable. That the industry created the very question he asked by routinely labeling products in what is easily a manner misconstrued by the masses is only indicative of why so many refuse to give to the creative arts... we are sometimes far too "creative" in our means of generating income.
  4. There are actually some interesting points to be made about this "instrument". In particular, the carving on the back looks more like pressed leather than carved wood. I wonder if it's really made of wood? It's ugly, probably worth about $50.00, and possibly, fun to talk about over a beer or two. This will definately be hanging over someones fireplace in a dark family room real soon.
  5. I really think Norman has the right attitude about purchasing violins, whether from ebay or any other source. His point is not whether there exists the potential of a poor purchase on ebay, but rather, that ebay is a rich source of potential solutions for the entry level or possibly intermediate student. I have to agree. Ebay offers something else as well. It is probably the richest source of violin labels, real and otherwise, violin styles, and a wonderful source of comparative analysis anywhere in the world. That one will not generally see professional level $20,000 violins on ebay is of little concern to the dad who is trying to see if he can save a few bucks off the local mall music store charging $500.00 for a chinese violin he can buy on ebay for $125.00. For that same father to drop $800.00, $1,000 or even more on his eight year old kids first foray into music would be utterly ridiculous. One should also keep in mind that the VAST majority of Americans have no clue what a "luthier" is, or where to find a "good" violin shop. They generally end up at the mall or a local family owned music store (general purpose) and can select from an extremely limited number of makes and models. Ebay gives them a wonderful alternative, especially if the seller offers full returns. Yep Norman, I agree with your philosophy and think what you have done for kids speaks for itself. The source of your generosity isn't ebay... it's a simply a kind heart. I doubt if the kids who benefited ever cared whether the violins were from ebay, the mall, or the best of luthiers. Well done sir, I applaud you. If the "pro's" here wish to help, it may be better not to critique the individual questioning an ebay offer, but rather, to offer assistance in why a particular listing may be a poor choice. If it's a forum about violin hardware (versus playing & music), allow people to pose their questions freely and openly without feeling guilty that they dared to mention an instrument offered on ebay or any other forum. It may prove a wonderful educational opportunity for other readers to see constructive critiques of the instruments offered rather than destructive critiques of the source. They're not buying ebay.. they considering a violin and asking questions before doing so. Sounds prudent and reasonable. A "pro's" counsel is of little value if it is couched in haughty rhetoric implying the ignorant need not apply and a public internet forum is no place for the self-annointed professional to pontificate as though mastering the concepts of a stringed instrument bestows some power beyond mortal man or woman. To those literate and learned craftsman here who do take a moment to answer the fair minded questions of the entry level students, the curious and the fellow luthiers, well done, thank you, and keep up the wonderful work. Your answers and assistance is worth more than a truckload of genuine strads. Regards all. [This message has been edited by ShadowHawk (edited 03-16-2001).]
  6. There may be more value to this violin shaped creature than one would believe. Have you priced a cord of firewood lately... especially the cut/split/delivered variety. This ones already 23 1/2 inches... perfect for the conventional fireplace!
  7. I agree... your music is very pleasant and I enjoyed your rendition. I must also agree though that the filename was less than flattering and certainly inaccurate. Many of us will strive long and hard to acquire even part of your skill and you have set a wonderful example for others here to follow. Well done and please post a bit more when time allows.
  8. Now that is interesting. Not quite sure what you mean by the "bowl" shaped back. I like the taller arch on the top. My own violin is arched sharply across the f-holes in the same manner and produces an incredibly deep, loud sound. I demonstrated to my father one day (he's over seventy with minimal hearing!), comparing mine to a cheap student version and he commented that it sounded like it was connected to an amplifier. It certainly can hold it's own in a large hall and requires a mute in the confines of a smaller room. I asked my local luthier what caused the incredible depth and volume as compared to similar models in his shop. He responded, "I can't really say, I guess it's just a freak!". I'll count my blessings.
  9. I truly believe there are some things that many of us simply cannot appreciate until we reach an age which yields the patience required to actually see, feel, taste or hear the intrinsic value being offered. it is very unusual to see children spend hours, absorbed by a painting in an art museum. As for starting violin at 22...well, I've got socks older than that! I started at 45... a particularly young age to begin something I intend to enjoy for the rest of my life. Best Regards
  10. I decided early on that vibrato was just "too hard"... tickled my teacher one day by taping my pager, set to vibrate, to the top of my third finger... it didn't help my vibrato but did break some of the tension associated with the difficulty of learning. Gotta keep grinning!
  11. here's another I thought would merit some interesting comments. http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?V...item=1416641174 . Is it real or a copy? One often can see a name stamped on the back, ala Stainer... what does it tell you about the violin? The incredibly dark stain... how much is due to aging and how much is the original color? Does this type of heavy, dark stain lend itself in anyway to tone? Not really looking for specific answers to these questions but rather, just posting examples of questions others might find worthy of discussion.
  12. Ah, I chose badly for a first example and perhaps missed my point. Mark_W posted this evening with a better example at http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?V...item=1415472253 . I was fascinated by his comments regarding the hints a label can yield and would have enjoyed hearing more discussion regarding the design features of the instrument. I think it does make the point though. Perhaps the local pro's could offer their own ebay examples to demonstrate the "what" and "why"'s of what a specific violin interesting, or a bad copy. The attempts at dating and family history are always interesting as well. I've seen quite a bit of this here on maestronet but again, it tends to be extremely rare or high dollar examples. Readers might better enjoy more common or contemporary examples with direction regarding the attributes of such insruments. As Donuel so aptly pointed out, there are generally several catagories of ebay buyers (and readers) and many are parents, students and other "common" folk such as myself. Just a thought.
  13. Very interesting point you make regarding the hints a label can yield. I found the f-holes of this violin interesting in that they nearly lacked any bridge alignment notches at all. The left (viewing the picture)looks more like fine lines than notches and the right f-hole appears to have no notching at all and is clearly wider and roughed out a bit. Looks like someone struggled to install a sound post or was it designed this way to facilitate sound post access? I would have guessed "junk" was the appropriate catagory. The pegs protrude a bit much as well... likely replacements?
  14. Donuel, Excellent write up and counsel. I am more the player (and poor at that) than the luthier but have a personal fascination with the design and creation of the violin. I too often peruse ebay and have made a couple of purchases there. Your letter does spark an idea though. I believe there would be tremendous interest in having experts such as yourself use ebay examples to demonstrate the "good" versus "bad". Not just a disussion of the value (in dollars) of an instrument, but more specifically, the architectural details of a an instrument that a learned artist can identify. Use ebay examples (photos and descriptions) to identify excellent purfling versus poor implementations, variations in scroll design, top arch and expected impact on tone, fingerboard materials, angle and anticipated intonation effect. I believe it would be very interesting for members to highlight a specific violin on ebay then have the pro's offer discussion on the virtues, failings and various qualities of some of the offerings. Those offered with no label would be particularly interesting to attempt identification of style and quality and/or problem features. This would be quite an education and ebay offers a tremendous source of photos to demonstrate the variations. Using classic photos of extremely expensive old masters can be interesting but represent violins out of reach for most of us. Ebay offers a source of critical opportunities of products more in line with the average purchasers pocket book or just the amateur or aspiring maker. I'll offer an example for fun and see if any interest shows itself... http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?V...indexURL=0&rd=1
  15. You are clearly happy with the instrument you have. The desire to acquire a second, perhaps different, instrument appears to be a bit short-sighted, particularly given that you have little time to spare. I'll grant you an idea that will yield pleasure beyond your own years. Find a small child, relative or otherwise, whose parents cannot afford a violin. Buy a nice student violin for this child and offer to pay for one year of lessons. The child would take one lesson a week from an instructor, and spend one hour additional per week working with you. In time, this child will master a skill that will yield the same pleasure you currently enjoy and that, assuming a long life, will outlive your own. Additionally, once the child achieves a reasonable level of skill, you will be able to enjoy playing duets together! Something you could never do alone, even after you buy that second instrument. What do you think? [This message has been edited by ShadowHawk (edited 03-10-2001).]
  16. Okay donuel; I'll admit complete ignorance in the art of the luthier. I've got an excellent violin that sounds better than my poor skills will ever match but I have to admit that I find the lake forest violin fascinating. I wish luthiers would do more of this kind of thing (not just the enamel crap you see on "pretty" Giglas). I'd like to think the violin itself is a nice player as well as aesthetically interesting. I may have to bid on this thing just to find out! <grin>...
  17. Thanks for the information Tenor. As I said earlier, it appears that I'll be going to Jacob for my second violin. If it's even close to my first I'll be more than satisfied. Your experience sounds reasonable and is consistent with other comments I've read. Thanks again and best of luck. Mark [This message has been edited by ShadowHawk (edited 03-05-2001).]
  18. Thanks for the feedback. It does help. JackJack, I think you were describing the primo violins rather than Gliga though you were't specific. I'll search the rest of the postings for other info on Gliga. I've written Jacob and found him to be very responsive. Others here have also spoken very highly of his products and his business practices. I imagine that is where I'll be going for my next violin. The one I have is an amazing instrument, well beyond my novice capabilities, but I believe by purchasing a semi-high end instrument it will set the bar of desireable achievement that much higher. I'm a life long classical guitarist (over 35 years!) and have just recently started playing the violin. I am loving every minute of it and find it a truly fascinating instrument. Thanks again for the feedback and your time and thoughts. Mark
  19. Greetings all. I'm researching a second violin and am interested in anyone has a bit of experience with the two general makes. One is the Primo series made in China. These are often offered in a "select" model on ebay for around 300-400 dollars including a pernambuco bow and psuedo-leather case. A good example can be seen at http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?V...indexURL=0&rd=1 on ebay. This same violin is allegedly sold for $900.00 on the sellers Primo violins website. One must wonder if they are getting a nice $900 package for under $400, or $400 is the real value of the package. I would think a good case and pernambuco bow (even at the low end) would bring half the $359.00 bid price! I'm comparing to the Gliga violins offered by jacob at the violincollectors web site and another found at the ViolinLovers site at http://www.violinslover.com/gama4_4violins.html These also appear to retail for well over a thousand dollars but again, can be bought on ebay for less than half that value. I'm still puzzled as to the true intent and value of these instruments. More fundamentally, I would greatly appreciate any information regarding tonal quality, playability and value of the Gliga professional series versus the Primo select series. As these two are quite often offered on ebay, some professional input regarding value would likely be appreciated by many others as well.
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