The Black Prince

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About The Black Prince

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  1. A.C. The ways in which it can be a "problem" are many and varied. For example, very many people have discovered that PayPal and Ebay are not the most secure websites in the world for protecting all of your personal details. They hold your address, credit card number and various other details. Identity theft via these organisations is a distinct risk - and when it does happen (as it often does) and you are trying to sort it out, you will discover that you are dealing with a faceless organisation, who will ignore your emails or send unhelpful standardised responses, and who will not provide you with easily usable telephone or even postal contact details. And seriously beware if PayPal is holding your money - such as when you sell something on eBay and they operate their "free float" policy, i.e. you lend them money free of interest for 30 days whilst they "protect the buyer". When a potentially or actually disreputable buyer objects, PayPal acts as judge, jury and executioner. And as they have the free float they don't exactly rush to deal with your complaint. There is a reason why organisations like this register their businesses in offshore largely unregulated countries such as Luxembourg - and you may be sure that this reason has nothing to do with protecting YOUR interests. In Europe, Ebay and Paypal use third party letter boxes for post handling, and they make even these addresses difficult to obtain. They filter complaints through these third party handling systems resulting in obfuscation, delay and lack of accountability. Check it out for yourself. I am a legal financial services professional in my day job, and this is a violin forum and not the place for a detailed dissertation on largely unregulated financial services activities. But if you do a web search on problems with both eBay and especially PayPal you will see that there are vast numbers of disgruntled people out there who have struggled to deal with these organisations. It is all smiles when things are going well - but a very different story when consumers have a problem that requires intervention from someone who does not have an axe to grind. Most transactions are small ticket so people do not bother pursuing many of the disputes. I would never transact anything costly on ebay as a purchaser where I cannot pick the item up in person and pay for it on collection. I would not use PayPal period. I agree, by the way, that using your credit card for purchases affords the transactional protection under the law that credit card companies must abide by. They are properly regulated.
  2. Personally I find it amazing that anyone uses Ebay for anything more than trivial items or PayPal at all. Paypal operates as a financial services business and is largely if not completely unregulated. It does not publish readily available addresses for the service of legal notices, it has no readily available telephone contact numbers and it prefers to set itself up in territories where it has no banking or financial services regulations to comply with. There is no independent monitoring, arbitration or appeals service. In respect to PayPal Ebay operates in a managerially disingenuous way. Both organisations have a vast track record of complaints. Both are very insecure in a world where internet fraud is increasing. With the dreadful reputation it has among properly regulated financial services providers, I would not dream of using PayPal for anything. You have no meaningful recourse when things go wrong. And they often do.
  3. On the other hand....$80. I am pretty much paying that just for a set of strings!
  4. Glenn I have had a look on-line at the GL cases too. They are in fact being stocked by a German dealer (Paganino) and the canvas and leather version is €599 with the somewhat heavier all leather version being €899. This includes free German delivery (which is fine with me). The German dealer is very cagey about country of origin! I looked at your link but their web site provides very few details, and I am struggling to find out specification of the cases, even basic things like do they include a string tube and is the carcass made of plywood. The quality of finish looks superb. I may email them direct.
  5. I think it is a question that frequently crops up and expert information would help. You would be surprised at some of the stuff retail shops come out with! Including utter nonsense about where cases are made (allegedly Germany, in fact China in the example I have in mind). I suspect that the only people who really care about cases are serious players who have a violin that they value. The student market is not bothered I would guess. Incidentally, the Riboni maker in Cremona finally got back to me. It is impossible to make sense of his web site until you get access to the private area - which is achieved with a password etc that he sends. Everything is custom made, slightly confusing as to what is included and what is an extra, and as far as I can see from the photographs, made to an extremely high standard. Same sort of pricing roughly as Musafia. Probably a bit better quality, if the fittings are anything to go by, this being an area where many case makers skimp. The other area they skimp on is edge binding for the canvas covers. I shall get a quote from Mr. Riboni and see where we go.
  6. Why is Nickel regarded as a cheap fitting in this context? In many applications it is regarded as a premium material because it is light, it looks good, does not tarnish, and is very durable. Isn't silver and gold is just bling really, adding nothing to the musical functionality?
  7. Well gold is trading around $1065 and silver around $16. I think that is a fairly significant difference.... Nickel is less than silver but the difference would be peanuts on a bow. I guess it depends how much you value the bling factor.
  8. Get a good quality electronic tuner with a proper needle scale like a Korg GT12. This will give you very accurate pitch measurement and pitch generation for all strings. Works on all instruments and can be calibrated. I use one daily for violin and guitars, both at home and out and about. If you need to vary pitch for other purposes, something like an Intelli IMT-310 also enables you to very easily generate exact frequencies in increments of 1Hz either side of 440. It too will also measure the frequency of your strings very exactly. And it tells you the temperature, humidity and is a very good metronome. However, you cannot calibrate it if you wish to check perfect accuracy. That said, mine is spot on. Cheap electronic tuners are more fallible in my experience.
  9. Thanks for that link! I do have a couple of Taylors as it happens. Good guitars for stage use etc. I admire the way this guy has got his point across. The video has had getting on for 8 million viewings so for the sake of spending about $5,000 replacing the guitar and case, United Airlines have bought themselves a shed load of negative publicity. I do tend to use flight cases if instruments have to go in the hold. They survive pretty much anything and the guitar is held in suspension. The necks are more vulnerable than violins, due to weight and length.
  10. Glenn I am surprised you have not heard of Jakob Winter cases. Here is the web address: I understand that they have been in business for a long time and they are well known in Europe. However, they have in recent years started producing a lot of cases in China. Many of these are rather cheap. I can't help thinking that this undermines what was a respected brand. Only their top two cases are hand-made in Germany now. They do look well made - but as is often the case, the quality of some fittings is less than optimal. For example the turn buttons for holding the bows in place are cheap, low quality plastic. Tubbs cases are hand-made in a small "cottage industry" operation in the UK. I think it is essentially a husband and wife team. Tubbs is an ex Hill employee who made cases for them. As was Goodge I believe. His web link is broken - so the web site does not load at the moment (which is brilliant marketing). A few premium violin dealers stock Tubbs cases in the UK. I don't think there is any link to the bowmaker - merely a co-incidental name, though I may be wrong. Thanks for the info about the Taiwanese case makers. I will look into them. I find the whole violin case thing quite interesting. I have about 30 cases for guitars and other instruments. Guitar players do not make a big deal out of cases - however, many of them are excellent. They are usually supplied with the guitar by the maker and I have no idea who makes the cases. For example I have some vintage and modern Fender electric guitars with tweed and plywood cases, trimmed with leather, that have been all over the world numerous times as both hand luggage and in aircraft holds, and are absolutely excellent as well as good looking.
  11. It seems to me, that many cheaper violins aimed at students, place a high priority on cosmetics to the detriment of other more fundamental factors. I have seem quite a few such violins in (for example) school music classes and school orchestras, that are made of basically, bent plywood. They look like violins and the surface veneer can be quite nice. Painted on purfling or badly cut purfling grooves with a lot of filler in them. Black filler around the nut and under the fingerboard. Poorly fitting pegs. Obviously machine cut scrolls. Fingerboards that are not true. Misaligned tailpieces. Etc. But looking quite nice at first glance. I think that by and large you get what you pay for. Serious musicians (whether pro or amateur) need an instrument that is robust, comfortable to play and has good tone and volume. There must be a point where the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Eventually we are paying for the "name" or of perceived better quality due to age or country of origin. I don't know where that point is and I guess it differs from person to person. Almost any sales material that I read on websites selling musical instruments, is questionable. Sellers over represent routinely.
  12. Glenn Thanks for your reasoned response. You are quite right of course. In practice carting the violin about on a motorbike has no more vibration issues or problems from speed, than in a car, or train. Or stagecoach for that matter. My concern is that if I drop the bike, I am OK about a $700 (or whatever case) being destroyed, but the violin will cost me anything up to €20,000 to replace and it will take at least a year for a new one from the same maker. Now, if I drop the bike, the case will get a big hit on one or other end. Hence I want the body of the violin as far away from the end as possible. The scroll will usually be secure as the body is held in place inside a shaped former. The only good quality case that I have seen so far that actually delivers this is the new (2009) Musafia Momentum. This is because the lidded compartment is at the tail end rather than teh more usual scroll end. I had a good look at one today in a dealer. He also had a handmade Jakob Winter German case that was clearly better made, and was a fifth cheaper, but that offered less protection in the sort of circumstances I might encounter. As my fiance is German this was clearly a better choice! The Winter case had 7 ply marine timber rather than the 5 ply Musafia. Better quality brass fittings, a superb pocket for the back strap (with no metal bits poking out to scratch bike alloys or car paintwork). Clearly well made and also with a lifelong guarantee. However, they have managed to devalue the brand a LOT by having most of their cases made in China, selling them for about $80 - $150, and generally creating the impression that they have a Rolls Royce product offered by what is basically a Toyata dealer. The dealer clearly thought the Winter was much better than the Musafia. But the Musafia was nicer looking. I admit I am swayed by aesthetics more than I should be and can rationalise all sorts of things to support my preference. I can't help thinking though that Musafia put aesthetics ahead of more important things (to me) such as the quality of the brass fittings. I also looked at the Musafia International case which is a bit cheaper, as it is made in China. Not really LOTS cheaper so not enough to sway me. It is noticeably less robust, especially at the corners, than the Italian made Momentum. The International says "designed and finished in Italy" on it. Inexplicably it does not say "but all timber components are made in China from who knows what quality plywood". Odd that. (Though Winter obfuscate even more with their range, most of which are made in China, but the labelling implies they are made in Germany.) Bam (French) does not float my boat. A plastic shell (or whatever composite) is unsuitable. I don't like them, and anything with a shiny exterior will not bungee to a bike very well. Creates an accident waiting to happen. I emailed Riboni last week. No response so far. I know that two UK dealers have tried to represent them, but Riboni do not respond. Hence there are no UK dealers. It is a shame as I expect they are top notch. I also saw a couple of UK made Tubbs cases today. Very similar to the Goodge cases in construction. Tough and well made. And leather neck ties instead of horrible velcro that everyone else uses. But the canvas outer covering is so badly finished with horribly cheap plastic vinyl edging, that I cannot bring myself to buy one. Serious lapse of taste from this ex-Hill man and his wife (who stitches the canvas coverings). The odd thing is that I am not even all that price sensitive. I don't mind paying top dollar for a good product that meets my needs. Too many manufacturers spout the "quality" mantra, but don't quite deliver it in various areas. If I could buy a Goodge, I would. Second hand is fine. They seem to be like hens teeth though. I am ruminating for a few days.
  13. I am just beginning to learn violin too. I come from a background of being an advanced pianist (classical) and guitarist (mainly electric) and have taught quite a few advanced students guitar. Particularly with guitar I am familiar with physical and on-line teaching methods. I have looked at all of the readily available on-line violin resources, but I am actually having lessons from a teacher. In my own experience you can learn to play violin on-line. BUT it will hamper your progress significantly. I would strongly urge you to get some lessons from a good teacher to begin with. (With the emphasis on good!) The teacher will ensure that you do not start off with faults and habits that you will be unaware of that will later be time consuming and possibly difficult to correct. These range from posture, bow hold, bow balance, bowing techniques, left hand positioning (thumb and finger articulation etc) and so on. Faults with these can easily creep into your playing without you realising. You may even think you are doing it right. It is also extremely helpful to have a teacher demonstrate passages and techniques to you, as well as accompany you on the violin and / or piano, which is invaluable for both tempo and intonation. There will be many passages, perhaps just a bar or two, where the optimum or correct bowing techniques and strokes will confuse you at first, and a teacher can iron these out in short order. A further benefit is that a teacher can motivate and "push" you, quite often well beyond what you might imagine you are capable of. Their knowledge of appropriate repertoire helps quite a lot here. In my own case I am practising two, or perhaps three hours a day (in several short segments - for concentration reasons) and having a one hour lesson weekly. The lesson time goes by in a flash. Progress is rapid because I can read music fluently, but even so there is a LOT of technique to learn. In my view you are at risk of wasting a large amount of your playing time on ineffective and inefficient practice if you do not get some early guidance from a good teacher. It would be no exaggeration for me to say that my teacher has probably advanced my progress threefold compared to what I would have achieved on my own had I chosen the internet route. Time is one of the most valuable commodities we have. It is a shame to waste many hours of it for the lack of investment in at least some lessons to begin with. If you really cannot afford a teacher, then at least try to buddy up with another violin student who is more advanced than you.
  14. Having asked around quite a bit now, the perspective I am getting in England is this: Many orchestral / quartet players think Gordge is the best. Unfortunately the founder died a couple of years ago and the name was sold to a Canadian firm with minimal marketing presence now. Hence new cases are unavailable in the UK. Musafia is very well known and highly regarded, though considered expensive. Longevity and the related subject of customer service are both highly praised. Having inspected my teacher's Gordge and Musafia, they look rather similar to me. The Gordge was more expensive originally but apparently superb in use. Jaeger has much less brand recognition as a case manufacturer in the UK. Two people have warned me off the leather cases because they are heavy and more especially because the loose (as opposed to fixed) canvas cover and music pocket are inconvenient in use. In any event, as noted by the poster above, Jaeger are no longer made independently. I am not persuaded by a Gewa rebranding exercise for a premium product. Respected UK violin dealers who stock a good range of cases (I have spoken to two) both said that in terms of protection and functionality, once one pays above about £220 there is little to choose between the likes of BAM, Gewa and Musafia: they are all good. It then becomes a matter of preference as to how much one is willing to pay for the level of finish and appointment, and whether one places a premium on European craftsmanship. However, the subject of longevity and guarantee is a factor. BAM for example (who stupidly, in my opinion, depict all of their cases in monochrome on their website so one has little idea of internal aesthetics) only has a two year guarantee. Likewise Gewa. Musafia on the other hand has a lifetime guarantee for their Cremonese made cases (though not the Chinese assembled International series - which is two years) and a solid reputation for standing behind their cases with free repairs. This aspect adds credence to the lifetime warranty. One could argue that I could buy two BAM's for the price of one Musafia, and that takes care of the guarantee and longevity issue. This is logical if the protection is the same. I have ignored the light bulb story. Bit of a marketing disaster that though, as it is all over the internet forums when one searches for references to BAM. Of considerable importance to me is the suspension system and shell protection. I strap my case to the back of a high performance motorcycle on occasions. Hence there is vibration, and a degree of exposure to the elements (though I use a plastic cover as well on my present case). My biggest concern is that if I drop the bike (i.e. fall off) I would very much like my violin to survive, even if the case is ruined. This is well worth an extra couple of hundred pounds / dollars to me and will be the deciding factor when I make my mind up soon. Lightness is important, because a heavy case is inevitably less secure on the back of the bike. The Riboni cases look very good on the website, similar to Musafia aesthetically, but there is no pricing information and it is difficult to differentiate between his different cases. Hence I have emailed them and will await their recommendation and pricing. I expect that they too have a lifetime guarantee. For reasons that are largely romantic rather than logical, I am attracted to the idea of a Cremonese case for a Cremonese violin.
  15. Thanks Bruce. I will contact him. Thanks too LaFolia. I didn't connect 2009 with being a new model.