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Mozart

Garrett Pate Violins

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quote:

Quite a few Maestronet members seem to have bought instruments from Garrett. Did any of you receive an email from him offering to make you an instrument (without you contacting him first)?
[/b]

I almost won the auction on his very first ste cecile viola. (about $1,400 0r so) I had contacted him during the auction to ask about the viola. I lost by a nickle to Dale Elkiss. (he's here on maestronet) Garrett then e-mailed me asking if he could make me a viola. He wanted $3,500, but I could not afford that. I told him that my boss (a violn maker) wouldn't let me buy an instrument for that much because I could just make one.

Thats when he offered $1,500 and I said go. He later called me and we spoke about the viola and other things. I was totally under the impression that my viola was being handmade from scratch. Boy was I wrong. My boss immediately noticed that it wasn't a "makers" instrument and that it looked like a shop viola from china. frown.gif

I'm disappointed. I wont buy from him, or recommend him to anyone.

I'm going to go eat now.

-Archinto-

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I just got my Pate Ste Cecile viola on thursday. and i have to say, its the best sounding viola i've heard up to about $12,000. The instrument is beautiful (a little dark for my taste, but that's just me being picky). The instrument is very loud, and actually projects. i played a concert last night, and while we were warming up (about three of us were playing on a break) i actually could hear my instrument filling the theatre (small theatre, but still, my old viola wouldnt have done it). Everyone who has played the viola has been enamored with it, as has everyone who's heard me play it. I really cant thank Garrett enough (cept for the shipping delays, but i know how that is...my life has been semi hectic lately as well.) If you all would be interested i'll do a full review of the viola in another thread like another member did about his Pate violin.

Thanks Garrett!!!

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I have rather mixed feelings myself about my Pate violin. I called Garrett before getting it and was assured that it was completely handmade in Tennessee. The violin I received matches more the kind of violin described above than a completely handmade violin. It does sound very good, now that I've done plenty of work on it. I'm still not terribly fond of the neck and may have to reshape that. But I'm picky. My main concern is the direct representation that the instruments are made completely in Tennessee if that isn't entirely accurate. I'm also bothered by Garrett's failure to remedy his misdescription on the case. He described a suspension case as coming with the violin, but I received a non-suspension case, just a cheap oblong. Very cheap. No suspension cushions. Garrett dismissed this by indicating it was a suspension case because of the single cushion on the lid. Incorrect answer! I really hope he gets these issues resolved appropriately with all current and past customers. We're entitled to get what we paid for!

Steve

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Steve,

I recieved the same type of case with my viola. VEEEERY cheap. I did a trade in with my boss (+ a little cash) to get a really nice weber case. What line is the violin from? I have an "early" secile, and he had told me that it was handmade from scratch. My viola has two cracks which were there when it was sent to me. I had to:

repair those 2 saddle cracks

cut a new bridge

reshape the neck

put in new pegs

relieve the saddle

repair wood and purfling damage by the saddle

When I told him the cracks were there, he said they were for "effect" mad.gif The viola sounds fine, but I'm going to sell it when I make my own.

-Archinto-

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A question has been put forth and an assertion made.

First, let me apologize to Mozart and any others who were concerned that I have remained incommunicado. We have suffered through two funerals out of town, as well as relocated our residence in the last few weeks. I hope that you can understand that picking up all of the loose threads will continue to take time.

Evidently, the question is, are Ste. Cecile line of instruments scratch made. On the face of it I find it a somewhat surprising question. I obviously make and sell too many instruments each year to have made them all from scratch. Additionally, it has been stated on my web site for years that these instruments start with parts roughed out by hand, overseas. (Currently, we are rebuilding the website and there remains a great deal of information yet to be included.) That the question would arise is a compliment to my craft and I thank you for it, but the facts have been publicly broadcast and freely given from the begining. While I have not intentionally done so, if some one has mistaken my discussion of the handmade aspects of these instruments with scratch building them, I appologize.

The idea all along has been that it is possible to create a higher quality, better sounding and playing, more esthetically beautiful, more affordable instrument than has been previously available.

Quality and value are my paradigms. There seems to have been so many lazy, greedy offerings of instruments in the market place.At one point, it became clear to me that I could do a great deal better and that I could bring these instruments to the player for less money.

There are many new instruments listing for up to $5,000.00 usd hanging on a wall in a shop somewhere that suffer from a complete lack of personality. Sterile mechanized scroll cutting, average flame and grain, varnishes that are over thinned and even sprayed on, or worse yet, simply clear coated with who knows what over some stain in the wood. We see instruments with graduations that are programed into a CNC router somewhere in Germany or further East that are guided by statistical analysis meant to maximize durability and minimize cracks. These instruments are built to make money, not sound. There is a dearth of art and craft in them.

I am rather protective of the particulars of my craft and business, as there are innovations that I have created as a long time student of the craft of violins making and the market place for stringed instruments. So you will have to accept and excuse the fact that I am bound by proprietary constraints as far as disclosing everything about how I do what I do.

I do have parts roughed out by hand in order to save time on the basic wood work. I am very particular about the wood that I accept. I then do what many others don't. I let the wood speak to me. I let it tell me its vibration, its tone, what sort of color of varnish it wants, what antiquing if any. I let the wood choose the level of refinement of the varnish system. Sometimes the wood wants coarse coats of varnish with brush marks with not much rubbing. Other wood craves a highly polished, very transparent varnish with many layers of top coat to enhance the appearance of depth. The wood has personality! All wood has personality! Of course, just like people, some wood has a really ugly personality. But you won't find me using any of that!

In addition, I take the opportunity to remove all of the excess and unnecessary wood on the interior of the instrument. Corner blocks get a treatment, the lining gets a treatment, the neck and end blocks get a treatment. The interior gets smoothed down. In the end, each instrument is a unique, lean work of art. Each one is unique even before the optional ornimentation is added. That is what a player buys when they buy a Garrett Pate Violins violin, viola, cello or bass. A unique hand crafted instrument that has been indulged and doted over in the crafting process.

My instruments sound wonderful. They also play exceptionally well. All of the handwork, and dare I say it, love that go into my instruments is visible as beauty or is audible as a beautiful and unique tone. These are exceptional instruments. They are not completed in a factory over seas, painted and set up in America and offered as something special.

Pricing has been raised as an "issue". I work with my mind, my heart and my hands to craft these instruments. I deserve to be fairly remunerated for the labor that I put into them. Implicit in the labor is value. That value is based on expertise and my expertise begets quality.

The value that I bring to to the creation of an instrument is the cumulative expertise that I bring to bear on the practice of the craft: my original studies with Charles Fox in 1979 in Vermont, my subsequent years of collecting, repairing and building musical instruments as a hobbyist, my indepth study of the market and craft while repeatedly traveling throughout Italy, Germany, Austria, Holland, England, France, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia ... In the practice of my profession I have amassed a significant collection of the literature of the history of violins, their makers and the craft. All of this combined with my experience acquiring antique instruments at auction and in Europe and the intimacy of caring for them has matured into concepts that are manifest in the personal traits and style that is crafted into my work. What the enlightened instrumentalist acquires when they buy a Garrett Pate Violins violin, viola, cello or bass is MY interpretation of the craft based upon my experience.

I might also mention here that the market seems to have been rewarding me well for the value of the work that I do. I have had only two instruments returned for warranty work: two! (By the way Steve Perry (Flemenco) why have you not mentioned that I requested that you return the case under your warranty if you had ANY problem with it?) I have many satisfied customers who know well that they have gotten a great deal more in an instrument than they bargained or PAID for. My customers love me, they love my work and they love my instruments. There is a lot of feed back to this effect in this thread, in this forum and in others like it. In fact, the only dissent that I see is by folks who are competitors, are students trying to learn the craft from a competitor, or are obviously loyal to a competitor.

I prefer to make instruments, tend to my business, family and friends and play music when I can. I have no desire to become a "personality" on the Internet. Maestronet is a public forum that I have chosen to keep as a untainted pool of opinion regarding my work. By untainted, I mean free of my own self-promotion. I could spend a great deal of time on Maestronet trying to impress. I do not. I would have no credibility, nor would the discussion here, if I tried to "edit" and "spin" these discussions in a self serving way. The public is best served by the honest opinions of unaffiliated folks who have acquired instruments. I also need to know if I have a failing in my practice of the craft or business. Many others with varying degrees of subtlty and acumen toot thier own horns. There are many who use these public forums to try to build a reputation of expertise for themselves, often at the expense of those who actually have some. I prefer to let my instruments and my customers do the talking.

I would like to take this opportunity to announce that we will be releasing a Gagliano model 4/4 violin in the near future. Keep an eye out for it!

Ciao,

Garrett

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quote:

In fact, the only dissent that I see is by folks who are competitors, are students trying to learn the craft from a competitor, or are obviously loyal to a competitor.

Garrett, Just because I work for another maker doesn't mean that I am loyal only to him and his instruments. I just want a viola that has the right sound. The viola I bought from you is a good instrument. It'll last me a while, but it just doesn't "cut the butter" right, you know what I mean?

I'm not trying to insult or anything, I'm just still on the quest to finding the "perfect instrument". I know you understand. smile.gif

-Archinto-

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Mr. Pate:

I apologize for the TONE of my earlier posts, especially in light of your losses-I am sorry. Thank you for your reply and I'll save up to afford one of your beautiful violas.

Respectfully,

Paul

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Regarding my observations on the violin, see my earlier post. It does sound very nice now. It will, should I decide to keep the instrument, require additional work.

Regarding the suspension case, Mr. Pate denied that it wasn't a suspension case via email and denied having anything but suspension cases made for him. Little point in returning one non-suspension oblong to receive another. A suspension case has three cushions (two support the back and one holds the chinrest/tailpiece down) and a neck strap to keep the back off the case bottom. This case had one cushion on the lid; the back sits directly against the case bottom. Mr. Pate incorrectly holds that the single cushion makes it a suspension case. Amusing and surprising.

My expectation was to receive a luthier-built violin completely carved in Tennessee at Pate's shop by him and his staff, as stated in several previous communications via phone and email; also strongly implied by the version of the web site I looked at. What I received is more akin to a Doetsch or other souped-up production violin. But it does sound very good with a properly fitted soundpost and Infeld blue strings. Better sound than the Doetsch and equivalents.

Steve

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Garrett,

I extend my deepest sympathies. I also stand by my previous posts insofar as I believe the instrument you built for me is truly superb in every aspect (and dollars to donuts worth every Big Apple penny I paid for it).

Thank you for taking the time and replying to the questions and concerns addressed by my original post.

Sincerely,

Mozart

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My condolences to you and your family. One of the hardest things is to please all people all the time. An instrument is such a personal thing to the Maker as well as the Player. Your reputation is well earned as testified by many here.

I would love to try your instruments in the future.

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Mr. Pate, thanks for responding to the concerns here. I hope to be able to try out one of your beautiful instruments some day when I can afford to buy one.

I do have a lot of experience on ebay and my advice is this. Don't make listings that scream no reserve and start at $1.00 unless you are prepared to take $1.00 for the item. Ending an auction because you're afraid the bid won't get high enough is not a good reason to do this, and word will get around by the disgruntled. Contacting these bidders and offering the item for a higher price is also bad form. You need to set a high opening bid or a reserve to protect your investment. You certainly deserve to be appropriately compensated for your violin or viola so don't risk these kinds of auctions. You have a sterling reputation in the string community, and I would not like to see it damaged over something like this.

Best to you,

Lisa

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I read all the comments here with a great deal of interest. It seems it takes little to appease the minds. The question remains as to whether there has been misrepresentation before purchase rather than after the fact. I am not totally swayed that Pate has sufficiently covered what seems to be misrepresentation, whether disguised or not, nor am I totally convinced that months of less than satisfactory cutomer service could be simply dismissed by death or relocation. Something still rings hollow based on the experiences of more than a few people.

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I would go even further than Lisa in her remarks on eBay: Listing an item with no reserve, and then pulling it because the bid hasn't gone as high as you'd like, is not merely bad form, it is unethical. It is also against eBay's rules, I believe, and if you do it repeatedly it can result from being banned from the service -- and it *should*. Reserves and starting bids exist specifically to protect the seller -- and to let the buyer know what the true price of an item is going to be.

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The E-Bay motto is "Let the Buyer Beware." Now I see an addendum is needed "Let the Seller Beware." Aside from the legal and ethical commitment, an explanation and appology is due to each bidding participant, at least in my opinion.

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quote:

Originally posted by lwl:

I would go even further than Lisa in her remarks on eBay:

Well, I'm relatively new here and trying to be polite. wink.gif

Dealing on ebay is risky. I've done very well at times and been burned some others. The most painful ones are where there have been system outages when my auctions were ending, but did not last 2 hours so did not qualify for the 1 day extension. Ouch! really painful when most bidding happens in the last hour. But, thems the breaks! Of course, I never complain when I'm the lucky recipient on the buying end.

Have a great day,

Lisa

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I've learned a lot from this conversation. Long ago, I learned that you get what you pay for! Lots of folks seem to have fallen for the deal which is "too good to be true". Well, folks, if it sounds "too good to be true", then it is. I can't fault Garrett Pate for this.

But having said that, unless he lived virtually next door, I'd never buy a violin from him unless I knew it was going to be "HIS", and I would expect to pay accordingly.

But why would I do that? If I go to my local luthier and he is an honest man (in this case Henry Bischofberger, but the same would be true of David Stone in Seattle), he'd show me a range of violins, from a range of makers, be able to tell me "what's under the hood" if I want to know, compare them myself, and have them compared for me, and have an honest evaluation regarding what can be done to maximize them. He'd be right there recommending strings, different chinrests if I needed, and be prepared to change bridges, adjust soundposts, fix pegs, etc. And he will be there next year, and the next, and the next, and will take my violin in trade-in (in essence, he loaned it to me.)

So why would I even consider going to Garrett?

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I have pretty much the same feelings about this as shintinik. Two weeks ago I went to a violin shop in town, only the third one I've ever been to, and all I had to say was that I was a builder and I wanted to look at other new handbuilt violins and within three minutes they had brought out around 20 new handbuilt violins in the $5,000 to $15,000 price range for me to check out, and they knew that there wasn't any chance that I would buy anything. As soon as I left the shop I started asking myself why should anyone drive two hours out into the country just to see one of my violins when they can stay in the city and see twenty all in one place? My advice if you are looking for a new or used instrument is to go find a good shop to visit because it'll be worth the trouble of getting there.

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I am a long-time "lurker", 50 something who took up the violin about 5 years ago. Needless to say, it has been a challenge. I did want to pass along my experience with Mr. Pate. I purchased his "LaMadonna" violin on (gasp) eBay in early February. Shipping was delayed almost two weeks before I again heard from him. His earlier post certainly explains the delay. I think many of us have been in similar circumstances and understand the reason. Nonetheless, the violin was shipped via Fed-Ex, very carefully packed, in the suspension (2 bottom cushions) case listed. The violin has some of the most gorgeous flamed maple I have ever seen. The tone is superb, with a rich mellow G ranging evenly across to a smooth E--and this with the Dominants that came on the instrument. My teacher (who has played for over 50 years) played it, and could not believe it was a brand new violin. Needless to say, I am very pleased with the violin, and Mr. Pate has certainly *one an outstanding job, regardless of the source of the pieces that comprise the instrument. I also want to acknowledge previous favorable posts on the fingerboard about Pate violins for convincing me to buy the instrument on eBay.

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quote:

Originally posted by conrad:

I am a long-time "lurker", 50 something who took up the violin about 5 years ago. Needless to say, it has been a challenge. I did want to pass along my experience with Mr. Pate. I purchased his "LaMadonna" violin on (gasp) eBay in early February. Shipping was delayed almost two weeks before I again heard from him. His earlier post certainly explains the delay. I think many of us have been in similar circumstances and understand the reason. Nonetheless, the violin was shipped via Fed-Ex, very carefully packed, in the suspension (2 bottom cushions) case listed. The violin has some of the most gorgeous flamed maple I have ever seen. The tone is superb, with a rich mellow G ranging evenly across to a smooth E--and this with the Dominants that came on the instrument. My teacher (who has played for over 50 years) played it, and could not believe it was a brand new violin. Needless to say, I am very pleased with the violin, and Mr. Pate has certainly *one an outstanding job, regardless of the source of the pieces that comprise the instrument. I also want to acknowledge previous favorable posts on the fingerboard about Pate violins for convincing me to buy the instrument on eBay.

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