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Norman Clark

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Isn't it great to read the new posts every day on this board? It is almost as important as my morning cup of coffee. I think I would go through withdrawal without it.

Reading recent posts regarding Mr. Pate's violins, and recent events occuring here within our non-profit organization raises a question that merits discussion. Here is some background:

Our non-profit organization (very small and all volunteer)loans string instruments to qualified students who are unable to obtain them in traditional ways. We have purchased some very nice Chinese and European student instruments, I have purchased and donated some instruments from eBay (lots of fun), and we have received some donated instruments from the public. Most are now with students.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the need of a good instrument for a talented highschool student. Our first thought was to purchase another Chinese violin, which might give us a good value for our limited funds. I was talking with Steve G. in Nevada (Steve has done some repairs and setups for us), and he told me about a French violin he was working on. He had restored it, which required quite a bit of work including varnish. Steve quoted me a price for the violin, which was comparable to the Chinese violin we were considering. We decided to purchase the violin sight unseen, though I knew that Steve would take it back if we did not want it. It arrived. It was beautiful. It was set up right and sounded wonderful. The student will now be playing on a beautiful 100-year-old instrument. I think the student will have greater respect for this violin than for a new student grade Chinese or European violin at the same price. This is certainly not to degrade Chinese or European instruments. We have several good ones with students. It does, however beg the question: Is it better to have a new Chinese or European violin in the under $2,000 range, or a vintage restored violin of quality for the same price? Which would you prefer?

There are thousands of decent older violins around at bargain prices that could use, or require restoration. Certainly some are better than others, but I would think there are plenty of good old trade violins that are at least as good as rough Chinese violin pieces in the white. Perhaps a luthier could purchase and refurbish these, and sell them with less controversy than putting his/her name on a violin that originated as a VSO from over seas. At least restoring these instruments could supplement the luthier's income, and provide some good student instruments.

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The old remodel with character will always have more appeal to me. However, don't you think that it takes a certain level of maturity on the part of the buyer/player to go beyond the suface appearance and assumed perfection of a new instrument? If teachers would instill some of this wisdom during lessons then a lot less VSO's would be imported. Looking and SEEING, listening and HEARING, how many teachers stress these skills? Not enough, I fear. Good for you and your program! It sounds wonderful!

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I hope that some of the luthiers on the board reply to this post. While I strongly agree with your observation that there are many nice older instruments available for students, it seems that many shops find it is not economical to put much work into these as they do not recoup their efforts on resale. Apparently the numbers run differently for them on the new violins or violin parts.

In some ways, it is probably to your advantage that shops are *not* interested in these fiddles, as it allows one to buy them for so little from individuals!

Your programs sounds wonderful. Best of luck.

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Mention has been made of good Chinese and European student instruments. Are there good American student instruments too? Or are all American instruments above the student grade? Perhaps you would care to see my posts on fingerboard - are modern makers price crazy?

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Norm etal,

I just posted a topic on the Soapbox "Instrument Pump" that stemmed from your thread, but I thought that it might deserve a thread of its own. It deals with my experiences in this area and a suggestion on how to access the value that are in these instruments.

Best wishes,

Marsden

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I know that some big city shops will not like this but too bad.

The name of the game in the retail world is volume and wholesale cost.

A "good" quality European student violin ie. unlabled Gliga's sell for $750.00 to $1000.00 . I can get those same instruments for $250.00, includding a case and a Glassar bow.

If I lower my standards I can get a Chinese instrument for $99.00, includding case bow and rosin.

Many shops rent these "student" instruments for 25.00 to $35.00 per month. I personally know of a shop not far from here that rents 75 instruments to the local school district at $22.00 per month per instrument. Strings and setup cost extra. Not a bad return on investment.

The sound quality of a modern factory pumped student violin is several orders of magnitude below a factory violin from 100 years ago. Large shops do not wish to expend the time nessesary to make these old instruments playable, or improve them because it is not as profittable as buying a $99.00 fiddle and renting it to some kid who will probably sit on it in 6 months.

Etteliers such as myself have an interest and devotion to keeping old instruments playable. No matter what their origin. And I honestly have a hard time with shops (who shall remain nameless), that buy instruments in the white, finish them and label them as thier own, and then sell them for several thousand dollars.

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All power to you Steve. I have a post on pegbox re the price of modern violins and the possibility of getting excellent old violins worth many times their worth in gold. The consumers are fed all sorts of relative nonsense re the quality of various modern instruments and as a result there's a ready market for the stuff you mention.

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