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New Ebay Username - Expanded Lines of Bull


nicolo
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The Ebay seller "anewminicooper" discussed in the thread "Unethical Ebay Practice," has a new Ebay username. He is now known as "soundpost_strings" and maintains an Ebay store called "BEAUTIFUL STRINGED INSTRUMENTS."

He still has instruments that are "obviously the work of a gifted maker." Some listings now claim to offer violins by "an award winning maker." In these descriptions, the maker is identified as "master maker Paul Jue." These typical Chinese factory violins have labels, but Mr. Jue's name is not on them. They have "BEAUTIFUL STRINGED INSTRUMENTS" labels claiming in Italian that the instruments were made in the manner as those by Cremonese masters. This is one of his older common sales lines. Now it's immortalized on a violin label.

According to the listing I'm looking at right now, "This beautiful Stradivari model, new full-sized violin is handmade by award winning violinmaker, Paul Jue. This violin features the Beautiful Stringed Instruments label inside with year, serial number, and model, to prove its value and authenticity."

--- Yeh, I guess that proves it for sure. What a pile of bovine excrement.

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Nicolo, apparently, anewminicooper has part ownership of a factory in China and there can be little doubt that some well trained luthiers are behind these Chinese initiatives. I have been campaigning for greater transparency regarding this new generation of western trained makers who have considerable talent.

It turns out that Zhang Shu Mei is a real person trained in Europe but managed by an agent. Maybe Paul Jue is another of these.

At least we now have an acknowledgement of the Chinese origin so that's progress.

There is a big difference between the cheap fiddles made in prison and paid for in rice and the real business endeavours of good makers who partner with 'foreigners' to export their products for a reasonable price.

(I am not ANMC in disguise and would welcome more of his story )

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Maybe Paul Jue is a violin maker and/or oversees the production of these violins. Somebody somewhere manages the production of every violin. That doesn't mean they're all hand made by "obviously-gifted" or "award-winning makers." This looks like typical Chinese factory stuff to me. I'm sure it's quite fine at its fair market value. An honest seller would leave it at that. But this guy is not being honest, in my opinion. He has been consistently deceptive in the past.

You're right about the considerable talent showing up in Chinese violin making. They're doing such nice work, it's getting a little scary. I want to see them do well, of course - just not too well. Not well enough to put everyone else out of business.

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I was a little confused about Bertholini vs.Bertolini, so I did a quick search and found this:

"Nicolas Bertholini Luthier de S.M.L'Empereur fecit 1810 - This was a label used by one of the Mirecourt workshops from 1910-1930." - That label doesn't read quite the same, but the spelling of the name is the real issue.

Nicolas Bertolini (with no "H") was a violin maker. Don't know if there was a direct link between him and the Bertholini shop or not, but it looks like dr. sellgood is not accurate in his description.

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I think we are basically in agreement that some excellent work is being done in China and the quality can only improve. While the exchange rate of the RMB to US$ is pegged at an artificially low value and the compensation for Chinese craftsmen continues to be low, their work will be excellent value for money but I'm afraid this will change and prices will rise somewhat.

Meanwhile, Western makers have good grounds for concern about a growing threat to their reputations (and prices).

It is in everyone's interest to denigrate Chinese work for as long as possible to reduce this threat, but those of us with more open minds can look East for bargains and snap them up ahead of the mainstream market.

Your concern is more with the presentation of such output by a particular vendor and I am not qualified to comment on that.

So, once again, do keep us updated on the Anaheim show and enjoy.

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Please could you share the information you have regarding the fake labels?

How many ZSM labels have you studied to know the dates are fake?

I am shocked at the thought that there might be irregularities in Chinese labels. Such a thing is totally unheard of in the West!!

I have a mental picture (in the absense of more concrete information), of a highly competent and well trained maker called Zhang Shu Mei who has a workshop with many assistants.

He makes several violins a year personally (starting price around $2000), and supervises the production of many others. These latter sell for around $300 and, if mine is anything to by, the label clearly states "Zhang Workshop".

The workshop may well be funded by money from outside of China (eg, USA or Hong Kong) and it's primary goal is to earn foreign currency from exports.

If anything is wrong with this picture, please advise.

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  • 4 weeks later...

have any of you people been to a factory in China? you talk as if you know what a "typical violin factory" is! I have been to literally a dozen "factories", workshops and more over there. And there is no such thing as a typical one. They're all different! Some have European trained master luthiers, some do not, some have good relationships with American and European makers who come and do training workshops, many do not. So many changes are happening in China, so many improvements. They move very quickly. I was there for a month in December and January, went to a variety of factories and workshops througout Hebei and Liaoning provinces. Many former Korean factories have moved to China now. There is so much change going on it is simply astounding.

I think it is unfair for us to label China with a broad sweep of the brush any more. What is going on there has to be the most innovative and interesting thing since Markneukirchen in Germany over a hundred years ago.

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I disagree that we talk as if we know what a Chinese violin factory is like. That may be true of some contributors but there are clearly some of us who hungry for the kind of knowledge that you have and are very keen to learn.

Closed minds will automatically write off anything 'Chinese' but the more open minded amongst us see the quality of workmanship apearing on ebay and are curious to know what is going on and what we should buy.

Vendors are often unwilling to disclose even the Chinese source of their violins let alone provide makers' names or details of the wood and treatments used.

So please, please share your knowledge with us so that we may be better able to separate the wheat from the chaff and spend our dollars wisely.

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  • 1 month later...

It is very sad to read some of the threads in this post about Chinese makers. Especially those posted about me by Nicolo. Undoubtedly he is insecure and sees fit to slander me and to insult the efforts of Chinese makers. I do not believe he has ever even seen one of my fiddles in person. I am indeed very proud of the work of my very hard working employees in China.

Nicolo's inappropriate comments like, "They're doing such nice work, it's getting a little scary. I want to see them do well, of course - just not too well. Not well enough to put everyone else out of business.'- are just ridiculous. Wake up! We are living in a global economy! Open your eyes. Do you think that Europeans and Americans have an exclusive right to hapiness and to succeed? My Chinese employees have read your posts and are dismayed. Your tone can easily be construed as racist.

And outrageous comments like "There is a big difference between the cheap fiddles made in prison and paid for in rice and the real business endeavours of good makers who partner with 'foreigners' to export their products for a reasonable price." are also inappropriate. Where do you get your information from? Geez!

As far as the quality of Chinese violins goes- It ranges from low grade to the same level as any of the finest Western makers. Slowly but surely this is being recognized by the public at large. Although, many makers have known this for years. How so? For example, take a stroll in Cremona (where I just was visiting clients) and you will see that a very substantial number of "authentic" Italian violins that are Chinese made going for $8,000 and up (perhaps 50% of the ones being sold in Cremona). I sell my Chinese violins in the white to makers in the US and in Europe. I make them with Chinese woods and/or European woods. I defy you to tell the difference.

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This kind of negativity regarding Chinese violins just comes with the territory and will only fade away with time and education.

Even a year ago, I was not seeing the number of positive comments I am seeing today so there are signs that the tide is turning.

I don't believe any of the negative comments are racist in nature; they are a a natural product of protectionism and a desire to exclude competition but, as we all know, the free market wins in the long run.

The reaction would be just the same if good and inexpensive violins started showing up from Botswana, Poland or Peru. I saw it all with Japanese cameras years ago but you can't stop the inevitable.

I'm at a loss to understand why China seems to have picked on violins to target rather than flutes or guitars. (Maybe they have entered the musical instrument business more generally but we don't hear so much about the others).

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Glenn: Perhaps that is because we here are all in the violin world, which accounts for a small fraction of the burgeoning music industry in the US. In 2003, total sales for the MPI were over $7 billion. Of that, the top category in sales was fretted instruments, namely guitars. The 2nd category from the BOTTOM was B&O (band and orchestra) at $55 million overall. That includes flutes, oboes, brass, percussion, as well as violins and other bowed instruments.

You know what the largest musical export from China to the US is right now? Guitars. And it's huge. Most major American guitar manufacturers have moved production to China. There are factories in Shanghai, Beijing, Dalian, Harbin and many other cities. When I was in Dalian last January, I visited Da Yuan Instrument Factory in Dalian. There, they make a myriad of American standards in guitars, mandolins and banjos. Instruments from companies such as Morgan Monroe, Epiphone, Gold Tone, Dean, and so on.

And it's not just guitars any more, it's pianos, and keyboards and microphones and percussion and so on. China has begun to monopolize the music industry sales to such an extent, that other manufacturing countries such as Korea and Japan have literally shut down, closed local factories and moved all manufacturing to China, just to compete!

And there is no end in sight. I think all complainers on this forum should just get used to the fact that China is here to stay, for better or for worse. You have to think about who will benefit most from the China expansion, it will be our children and our Grand children. Many kids who up until now could not afford a decent instrument will be able to. I think it will change the face of our industry, and I think for the better! We have a lot to learn from the Chinese work ethic in my opinion.

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So it's true; violins are just a twig on the tree of China's expansion.

I agree with you. One either has to accept the realities and 'get with the program' or be doomed to sleepless nights worrying about the situation.

I have the unenviable task of trying to sell products TO China.

I have no choice but to explore ways of transferring production to China. One must do it to stay afloat but it also helps to see the glass half full and appreciate some of the benefits from tapping into China's burgeoning economy.

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I think the Chinese entry into everything music, will lead to dramatic increases in the values of old, quality violins.

As any population develops economic clout, the wealthiest are quick to invest in hard assets such as art, antiques, precious metals, real estate, etc. as rampant domestic inflation reduces the value of their cash assets. I have seen demand for old European violins from China over the past 6 months. Having never sold a violin to China before, in the past few months I have sold at least 6 or 7. Availability of old European violins in China is virtually nil, and those that are available are very expensive. The demand from China will drive up the prices and boost the prices of their new products higher also.

While I believe the current climate is very advantageous for purchasers of Chinese made violins, I expect prices to rapidly approach that of other countries, and then a new cheap source will develop. In the meantime, violin prices across the board should remain very strong.

My opinion.

Jesse

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It's no secret, Chinese have skilled violin makers and the violins they produce are excellent values. They are new, they come with a case and a bow, what's not to like?

They even come in different qualities, some of the Chinese violins have a good tone.

However, I think these are the last violins in the world that I would want to collect.. Buy good early 20th century Markneukirchen violins before they get too expensive. Pknor sees the future and acts on it. Okay, I'll admit it, I am priced out of the Cremonese market as well as the 19th and early 20th century Italians. Even the 19th century French are too high for me, so what's left.

A good Markneukirchen is a real step up in quality compared to what is coming out of China and as students advance this is what they will be buying. The Markneukirchen prices have been rising and this trend will continue.

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"It is very sad to read some of the threads in this post about Chinese makers. Especially those posted about me by Nicolo."

Read them again more carefully. I never knocked Chinese makers or Chinese violins. The observations were about your dishonesty. Way back, I wanted to see for sure what I figured you were selling. I bought one of your "professional-quality-hand-made-by-a-gifted-maker-in-the-Italian-tradition, blah, blah" fiddles. It was nothing more than the common factory made intermediate student level instrument.

And didn't you say something about being professionally set up and ready to play? It came nowhere near playability. It needed a new sound post, bridge, nut, and a refitting of the pegs. After that and a set of Dominants, I sold it to a student for a fair price - and with an accurate description.

That violin is a decent instrument after some work, but still, it is only what it is - a pretty, student-level violin. Why didn't you just say that?

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If the word student appears in an eBay listing the auction will bring no more than $150. If the word student is in the title, I doubt it would bring that.

I may borrow some photos of a really fine violin, and post a listing describing it as a good entry level student violin, and see what the bidding brings. My guess is that it won't get many hits if the word "student" is in the title.

A student violin on eBay is $29 with a case and bow. A good student violin is $2500-$3000 or more in a good shop and likely worth it. Perhaps the terminology needs to fit the marketplace.

Jesse

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It's really interesting to me that you talk about Markneukirchen, because in my opinion, what's happening in China is very similar in many ways to what happened 200 years ago in Germany. A burgeoning mass-produced violin industry selling cheap italian knock-offs for the "big box" stores of the time in the US (Sears, for example). Of course, many of those instruments are collectible now, I have two of them and I would never sell them. They are quite wonderful instruments.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to wait and see what happens in 200 years with Chinese made instruments?

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