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I don't get the whole get a bargain on ebay thing


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First problem is that we do not know if Karla made any bad purchases before acquiring this instrument on ebay or whether she purchased other instruments that were returned as unsatisfactory. The cost of bad purchases (violins set aside that are unsatisfactory and cannot be returned) and the costs of return shipment ($25-$50) of each on-approval instruments must be added to the $650 purchase price. We do not know if that is the case or not.

Let me help you with that. The answer is NO I had not made any other bad purchases. The total cost of the violin was 475 and that included shipping which was done very well.


Appraisals are typically made for twice the retail value THAT A VIOLIN SHOP can get for insurance purposes. So this $1,400 to $4,000 violin is realistically a $750 to $2000 violin IN A VIOLIN SHOP. An individual cannot get these prices because of the limitations with selling a single instrument out of ones house. Working through a violin shop requires paying a commission of between 15 and 50%. So the violin, appraised at $1,400, that can realistically be retailed for $750, will net the owner $630 or so if and when it sells.

I don't get how this point helps your argument. So I get 630 when I sell when I spent 750, OR I could go and spend 3K and sell for 630. And that is better how?


Appraisals are almost meaningless to players because the value of the instrument is established not on tone but the structural integrity of the instrument and its pedigree.

This is EXACTLY why I choose to buy from an Ebay seller that I trust. The cool thing about Jesse's violins is that he has them played by some of his symphony player friends and gets them tonally described. Since these players have no interest in the sell the descriptions are generally right on.


The real test of claims such as Karla’s would be if great deals can be had by her with consistency—or is the good buy just luck and will be followed by bad purchases. I would be on ebay day and night if I thought I could buy $4000 violins for $650.

I am supremely confident that I could get the same type of bargin from this seller again and again. That said I probably will not as it is and always has been my intention to purchase an American made instrument from the local instument show.


Like all business sectors, violin shops vary in price and integrity. When I upgrade my instrument I will go to a Midwestern violin shop, probably in MI, that has 200 or so violins and compare and contrast a dozen instruments in my price range. I will take my current instrument to compare them with as a control for room acoustics. When I leave the store I will know that I have purchased an excellent SOUNDING instrument for the money, and that no repairs will be necessary, probably not even strings. I will offer the dealer 90 percent of the asking price and they will probably accept my offer. This is how a player should buy a violin.

You see I accept that what you do to purchase a violin is okay. I shall not be so pompus as to suggest that what I do is how "a player should buy a violin" I am merely suggesting that ebay is not all bad. One can still find decent bargins on it if they use common sense and their brains. Many people do not have this ability and for them the violin stores will always exist. I too pay more than I should for many things for the convinence of the customer service and the instant gratification. That is an okay way to shop too.

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isn't the world big enough for both ebay violin bargains and ripoffs and violin shop bargain and ripoffs to

coexist? let the unsophisticated and tin-eared masses get the fiddle of their dreams or nightmares on ebay, and the the sensitive virtuosos can frequent the high brow shops,and get the fiddle of their dreams or nightmares.

fraud and questionable business practices are not limited to ebay.

i know of someone who bought a well known 19th cent maker from a high profile shop in Philly. 20 years later went to another high profile shop to consign it, in Chicago, and they wouldn't agree on the attribution. so he lost about 10,000 due to a difference of opinion. so it's not all hunky dory whether you are a pedestrian pauper and bid on ebay, or a pompous prince and can hob knob at the "blue chip" shop.

so what's the fuss. or is it just general grumpiness/tax time.

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Yes-the amazon ratings and others are interesting reading but not very helpful. There are at least two problems with these testimonials. First is the lack of comparison of experience. If you ask someone about a laser printer or a camera, it is often the only current production item the commentor has experience with. I want opinions from people who have experience with several models or brands over an extended period of time, and who use the product the way I do. Hard to come by.

The second problem is product shift/cognitive dissonance. Product shift is a psychological process in which a person redefines for themselves why they prefer something. A classic example would be someone with a poor sounding violin they bought through the mail, who rationalizes their purchase by stating that it is worth far more than they paid for it. Here the shift is from functional value to economic value as a new definition of a successful purchase.

Cognitive dissonance, a more subtle but almost universal pschological process, involves convincing ourselves that something is good when it isn't. Feeling good is much more important than learning from a bad experience. A person in this state does not like the Michael Darntons of the world to rain on their fragile positive psychological state.

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I have used EBAY quite a bit to acquire "rental substitute" violins for the children of friends and relatives. You buy a used 1/2 or 3/4 Wm Lewis or Knilling or Yamaha with a Freistat case and Glasser fiberglass bow for $125 or so instead of renting the same for $60 a quarter from a local shop. Often the EBAY purchase is better than the rental equivalent and costs half as much as a year rental even if you throw away the EBAY purchase after a year instead of putting it back on EBAY for $125.

For myself, however, I have become rather picky and need to try out something for days before I can decide whether I like it. I can decide that I don't in 10 seconds but it takes a lot longer to decide in the positive. The chance of hitting something I like on EBAY is infinitesimal even if the attribution is correct. For example, there are a lot of Nurnberger or Pfretchner bows that I don't like and a few that I do, so buying any of them from EBAY is a shot in the dark even if they could be bought for less than the shop price.

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OLLIE! If you stick around long enough you do get fleeced once a while. I am sure it has happened to most of us, either on ebay or wherever. If it happens at a highbrow store it just hurts more in the wallet. Yours faithfully, Pompous Prince. P.S. I'm going shopping at Robinson's May later for a red velvet cloak with britches to match.

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Well, apartment luther asks a question:

"Do violins that are purchased on eBay, then a month or so later are sold on eBay at two or three times the price constitute a bargain for somebody?"

That has at least two answers that could be different or the same depending on whether we are referring to the first purchase, the second selling or the second purchase by a different party. It is possible that they are all bargains (the violin never realized its value), or that everyone paid too much, or that only the second purchaser paid too much.

Another question raised indirectly by Karla's purchase of a "$3K" violin for $475 plus $150, is why don't these sellers consign to violin shops? (even at a 50% commission, the seller would have received $1,500 instead of $500 for the violin).

I suspect the psychology of ebay buying and selling is complex and goes beyond getting a bargain. It must have a recreational component much the same way (modern) hunting does. Maybe hard to justify financially but meets some human need to explore, understand, establish competence, and control.

Clearly there are some justifications for ebay--such as acquiring sturdy german student instruments as replacements for rentals--(but boast about it publicly and your new competition will drive the prices up), finding broken instruments cheap to practice restoration, and it is certainly as much fun as buying lottery tickets--somebody will eventually win, even though most of us won't!

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There are bargains on eBay. Even today. One of my Boston "high brow" friends buys violins regularly on eBay for $1000-$2500. He has a good eye, plenty of experience, and is generally very pleased with his purchases. I would guess half of what he buys are real bargains. The other half are ok on the average, with a few real disasters. He does fine set ups, spends hours optimizing the tone, and sells the violins to professionals and their students. He sells on tone and condtion, since most of the violins he buys are unlabeled or clearly incorrectly labeled. His clients buy from him because of tone, condition, and playability,(and who he is).

I still get some very nice buys on eBay, but more often get out-sniped. If a person has a source for competent repairs at a reasonable price, there are good deals to be found. Many of the violins sold on eBay literally come from Grandma's attic. Some are good, some are poor, and most are average. With the exception of all the cheap new offerings, the violins on eBay are similar to those found at estate auctions throughout the country. In fact, most of the older violins are just that.


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Karla my dear--- Help you? Defend you? We haven't even been introduced. Please. As I say, I call 'em as I see 'em. End of story.

Hi Guta... If I might quote you earlier in this thread you said to M. the following....


Recent quotes from Michael Darnton: "probably why you didn't get a response the first time"--- "You appear to be the fly for which the flypaper of salesmanship was designed", re Karla: " if, having learned how to play her violin, and developed some standards and tastes in the matter..." Many of your postings contain these kinds of remarks, which are sarcastic and hurtful to the people you direct them at. Why do you do this, and what are you so angry about? Do you feel that an apology might be in order?

Both of the people who you feel were owed an apology said that you were wrong. The remarks that you chose to pick out of threads and display as sarcastic and hurtful to the people they were delivered to were simply Neither. So if you "call 'em like you see 'em" without respect to how you deliver your own message and you are wrong could it be YOU that perhaps owes an apology?

I don't know... Just a thought...

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OLLIE! -- The pantalones are absolutely perfect-- you should see how they look on me! Where can I find a puffy shirt??? All Best, Prince Of Snot.

I am the pauper of snot, with a cold, puffy? not stuffy?

pretentious and precocious. either way, you look fabulous. Frankly i prefer my pretentious pauper paraphernalia, to your princely profile, cause when i'm gussied up in full feather, from top to bottom, in my pitiful peasant panoply, i am soooo purdy? I go "swish"! Now, I'm All decked out and ready to go purchase some pitiful fiddles (pitifiddles) on ebay, that paradise for purveryors of poo.


gawt any phiddles fur sale?


why does it always have to be an either/or/neither/nor situation? can't we have it both/all ways.

I'm in love.

p.s. i have a puffy shirt your can borrow, if you promise to take me dancing.

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The Prince must now make good his escape under cover of darkness. There are still angry grumblings among the common townspeople. Perhaps Ollie and Karla can fashion a disguise for him . He will perhaps re-appear on a new thread, but in another land. You will know him , as he will re-appear in cape , pantalones and puffy shirt on the one year anniversary of of this great event. Be well, be brave. He will always be your faithful-- Prince of Snot.

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Hi all,

I do not buy from e-bay because I don't know how.

From what I have oberved bargain is only in the eyes of beholders. Let me give you some examples:

(1) A decent Chinese made new violin for $300-$500.

(ok wood,ok crafsmanship, not too bad looking)

(2) Old German "factory" violins for $500 -$700

(in ok conditon,100+ years old, minor repaired needed)

(3) Some Roths with 50% discount of current prices.

(4) Modern makers under $1500.(hand make)

In shop, they are priced over $6000

(5) Schweizter violins (thousand of them avialbale)under

$500 (bad condtion) $700 in decent conditions


Do you think these are bargains? Don't forget no-label violins, they can be anything (good as well as bad).

(Unless a modern maker who has establihed some sort of reputation, his or her violins just an average Joe's hand made, means big risk to me. Agree?) Just my thought.

** A modern maker should state who he or she is. For example, a graduate form a violin making school, a repair person of a big name shop for 20 years, an apprentice in New York shop. etc. Instead of "make by Harry Nosure, Alabama 1997" Anyone know this Harry?**

**A violin making school should publish its graduate's names too** ( I know one graduate has been making beautiful violins,winning medols,doing first-class work. Of course, a lot of others, regretably I don't know.

There are indeed many talented makers around we don't hear about. Please keep your eyes and ears open. )

** Karla and my friend have one thing in common.

They both are enjoying their violins. Karla spent $500 but my friend (not rich) spent $300k (in debt). They do not know each other.** /yuen/

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is my first post. I'm just starting to learn fiddle repair, pretty much on my own-- with summer workshops here and there. I've bought 30 or so "old violins" on Ebay and would like to share my experiences with you.

I primarily buy old european workshop junkers that range from $50-150. I've probably destroyed six or seven already in my fumbling attempts at repair.

I look for what "appears" to be someone selling a fiddle they "found in an attic", etc. and are putting it up for sale without much knowledge of the instrument.

What I'm learning here is that most people that sell a fiddle on Ebay DO have a very good idea of the fiddle's value-- and are quite aware of the problems the instrument has. Although "Pop's__antiques" (fictitious name) mostly sells model train sets and porcelain figurines, I'm quite confident that Pop had a knowledgable person look at this fiddle and tell him that the neck is crooked or loose-- or that there are pegbox problems (that can only be detected by close visual inspection).

What I get is a cheap violin that I can learn my repairs on without losing too much sleep if I accidently tear the pegbox to shreds. Perhaps four of the thirty violins that I've bought are superb-- and I'm just setting them aside until I'm a whole lot better at this.

If I were a serious musician I wouldn't buy a fiddle from "Pop". I WOULD, however, consider one of Jesse's violins-- which I put into a whole 'nother Ebay category.

Ebay has its place for me. I usually get what I pay for. A "beautiful vintage German violin" for $80 is usually worth $80.

Thanks for all the great postings-- I'm learning so much on this forum and am very greatful to you all!

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If you prefer auctions (because you live in more rural area like me) you may also want to try Tarisio. The pictures are 'always' very good but, the descriptions are very limited. You won't find any $50 or $150 violins though. You can still get 'poor' supprises but, generally, as you said, you get what you pay for.

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