Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Question on ethics for customers


Recommended Posts

A quote from the current "Where's Michael" thread:

"Maybe it has become a bit boring answering and discusssing the same questions, albeit asked differently, over and over and over...."

If this is a subject that should stay dead, then my apologies and please ignore. But I'm curious:

Two years ago there was a BIG HONKING LONG thread about Internet buying vs. support-your-local-luthier issues; (it started with a post from Connie Sunday about a "confrontational email") Now, two years later, ebay traffic has ballooned and I'm asking: to all the pros and shop owners out there, have your policies or opinions or pricing structures changed since then? What is your opinion now of a typical customer (say,me,perhaps) who does the following:

1) steers new and upgrading students -hard!- away from rentals or new packages and toward the well-set-up used violins at my local luthiers', plus brings down regular repair/maint. work

2) buys all student and personal music and the odd rosin or set of strings from the local music store

3) once a season puts in a big order of strings, rosin, chin/shoulder rests etc through an online discount house

4) finds my students (and myself) decent deals on cases online, usually used known names on ebay or factory seconds.

Note: I know what chinrests I like because I tried out all of them at my local shop and BOUGHT the ones that worked for my students right then; online is for repeat orders, not try-it-out-and-send-it-back comparison shopping.

Am I on the right side of the ethical divide here? I LOVE my local luthier - he does lovely work and pays equal, respectful attention to 100$ German no-names and high priced divas, and never gives my beginning students any disdainful b-s attitude. I will send work to him forever (and no, I don't get a percentage)and never question what he charges for repairs or setup. BUT: my students have, mostly, somewhat limited means and the difference between an 18$ catalog Kun and an in-store 30$ markup really matters; same with cases, I want to see them in a nice oblong but a new Bobelock is out of the question. If it's a choice between a Chinese clone on ebay or the same one 50-100% higher downtown, where does my loyalty begin and end?

(This is worse than buying produce at the co-op - one apple's locally grown but not organic, the other's organic but flew in from New Zealand. Yeesh.) How do I support my students AND my shop-owning colleagues and still feel like a good person? How much are you all depending on accessory sales these days?

Thanks so much for the continuing education, folks - this forum is a goldmine, and those of us who have been teaching for years without bothering to be curious enough about what goes into these elegant little wooden boxes, well, we should just be ASHAMED.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 53
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I think what you do sounds good.For myself I don't stock much in my shop and only concentrate on repair and making anyway. It takes too much time and money to stock alot of items that may just set for a long time.And also I'm not likely to give a much better deal then somone on the internet for something like strings these days.

I also support the local general music shops by buying my strings from them when needed and also advise a few on stocking other items such as fittings and cases which I also buy sometimes or send my own cutomers to them. In turn, these shops refer or send repair work to me.

If a customer wants a violin in a lower price range then what I offer then I will select one for them from a local music shop, set it up properly and they still get a better deal this way then if they brought such an instrument into me after buying it themself; this is because I get a small discount for the instrument sold from the other shops.

I think it's impossible to keep everything totally local or that it even should be. But there are alot of little ways to make most of the people happy most of the time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think your question is a good one... and I can offer a response as a business owner and as an ex-officer in a division of one of those mail-order companies (I was the VP of Shar Fine Instruments).

The market has changed drastically over the last few decades. When I was a player, the local violin shop was the place to obtain everything from a good instrument to an e-string tuner. Mail-order was the first big change in the market. All of a sudden, it seems, the place to go for everything from strings to furniture to electronics was a catalog. Americans seemed to accept this idea readily. It really wasn’t a big step from Sears and Wards anyway... (BTW: they sold fiddles by catalog back in the ‘20s).

A level of service at some companies was maintained through these changes, as long as one was willing to use a shipper to access it. For example; At Shar, several layers of service were available (restorations, local walk-in services, showroom, phone services, etc.)... and still are.

The “big box” stores were next on the scene. Still, not too much of a departure.

With the internet, drop shipping and online ordering, the market is changing again.

It’s reality. Stuff you want at a better price, easily ordered... and an opportunity to avoid state taxes (although one is supposed to be claiming the purchases and paying user tax on it). I can’t blame consumers for being attracted by lower prices and easy access.

Because of these changes, the local violin shop (or grocery store, or electronics store) is forced to take a hard look at what products are offered and what services to make available... The market dictates that they offer a level of product and/or service that isn't obtainable online or at KMart.

While some of the companies offer help in selection and after market services as described above, I feel it’s more difficult to develop a personal relationships with staff members who may, or may not, be there when your next crisis arrives. Policy tends to replace empathy (and sometimes common sense). Relationship building does occur in larger firms, however. Those who were my client’s at Shar developed relationships with me. Many continue with me in my new surroundings.

As an independent, I have elected to specialize in offering rare instruments & bows, fine contemporary maker’s work, restoration, consultation and appraisal. I don’t offer mass produced student instruments and offer few cases. Those cases I do stock are specialty types. My stock of strings is limited to those I use regularly and those that I know my clients use. I don’t repair inexpensive instruments often, as my rates are high in comparison to their value. The only rosin I have around is for my own use.

I’m lucky. This works for me. My clients come to me for what I do well and Shar is across town for the rest. An important factor in the success of all this was that I had 20 years of experience in the field before going independent.

The long term results of this changing market, in terms of the violin trade, is not known.... but I can guess a bit. Ebay and the discount companies seem to have the attention of those looking for “the deal” on student instruments. These customers are willing to sacrifice some level (sometimes all levels) of service for a “better” price on the product and/or the convenience of ordering from the kitchen table. Bidding on items can be exciting... the thrill of the hunt, I suppose. I expect this will continue to evolve. 3d views of violins? Excerpts of your choice? The electronic marketplace does have possibilities for those who are interested in exploring it.

Those who survive by specialization (like me) have to be selective about who we work with. We have to be, as our “staff” is often just ourselves... and there is only so much time in the day. In order to pay for the assistance of employees, I’d need to stock strings, rosin and cases... well, you get the point.

This isn’t a bad thing. I like the instruments that I work on, sell and appraise. It’s probably just fine for my clients as well. Since I schedule myself, I can usually work things around if a project needs “emergency” attention, and the players seem to be patient enough to allow elective work to be scheduled as I can get to it. It’s a nice blend of what the market requires of me and what I like to do. My customers also get all of my attention when I am working with them. They seem to appreciate it.

I assume by your post that you use and refer students to use what your local luthier is good at... Supplying older fiddles, repair, etc. Seems logical to me.

I’m the type who shops at the local butcher, the independent grocery, and uses the local bank... While I’m price sensitive like most anyone, I want these businesses in my neighborhood. Enlightened self interest?

I do admit to ordering my computers, picture frames and camping equipment from a mail order firm, however. I guess we all have our faults.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m really on the other side of the fence from where Jeffrey is. I work mainly on junk with a scattered few decent violins thrown in for good measure. I don’t really consider my making part of my repair business, so, I won’t address that with regard to this ethics issue.

It is difficult to make a living at this when half (or more) of your customers think that $25.00 is an unreasonably large sum to pay for ANY job relating to a violin that they bought for $100 to $250...

Having worked for the school district for a number of years doing their repairs, in order to remain competitive and to continue to gain support from the teachers, who will supply students with necessary items at cost, I also charge very little over the catalog price for parts and supplies for anyone still in school.

With regard to the general public, I find that I have to charge more, but still I am able to undercut the music stores in order to bring the customers back to me for their supplies. The music stores have the advantage of being out in the public eye and supplying every manner of instrument, and music supply, plus they advertise and all the rest. So far my business is entirely by word of mouth and referrals.

Luckily I have continuing school and music store repairs, school and music store bow rehairs, and a well established local reputation amongst the fiddlers and violinists - and another business (lawn & yard work) in order to make ends meet.

I am amazed sometimes when I hear what some people charge for various jobs, and even what they are willing to pay for a new (or old) violin. It’s not that I don’t understand it, after all I lived in the Hermosa/Redondo Beach area for thirty five years (on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Ca) and realize that location is everything for this sort of business - plus, those who work at the very top end of the spectrum must charge a competitive rate in order to stay in business. Never mind compensation for simply being the best at what they do.

Those of us who tend to the vastly larger lower end of the violin repair/supply spectrum must simply realize that the beginners need our services at really affordable rates, and that if we service them well and affordably now, they will most likely continue to come to us for their various needs as they progress and move on to finer instruments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I’m really on the other side of the fence from where Jeffrey is. I work mainly on junk with a scattered few decent violins thrown in for good measure. I don’t really consider my making part of my repair business, so, I won’t address that with regard to this ethics issue.

It is difficult to make a living at this when half (or more) of your customers think that $25.00 is an unreasonably large sum to pay for ANY job relating to a violin that they bought for $100 to $250...


I'm sympathetic to your plight of wanting to do good repairs and getting reasonable compensation for good work.

Customers need to be educated about repairs. A poor repair, no matter how little is being charged, is worse than no repair at all. I've seen otherwise reputable music stores selling violins that were "repaired" in the worst possible ways -- touch-up varnishes that remain sticky forever; cracks couldn't be brought together, so they were cleated open. These general music stores, employing some hobbiest as their string repair person, didn't know any better when they passed off these instruments as "repaired".

My point is that even at the low end of the trade, there need to be standards so that repairs don't do more harm than good, and customers need to be educated about the care and effort required for good repairs, and the consequent costs of good repairs. Customers need to realize that for some of the damage that these poorly done repairs inflict on fiddles, the customer shouldn't be paying anything; the "repairman" should be paying the customer for the additional damage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh Boy...the last two posts have restored my belief in this profesion. IF ...only more shops and repair people had the same philosophy!!!

BTW...why spend $500 on a repair/refinish when new fiddles can be purchased at that price? Seems to me in some nothern USA areas the shows have priced themselves out of the competition( at least in my view).

Link to comment
Share on other sites


... difficult to make a living at this when half your customers think that $25.00 is an unreasonably large sum to pay for ANY job relating to a violin that they bought for $100 to $250... plight of wanting to do good repairs and getting reasonable compensation for good work...Customers need to be educated about repairs... even at the low end of the trade, there need to be standards... customers need to be educated about the care and effort required for good repairs, and the consequent costs..

If I'm any example, yes we do need to be educated. I had no idea until this thread (and I know I'm not alone in my ignorance, I checked) that the amount charged by many luthiers for repairs doesn't always adequately reflect the time/costs that go into them, and that the markups on instrument/accessory sales often make up the difference. There seems to be a parallel here to restaurants (the alchohol often subsidises the food) and the loss-leader price of bananas down at the Food Behemoth, and I'm surprised. I always assumed that you worked more in the manner of my mechanic, who charges the same shop rates whether he's keeping a Jetta on its last legs or fine-tuning a BMW. Physical therapists repair bodies; an athletic violinist and a chain-smoking Nintendo addict pay the same for their repetitive-use therapy; we all know it and accept it. Why not luthiers? Why should equally good work on lesser/better instruments cost less/more? (note I said equally GOOD, not equally extensive)

Tourists here often ask - somewhat beligerently - why maple syrup is so expensive. Many of the sugarmakers have a poster on their sugarhouse or farmstand wall that starts "If you had to..."; it goes on to detail the many steps of sugarmaking, including all of the slogging around setting taps, the number of trees needed to get forty gallons of sap, how long it takes to boil that forty down to one of syrup, etc. It ends by asking in big letters "How much would YOU charge?"

Sounds like there's a need here for a campaign -- or at least a good poster. I've been out of the professional-journal loop for the last few years and am just getting back in; how often does your professional organization instigate articles in the MENC, ASTA, or similar journals? What gets taught to the students coming out of music ed programs these days?

Are luthiers - who seem often to be somewhat solitary types - by nature also often somewhat poor self-promoters or advocates, much the way that certain highly creative musicians are also piss-poor booking agents? Some private teachers are unabashedly firm in what they charge for lessons and aren't hesitant to turn uncommitted students away; others give everyone a sliding scale and happily carry the slackers -- and there's often no correlation between the two types and how well they actually teach.

How many of you truly trapped by what the market will bear, and how many are getting suckered by how much you love what you do?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“How many of you truly trapped by what the market will bear, and how many are getting suckered by how much you love what you do?”

Ok Pandora, this is just for you.

What you're saying is true in the right context.

On the other hand, when I lived in Southern Ca. and was making a hundred thousand dollars a year, (these figures are merely an example and not an attempt to disclose personal information...) I bought a small two bedroom stucco house built in the 50's for $150,000 (now it would be worth $2-300,00, by the way, simply by virtue of its location) and was easily making payments on a Saab turbo 900.

Here in Roswell, my first house cost me $13,000. Eventually I moved into a "luxurious" $37,000 house (for all practical purposes, it is the same stucco house built in the 50's.) and now I drive a pre-owned (ha ha ha!, don’t you just love the way the term “used” has become politically incorrect?) Honda.

The truth is that I like this house better, it is situated on a huge lot, and I like the Honda just fine. (That Saab - rocket like in its acceleration - and addictive, only got me into trouble...)

The same logo that the agency I worked for would charge $1,500 to $2,500 for, I would be lucky to get $200.00 for here as a freelance designer. The choice is entirely mine, but, I cannot charge what I would have charged in L.A. here in Roswell, no matter the quality of work, because no one would pay it.

Being entrepreneurial by nature, I'll still wind up doing the logo for $200.00 rather than slinging burgers for $6.00 an hour somewhere, (not that there is any disgrace in doing that for a living mind you - I have done it before, and may wind up doing it again) or perhaps I could make $8.00 an hour working for one of the small print shops around as the house designer....

It's the same work but the circumstances are vastly different. The ethics of the situation demand that I take a completely different approach to how I make my living here in a rural area.

The maple syrup is a great example, as I am a real purist when it comes to maple syrup. 100% pure maple syrup is the only thing I'll buy. I really don't care what it costs. So really, as long as I can afford to buy maple syrup, I don’t complain too much.

If I have to do work for free here, (and I often do) I will do it just to keep my reputation going as THE place to go when you need help with your violin. I’ve become pretty canny about who can afford to pay what. In Los Angeles I could simply say “here’s what it cost, if you don’t like the price you are free to take your business elsewhere.”

Here in Roswell I can also do that, and sometimes I do, but usually I can work out something where they get up and going again and I can make some beer money. That’s also why I have my lawn and yard business. The money isn’t in musical instruments or musical instrument repair here, it is in the large retirement cross section of the population that has the money. Those people who live on the “good side of the tracks” and have plenty of disposable income. Those are the people who I have to treat as my mechanic treats me.

In the end all of this simply allows me to go ahead and pursue what I like to do, which is to make and repair violins.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


to make and repair violins


You are making statements (leave a lot of your work) to the world. (be sure put your name in side). It is a very good thing. A lot of people (like me) could not do that. /yuen/

Link to comment
Share on other sites


How many of you truly trapped by what the market will bear, and how many are getting suckered by how much you love what you do?

I think the market "can bear" a very decent rate for quality work. This is illustrated by the price being charged by top end luthiers for 'cello bridges (I know of two luthiers in major metro areas who charge $750 or maybe slightly more by now). If one charges this rate, one better be able to back it up with very fine work. These two do.

If we're talking about student work, that's a different ball game. I agree that standards are required, but if it costs more to rehair a bow than buy a new one (complete with hair) or a decent setup surpasses the price of the instrument... maybe the need for low end work has changed a bit. Might be easier (and more profitable) to reach behind the counter and hand the student a new one, eh? Time for a reality check.

For me, it's a question of lifestyle/quality of life. Craig likes where he lives and, I assume, the customer base that he attracts. I like where I live, the pace, and the customer base that I attract. My family would probably kill me if I thought about leaving the Ann Arbor area (and I figure a dead luthier might have difficuly cutting bridges!). Luckily, my clients don't seem to mind traveling to see me. I certainly don't feel "trapped" in any way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There're two very diffent kinds of comparisons to be made here. One is my-area-vs.-another-area. Like you, CT, I've elected to live somewhere where prices for houses are relatively cheap (although starting to change FAST), where life is low-key but good. I don't have a lot of money for vacations, but hey, I look out my window every day at a view that city tourists pay plenty to see on weekends. I grew up in upstate NY; my best friend went down to Gotham every weekend on the train and paid for her lessons at the same rate that I charge now, 25 years ago and 250 miles away.

The other comparison, though, is between what you charge and what your local plumber/website designer/auto mechanic/therapist charges per hour. In my area, I think the plumbers come out ahead.

Some jobs are labeled jobs, some are labeled "callings." Those with an intense emotional attachment to what they do, that want their "real life" and "work" to be one and the same (craftsmen, teachers, ministers, artists) often seem to be required to pay for the privilege. The local college pays less than the local private grammar school which pays less than the public school which pays less than the trash collection cartel...but the the teaching scene has slowly started to change in the last decade or two, thanks to some pretty focussed advocacy work by a politically minded minority (bless them).

Yes most of us have learned to be canny about our pricing - I'll play a friend's family-reunion contradance party for beer money, but a couple from Connecticut getting married at a B&B get to pay union rates for their reception's background-music quartet. As they should.

Obviously most of you are savvy businesspeople, and most have found a way to make your life work out, but I've met at least one very nice repairman who just doesn't charge enough for some of his work -- yes, the folks of humbler means need a break, but not everybody ( I really hate seeing someone in 400$ shoes complain about a 25$ bow rehair). Where there's one, I'll bet there're more. I'm wondering how many good repairman have to choose between what works and what they're worth, and if there's anything to be done about it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seems like this thread has changed direction and is leaning a bit more toward lifestyle and philosophy than ethics... but I’m game. ;-) Here I go off at the deep end.

I agree that each area has it’s own economic bent in terms of rates, at least to an extent. I am also not immune to waiving my fee and accepting wine and chocolate from those I feel are in real need... who follow their gift up with tireless effort. I’ve been maintaining a violin which is on loan to a very fine young player (she’s appeared several times on PBS broadcasts) who has been loaned a great fiddle for her studies... I’ve never charged a dime (but I think I put a few pounds on due to the food and wine). I think most luthiers have a story or two like this.

I’m rather stiff on my rates with the few exceptions I choose to make... and my area isn’t cheap in terms of living expenses. When I do make an exception, I see the free work as a way to better the art and to make myself feel as though I’m contributing. Being stiff on the rates ensures I get work at the level I feel I’ve earned by reputation. On the other hand, I don’t charge a $400 shoe rate to one person and a $60 shoe rate to another.

My mother was a teacher; learning disabilities. Talk about low pay rate. I earned more per hour than she did at 16. My father was a Prof. at Northwestern before going into research. Dad’s job paid for the lifestyle. My wife is a nurse; hospice, pediatric oncology. Couldn’t pay me enough to work in her field even if I could take it. My business pays for the lifestyle.

I don’t want to come off as a hard case, but choice of lifestyle and working for the greater good (teaching, social work, etc.) is a question of balance, in my opinion. I think you were getting at this, right? For me, it's much easier to be philanthropic with time and money when I know the mortgage is paid. I do donate time to related organizations. I’m on the board of the Violin Society of America and the Chicago School of Violin Making in addition to contributing time to a foundation or two. Other than volunteering, my sense of feeling I am contributing is to do what I do as well as I possibly can... that my customers get what they are paying for plus a bit... and the resulting business allows for the time and money to contribute in other ways.

My impression is that Craig balances his love for fiddles, living in an area that may not always support reasonable rates, by having other source of income. Makes sense. That’s his balancing act.

It is my opinion that those who are interested in studying music or art, or having their kids study music or art, do so by choice... and sacrifice something, to a greater or lesser degree depending on their circumstances... to do so. That sacrifice can often enhance the experience... and reminds those on the receiving end that nothing is owed in life. I very much appreciate those who choose to educate or otherwise contribute to the greater good without much concern to their own lifestyle, but assume they are satisfied and fulfilled by their choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pandora...that was excellently laid out ...some parts were what I was trying to say in a more simple way and CTviolin continues to surprise me with his insightfull comments!!!

Can any one here please help me to understand the difference between artists purified linseed oil and refined linseed oil??? And I am fully cognizant that it is off-subject!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jefferey, with his well grounded wisdom has helped me figure out priorities in the past-we both did work for the Virtu Foundation.

I've noticed that the customers who squeal most about price are the ones that drive up in big expensive SUV's.

$750 for a 'cello bridge!!!?.....maybe I should raise my price.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can really empathise with all this - Jeffery's mention of a "balancing act" is a wonderful description of the life of a violin maker/repairer. How else can you cope with one customer, a struggling Mum, who has to get a new bridge for her daughter's cello and when told the price is so shocked she has to sit down .... followed by another customer who when told the price says "Is that all??" because he had his last bridge cut at Beare's (... and Jeffery, when I read that some repairers in the US are charging $750 for a bridge ... well I had to go and sit down to recover). And fees paid in wine and chocolate are not unknown to us either.

Like some of the others on this thread we have chosen our lifestyle carefully. We live 100km out of a major city so that we don't get inundated with repair work and can get some time and space for making. We do the repair work for the local schools and community more as a service than a profit-making endeavour. We sell a few strings and accessories again as a convenience for the locals.

And we have a nice life ... it's important to me that I can walk the kids to school in the morning and come home for a relaxed coffee before going to the workshop. But are we under-appreciated and under-paid for what we do ... oh, DEFINITELY! (but then again so are nurses, teachers, cleaners, ....etc etc etc)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Johnsr -- Yes, it's off topic but you keep asking --- I can't stand the note of desperation that has entered your plea of late.....

Different brands seem to use different terms for their ordinary artist's linseed oil. I haven't found a brand that has both 'refined' and 'purified', so they may be the same. However, the descriptions of 'refined' seem to mention alkali or low acid, while that of 'purified' does not.

Example: From the Pearl Art supplies website:

Winsor & Newton Refined Linseed Oil: An alkali-refined oil of pale colour that reduces oil colour consistency, increases gloss and transparency while slowing drying rate.

Gamblin Refined Linseed Oil: Low Acid. A pale, alkali refined oil which increases gloss and transparency while slowing drying rate.

Daler Rowney Purified Linseed Oil: Reduces the consistency of oil colour and slows down drying time.In its raw state,it gives colour a high gloss

Does that help?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hate to quote a high price for a repair to a student instrument, but I also hate to let an instrument go out of the shop that's not really up to my standards.

For example, I recently fixed up an "attic violin". It had open seams, and needed a soundpost, bridge, and strings. That pretty well exhausted the amount of money the owner had to spend. The pegs were ugly but fitted well enough, so I didn't include them in my estimate. But as I was putting on the strings I noticed that one peg had the string hole way too far over, so I drilled a new hole, bushed the old one (albeit just with a toothpick) and as long as I was working on it, trimmed the end of the peg. Then I had to trim the others. I didn't take as much care as I would have with a new set of pegs, but I ended up spending half an hour or so on it, gratis.

I fight myself on cases like these. I don't know what the reaction would have been if I had called up the customer and said, it wasn't in the quote but you really need a new set of pegs. But since price was an issue when he brought the instrument in, and since I wanted to stick with my quoted estimate, I didn't make the call. On the one hand, I'm glad that I did the little bit extra that the instrument needed, on the other hand, I feel a bit foolish for doing work that I wasn't paid for. But I don't like to be overly mercenary, so on the whole, I'm satisfied.

In this area, people still do go a little farther to help one another. My car mechanic has gone the extra mile to provide me with more than I was able to pay for, and I appreciate it. I like to pass that on when it seems appropriate.

Still, I wish I were in Jeffrey's situation, with a reputation and clientele such that the question of doing inexpensive repairs did not come up so often, and when it did, I could clearly make a donation of my time.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Claire,

I have a cautionary tale for you. I had an impoverished student come to my shop some years ago with a mess of a fingerboard. My apprentice handled the transaction and suggested a proper repair, but the student balked at the work/price. So after looking the situation over, we came up with a quick and cheap repair that would get him playing on the instrument again, advising him that a proper repair should be done in the future. As he left the shop, he was delighted to be able to continue playing. His teacher, seeing the repair, sent him to another shop (in another state) where a thousand dollars of repairs were suggested and then done including a generous critique of the work we had done. We charged $25 for our work. I got stung twice-lost the major repair work and a bruise to the shop's reputation-that teacher never sends her student to me for repairs. Never let a good deed go unpunished.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I have had similar situations occur. I also get the occasional customer that is not satisfied no matter what is done at any price. Such people are better off going elsewhere, where, perhaps, they can deal with a shyster shop owner somewhere who is equally dishonest in their communication and then they can then happily BS each other till the cows come home.

I liken such things to the rich man who, knowing that the tax assessor is coming, puts on his raggedy cloths and hides the new furniture under old blankets. If he had the thousand for repairs to begin with, but was balking at the real repair price, as if impoverished, then agreed to the twenty five dollar repair and was happy with it - who cares what he did down the road?

If the teacher, who probably knew exactly what was going on once he heard the story and the price of the repair, doesn't send students to you now because of it, then he or she is most probably the type of individual wh glories in criticism thinking that that makes him an eccentric genius... (there are plenty of them about also)

Once I find out that that game is going on, I will refuse to work on their instruments anyway, or, if I get pressured into working on one I will add a BS fee for having to go through the inevitable hour long sob story that accompanies each and every transaction.

Since the subject of the thread is ethics, the ethical deception here was (apparently) on the part of the student. It is never wrong to attempt to help someone out; even if they are being deceptive. There is more to life than money.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I hate to quote a high price for a repair to a student instrument, but I also hate to let an instrument go out of the shop that's not really up to my standards."

This brings up another good point regarding ethics.

Standards should be based on the value of the instrument and the requirements of the player, as well as on the quality of work.

Using the $750.00 cello bridge as an example, it would (perhaps <g>) be proper for the principal cellist in an orchestra to pay such a fee for a new cello bridge to be fitted to their old Italian cello, which they use in order to make their living. But, (yes, I know, never start a sentence with the word "But".) how much sense would it make for a first year high school student to have to pay that price for a bridge to be put on their ($500.00 for the cello, case and bow) newly acquired e-bay instrument?

Because $750.00 was paid in one circumstance, for a cello bridge, that fact has absolutely no bearing on how much a student should expect pay for a new bridge to be fitted (even with "quality" parts and workmanship) to their cello.

A $750.00 bridge would be a completely wasted effort for such a cello. In fact, in my opinion, it would be blatantly unethical to suggest such a price to a customer who is a student and whose requirements are minimal.

Anyone who has been trained even remotely well can take a $8.00 Baush cello bridge, and fit it sufficiently well (within a couple of hours) so that the student cello will operate properly within the context of the situation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is an interesting story that goes on over a couple of years and across the US. I will try to make it brief.

A lady brings me a violin to repair that has had the neck broken out of it intentionally. A very nice violin that had been in the family of her husband for a few generations. The husband last played it in youth symphony befor giving it up and moving west.

It remained in storage in the mothers house until she passed away and the house was rented. It was during the time the house was rented that the violin was abused and ended up in pieces.

The son retrieved the violin on one of his trips east and stored it for a number of years. During those years the son married and unfortunately his marriage started to fail.

At this point the wife brings the violin to me to be restored. She informs me that her marriage is shakey and wants to surprise her husband, on his birthday, with his old violin fully restored. She agrees on a price of between 600.00 and 1,000.00. (button graft, fingerboard, crack repair, etc.)

They ended up getting divorced, she went further west, he back east. When I made contact with her she informed me she had financial problems and would not be coming back for the violin since it wasn't hers anyway. When I finally tracked down the husband he informed me that his former wife had no business bringing the violin in for repair and someday he would return to get his violin back. Of course no mention about paying for the repairs.

The value could be over 5,000.00(early E.Meinel) and I am faced with starting a legal procedure which I don't look forward to, send the violin to the former owner and not expect anything in return (no stress and it would be over with), or just ignore it, continue to store the violin but have the possibility of someone showing up and wanting his violin without paying for repairs.

Ethics can get complicated!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...