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Violin Made By Ming Jiang Zhu


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A second question...

The owner of the shop said that he would put a label in the violin, even though Zhu doesn't usually approve of labels being put in his violins that are sold for that price...

Curious for your opinions on this.

Thank you for all the great feedback!


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These prices seem about right.

I think most, if not all of the top makers have a small 'factory' which they supervise to produce their workshop instruments.

Again, we should point out that what they are receiving for these violins is about one third to one half of the US retail price.

Zhu has enough international recognition to get top prices. He is a VSA Gold medal winner, as well as placed in the recent 2004 VSA. I had a chance to play his competition winning violin. The tone was big and bold, and the workmanship was impeccable. I would not know what he asks for his competition violin because it was not for sale. It is probably comparable to what his fellow medal winners get and not a matter of his country of origin.

Certificate of Merit for Workmanship

Christopher Germain

Martin Heroux

Mark Hough

Thomas Meuwissen

Ada Quaranta

Luca Salvadori

Raymond Schryer

Haiko Seifert

Stephan Von Baehr

Shiquan Zhao

Ming-Jiang Zhu

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I don't think any shop owner should put in a label attributing an instrument to a maker. If the maker did not find that the instrument met his standards, and did not see fit to put in a label himself, then in my opinion it approaches fraud to put in a label.

It could be that the instrument in question, while it came out of the workshop of a particular maker, was actually made by an apprentice. Even if the maker did make the instrument himself, well, everyone makes mistakes. His name is his trademark and his reputation. If he didn't want to stake his reputation on the quality of that instrument, no one should falsify his approval of it.

Would you put an Eastman model 350 label on a model 80? Eastman model 350 instruments have gotten good reviews, and it might help sell the model 80. No? How is putting a label in an instrument the maker chose not to put his name on any different?

Many makers have 'workshop' labels that they use for their lower-quality instruments. That may be appropriate, but even then, a shop owner should get permission to put in someone else's identifying label. Maybe this instrument doesn't even meet his standards for a 'shop' instrument.

The only exception I can think of -- and this may apply here, I don't know -- is when the maker does not yet know that their name is a valuable commodity. For instance, a young maker might think that he is not yet ready to put in a label, or it's seen as somehow 'proud' in his community. An importer buying from that maker might put in a label -- but again, I strongly feel is should only be done with permission.


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The shop owner asked Zhu if he could put a label in, to which Zhu asked "how much are you going to sell the instrument for?" The dealer said 5k, and Zhu said that he would prefer that he not out a label in it if he was going to sell it that "cheap."

I may be mistaken, but I believe that as a general rule, Zhu does not put labels in his instruments.

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I've had a hard time convincing my favorite Chinese bowmaker to brand a bow I commissioned from him.

I asked him why the reticence and he replied that he didn't have a brand stamp and had never been asked to identify his bows before. On the contrary, the overseas distributors who buy from him REQUIRE that he does not brand his work. (One wonders why).

I finally won out and he had a brand made and I received my bow duly branded.

One must remember that Chinese makers today, like many of their European predecesors, work at the mercy of distributors who are still reluctant to reveal the country of origin of these products.

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Totally agree with Glenn.

If the location of a violin maker is an important factor of the price for a violin, why are we paying tens of thousand dollars and even millions of dollars for a strad or other ancient well-known violin makers? They are dead anyway and therefore we should pay zep. why do they need our money for?

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>But most of the money and growth are there, especially in the East, where the incomes and prices are rapidly closing with ours. In the violin trade, we keep hearing of craftsmen who have trained abroad. They could have stayed here or in Europe, but clearly they returned to China because they thought they could live better there.

There are emotional/sentimental factors as well. Most Chinese would like to return to their roots. My family friend did that too. It is not because he felt he could live in a Chinese soceity better, but because he was longing to return "home".

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This is interesting, and timely. I am selling Chinese made fiddles to the local school students here and have found that none of the beginner instruments have a label, but only some of the better "step up" instruments have one (same model). Now this is from the workshop (factory ?) of a VSA gold medal winner Xuechang Sun. These violins are nice and I would like the label in all of them. I buy them from a dealer who puts the label in including the makers name But only in some ?). I am going to contact the distributor and as about this. At this point I don't feel right putting any label into an instrument that I have not repaired or made.

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Glenn, getting your bowmaker to use a namestamp is a perfect example of where the maker just hasn't been convinced of the value of putting his name on his work. I'm glad you convinced him.

KenMcKay, I don't have a problem with you labeling instruments with some sort of distributor label, just with putting the maker's name in without permission. I don't know why the importer would label some but not others, but I think it would be worth asking. Maybe there is a quality difference you don't know about, or, as you suggest, maybe they're including setup in their quality standards.

Anyway, check it out and let us know.


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Hey! That's so funny...Emily and I watched that movie in the Cinema in Shenyang in Mandarin (no english subtitles). Later we bought the DVD so I could watch it again with english. A pity about the musician part I agree, but what a wonderful movie regardless! highly recommended

Also for you Kung Fu fans out there, you HAVE to see Kung Fu Hustle! Wow. Like a cross between a martial arts movie and bugs bunny. Very very funny, romantic, good acting, cinematography...and that is actually what China looks like, even now.

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I admire your persistence on the economic arguments If you want a good violin made in China, you must pay the asking price or go elsewhere.


Glenn, when you go to China do you go by yourself, or do you have a translator?

In my experience, I never pay the asking price. Absolutely never! Everything is negotiable.

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I contacted my distributor who stated that there was just some sort of foul up in regards to some having labels and some not. He is going to send me some labels.

Interestingly I noticed that my distributor also sells instruments of Mingjiang Zhu! I have not seen them but the photo sheet looks nice. It turns out that my distributor and Zhu are cousins. I spoke with David, my distributor who told me about the Zhu factory in China which he has been to many times. It is a workshop that has 20 workers who are closely supervised by Zhu in every aspect.

Ming Jiang Zhu violins offers four models ranging from $1,600 to $3,000 retail price. The descriptions are similar to most distributor jargon "well seasoned Spruce", all are "oil antiqued finished", the higher price model is all European wood, one step down has Euro spruce and Highly-flamed maple.

I think I will get a good one and have a look, listen, and get back...stay tuned.


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Would you pay the same amount for Ming's violin as to what you paid for your Luca Salvadori? please explain your decision.

VSA competition are blind to maker's names and country of origin (of course judges might surmise based on known characteristics, etc.) But what you pay on the market is set by the dealers and some haggling. But dealers won't go below a certain price set by the maker. So for me, it comes down to which violin I like the best (not the maker's name), and the price is determined by how good a bargain I can get. I won't have changed my mind because another violin was priced less, if I didn't like it. In fact, when I bought my Salvadori, I liked it best (in sound), of all the 30+ violins available, and didn't compromise on buying another one that was 1/2 the price, but didn't resonate with me. The basic character of the sound of a violin doesn't change, and now I'm even happier with the sound as it has opened up, gotten more ring, and richer tone. Besides my teacher says it sounds like a Strad (not that I'd know since I've never been near one).

But in answer to your hypothetical question. "Yes", I would pay the same price for a violin I like the best, as was being charged by the dealer for a violin I didn't like. That happened at the show, there were other violins priced more than Salvadori and violins priced less. I didn't buy them. So hypothetically, if Ming's violin had happened to be at the show (and was picked by me as the one I liked the best) and was priced the same or more than a random Salvadori whose sound I didn't like, I would buy the violin I like, irrespective of whether it is Chinese or Italian.

The fact that the dealer would charge less because the maker set a lower price, would just be extra happiness, but not an incentive to buy something I didn't like in the first place.

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You seem to suggest that you would buy a violin regardless of its price, orgin, and workmanship. And base the decision purely on tone. But your behavior suggests otherwise.

Your pool of 30 violins were exclusively Italian. That suggested that origin was important to you. There is no "if Ming's violin had happened to be at the show". Ming's violin couldn't be included in the show because he is not Italian.

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1. Maybe I was a bit hasty in my comment on having to pay the price. I travel with a translator but, as you know, price negotiation isn't a quick thing. In the flea markets I work by tapping numbers into a visible calculator and they tap in counter offers but this isn't serious buying. But a good violin is a weightier transaction and I haven't successfully completed one yet.

However, I did detect a certain 'take it or leave it' attitude relative to top end fiddle.

2. On your second point, you are spot on. I omitted to mention that my bowmaker's first comment, on being asked for a brand was that he didn't feel he was good enough. I pointed out that he would die unrecognised if he never attached his name to his bows and from that point on we started to make progress.

So I agree there is an element of modesty here. Just one more cultural difference to add to the list.

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  • 1 month later...

Hello everyone! I am glad to have found this discussion on Ming

Jiang Zhu. I have been searching for a while now regarding his

instruments. I have played one, the VN-350 model and thought it was


I dunno what wood type of wood or knowledge on its specs. It

was antiqued, smooth and it sounded sweet... little more on the

throaty dark sound though. I would like to know if anybody

here has tried the upper models? Or even violins that he personally

made. How are they? Tone? Wood? Spec? Anybody here who owns one and

has a photograph? I find these instruments hard to find.

The local luthier that i go to only had one and have not had

another stock since. I am considering on getting one but have no

idea on his instrument line and where to buy one. I googled it and

found one in Southern California but sells it for $8,000...Im sure

this is the Top model... and a bit too much for my

budget? I dont think i can go to china or San jose, Ca either

to check other ones... thanks everyone!

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Hello Cinematto,

Please note that I have posted here before under the name kenmckay

which is my real name Ken McKay. I have just signed up under the

name upnorth since the software change. I couldn't sign


I have the entire line of Ming Jiang Zhu violins and violas. The VN

350 Artist is the bottom of the line but is a very fine instrument

made in the workshop of Ming Jiang Zhu. It is a small workshop of

makers under the direct supervision of the master Ming Jiang Zhu

who has won 12 international awards.  I shouldn't discuss

prices here but the top of the line MingJian Zhu , the VN 900

Premium Master, has a list price of less than half of your price

($8000 USD). 

Send me an email if you want to discuss this further.


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  • 1 year later...


I understand, from one dealer, that a violin benchmade by Zhu

himself is aproximately $15 - $18,000 US right now, and will be

going up soon.

I would imagine that the top workshop model, VS900, is probably

very nearly as good, if not identical, without the same


One thing I find odd though, and perhaps you can comment:  I

am told that the worshop violins come with no certificate.

 Why is that?  Seems very strange o me, as I can think of

no reason for it.

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The VN-900 is made from European Maple and Spruce and has excellent workmanship. I hardly have to touch the set-up as they come to me. They are consistent and are a real good "player" instrument.

You make a great point about the certificate. They don't come to me from my distrubutor with anything like that but I am going to look into getting that done because it is something that will put a buyer at ease and maybe help with resale value also. Thanks for the suggestion

Edit note)

Manfio, yes true but since Zhu has a small workshop, he really should consider this, I think.

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