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Zhang Shu Mei and Amarti Foundation


rookie
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Glenn, thanks a lot for the 'insider's edition'. I am so glad that they are planning ahead with the wood.

Yes, when I lived in Munich, I visited the mad king's palace in Numphenberg and delighted to see Chinese paint on the wall and also its china. I think it was likely from Ming Dynasty (Ming Dynasty follows Yuen Dynasty) given the color and the time China export was very advanced. The condition of the arts are unbelievable! If you've got the chance to visit the forbidden palace in Peking (i.e. Beijing) or the national palace in Taipei, Taiwn you will be awe as I always was and still am.

Even though I have lived, studied and worked in three continents, I am still very fond and very proud of my Chinese heritage.

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Miles,

I attempted to return it, but when I expressed dissatisfaction with the cello Andrew no longer was the polite guy he was before the transaction was complete. After his one and only response to the email I sent expressing disappointment he completely stopped all correspondence. I wasn't about to send the cello back and not get my money returned. Instead, I did what I could to improve the sound and resold it for less than it cost me to a beginner and cut my losses to several hundred dollars.

Oh that darned school of hard knocks.

The violins do look a bit better, but the cello I recieved had flat arching on the face and back. It was very heavy and thick up around the upper bouts. It had a D string that refused to resonate at all while the other strings struggled. I thought about regraduating it, but the flatness of the top and back made it not worth trying.

Nice wood, what a waste.

L

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Miles, I haven't visited mad King Ludwig's fantasy castle but I have visited the Forbidden City in Beijing. I'm a great fan of Chinese decorative and plastic arts and have visited many fine collections. I have a soft spot for wooden things and have always collected antique Chinese and European furniture hence my appreciation of wear and patina.

I'm tempted to get one of those Chinese violins with the quilted bird's eye maple backs. That wood is spectacular and I've never seen markings quite like that on a European violin. I'd be interested to hear how they sound.

BTW, I asked my Chinese bowmaker to make me a snakewood violin bow and he said he could do it easily but snakewood is only good for baroque bows and I wouldn't be happy with it in a violin bow.

Mamawelder, yours is a regrettable, cautionary tale that we always run some risk buying on eBay with only pictures to guide us.

It is always a case of 'you win some and you lose some'.

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Sunnybear: "if you look at the violins on e-bay, the seller (andrew) does not make this claim anymore...he was listed on the amati Foundation, then was replaced by the current chap...e-mail Andrew for an explanation."

I think it is logical that Andrew took the "listed" claim off since Mr. Zhang no longer appears on Amati's list. IMHO, Andrew was acting upon Amati Foundation's result. I would do the same if I were him.

Following the train of thought, shouldn't the curious write to Amati Foundation to get a detailed explanation for what happened instead of to Andrew? The chosen shouldn't be in the driver's seat, should they? If they should, we would call that MANIPULATION, wouldn't we? So, who is in the better position to tell all of us reading/writing this thread, Andrew of HK or Amati Foundation?

Glenn, "I'm tempted to get one of those Chinese violins with the quilted bird's eye maple backs."

They do look spectacular. But one caution, some complained that the tone was not as good. I myself bought one, which I fondly and proudly call "my cheap Chinese violin", actually has very good tone even with cheap strings (the seller recommended that I replace them, but I have not).

Oh yeh, the snakewood is beautiful too. There was one violin made with snakewood and painted crackle white/gold color. I tempted to buy it, but...

> Mamawelder, yours is a regrettable, cautionary tale that we always run some risk buying on eBay with only pictures to guide us.

Actually, Mamawelder's cello has return policy (for 15 days???) like Jesse's. If Malmawelder was so unhappy with it, she should have returned it right within 15 days. That's fair and square as I always say with Jesse's items: If you don't like it, send it straight back to Jesse. Therefore, I don't think "you win some and you lose some" applies in her case. On the contrary, I would feel confident bidding on Mamawelder's cello and Jesse's auctions: You won't loose.

Mamawelder, did you return the cello? Any hassel from the seller?

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As I said before. Andrew's change to an aggressive demeanor after may complaint and noncommunication when I asked about returning it didn't give me confidence that he would make good on a return. If he had just said send it back I'll return your money or even I will send something else I would've returned it. Considering he stopped all communication and I'm in the US and he far away in H.K. It didn't seem like a wise decision to return it without him saying to. Also he only had about 3 feedbacks on ebay at the time.

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I guess Andrew has been changing eBay accounts because I believe he has sold a few hundred instruments in the last year or two. I still maintain as Glenn noted that ZSM is a workshop of varying quality. Perhaps there is a real person ZSM who signs off on these, but we can only guess how many people are engaged at his workshop. Some time ago I contacted a few of the eBay buyers of ZSM violins. The few who responded seemed happy with their violin, but complained about the terrible setups that had to be redone. A few were buying these to stock their stores for resale.

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Yes Miles,

It was nearly three years ago and he was wet behind the ebay ears. Perhaps his customer service has improved. I haven't yet heard of anyone getting a refund from Andrew yet. Considering the cost of shipping to and from HK I can see why. Most buyers probably resold their so-so stringed ZSM instruments and like me cut their losses. My experience is I inquired about an Ebay cello and Andrew said that he had a different cello that was better and hyped it up. So my deal turned out to be an off ebay transaction. Because of this I was unable to leave any feedback for the guy. Months later I bought a cheap cello bow from him and left positive feedback for the bow and mentioned my dissatisfaction with the cello he sent.

Let me know how the birds eye cello sounds.

~Linda

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That makes sense. Most of those are actually described as "labeled", not "made by" so logically they were made by his workshop. <br /><br />In this case, Glenn's wisdom applies:<br />"[W]e always run some risk buying on eBay with only pictures to guide us. It is always a case of 'you win some and you lose some'."

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Sorry Glenn, I missed this post yesterday (just changed my viewing mode to flat; the old one was difficult to keep track of new posts).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Miles, Are you Andrew Wong?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Glenn, I think it will be easier for Andrew to be me than the other way around. All he needs to do is to get a good surgeon or just get a dress and high heel shoes. Well, he may wanna put on some makeup as well. Oh, almost forgot to mention: He also needs a wig with long hair.

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mamawelder - "Instead, I did what I could to improve the sound and resold it for less than it cost me to a beginner and cut my losses to several hundred dollars. Why would you spend money to improve the sound if you plan on cutting your losses? That doesn't make much sense. Like selling a used car, regardless of new parts your replace, you will not be able to get the money, you know. If you had worked on the cello before you contacted the seller, it would make more sense to me if he gave you hassel for returning since it was NOT the same any more (even though it might mean the quality had been improved).

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Thanks for that James,

I believe in being honest and preserving my carma.

Andrew didn't show an interest in accepting a return. I had no other choice than to make it reasonably playable for a beginning cellist. I changed the bridge, soundpost, tailpiece and of course the strings. It was ok after that but nothing to write home about. The guy I sold it to was just starting out and came over and tried it out several times. He was very happy with it at $1,000. My loss was $450 but his smile made it a break even deal.

~Linda

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I find it interesting that Andrew's memory is so keen after thousands of transactions. Yes, it may have gone something like that; but he failed to tell you that I complained right away and he told me the cello just needed a new bridge, a sound post adjustment, new strings ect then it would be a great cello. Considering the way it was set-up I didn't doubt that. I had confidence that he was a good guy and wouldn't misguide me. Hind site 20/20 I now know that cellos with the sound problems this one had are impossible to completely cure. I've learned a lot since that transaction and I hope Andrew has grown as well.

Asking to return the cello after doing all those upgrades I would think Andrew would have jumped on it. The fact that he didn't, makes me think he knew it was a problem cello.

Jee whiz that would've been a deal for him! A free high grade bridge (I put on a $73 A grade Despiau bridge), a Thomastik tailpiece, larsen and spirocore tungsten strings and a new soundpost that fit (the soundpost it had was so short that it was placed to the outside.) It was nearly at the f-hole. There was about a 1/2" space between the soundpost and the foot of the bridge. He directed me to do the upgrades then when I told him it still had the problem, he said sorry it's too late now. Give me a break!

My cello purchases are few compaired to his sales I believe my memory is crystal clear on this transaction. He led me to believe it was a great cello and just needed some tweeking ($450 worth!)

If you are buying the cello for the pretty wood you won't be dissappointed the wood is definately gorgeous. Maybe Andrew will realize that he needs to make all customers happy if he wants his business to continue to thrive and not tarnish ZSM's name. It only takes a few unhappy customers to dampen sales. I hope he treats you well and that you have a good buying experience. Maybe he will redeem himself. For me I get my Chinese Instruments through Eastman strings and find all transactions pleasent and their products and customer service of the highest quality and integrity.

~Linda

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Hi Linda,

Thanks a lot for the clarification. Now I think everyone who's interested in this thread can judge for themselves. From this board, I learned a lot about what to avoid and who to avoid as well as who to buy and what to buy. So I want to make sure that we all get the full picture and make our own "educated" guess in purchasing on eBay (who knows what would change, thus the word educated). And yes, so far I am a happy customer of his, and I only knew of him/ZSM because of this board.

As Glenn wisely summarized, "...we gain some and we lose some". I lost big time back in 2001, but gained some this year. I hope my good luck and other people's good luck continue due to the more accurate information we receive.

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Glenn, i wonder if you remember this, but there was a LA TIMES article on the amati foundation and how Townsend learned the art of and was inspired by a violin maker by the name of none other than Zhang Shu Mei. I believe that they'd have to get this info straight from Bill, so is this reasonable proof that he is a real man? I see no reason otherwise. What are your thoughts?

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++++++++++++++++

Originally it cited Zhang Shu Mei but found out this was a ficticious name. - GlennPA

++++++++++++++++

Glenn,

Adding to Violinbeginner's question, do you know how the Amati foundation found out ZSM was fictious? What is your source for this lead?

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The new introductory comments in Andrews auction description is cleverly worded to defend keeping the role of ZSM in the background.

http://cgi.ebay.com/1-back-cello-totally...1QQcmdZViewItem

I cannot judge the significance of these comments but I do know a teacher who has bought a few of his 'shop' violas and violins. She has been pleased with the tone and quality after some minor setup modifications.

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Based on Andrew's remark, we can only take it that there is a Mr. ZSM who's 70+ of age and a master maker in Beijing.

However, the question still remain is - why in the first place reference was made to Amati Foundation where Mr. ZSM was not one of the 33 master makers? Or, was he once was and was subsequently taken out and why?

Still puzzle with linking Mr. ZSM to Amati Foundation...

Peace

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Michael,

We are on the same page here or should we flatter ourselves by saying "Great minds think the same?" Yes, I thought of doing that. But then again, it borders upon "business secrete" as ZSM is really how he gets his merchandise. Therefore, I dare not cross this line and that is the main reason why I never ask.

I grew up in Chinese society and should know better. Things like the aforementioned are just like what you would consider impolite/rude in the US:

"What do you make per year?"

"How much do you pay for your rent?"

"How much did you pay for xx merchandise?"

"Why did you break up with your girl-/boy-friend?"

etc., etc...

To most Chinese or even most Asians, these questions are not exactly that offensive. btw. My country fellows please correct me if I am wrong or my experience has been severely outdated since I have spent most of my life overseas back in the 80's.

So I am very curious myself, but I would rather wait for Andrew to let me know on his own. If not, I respect his decision since truly he has no obligation to feed our curiosity. That said, if Andrew does give me the privilege to "verify" Mr. Zhang, I would ask him for permission to update everyone who's interested in the "bottomline". (Hmm, what title should I come up with to increase hits? "ZSM, not ZQ". Extra, extra, read all about it starting $49, NO RESERVE!)

On the other hand, I would very much like to have Glenn tell us where he got his "juice and news" about "Amati finally realized that ZSM was fictious". Since Glenn made that claim, it shouldn't be too difficult to get the story. Glenn, you don't mind sharing the Amati "mess-up" with us, do you? My bambi eyes are blinking.

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+++++++++++++++++++++++++

why in the first place reference was made to Amarti Foundation where Mr. ZSM was not one of the 33 master makers?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Minor correction, Rookie, when ZSM made the Amati list, there were only 29, NOT 33 master makers. The other 4 were added later:

********************************************************************************

******

*

*ZSM + 28 MMakers = Amati 2004 - 2005 list => X(Glenn, Andrew) => ZQ + 32 MMasters = Amati 2005 revised list*

*

********************************************************************************

******

Legends:

X_Glenn: ZSM = ficticious

X_Andrew:

To be frank, I have a bit hard time believing that ZSM is fictious from beginning. However, I won't be too surprised if there were some kind of lobbying activities going on. Just my wild thoughts (or 2 cents as they say?) since I don't have any facts or anything to suggest that. Pure speculation only.

Die Gedanken sind frei!!!

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Quote:

The Amati Foundation has now changed its listing for China.

Originally it cited Zhang Shu Mei but found out this was a ficticious name.

Zheng Quan is based in Beijing and is the most distinguished maker in China today.


Months ago I read on the Amati website a lovely story about how Mr. Townsend started the Amati Foundation. The article said that Mr. Townsend went to China on business and his translator happened to be related to a violin maker. I don't remember the name - they all look alike to me. The story continued, saying that Mr. Townsend became interested in violin making because of this person, I assume Zhang Shu Mei, and sat with ZSM day after day learning the art of VM.

So I surmised that either

1) The story was a revelation rather than an actual event.

2) ZSM only had characteristics that lead Mr. Townsend to assume that he was a Chinese person when in reality he was a person of Fictitious decent.

3) Every morning Mr. Townsend would greet his master "Good Morning Master Zhang" and received the reply "Zheng not Zhang". Smiling, Mr. Townsend assumed that this was a quaint traditional salutation.

4) Or Mr. Zhang really did exist.

I just checked the Townsend website and he does mention a Ziang Mei, which I believe to be the same person, just an alternate phonetic spelling.

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