Advice on whether to buy this fiddle

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Dear Friends-

I am going to upload some photos of a violin that I am looking at on Ebay. I am hoping that those of you who have some expertise can offer any judgments about its apparent functional integrity, and if the overall craftsmanship is satisfactory. If it doesn't appear to have any potential problems, I will more than likely buy it. The price is almost too good, to my mind.

Any other comments would be appreciated as well, especially about what type it is, since there is no label, and the fellow knows nothing about it. He was kind enough to send me these improved images to help me decide if I wanted it. The item is listed here. I have no knowledge to judge its origins, whether chech, german, etc., or if it looks like a So- and- So copy. Anything you would share with me would help me tremendously.

It doesn't matter to me whether the violin is a masterpiece. I have my own considerations for staying at the cheap end of the purchasing scale, altough it would be nice to hear someone say "oh, but it has the whatever of a TRUE whatever.". But if it is obviously too cheap to be worth any in- depth comment, then please just say if it looks worth at least a double c-note.

And thanks for indulging me.

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Here is just an opinion.  Unless you are capable of doing all

of the repairs yourself the instrument doesn't look like it is

worth it.  In one photo you can see that the rib has come off

of the lower block.  It could just be that the rib has come

loose or it could be that the lower block is cracked.  If you

take it to a good violin shop for repairs I suspect that the

repairs would greatly exceed the value of the instrument.

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Well, the fingerboard is a dyed softer wood and should be replaced with an ebony fingerboard ($100 or so) and it appears from the side view that the neck angle is too low, a repair that requires the skills of a maker and around here costs $100 to $250 depending on how it is done.

There are lots of safer places to buy violins. If you must trade on ebay buy one of the Yita chinese fiddles. It will need a new set of strings and a decent bridge, but otherwise there should be no surprises.

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Additionally, the cap is missing on the e-string mechanical peg,visible in the last photo, either inadvertently, or cleverly disguised by the angle of the shots of the front and back. I've seen a number of these pegs as original equipment on some pretty good fiddles, including some Roths.. it might be not be too functional as-is, very difficult to find replacement parts I expect. These pegs can be replaced with conventional pegs w/o having to bush the holes. Allow for new pegs also.

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Thanks, evereyone, for your thoughtful responses.

BobH, you have an exceptional eye, since I still after looking closely can only see see that the violin was photographed consistently from angles that don't show the higher side as clearly as the lower. I canot see wjhat you mean about the e- string peg. I do see that they are mechanical pegs, and that doesn't bother me, but I never would have noticed what you are referring to. Ditto for the neck angle, brokenbow, which is the only thing I think I cannot live with. I don't understand how that can be fixed without altering the sound, or at least, as you say, without costing more than it is worth to have it fixed. While I would normally think if it sounds OK as is, then an expert set- up would improve it. I'm only guessing, but would making a change in this case would require removing and re- setting the neck and possibly building it up? Wouldn't that affect the sound?

I have held the notion that a violin with such stunning markings on the back could not possibly have any great faults, because WHY would a poor craftsman be handed a responsibility that they could not do justice to? That makes it difficult to be objective about an instrument. While I am still considering making an offer, The neck fault- and it appears to me since it has been pointed out that it is indeed too low- significantly lowers what I am willing to pay, even with the bow and old coffin case thrown in.

But the color is so beautiful to me. I just don't care for the oranges and reds. I am partial to the liver chestnut or walnut brown, and I love the golden highlights on this one. I cannot see the purfling well enough to decide if I like it. That's not good at all, because who can? It's obscured by dirt and poor lighting.

Anyway, thanks again, everybody. I'll let y'all know what I ultimately decide.


Would someone offer what maker this was probably modeled after? The comments so far have made me more aware of what I am looking at, and I can't help wanting more.

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Liz, well I just had the nasty surprise of a "beautiful French violin" shipped to my house with a neck broken clear off. The seller blames UPS, but all I care now is whether I get my refund or not. You don't know what defects a violin might have until you examine it closely and have a trusted luthier look at it. So far, there are always some negative surprises, perhaps none as big as a broken neck, but certainly bridge replacement, fingerboard straightening or replacement, neck warping, or small cracks or seam openings seem to be the norm. Meanwhile I absolutely love every violin I bought at a shop, but at a price. What attracts folks about ebay is the thought of getting a bargain, but most times you get more than what you bargained for. Let's pray that I get my refund soon.

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