Paying for Set Up: the non luthier


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quote: "We talk a lot about how setup will transform an instrument, but those great transformations are apparent to people with pretty good ears. For the general population and many players the changes from setup are pretty subtle if noticed at all."

quote: "If this is a violin shop, strange that they haven't done a proper setup"

I just have to get in my two cents worth. This is the attitude taken by most violin shops. In their arrogance, they will charge you the same whether they perform good work or not. I recall the horrible setups I have gotten from "reputable" violin shops for $200 to $300. Robertsons, Semans, Shar, Fritz Reuter, and I could go on, only to have a conscientious luthier toss the whole set up later on! The bridge, followed by the post, is the most important link between your bowing and the instrument. This is what produces the sound. A mm. here and there makes a tremendous difference. Honestly, some of these average shops don't employ a soul who knows how to carve a bridge. No person qualified would want to work for them for any length of time. Or take a good shop like Semans, if they don't think you or your instrument are worth the bother, they don't bother, but they'll charge you just the same. Or go to your average shop: A440 in Chicago and see what kind of set up you'd get, and see if you even get your violin back in one piece! Perfect place to go if you want a bridge with club feet two yards wide or you want your wash-tub bass adjusted! Don't assume that because you are in a "violin" shop they have your, or your instrument's, best interests at heart. If my instrument is worth under $5000 and I am an amateur player, why shouldn't I get the same service as Mr. Concertmaster, if I am paying the same amount of money? Why shouldn't the violin sound its best?

Maybe my ears are too good for my own good, maybe I'm old fashioned, but when I pay money for a service I think it is reasonable to expect it be performed, even if myself and my instrument are unimportant! Finally: any amateur can tell the difference in the sound with a good setup, i.e. bridge & post. It is immediately apparent even with a cheaper instrument.

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your post struck a chord with me, (no pun intended)...

at one time in my life, i worked as a guitar technician in a

"family owned" music store.

they were well known for treating their customers with more

respect.

but, behind the scenes, the bias was incredible.

sadly, the allotted time allowed on an instrument repair was

directly proportionate to the presumed instrument's value, and how

well the owner knew the customer, (no surprise there, huh?).

and everyone paid the same bench fees.

with violins being more delicate in their setup and repairs, one

can only imagine how bad it really is.

maybe i'm 'old-fashioned', but i too think that one should get what

one pays for, and an "unimportant" customer doesn't exist.

E.

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As a shop owner, I'd respond by saying that you're absolutely right -- you should receive the same level of service and care regardless of the value of your instrument.

When I was an apprentice, the thing that was taught to me was to always assume that the instrument you were working on was the most valuable instrument in the world, because to your customer, it is. It can be tough to maintain that outlook, though, especially for smaller shops, who often have school repair contracts or regularly see instruments that are beaten and battered. For myself, I'd say that if I find myself falling into the trap of a bias, it's not so much a bias of the value of the instrument as it is the level of care that's given to the instrument by its owner.

I've seen violins that aren't worth the wood they're made from, that are lovingly cared for by their owners, and I've seen highly valuable Italian instruments being slowly made into kindling by their careless owners who are seemingly nicking and denting them just to see what happens -- and then expect me to repair their thoughtlessness. I try hard to treat all of my customers with the same respect, but whether it's an instrument that's worth $500 or $500,000, I'm much more likely to show the customer's instrument respect if I know that they show it respect.

EDIT: Regarding the original comment that some shops seemingly don't know how to carve a bridge, I can only say that you have to find someone whose work you like and stick with them. High prices don't automatically mean that the shop is a better place to go.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
vlnhunter
Regarding the

original comment that some shops seemingly don't know how to carve

a bridge, I can only say that you have to find someone whose work

you like and stick with them. High prices don't automatically mean

that the shop is a better place to go.

Yes, but that's still a problem:  How do you know you "like"

someone's work?  How can you possibly know that Mr

uber-expensive, impressive client list" repairman actually cut the

best possible bridge for you, or has the SP in just the right

spot?

I went to such a repairman, twice.  Both times for standard

setups.  Both times, the violins in question ended up sounding

no better than beforehand.  But let's pretend, for argument's

sake, that they had improved slightly.  How could I possibly

know that this is the best my fiddle could sound?  It is

perfectly possible that some other luthier would have gone a

different way, and my violin would be even better sounding.

I also wonder why Mr uber-expensive didn't ask me why kind of sound

& response I wanted, before starting the work.  Assuming

he truly had the "secrets" at his disposal, such questions would

surely be prudent, no?

---------------------

When I first started reading-up on violin setups, I read all the

hooey about carving the bridge's "fiddly-bits."  I do believe

that this can make a subtle difference, after all, that is

supposedly what those parts are there for. Later on, I

was amazed to find that the vast majority of experts hanging out on

various forums don't have a clue about this stuff (with apologies

to the very few exceptions to that rule who hang out here)

I would gladly pay $200 just for the labor, to have it

done right, but there's no official Luthiers Guild Of America,

official  "Passed His Fiddly-Bits Tuning Exam" diploma to look

for. Ask them about this, and they'll ALL tell you they

know how to do it.  

AND THIS RAISES ANOTHER QUESTION:

How could anyone POSSIBLY make a perfect bridge for only $200?

Let's say you're really trying:

First, you'd have to try various expensive blanks, roughed to

aproximately the right height & width, just to see which wood

gives the best combination with said violin.  You'll have to

carefully record each bridge, and do a double-blind listening test

afterwards (requiring an assistant) unless you believe that you

have better aural memory than the entire rest of humankind.

 -And don't forget to change strings every 2-3

times, otherwise the full-tension cycles will change the string

sound, and then, ooops there go your objective results.

Next, you'd start carving away at the fiddly-bits.  Of course,

you'd record each step, and carefully analyze the results before

continuing, right? And what if you go just a little too

far?  Isn't that basically the only way to find out how far is

perfect?  So now what, add-back some wood?  Of course

not, you'd have to start with a new, perfect-matched blank, and

take it to the last step.  -  And of course repeat this

for every "fiddly-bit" adjustment that you actually understand the

import of.

---------------------------

OK, that's at LEAST a full day's work, several sets of Evah

Pirazzis,  and maybe ten expensive blanks.  Here's my

$200, with thanks!

-Now let's start on the sound post:  Move it a little, and how

does it sound?  well, suppose you change its position, but

make it slightly tighter, or looser?  Or keep it there and

make it tighter? Or thinner? -Or keep

everything the same but try denser Spruce?

 Who actually does this, and how much

would it cost to REALLY get it optimized? Can I ever hope to have

this done, unless I (God forbid) do it myself?

-Now let's start on the after-length adjustment shall we?

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OK, Mr "Uber-expensive, NYC, snootified, we know all don't even

have the nerve to ask" shop owner.  Here's a challenge for

you:

---------------------------------------

THE CHALLENGE:

I just had three decent violins set-up by a top luthier. (good

client list, top prices charged, etc) I am not thrilled

with his work, and think perhaps all three violins could have been

optimized better.  My proposition:

I will record said three violins, plating various styles in various

genres, with good strings broken in for exactly three days, @ 2 hrs

per day.  

I will bring them to you for you best (everyone gets your best,

right?) full setups.  Afterward, I will record them again in

the same manner, with fresh sets of the same strings broke-in

exactly the same way. You may have one of your

workers accompany me, to make sure I don't skew the results. (who,

me?)  

I will then bring the recorded results to your shop, along with a

very good playback system & digital workstation, all set to

playback each pass instantaneously so there is no time-lapse

in between runs.  I will bring several friends with educated

ears. You will bring all your workers, and any friends / experts

you want.

I will run the tests, and everyone will mark down their

thoughts.

If, at the end, at least 75% of listeners clearly pick your setups

as overall best sounding on all three violins, I will pay you FIVE

times your normal rate.  If less than 75%, the work is

free.

----------------------------

 THE QUESTIONS:

1:  Would anyone here have the confidence in their craft to

take such a challenge?

2:  If you did, how long (realistically) do you think you'd

have to work at it to guarantee that you got paid?

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Well, I got a late 19th century German violin that had been set up with a baroque neck, tailpiece and bass bar. It was hell for scratchy. Took it to a luthier (Michael Weller of Alexandria VA) who played with it for a while, and told me to go get a set of Eudoxas. (It had come with all-gut chorda strings).

Came back a week or so later, and he restrung it, started messing with the soundpost, moved it a GREAT deal away from where it seemed like it ought to be, and made it into a pretty good sounding violin. He noticed that he'd strung the e string more or less upside-down at the t-piece; took it off and put it"right", and the sound deteriorated remarkably. Put it back wrong, and ther we were. Charged not a dime for his time and effort. (I'm sure he felt sorry for me).

The lessons: don't believe your eyes or your previous experience regarding soundpost location and string tension - only your ears matter. Don't expect something for nothing, but be thankful when you get it that way; don't buy violins on ebay when you're stone ignorant. Also, find someone who'll let you watch while he works the magic. (Calling ahead for an appointment helps, too).

The only problem is I feel so beholden to the man that I'm almost afraid to go back with all the other bizarre fiddles I have. I really don't want to waste his time; I feel certain he is a precious resource, and there are many violins more deserving of his attentions than my assembly of oddities.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Allan Speers

[

Yes, but that's still a problem:  How do you know you "like"

someone's work?  How can you possibly know that Mr

uber-expensive, impressive client list" repairman actually cut the

best possible bridge for you, or has the SP in just the right

spot?


You know that someone has done good work for you because of the results. If the fiddle sounds good and has a good response, then you got a good setup. So, it's a matter of a player's ability to judge the tone and response of a fiddle as it undergoes changes.

I think it's also worth keeping in mind that there is no such thing as an objective optimal set-up divorced from the wishes and tastes of the individual player. A setup that works for one player may not be what another player wants.

It's also worth noting that the results of setting up a fiddle, like going to a doctor, are, at their best, the product of a relationship between player and repairer that gets established over time. In other words, it may take multiple trips to the set-up guy to get the results you want, because some of it is trial and error until set-up guy and player know what each other can do and wants, and what the fiddle is capable of.

A final point to make is that there's such a thing as too much tampering with a fiddle, too much moving a post around or changing neck angles. All those changes do create some wear and tear on the fiddle.

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If you think your violin has a problem, talk to a luthier of a violin shop and ask for

an estimate. It is about the best advice one can offer. An average person (or a player)

does not know enough to bring out the best of the instrument. Can (your) Mr.Concertmaster can do a good setup ?

Maybe and maybe not. No way to tell.

PS. A case in point if the nut of a violin is bit too low would you think

an average player would know it ?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Allan Speers

I think you guys are completely missing the point.


Actually, Allan, I'll admit that I'm having trouble "getting" several points. It may be partially do to my personal feelings about the following quote.

Your challenge? Honestly, I don't have time to partake... I believe the criteria for what's better would need to be defined carefully, and the instruments you chose for the "test" would be rather critical to it's outcome, in my opinion. Some instruments just won't "perform" above their class (the available increase in response is limited). Probably more effective to just ask my clients what they think of my work. Besides, I'm completely satisfied with the amount I receive for my services.

quote:


Originally posted by:
pappy

Don't assume that because you are in a "violin" shop they have your, or your instrument's, best interests at heart. If my instrument is worth under $5000 and I am an amateur player, why shouldn't I get the same service as Mr. Concertmaster, if I am paying the same amount of money? Why shouldn't the violin sound its best?


Pappy. I can see by your profile that you reside in the same town I do... and we may have even met at some time (when I worked for "the company").

Sounds like you're frustrated a bit... and probably have a right to be... I'd be upset if I thought I wasn't being taken seriously.

My honest response to your quote above is: If a luthier takes on your instrument, and charges you what they would any other player (professional or not), you should, absolutely, expect the same quality work and service. If you're not getting the same, you have a right to be upset.

Now the rub... the "If" at the beginning of my comment. While each technician is "built" differently, many who have developed reputations for working on professional level instruments will be unwilling to take on instruments "below" a certain level of quality. Many of us already have schedules that are rather full... and are only willing to take on new projects if they're interesting or desirable... or in some cases, are favors for an existing client or a person we have come to know and are willing to make room for. We're busy providing service to those who already comprise our client lists...

In other words, we wish to work at a level that we've "earned" for ourselves, on instruments that we like, or at the level we sell, and have potential to "teach" us the most (although almost any instrument has something to teach, some have better potential than others). Personally, I do make exceptions (less lately, as things are pretty booked up), as I'm sure others do... but usually there's a reason (poor talented student that is playing something that just isn't working for them; foundation owned instruments, etc).

I don't want to come off as a "violin snob". It's not really the price tag that's the issue... it's that I prefer to work on the kind of older instruments that I like, or occasionally on contemporary instruments made by makers whom I know and respect. I don't have an "assistant" to hand off an instrument to, in great part because I want to provide work that is to my own standards and performed by my own hands. There are only a certain number of hours in the day... I tend to try and focus on what I feel I'm good at, and where, ultimately, I want to be and what I want to be doing.

Also, in my opinion, in addition to the skills that one develops in the trade, satisfying a client's needs depends in great part on how well the player is listened to... how much effort is taken in understanding what they want... and applying ones skills to accomplishing the task. The effort and time required to do this does not always qualify as "billable hours".

Taking this a step further, I might suggest that a technician with a stellar reputation with player A, might not be the "right" choice for player "B"... and it might have as much to do with rapport as with tool skills.

Because I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in my set of priorities, a certain number of luthiers may not be available to you... especially those of us that work solo and are not connected do with a larger shop. If a larger shop is approached, there is a hierarchy within it... just as there would be in any business. You may not reach the best hands in the building unless there is reason that you should. On the other hand, you shouldn't be charged the same rate the best hands demand either.

In addition, I often see setups by others that I think are totally appropriate, or only require minor alterations to accomplish what the player wants. I've taken great care to preserve bridges by other makers that I feel are excellent matches for the instrument they are on. I'll avoid naming names, though.

I know I'm not alone in this, as some instruments I care for are also looked after by others in different parts of the country or the world... and they don't seem to return with new bridges, posts and fingerboards unless it was really time they had them. Good is good, in most cases.

Stern; I do charge concert masters... at the same rate.

There you go. I realize that I may have placed a bulls eye on my butt, but my response is an honest one. Let the arrows fly.

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slowly drawing the gut back,  taking aim ....

Jeffery, surely you realize I was talking not about anyone here,

but in general terms, and specifically about the conundrum

that the OP addresses.  That is, "the NON luthier" not knowing

whom to trust.  

I've spent a lifetime paying all manner of "experts" to do various

jobs (as I'm sure we all have) only to find out many years later

that they did a poor job.  Most of these "experts" had great

reputations, and were recommended by people who had been fooled

just like I was. The world is full of such "experts,"

and they're usually very good at talking the talk.

Specific example:  I've had full "pro" setups on four violins

to date (on the rest, I have started to do it myself) paying

top-dollar from two separate HIGHLY regarded and expensive

repairmen. Part of that setup includes after-length

adjustment, which I specifically mention as being a concern for me

to have "just right."  We know from past threads here that the

1-6 rule is just a starting point, although a very safe one.

All four of my violins came back to me with EXACTLY a

1-6 ratio.  So, tell me, what are the chances that

this was the perfect placement on all four violins?

In fact, on two of them it wasn't at all, as I found out

later from some laborious tweaking on my own.  It wasn't

subjective, there were clear improvements made with a few mm

change.  It would not, as skiingfiddler says, require many

visits and a good relationship to develop.  All it required

was a bit of careful attention and experimentation, which should

have been done the FIRST time.  Charge me what you want, but

do the job properly.  

So, were these luthiers incompetent, or simply liars?  Either

way, they now have my money.

I don't want to wait years to find out that all of my violins could

have sounded better.  But what can you do? It's not really

easy, or even recommended, to challenge a repairman with questions

about his abilities.  Yet, it's my life he's adjusting, not

just my fiddle. Is "good enough" or "better than the

last guy"  good enough? Not for me.

I think Pappy raises a VERY important, very serious issue here, and

not just for us non-luthiers:  If you are one of the world's

rare, extremely competent luthiers, you should be as bothered by

the hacks as we pleebs are.

I also bridle somewhat at the notion that only a fine violin will

respond to subtle tweaks.  OK, perhaps that's not exactly what

you said, but it leads down that slippery-slope of thinking:

 "This violin isn't worth my extra time."

That's not the part that concerns me, but it is another issue to

consider.

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When I bring my violin (top line commercial) to my local violin shop I pay for

whatever the work they do to bring out its best. Usually they tell me each operation that is required.

I can choose to have some done and forget others to fit my budget. A good set up $200 bucks is

a blanket statement. For example does it involved harden the bridge (not cutting a new bridge), trimming

something, adjusting sound post (free adjustment later on), new strings, cleaning up bridge area etc.? It all adds up.

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Allan, you bad bad boy!

You dare to suggest that the violin world (including "top" makers) is semi-populated with people who rely on "smoke and mirrors", illusion, hype, BS and marketing rather than actual talent?

OK, you're right.

I'll say though that I rarely experiment with every possible tweak on a customer instrument. If I did so, I wouldn't be able to quote a price, or even a price range. As a practical matter, I'll usually work until I feel there is a significant improvement, and then leave it at that. Going farther is risky, because musicians are generally uncomfortable with radical changes. I find it better to let a musician (and instrument) acclimate to the change, and then come back if they want more. I know it sounds weird, but go too far in one session, and you've failed. Change it enough, and they might even need to re-learn how to play the thing! So in a way, I probably fall into the "make it better than the last guy" category that you're frustrated with.

A lot comes down to taste too. If I build and set up an instrument for a good professional player, amateurs and students often don't like it.

Example: I recently sold a cello to a major orchestra principal, as her primary instrument, tested against a bunch of famous old Italians, other moderns, and all that garbage. Several students and amateurs had tried this same cello and weren't impressed.

Related to your question #2, I could easily spend a full day on a customer instrument. I could also spend months trying to improve a bad sounding Strad that was about to hit the market. In the latter situation, the financial support would be there, and I wouldn't need to worry about making it unfamiliar to the player.

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The non-luthier not knowing  who to trust is an issue. I saw

that frustration three times last month alone,  when I had to

re-do three bridge, sound post set ups that were

initially taken to one of our big name stores for repairs. One

of those instruments was one of my own violin!!!!!

Suggestion one, stay away from the big chain stores

Suggestion two, for heavens sake, go to the maker of the

instrument, when practical.

suggestion three, talk to who is doing the actual work, and turn up

you're BS meter. If they talk like Jeffrey And Davids last posts,

that's who to go to. Both of those replies talk of real world

experience.

Successful set ups take time to do right, with lots of back and

forth feed back from player/repairer, and aren't done all in one

session, but multiple sessions.Each change takes time to settle.

 And when they are agreed on as beautiful by both parties,

you're done.

Then the season,humidity,temperature,altitude,location, whatever

else changes, and you"re back to square one. It's wood. 

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I don't think that there is much to add apart from what David and Jeff have said.

From my experience in general, the easiest customers to adjust for and please are the most accomplished players. They (usually) understand the limits of their instruments and are best able to feel, sense or hear the very slight adjustments which can be made. David is absolutely right in saying, essentially, "good enough" for now..play on it and come back after you've adjusted to the instrument and it has settled in to your playing. Too many tweaks or changes in one sitting results in nothing but confusion, usually for both the player and adjuster. I'm sorry that Pappy and Alan have had nothing but bad experiences, but "doing it yourself" may be their best answer. I would however charge them my hourly work rate and spend as much time as they'd like....but I'm not sure they would be any more pleased with the outcome (or expense), and I would probably not gain much satisfaction from the endeavor.

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Pappy, don't paint everyone with the same brush. We do everything from entry level setups, to work for touring soloists. We have different levels for different quality violins, and charge accordingly. A good setup for a picky soloist can take all day, or even more. A student setup often takes less than an hour for a new bridge and sound post.

The only definition I know that works for "quality" is meeting the customer's expectations, whether a beginning student or an experienced pro.

I have had the same experience as David Burgess. The very best violins, the ones that equal or beat old Italian instruments, the ones that really good players can't put down, often don't even get noticed by players who don't have the training or experience to exploit their qualities.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Allan Speers

I also bridle somewhat at the notion that only a fine violin will

respond to subtle tweaks.  OK, perhaps that's not exactly what

you said, but it leads down that slippery-slope of thinking:

 "This violin isn't worth my extra time."


Allan, you are correct. I didn't use the word "fine", but I suppose the application of that notion would depend on your definition of "fine". I did use the word "class"... and in general I stand by that term, but certainly understand that there may be exceptions.

quote:


Originally posted by:
Nonado

The only definition I know that works for "quality" is meeting the customer's expectations, whether a beginning student or an experienced pro.


I'm not with you here... I often go beyond what the customer might expect... or even be able to detect... to the point that I personally feel satisfied with the job.

Multi level service is a challenge... I know. I've "been there", and don't want to go back. If your shop is able to walk the tighrope successfully, I applaud your efforts.

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A great thread, and some VERY valuable responses.

Alan, about the afterlength - by now you know that the "best" results will differ according to the instrument itself, the tailpiece, the strings, the post and the bridge (what have I left out?).

So, unless a customer is prepared to spend perhaps several hours in the shop with me during adjustment (which some serious ones do), I will also provide a "standard" setup. I cannot be expected to either "test" the violin for tweaks much beyond what a standard setup requires, considering that I'm not an accomplished player, not can I be expected to read the mind of the player regarding preferences. Most of the ones I cater for either don't know what they want anyway, or don't care (as in, doesn't "have the time" to spend with the luthier to get everything sorted out to satisfaction). As for the care with which I do my work - I don't make any exceptions, that would be much too complicated. Trying to do my best all the time is much simpler, both regarding customer relations and working procedure. (I will admit to one exception - I don't do beestings on cheap bridges for cheap instruments - and I charge less for those, obviously).

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quote:


Originally posted by:
erocca

From my experience in general, the easiest customers to adjust for and please are the most accomplished players. They (usually) understand the limits of their instruments and are best able to feel, sense or hear the very slight adjustments which can be made. David is absolutely right in saying, essentially, "good enough" for now..play on it and come back after you've adjusted to the instrument and it has settled in to your playing. Too many tweaks or changes in one sitting results in nothing but confusion, usually for both the player and adjuster.


I agree with your and David's observations completely. Successful adjustment/setup is often a process... not a finite act... and the medium (wood) is not a static entity (nor is the player, in many cases).

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To some extent this argument presumes that there is a single "best" setup for a particular instrument, which I don't believe is the case.

From what I've seen with the instruments here, setup is more a matter of adjusting the instrument to bring out a particular response, depending on what your needs are at the time. Instruments here have had different setups for different circumstances... sometimes they're adjusted for more resistance, sometimes for less. Sometimes they're adjusted for sweeter tone quality, sometimes for more "bite." It's really dependent on the type of playing and conditions.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Jeffrey Holmes

quote:


Originally posted by:
Nonado

The only definition I know that works for "quality" is meeting the customer's expectations, whether a beginning student or an experienced pro.

I'm not with you here... I often go beyond what the customer might expect... or even be able to detect... to the point that I personally feel satisfied with the job.

Most of the guys here do the much the same, partly for personal satisfaction, partly to maintain standards, and partly because the customer will indeed be more satisfied in the long run. The observation about defining quality came from endless discussions and debates about defining quality standards in a manufacturing environment. It's really hard to objectively define quality unless you link it to customer satisfaction. Personal satisfaction is a plus. Maybe I should have said "meeting or exceeding the customer's expectations," both short and long term.

Multi level service is a challenge... I know. I've "been there", and don't want to go back. If your shop is able to walk the tighrope successfully, I applaud your efforts.


I've visited the shop where you worked, and it's a good outfit, no doubt about it, but we do things somewhat differently. The philosophy expressed here is that we don't sell instruments, but rather we build relationships. Once we have a customer we work really hard to keep them through their entire career. The atmosphere is a lot warmer and more intimate than at the other place, and customers will often work directly with the same sales person and repair person year after year. There's always room for improvement, and it does take a certain temperament, but seems to work pretty well. I enjoy it.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Nonado

I've visited the shop where you worked, and it's a good outfit, no doubt about it, but we do things somewhat differently. The philosophy expressed here is that we don't sell instruments, but rather we build relationships. Once we have a customer we work really hard to keep them through their entire career. The atmosphere is a lot warmer and more intimate than at the other place, and customers will often work directly with the same sales person and repair person year after year. There's always room for improvement, and it does take a certain temperament, but seems to work pretty well. I enjoy it.


As I don't believe you visited the company that I worked for when I was an officer there, and since it's a very different place now as compared to then (the Fine Instrument division is simply a department within the company since I left and no longer has the staff or the kind of inventory it did), I'll choose not to take your comment as an insult for the moment... but please don't assume you know what the business philosophy and views on relationship building were at that time. Back then, besides my administrative duties, building and maintaining relationships was the most important part of my job there. Indeed, many of those relationships have followed me into my own firm.

Just for the record, the philosophy of the company management group over a decade ago was indeed to build relationships from cradle to grave. Of course, the challenge then was to agree on how meeting the goal was to be accomplished, and in presenting the plans & procedures in a manner that the owners would accept.

All organizations have their own personalities and faults. How I tend to rate them is how effectively contribute service and product according to their own goals.... and there is certainly a bias from my end if I agree or disagree with those goals... When I worked there, I'd have given my old company pretty good marks in some areas... and less than good in others.

I can't speak to the present company goals. They may be valid, but they are different.

Trying to provide cradle to grave services and products, rather than choosing a focus, does require some compromise, however, whether or not one wishes to acknowledge it or not.

As I said before, if you all are successful in walking the tightrope you've chosen to, I applaud you. It's not where I wish to be or what I wish to do.

quote:


The observation about
defining
quality came from endless discussions and debates about defining quality standards in a manufacturing environment. It's really hard to objectively define quality unless you link it to customer satisfaction. Personal satisfaction is a plus. Maybe I should have said "meeting or exceeding the customer's expectations," both short and long term.

Understood... but I think part of the problem is that almost any "definition" of the term quality is subjective. You're cetainly not alone in your perceptions. (Found the following with a quick search on the web to one of my favorite websites):

"American Society for Quality Source: http://www.asq.org/glossary/q.html. "a subjective term for which each person has his or her own definition. In technical usage, quality can have two meanings:

1) the characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.

2) a product or service free of deficiencies."

Also found:

"The quality of a product or service refers to the perception of the degree to which the product or service meets the customer's expectations. Quality has no specific meaning unless related to a specific function and/or object. Quality is a perceptual, conditional and somewhat subjective attribute."

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quote:


Originally posted by:
David Burgess
I rarely

experiment with every possible tweak on a customer instrument. If I

did so, I wouldn't be able to quote a price, or even a price range.

As a practical matter, I'll usually work until I feel there is a

significant improvement, and then leave it at that. Going farther

is risky, because musicians are generally uncomfortable with

radical changes. I find it better to let a musician (and

instrument) acclimate to the change, and then come back if they

want more. I know it sounds weird, but go too far in one session,

and you've failed. Change it enough, and they might even need to

re-learn how to play the thing! .

I must admit, that makes a good deal of sense.  

It still doesn't help the poor non-luthier figure out who to trust,

though.  Imagine if a new potential customer came to your shop

and started quizzing you about your knowledge of fine-tuning.

Not likely to happen, yet probably a very good idea.

 There really should be some kind of national or international

certification process.  I know, I know,  but their SHOULD

be.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Allan Speers

There really should be some kind of national or international

certification process. I know, I know, but their SHOULD

be.

There is, sort of.

One of the original reasons the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers was formed was to provide musicians with a "professional" group, people who had met certain standards of experience, training, ability, and hopefully ethics. Applicants must submit a resume, references, and usually a sample of their work. The membership votes on whether to accept them.

Not all good people choose to apply, and not all members are great at everything. While the Federation has exams for advanced certification in various areas (journeyman, masters), there has never been one for sound adjustment.

A somewhat similar group on the international level is the "Entente Internationale Des Maitres Luthiers et Archetiers D'art", or "International Society of Violin and Bow-Makers", usually just referred to as "The Entente".

There are other certification programs.....one of the better known is Germany's "masters". Unfortunately, this term has been bent, folded, spindled and mutilated over here. Anyone in the US can legally call himself a "master violin whatever". I don't think you can legally get away with that if you are a plumber.

I don't think any certification program can tell you everything you'd like to know. I'll bet Dean would tell you that there's a wide disparity of skill and knowledge amongst people who have "MD" attached to their name. It's most certainly true in the violin world.

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