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"Violiniada" ebay seller...to good to be true?


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Hi all, just wondering what some learned luthier types think of this sellers violins. I have googled the seller and found he is a wonderful and well schooled player, but not a luthier. His violin descriptions are all a little too identical and I am amazed at how he keeps producing "gems" every other week! He also hypes very questionable labeling at times(answered me honestly enough when I emailed him on this), said I could not expect to get a "name" violin for "said" price!...BUT he still pushes the name on labels in his auction titles...I am currently looking at a sale of his for a "Labeled" - Bolognese School Violin Lab. Michael Garanus 1717. Who is Michael Garanus? The only Garanus I can find is a Greek/Roman character of myth! Anyway, you can see his violins under seller name " Violiniada ". Would love to read some thoughts on this sellers violins from the learned and more experienced here.

p.s I don't know how to paste links, but if you searck ebay for violins, free shipping, North America; you will quickly find his highlighted sales. Thanks.

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Yes, I'd never buy from him. He's the main culprit for photographing his violins in yellow light to try to make the tatty varnish look more orange and transparent. It's a plain deceit and just for that I'd never buy a fiddle from him even if it was the bargain of the century.

As for violins "Labeled by" it's common on ebay as a way around being reported for deliberate fraud. I used to report every violin that I saw that claimed it was "by" a maker when it obviously wasn't. Despite what people say about ebay, many of the violins were actually removed and relisted slightly more honestly. However if someone sticks in a label and says they are selling a violin "Labeled" as something, what is there to report? They aren't lying, it is truly labeled that way even if they put the label in themselves. So that goes on all the time now.

There is one woman who seems to be going through an old book of violin makers and randomly putting in labels from any maker's name she sticks a pin into. Often it's the same couple of violins over and over again with different labels, so nobody seems to be fooled in that particular case. But sooner or later someone will be caught.

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As far as I can tell from here, none of those labels are worth the paper they're xeroxed on. I include the one on the alleged Meisel.

You've run across someone who seems to have a real gift for hyperbole. On the other hand, a couple of those fiddles look like someone might have loved them, so they might well be good players. But in your place I'd assume they're all no-namers that came over on the boat from factories in Germany ca. 1890 and decide strictly on that basis, studiously ignoring the seller's flowery, empty rhetoric.

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Hi! I purchased an instrument from him last year to use as a travel fiddle because I particularly liked the sound clip. (The instrument is of course, not vintage or Italian as labeled.) It is brand new, slightly antiqued and likely from China. In real life, it is well made, is very resonsive and has a great sound, so I feel that I did well for the price (less than 2000). I had already tried out at least 25 fiddles for under 3K in area shops and this instrument was superior to the fiddles I was trying. I don't like the advertising, but was willing to try it because of the clip and the return policy. In the ebay world, there is clearly alot of misleading violin hype and many "sins of omission". There are also sellers with deservedly excellent reputations and complete disclosure like Pahdah Hound and Ingbergers. :)

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Hi! I purchased an instrument from him last year to use as a travel fiddle because I particularly liked the sound clip. (The instrument is of course, not vintage or Italian as labeled.) It is brand new, slightly antiqued and likely from China. In real life, it is well made, is very resonsive and has a great sound, so I feel that I did well for the price (less than 2000). I had already tried out at least 25 fiddles for under 3K in area shops and this instrument was superior to the fiddles I was trying. I don't like the advertising, but was willing to try it because of the clip and the return policy. In the ebay world, there is clearly alot of misleading violin hype and many "sins of omission". There are also sellers with deservedly excellent reputations and complete disclosure like Pahdah Hound and Ingbergers. :)

Well, thank you all for input. I must say I am more at a loss than ever, however. Violin purchasing is turning out a little more difficult than I ever could have imagined. The man going from "town to town on a cart selling his magic potion" is alive and doing well(it seems), living on(off of) ebay, and selling violins instead! What a minefield. I have now been online searching, (and questioning), ebay results for violin for three months now. OK. Here is the deal. I am a Canadian(Winnipeg) living in Iceland(long story there...won't go there). No special violin shop here on the island in the north atlantic and pricing at the music store is frightening. Will be traveling to Winnipeg, Canada for the summer 2009. Is there anything in the Manitoba area? Anyone selling? Any Luthier? Anyone with a trustworthy reputation? Or...Is there (this site)recommended sellers on ebay I could look at. I am now looking at violins from "ingbergers(Germany), but could not find another that was recommended here..."pahdah hound"? Please keep the input coming...thanks, Clark.

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Jesse (look for 'padah_hound' on ebay) is also a flowery rhetoritician...but he has a strong reputation and very good business ethics.

ingbergers, who signs herself Anne here at Maestronet, has a large, very satisfied list of ebay customers.

You mention luthiers. Our own Jeffrey used to be the VP who ran the high-class side of Shar Music's stringed-instrument business until he got bored. Now he's happily working away in his own Michigan shop and, I believe, offers instruments though only rarely his own (he'll correct me if I'm wrong, I hope!)

Michael Darnton, who used to be a mod here and teaches extremely well-received classes in making each summer, has a shop in Chicago, also not that far from Winnipeg really. He offers his own instruments and, in partnership with two players, student-grade imports that he sets up himself.

Two members here produce prizewinning work, if that's what you're aiming for: Marilyn Wallin in Cambridge (across the river from Boston) and David Burgess in Michigan. David, I believe, has been cast into the outer darkness by the violin societies, he's won so often.

We also have many other members who make, though I don't know how many are within reach from Winnipeg.

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You've missed Iceland's only violin maker:

http://www.centrum.is/hansi/curriculum.html

I wanted to move to Iceland when I was in high school--I even have a "Teach Yourself Icelandic" book around somewhere. But I get the idea that now may not be the right time to move there. . .

Thanks for that... Right in my own backyard!

Yes, moving here to Iceland 14 years ago was great...now...not so great. But the dollar sure goes alot further here now. Safest place to keep your cash is out of this country though. I do NOT regret keeping my savings in Canada!

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Two Canadian makers I know are Hratch Armenious and Quentin Playfair. Both make excellent instruments. They are, however, both located in the GTA in Ontario.

Hratch has a website: http://www.armenious-violins.com/ However, he rarely updates it. Not much of a computer person, I think. And the instruments he lists as 'for sale' on his site are instruments that others traded in. The instruments he makes himself are not listed and require you to contact him.

Quentin, I don't think has a website, or at least he never gave me one to look at. However he is one of the best around. I seem to have misplaced his contact information somewhere.....But I am sure you can google it up. He also developed quite an interesting way to map Cremonese cross arches.

~Lucian

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Two Canadian makers I know are Hratch Armenious and Quentin Playfair. Both make excellent instruments. They are, however, both located in the GTA in Ontario.

Hratch has a website: http://www.armenious-violins.com/ However, he rarely updates it. Not much of a computer person, I think. And the instruments he lists as 'for sale' on his site are instruments that others traded in. The instruments he makes himself are not listed and require you to contact him.

Quentin, I don't think has a website, or at least he never gave me one to look at. However he is one of the best around. I seem to have misplaced his contact information somewhere.....But I am sure you can google it up. He also developed quite an interesting way to map Cremonese cross arches.

~Lucian

I don't know Armenious but I can attest to the high quality of Quentin Playfair's work.

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there is nothing wrong with selling violins with the description "labeled enter maker here", especially if people are reporting every instrument up for auction they feel doesn't meet their standards. i know if i were to sell violins on ebay i wouldn't be confident in my ability to discern labels authenticity or not. ebay is largely a marketplace for speculative instruments, there is no pre-requisite to be a violin expert prior to selling a fiddle on ebay. you have to know going into an ebay auction that a. you are probably almost always bidding on an instrument incorrectly labeled (the vast majority of violins in the world are incorrectly labeled) b. it's naive to expect the seller to try to authenticate every speculative fiddle he/she comes across just to put it up for sale on ebay, especially at that price point.

i also think people are jumping to conclusions assuming the seller is faking the labels himself, there is no shortage of old german fiddles with italian labels out in the world. you can pick these up by the boxload from certain dealers looking to dump them.

some of those fiddles look very decent quality and were obviously enjoyed over the years, if you can grab one for ~$2,000 and less and it plays well, then assuming you understand there's no way it's an antique italian violin you probably still got more than your moneys worth. the guy has a return policy too so i don't see the issue.

now if people are bidding on these items and winning them for $1,500 and thinking they just won would really be a $35,000+ violin then I would say that is thier fault for frankly being fools...

now if definite fraud can be proven like has been proven for certain makers here in the past then i agree expose the guy. but in this case it seems pretty much par for the course for ebay.

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Well stated post, Mike!

With the sellers return policy, the sound clips, and his excellent feedback, he seems to be an honest and enthusiartic seller IMHO. Unless supported by a Certificate of Authenticity by a reputable authority, labels should be considered a non-issue in the violin business .

I see no need to attack this seller although there are surely many truly dishonest ones out there in eBay land.

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Well stated post, Mike!

Thank you!

Unless supported by a Certificate of Authenticity by a reputable authority, labels should be considered a non-issue in the violin business .

agreed, and at that price point i would just assume ignoring the labels altogether. i will grant that with his feedback, violin backround, sound clips, and return policy he could do just as well if he put a disclaimer in like "these violins are probably not authentically labeled", but that should just be understood and isn't necessary IMO, and if it's not understood please stop spending thousands on violins site unseen on ebay because you don't have the knowledge. i don't go spending thousands on the market buying stocks of companies i don't know simply from what i read on the companies website etc...

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Thank you!

agreed, and at that price point i would just assume ignoring the labels altogether. i will grant that with his feedback, violin backround, sound clips, and return policy he could do just as well if he put a disclaimer in like "these violins are probably not authentically labeled", but that should just be understood and isn't necessary IMO, and if it's not understood please stop spending thousands on violins site unseen on ebay because you don't have the knowledge. i don't go spending thousands on the market buying stocks of companies i don't know simply from what i read on the companies website etc...

Just the type of feedback and discussion I was hoping to generate here. I learn alot from the many who take the time to share their knowledge and experiences. Always an interesting and eye-opening read. As was earlier pointed out to me, I was directed to a couple of ebay sellers noted for their integrity and full disclosure. One was "Ingbergers". They also run a site called "the-violin-shop" where I was told they sold their 'Grade A' stock. Is there a member here who has dealt with them, either Ingbergers or more specifically "the-violin-shop"? They provide sound clips, clear pics, luthier checked violins with full descriptions. Just a little wary of S&H...if a violin is sent from Germany to Canada(valued at CAD1,800.00) won't I have to pay duties and taxes, on top of the buying cost? How is it calculated? I have also read on the net many stories of something called "brokerage fees" that the company(FedEx;UPS,etc.) will add on as well. So how does I person know what the "TRUE" cost of that violin be?

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Just the type of feedback and discussion I was hoping to generate here. I learn alot from the many who take the time to share their knowledge and experiences. Always an interesting and eye-opening read. As was earlier pointed out to me, I was directed to a couple of ebay sellers noted for their integrity and full disclosure. One was "Ingbergers". They also run a site called "the-violin-shop" where I was told they sold their 'Grade A' stock. Is there a member here who has dealt with them, either Ingbergers or more specifically "the-violin-shop"? They provide sound clips, clear pics, luthier checked violins with full descriptions. Just a little wary of S&H...if a violin is sent from Germany to Canada(valued at CAD1,800.00) won't I have to pay duties and taxes, on top of the buying cost? How is it calculated? I have also read on the net many stories of something called "brokerage fees" that the company(FedEx;UPS,etc.) will add on as well. So how does I person know what the "TRUE" cost of that violin be?
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If the possibility of duties and taxes bothers you, perhaps it would be good to avoid buying from sources where that might be an issue? Alternately, you could probably get in touch with Canadian customs and ask them if you have a specific fiddle in mind - I imagine they'd be happy to tell you.

(Correction: Jesse's ebay name is spelled -I always miss out the first h for some reason- 'pahdah_hound'. Currently he has only one fiddle on offer, though, and you could probably get it for not much money because it's really not in very good shape)

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If the possibility of duties and taxes bothers you, perhaps it would be good to avoid buying from sources where that might be an issue? Alternately, you could probably get in touch with Canadian customs and ask them if you have a specific fiddle in mind - I imagine they'd be happy to tell you.

(Correction: Jesse's ebay name is spelled -I always miss out the first h for some reason- 'pahdah_hound'. Currently he has only one fiddle on offer, though, and you could probably get it for not much money because it's really not in very good shape)

Just sent an email to Canada Customs questioning them on possible costs of importing for personal use(non commercial) a violin worth approx. 1,600.00CAD. Hanx, Clark.

P.S

Still hoping to read comment from an actual "user" of Ingbergers or the parent company, the-violin-shop, and how dealings worked out for you.

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I think our own David Tseng is in Winnipeg, also.

It sounds like your price range is around 2000 or so Cam? If it is, you could look into this man;

http://www.poets.ca/johnweier/luthier.htm living in winnipeg. I don't know anything about him as a dealer/maker, but as a poet/writer who is friends with another dear poet/writer friend of mine. And I'm told he's a charming, above board guy. And it looks like he deals in that price range

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I had a nightmare with Fedex recently about a violin I shipped to Ireland. Insured my quote was $487 which I thought was reasonable - 2 months later I get a bill from Fedex for an additional $1079.12 in duties and taxes.

We ship to Europe and Asia two or three times a week. Traditionally, import duties are the responsibility of the importer, not the shipper. If you don't have a contract with them that specifically says you are liable for the duty, then you're probably not.

Had a similar problem shipping to Korea. They tried to collect around $1000 from us a couple of years ago. I gave them the above answer, and have heard no more.

Once bitten, twice shy.

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