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Arash

British luthiers

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Hello,

I am new to this forum, reading the messages out of interest in lutherie. I had asked a question about contemporary British makers over at the ICS cello forums and someone pointed out that I might get more replies here. Reading through the old posts I found most of the information I needed. But there remains one British luthier I have never been able to find out more about than his own website: Roderick Ward. Without wanting to put him on the spot I would be interested to know what people think of his instruments? Have you played one do you own one? What do you think about the sound and craftsmanship of his instruments?

Thanks in advance.

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If you cannot visit him in person, Rod is usually present at the BVMA makers exhibition London, and the RNCM exhibition in Manchester. He usually takes quite a few instruments with him.

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If you cannot visit him in person, Rod is usually present at the BVMA makers exhibition London, and the RNCM exhibition in Manchester. He usually takes quite a few instruments with him.

Thank you very much for your reply, Dave. I suppose I could visit him either at his workshop or at one of the exhibitions. The reason why I don't want to do that is that I am not in the market to buy an instrument, not at the moment at least. I am just trying to understand and define for myself why the prices for contemporary fine instruments vary so much. Prices start somewhere near £10K and go up to £20K. And you find a lot of instruments by contemporary makers below or above these prices. Is it demand that shapes the prices, the craftsmanship or quality of tone? I have not been able to answer the question by looking at websites and boards. Most of the makers who have a website have a nice list of endorsements. But once you start to compare the prices with waiting lists and endorsements the confusion sets in, for me at least. I picked Ward for my question because he publishes the prices for his instruments on his website and he does not seem to have a waiting list. I know that price and waiting list are not indicative of an instrument's tonal qualities but wonder what defines prices that you come across.

I know my question may sound a bit confusing, but I guess it just reflects my own state of mind :). Maybe someone with more experience can shed some light.

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Pricing is always a difficult issue to resolve, but to assume the more a maker charges the better it will sound can be misleading. For example, making a very detailed copy of a particular instrument takes a lot more research and a lot more time. The finished instrument would cost more because of the extra hours which have gone into making it, but the end result may not sound any better than the makers usual model.

A lot of restorers also make very high quality instruments, but because they are primariliy engaged in restoration work, they may only have time to make a few instruments per year. It is harder to establish a reputation that way and prices may be lower as a result, although the quality could be just as good as a full time maker.

If you are interested in contemporary instruments an exhibition is a good place to start, that way you can see a lot of examples in one place and also try them out.

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Pricing is always a difficult issue to resolve, but to assume the more a maker charges the better it will sound can be misleading. For example, making a very detailed copy of a particular instrument takes a lot more research and a lot more time. The finished instrument would cost more because of the extra hours which have gone into making it, but the end result may not sound any better than the makers usual model.

At the VSA this year, there were 2 violins by Grubaugh and Siefert. On the last day, as Mr Grubaugh was packing up, he was asked the selling price for these. As there was a $10,000 difference between them, I asked why.

The less expensive one was their 'standard' Strad copy, while the more expensive one was an Ole Bull copy that they had made for the Bergen exhibition (it did not get there). The Ole Bull copy needed many 'custom' procedures to replicate the idiosyncracies of the original.

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............The reason why I don't want to do that is that I am not in the market to buy an instrument, not at the moment at least. I am just trying to understand and define for myself why the prices for contemporary fine instruments vary so much. ...........

Not being in the market for an instrument shouldn’t deter you from coming along to the Manchester or BVMA expo…it’s and ideal place to see a variety of different makers work together and compare prices and styles of work, and in general so long as the exhibitor isn’t busy with a client they are happy to spend time talking with anyone about their work…….in fact you might have a hard time getting some of them to shut up ☺

neil

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Contact Jan Shelley in Liverpool. He has a website where you can get his phone number etc.You will be hard pressed to find new instruments as good as his!!

Unless of course you try a fiddle by Neil Ertz, as I did. Now saving up for a viola to match the lovely peter of mantua copy he produced for me! Then there is Peter Goodfellow, or Melvin Goldsmith etc etc

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