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violin_dork

Steps to become a world class violin dealer

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I am 22 years old and about to graduate from a top 20 university with degrees in Violin performance under Cho-Liang Lin and Economics. Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated with physical features of violin. As you can see, I am a lurker on here since 2003. I have been buying and selling violins to make money instead of having to work part time to support myself. I cannot see myself working in the financial world as it will bore me to death. My question is, what does it take to become a successful instrument dealer? Where should I start about?

Thanks.

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I am 22 years old and about to graduate from a top 20 university with degrees in Violin performance under Cho-Liang Lin and Economics. Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated with physical features of violin. As you can see, I am a lurker on here since 2003. I have been buying and selling violins to make money instead of having to work part time to support myself. I cannot see myself working in the financial world as it will bore me to death. My question is, what does it take to become a successful instrument dealer? Where should I start about?

Thanks.

Strobel's book "My Real World Violin Shop" is a good start. It can be found here:

http://www.henrystrobel.com/

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The bigger question for me is, what do you want to do? What do you want your average day to be like? So far, you've been in school and you've avoided humdrum jobs by working hard at home.

First thing is to study Maestronet!!! Read until you cant. learn all you can :)

I don't think that this will result in someone becoming world class, unless we're talking comedian.

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The bigger question for me is, what do you want to do? What do you want your average day to be like?

I don't think that this will result in someone becoming a world class ______ ... :mellow:

Ultimately, I want to be an expert on antique instruments and be a talented salesman who can help musicians pick out the violins. I don't want to get too much into the repair side because I personally already know a talented maker at a well known shop who is interested in partnering up to open a shop in the future. I want my average day to be around instruments. Either managing a violin shop, being a salesman and helping clients finding the right instrument or travel to auction houses to find prospective violins to bring back to the shop would all be my ideal average days. As I have no real violin shop experience, so I do not know what a violin shop clerk does on an average day.But violin is my passion, so I wouldn't mind the hardship.

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My question is, what does it take to become a successful instrument dealer? Where should I start about?

Thanks.

All of the following is advice from a non-maker and a non-dealer, just an amateur player with some years of exposure to various levels of the violin market.

The question would be, what kind of instruments do you want to deal in, what level of quality?

If you want to deal in antique instruments, then you have to position yourself to learn, first hand, to identify and evaluate antique instruments. You have to put yourself in an environment where properly identified and evaluated antique instruments are constantly available and traded. That means working, for a number of years, for one of the big name shops where those kinds of instruments are bought and sold and authenticated.

If you want to deal in student level instruments, then the preparation is probably minimal. You may already have a start at that level.

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All of the following is advice from a non-maker and a non-dealer, just an amateur player with some years of exposure to various levels of the violin market.

The question would be, what kind of instruments do you want to deal in, what level of quality?

If you want to deal in antique instruments, then you have to position yourself to learn, first hand, to identify and evaluate antique instruments. You have to put yourself in an environment where properly identified and evaluated antique instruments are constantly available and traded. That means working, for a number of years, for one of the big name shops where those kinds of instruments are bought and sold and authenticated.

If you want to deal in student level instruments, then the preparation is probably minimal. You may already have a start at that level.

I want to deal in antique instruments. I think I will contact some auction houses to see if they have internship position or entry level jobs available.

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An auction house seems like a good idea... hands on experience. You need to be sure that your skill set is indispensible as far as a business goes. You'll be in trouble if you're just sitting around looking for instruments on eBay while restorer-x is slaving away in the workshop. Doing some of the work yourself would be a great idea. You obviously love this stuff so, find your niche. :) I'll shut up now, so that our elders can speak.

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I want to deal in antique instruments. I think I will contact some auction houses to see if they have internship position or entry level jobs available.

A high end auction house might work.

But I would think that the current skill you would have to offer is your playing ability, and that ability might be of little use in an auction house. On the other hand, it looks like some of the bigger shops, bigger in the sense of selling instruments at a lot of quality levels, do use player-sales people for demonstration purposes, I guess. Such shops might be a better employment opportunity. I think Shar uses player-sales people. No doubt others do too.

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Apply for a job as a slaesman at a fine shop in a big city that handles the best instruments. Learn all you can while you're there by studying the instruments. Start compiling a library of makers, schools and stylews and learn to identify their work. Be sure you have some background in marketing and bookkeeping. Stop asking for professional advice on public discussion boards.

Oded

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Apply for a job as a slaesman at a fine shop in a big city that handles the best instruments. Learn all you can while you're there by studying the instruments. Start compiling a library of makers, schools and stylews and learn to identify their work. Be sure you have some background in marketing and bookkeeping. Stop asking for professional advice on public discussion boards.

Oded

Thank you for the advise. I did not know who I can ask and the best option that came to my mind was maestronet. This is the only time and will be the last time that I make this mistake.

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I think the point is that there is no formal process in becoming an expert in antique instruments. There is no school to attend or degree to acquire specific for top end violin dealing. As Oded suggested, it might be worth approaching the big name shops in the bigger cities to see what kind of employment opportunities they have for a skilled player.

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Let's see, 22 yrs. old, never had a job, wants to become an expert in antique violins and a world class violin dealer. As Oded suggested, get a job in a major shop where you can get hands on experience with the instruments. You should also learn something about restoring instruments, since you'll need to be able to recognize problems with the instruments. After you've done that for about 10 years, a seen a few thousand violins, and are willing to shell out about $200,000 to open a shop, you might have a chance. The money to open the shop- If you had 20 nice instruments at about $5000 each, it would use up $100,000 of that. Figure another $20,000 in lesser instruments. Add in rent for a nice location, store renovation & furnishing, bows, other supplies and expenses.

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...I want to be an expert on antique instruments...

I think that many antique instrument experts got started by learning to make violins -- either by attending a violin making school or by taking an apprenticeship with a maker. By making violins, one can acquire an eye for violin form and construction details that is very helpful in identifying antique instruments.

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There are many high level dealers where you could get the experience you need, such as Bein and Fushi in Chicago and Reuning in Boston. The auction house Tarisio pretty much only sells stringed instrument. Other auction houses include the big names like Sotheby and Christie but Skinner also sells a lot of instruments. These are just a few places in the USA, there are quite a few in Europe, too. The dealers might be a better option than the auction houses if you want experience working with customers directly. Maybe approach a place and ask for a job and be willing to start "at the bottom".

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I'm not an instrument dealer, but one thing I can say is: there is a lot of room for improvement in this business today. Since you're a player, you already have some insight. Look at big dealers, and learn what they're doing, and what they're not doing, and why. Find areas where you can differentiate (in my opinion, there are a lot). Embrace technology. Target a market, and know it very well. The best CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is knowing who your customer is before he steps into your store.

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I am 22 years old and about to graduate from a top 20 university with degrees in Violin performance under Cho-Liang Lin and Economics. Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated with physical features of violin. As you can see, I am a lurker on here since 2003. I have been buying and selling violins to make money instead of having to work part time to support myself. I cannot see myself working in the financial world as it will bore me to death. My question is, what does it take to become a successful instrument dealer? Where should I start about?

Thanks.

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

I think you are hopeful. First try to sell violins on line. Get a website. Post picturees and prices. Make sure people interested in

buying know how to contact you. Clear checks before send out instruments. Trust no one.

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

I think you are hopeful. First try to sell violins on line. Get a website. Post picturees and prices. Make sure people interested in

buying know how to contact you. Clear checks before send out instruments. Trust no one.

Becoming a world-class violin dealer through online sales? Come-on.

Where I don't deny the importance of maintaining an internet presence in todays world, selling violins online isn't going to teach you other aspects of the business you need to learn. Online violin sales are geared towards the il-informed public that care only about a rock-bottom price on a brand-name instrument. To them, service just isn't a consideration. If they can say that they got brand "x" for the lowest price, they think did good. Buying violins is no different that buying refrigerators at Best Buy, right?

Maybe the logical path for you to take is to seek a sales position with an established shop and go from there. Working in a full-service shop can teach you other aspects of the business such as a running a repair department, rentals, appraisals etc. I second the Henry Strobel "Real World" book. Much good and helpful information in there. Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of violin shops aren't high-end dealers.

I learned long ago as an apprentice that things like bow rehairing and rental income can be your bread and butter.

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The only way I know of to become an expert on antique instrument is to work with them, hands on, with people who are experts themselves. You certainly can't learn it from books, although they can be very helpful. I would think it would take about 20 years or so, working with top level antique instruments in a busy shop to get a level of knowledge and experience that anyone in the trade would call expert. Maybe 5 to 10 years in the right environment to become "knowledgeable".

So maybe the question is how to qualify for employment in one of the better shops, and what kind of position would give you the exposure you need to gain that knowledge. I agree with the observation that learning how to make instruments would help in gaining the ability to see and understand the characteristics of various schools and makers.

Whatever you do, be prepared to spend a long time and a lot of study and effort to gain that expertise. We've got enough self-styled "experts" already.

Not being an expert myself, I might be way off base, but it's taken me a lot of years to even get halfway good at what I do. The more I learn, the less I feel like an expert.

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Dario D'Atilli

Charles Beare

Robert Bein

Hans Weishaar

Rene Morel

All of the above have the reputation that if you have a certificate from them it means something. With the exception of Bein (now deceased) they all have one thing in common--the Wurlitzer shop. Wurltizer had many fine instruments come through the shop. There are very few places that have the means to purchase, sell, and consign significant numbers of important instruments. That is not to say that if you go a level down you do not find some people with a good eye and have seen enough instruments.

If you really want to be world class do what it takes to get into a major shop and plan as others have said to spend decades aquiring knowledge. Outside of the rare instruments, companies like Shar have made a good business by not catering to the high end. Learn from the best in the trade and hope you get lucky. Study the mistakes (Machold). Good thing is you have time on your side.

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Since youy already know how to play the violin why don't you just become a world class violinist instead?

Dario didn't deal instruments, he was purely an appraiser. (as far as I know)

Oded

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