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Lots of great posts so far.

Honestly, making a decent living out of being a full-time maker is bordering on a pipe-dream. I know some really really good makers who need to supplement their income from sources other than making.

Yes, I've often times considered violin making a deep passion with selling them an occasional hobby. :lol:

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What we need here is a big budget movie, prominently featuring a sizzling starlet relentlessly wooed by violin playing men.

 

When Dirty Harry waved his model 29 Smith and Wesson .44 magnum around on the big screen, sales of that revolver went through the roof.

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What we need here is a big budget movie, prominently featuring a sizzling starlet relentlessly wooed by violin playing men.

 

When Dirty Harry waved his model 29 Smith and Wesson .44 magnum around on the big screen, sales of that revolver went through the roof.

No, we need a big budget movie where the lovely heroine uses her violin to win the hero.  "What distinguishes us from the animals is our ability to accessorize" [bigger market!] :lol:

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Ernie's violins are bought as infallible love fetishes by young Canadian women in the movie, one Paganini caprice being all that's needed to win the love of a young man forever...

I'd prefer an antiquated German violin with a spell attached by an old swamp witch.......... :P:lol:

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Considering the season, why not a movie about a violin-maker who is shown by an angel how different the local symphony and youth orchestra would be if he had never lived?

Just find a Jimmy Stuart look-alike, and show a poor little kid suffering with her store-bought Chinese "squeaker" and the concertmaster complaining that his violin just doesn't project in the Capriccio Espanole, and the maker's wife is married to a plumber who fills the garage with metal shavings instead of fragrant spruce shavings.

The kid's teacher—a hideously mean taskmaster played by Bruce Dern— complains she has absolutely no talent and brings the little darling to tears; the concertmaster—played by Brad Pitt—sinks into obscurity and a life ruled by drink, instead of auditioning and becoming a beloved concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony; and the wife—played by Donna Reed, using old clips for nostalgia's sake— keeps whining that the children are getting metal shards in their fingers and toes. Oh, I can just see it now! :)

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The bitter reality is that a violin made by a self-taught amateur has a certain value for people who knew him personaly, as well as a certain (rather small) pecuiary utility value to strangers as a piece of equipment. Should I have to value one for probate though, I am obliged to ascertain that it is of no commercial value. Nice hobby though :)

This comment has stuck in my craw for a awhile now.

While I understand the reasoning behind it, I'm not sure I agree.

 

1: What do you mean by self taught amateur?

 

II: How do you judge amateur work, besides I know it when I see it? I assume you have seen some Italian violins in your day, and if you have, you are sure to have seen at least a few examples of shoddy workmanship, poor wood choice, crap purfling inlay, etc.,yet fetching quite a bit of money and sounding very nice.  Amateur workmanship?

 

C: Are you really saying that if you can't place the modern maker as having graduated from a specific school, apprenticed under a specific maker, or found in some sort of reputable database, then you dismiss the instrument as having no commercial value?

 

     (aside) If a Jacob Saunders violin came unto me, but I had no idea who the hell you were, nor the time or inclination to find out, would I be correct in assigning your violin NO commercial value? In spite of the fine (I'm sure) workmanship and stellar (I've no doubt) sound?

 

Fourthly: When you say "obliged...", exactly who are you obliged to? Yourself? A group of your betters? History? Are you not allowed to view a violin on the merits of workmanship, or are you only allowed to pass judgment on the value of a violin based on name, place or time period, if those can be ascertained.

 

Point: the fifth: We have all seen horrible violins. I'm not talking about those. But we have all seen anonymous violins with a spark of creativity and passion. Or violins by unknown (by us) makers that have that same spark. Would you dismiss those as having no commercial value?

 

I'm not trying to be confrontational, but that is such a sweeping statement, I thought a little clarification might be in order.

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This comment has stuck in my craw for a awhile now.

While I understand the reasoning behind it, I'm not sure I agree.

 

1: What do you mean by self taught amateur?

 

II: How do you judge amateur work, besides I know it when I see it? I assume you have seen some Italian violins in your day, and if you have, you are sure to have seen at least a few examples of shoddy workmanship, poor wood choice, crap purfling inlay, etc.,yet fetching quite a bit of money and sounding very nice.  Amateur workmanship?

 

C: Are you really saying that if you can't place the modern maker as having graduated from a specific school, apprenticed under a specific maker, or found in some sort of reputable database, then you dismiss the instrument as having no commercial value?

 

     (aside) If a Jacob Saunders violin came unto me, but I had no idea who the hell you were, nor the time or inclination to find out, would I be correct in assigning your violin NO commercial value? In spite of the fine (I'm sure) workmanship and stellar (I've no doubt) sound?

 

Fourthly: When you say "obliged...", exactly who are you obliged to? Yourself? A group of your betters? History? Are you not allowed to view a violin on the merits of workmanship, or are you only allowed to pass judgment on the value of a violin based on name, place or time period, if those can be ascertained.

 

Point: the fifth: We have all seen horrible violins. I'm not talking about those. But we have all seen anonymous violins with a spark of creativity and passion. Or violins by unknown (by us) makers that have that same spark. Would you dismiss those as having no commercial value?

 

I'm not trying to be confrontational, but that is such a sweeping statement, I thought a little clarification might be in order.

If you don't mind, I think a few things are getting mixed up there.

The best way to learn violin making is as a teenage apprentice. One learns not only the practicalities of making the wooden box, but what a violin looks like, and one becomes part of a recognisable tradition. A self-taught amateur works out the box making for himself (or from a book) and will typically fall short on knowing what a violin looks like, resulting in awkward looking instruments. Neither will he become part of a traditional „School“. This seems particularly prevalent in earlier American violins, where I have yet to be able to make out a coherent „Tradition“ other than on the one hand, lots of lone self-taught amateurs, and on the other, importing businessmen. When valuing one for probate, or other court constellations, I am obliged to the court or bailiff, to ascertain what the bailiff could expect to receive in cash tomorrow from any commercial re-seller, where I know for a fact, that none of them would even pay small change. It would be pointless for me to say that an instrument is worth x-thousand, when nobody would be willing to pay anything for it. Even the auctioneers are cautious. The current Tarisio sale has several such self-taught American amateur violins, which, last time I looked, were on offer for $300, and have yet to attract any interest.

The original question here, was if an adult can transform his hobby (made one violin from a book) into his profession. It seems a little unfair and not entirely honest to encourage him in that quest here, since I would say, he doesn't stand a chance.

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The best way to learn violin making is as a teenage apprentice. One learns not only the practicalities of making the wooden box, but what a violin looks like, and one becomes part of a recognisable tradition. A self-taught amateur works out the box making for himself (or from a book) and will typically fall short on knowing what a violin looks like, resulting in awkward looking instruments. Neither will he become part of a traditional „School“. This seems particularly prevalent in earlier American violins, where I have yet to be able to make out a coherent „Tradition“ other than on the one hand, lots of lone self-taught amateurs, and on the other, importing businessmen.

Jacob, I think all you said was true until 10 years ago, now, the game changer is internet, forums like maestronet, videos, dvd, books, blogs, tutorials, posters, scans, you have all you need, knowledge is available to everyone. It's impossible today not to know exactly what to do, the only limit a self-taught has today, might be his lack of talent or intelligence, but could be said the same thing for anyone attending schools. 

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Trade.

 

For many years it was mostly in string instrument repair, (violins, violas, cellos and basses) and the building (violins only) was in the main - incidental.

 

But after so many years in repair (about 15 - 18 years), I got tired of the endless run around's dealing with school district crapola and all, and now I simply do building (violins only). Well, that and bow rehair (thank Grock for rehairs, it's an endless job - which I love, new rehairs always come walking in the door)

I have retired now, thank God,

But I do build for sale (still). Making money in this trade is pretty much like being in busniess for yourself in any trade.

 

For many years, before violins, I had graphic arts business (my own business)... different - but not radically so, really.

Being in business, making violins, must be supplemented by doing repairs also, I believe... and school repairs here in Roswell, plus public repairs, plus building and selling, plus rehairs -  is really about the only way a business doing this (making) could work.

 

I must suppose that in a bigger city - "trade" (making violins for a living) would include; making violins, and working in a shop and/or also doing many and endless repairs...

 

Anyone?

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If you don't mind, I think a few things are getting mixed up there.

The best way to learn violin making is as a teenage apprentice. One learns not only the practicalities of making the wooden box, but what a violin looks like, and one becomes part of a recognisable tradition. A self-taught amateur works out the box making for himself (or from a book) and will typically fall short on knowing what a violin looks like, resulting in awkward looking instruments. Neither will he become part of a traditional „School“. This seems particularly prevalent in earlier American violins, where I have yet to be able to make out a coherent „Tradition“ other than on the one hand, lots of lone self-taught amateurs, and on the other, importing businessmen. When valuing one for probate, or other court constellations, I am obliged to the court or bailiff, to ascertain what the bailiff could expect to receive in cash tomorrow from any commercial re-seller, where I know for a fact, that none of them would even pay small change. It would be pointless for me to say that an instrument is worth x-thousand, when nobody would be willing to pay anything for it. Even the auctioneers are cautious. The current Tarisio sale has several such self-taught American amateur violins, which, last time I looked, were on offer for $300, and have yet to attract any interest.

The original question here, was if an adult can transform his hobby (made one violin from a book) into his profession. It seems a little unfair and not entirely honest to encourage him in that quest here, since I would say, he doesn't stand a chance.

Again, I see your point regarding the original poster's question.

 

However, I don't think that these days modern makers fall into any school any more. Could you explain the differences in construction and appearance between a violin by a graduate of the Cremona school, the Chicago school, the Newark school, or the Salt Lake City school? Perhaps you can. I couldn't.

Further, could you point out the difference between an apprenticed trained maker and a graduate of any of those schools?

How about an amateur not formally trained, but tenacious, intelligent, and curious enough to make a fine looking and sounding violin?

 

So, your point about not being "part of a traditional school" seems a bit of an antiquated notion.

 

While you may not be able to, there are many people that can easily identify instruments from the Boston "school" from the mid 1800's on. 

 

Again, crap violins are one thing. But a well made instrument does have value, wether you can identify the maker or not.

 

I am curious as to what your standards for an amateur maker are. Does it relate to the training, the output, or the selling potential of the instrument? Or all three?

I would venture to guess that there are many graduates of the various schools that are still "amateur "makers.

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I don't normally have difficulty separating instruments from the Newark/Mittenwald or Cremona schools, although I would have to pass with Chicago, since I have never seen one and have been told (but am in no position to judge) that SLC is a descendant of Mittenwald.

It might get difficult were all amateurs to make „fine looking and sounding violins“, the reality is something else though. Anyone who thinks he can skip a thorough training and learn in Internet (see above) is in grave danger of doing a paint-by-numbers Monet, and thinking it's marvelous, because he doesn't spend all day sitting with colleagues who can be critical, even a bit nasty sometimes.

Regarding „value“ which is the point you first picked me up on, it is worth considering the difference between your subjective perceived value, and what one can actually get.

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Anyone who thinks he can skip a thorough training and learn in Internet (see above) is in grave danger of doing a paint-by-numbers Monet, and thinking it's marvelous, because he doesn't spend all day sitting with colleagues who can be critical, even a bit nasty sometimes.

 

 

 From what I have seen so far, this is spot on.  It's hard to replace the full-time exposure to top quality instruments and constant feedback you would get at a reputable shop.

 

Regarding „value“ which is the point you first picked me up on, it is worth considering the difference between your subjective perceived value, and what one can actually get.

 

In that reguard, what would you say the value would be of a professional quality (workmanship, sound, etc) violin without a label, and you could not attribute to any particular maker?  Or is there only value in WHO made it?  (I do agree that who made it plays a huge part in value, but is there any intrinsic worth to the instrument itself?)

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If you don't mind, I think a few things are getting mixed up there.

The best way to learn violin making is as a teenage apprentice. One learns not only the practicalities of making the wooden box, but what a violin looks like, and one becomes part of a recognisable tradition. A self-taught amateur works out the box making for himself (or from a book) and will typically fall short on knowing what a violin looks like, resulting in awkward looking instruments. Neither will he become part of a traditional „School“. This seems particularly prevalent in earlier American violins, where I have yet to be able to make out a coherent „Tradition“ other than on the one hand, lots of lone self-taught amateurs, and on the other, importing businessmen. When valuing one for probate, or other court constellations, I am obliged to the court or bailiff, to ascertain what the bailiff could expect to receive in cash tomorrow from any commercial re-seller, where I know for a fact, that none of them would even pay small change. It would be pointless for me to say that an instrument is worth x-thousand, when nobody would be willing to pay anything for it. Even the auctioneers are cautious. The current Tarisio sale has several such self-taught American amateur violins, which, last time I looked, were on offer for $300, and have yet to attract any interest.

The original question here, was if an adult can transform his hobby (made one violin from a book) into his profession. It seems a little unfair and not entirely honest to encourage him in that quest here, since I would say, he doesn't stand a chance.

 

 

Jacob, I think all you said was true until 10 years ago, now, the game changer is internet, forums like maestronet, videos, dvd, books, blogs, tutorials, posters, scans, you have all you need, knowledge is available to everyone. It's impossible today not to know exactly what to do, the only limit a self-taught has today, might be his lack of talent or intelligence, but could be said the same thing for anyone attending schools. 

 

When it comes to violins, I've learned over time that Jacob knows what he's talking about. All I'd like to offer is the parallel with "classical violin playing" which suffers of the exact same problem : lack of "school". There is an endless supply of youngster moving their fingers up and down the F/B, completely oblivious to the exigences of the CRAFT of violin playing which, besides technique involves some degree of decent understanding of the composer, his musical ideas and his culture. The end result is that after burning with the brightness of their recording contracts , they quickly fade into oblivion. And there were many in the past 40 years or so. Almost always the reason was a lack of anchorage in a recognizable  "school". You can't build artistic personality and individuality by copying bits and pieces from lots of other recordings - you end up sounding like everybody.

 

Sorry for the OT.

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It might get difficult were all amateurs to make „fine looking and sounding violins“, the reality is something else though. Anyone who thinks he can skip a thorough training and learn in Internet (see above) is in grave danger of doing a paint-by-numbers Monet, and thinking it's marvelous, because he doesn't spend all day sitting with colleagues who can be critical, even a bit nasty sometimes.

 

Yes, agreed.

The reality is something else though - the "idea" that only school grads make fine sounding or fine looking instruments, just doesn't say it all - does it?

 

The internet has put EVERYTHING in a different, and sometimes very bizarre light.

But the truth, put simply, is that there are, and have always have been, people who either did not, or have not gone through an established violin making school  - who either now make, or have made, instruments that rival any "school graduate product".

 

Simple.

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But the truth, put simply, is that there are, and have always have been, people who either did not, or have not gone through an established violin making school  - who either now make, or have made, instruments that rival any "school graduate product".

 

Simple.

 

CT, one of the power rules of "good judgment" is : never exemplify with an exception. :)

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 From what I have seen so far, this is spot on.  It's hard to replace the full-time exposure to top quality instruments and constant feedback you would get at a reputable shop.

From a base line type view I agree,entierly, That said there are work-arounds that can fill at least some of the gaps. I think if a guy was to take tuition money and attend confrences/visit collections,purchace books join the groups, and visit good makers and review work, be open to learning( It's dangerous to say/think "This is how I do it" before any real method is developed) and make, make, make,alway striving for the brass ring,It seems to me that of all the graduate apprentice people who are sucsessfull makers have all taken this "over the top" style of learning approche ....pit bull like. If there is enough hand eye,mind ability,then one has at least a shot at making a decent violin.

  The falacy of believing that any instution can impart skill is in the need for the student to be able to absorb and reflect the teaching.the word Education comes from the greek idea "to pull out of" a good educator pulls out of a student the means to learn...

  Doing good work,winning a contest, and having your violin played by a profetional are good first steps to building percieved/actual dollar values.

  An itialian name would probably help  :o or a made in crimona ...USA ...lablel :lol:

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Let's say I am a serious violin playing student. Ready to purchase a better violin. I have maybe $3,000 or more to spend.  Would I spend it on a maker who has no credentials? Never attended a violin making school, or apprenticed with someone known?  Those violins ARE available, from trained, certified people. Why would I take the risk of giving my money to self taught amateur John Schmidt for one of his supposedly great sounding violins.

 

I don't think so.

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