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stringinghimalong

Need help regarding unique violin

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Hello everyone! I am a new member to this website, but I have often lurked around the forums without having signed up. I decided to sign up after digging through over 50 pages of this forum and through various topics/google searches/etc. Let me explain my situation:

 

Many of you tell enthusiasts to avoid eBay altogether. I usually agree with this sentiment, but I've found a violin I need some help on. The seller is rather suspect, and has been mentioned many times over regarding misrepresentation of their instruments, shady practices, etc. I did research on said seller and found quite a few interesting things. (Not sure if I'm allowed to say the seller by name, but here are some links, some of which are previous discussions on these forums):

http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/26769

http://www.violinist.com/blog/BlueRidge/201111/12887/

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329003-took-the-plunge-first-ebay-violin-toughts/page-1

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329805-oops-i-did-it-again-another-ebay-violin-18-another-bass-bar-crack/page-10

 

The instrument in question, that I find very beautiful and interesting, is here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/311700530758?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

 

I have a few reasons for finding this German copy so lovely. I have always wanted a uniquely carved scroll. I first saw a lion head scroll when I was young and in a local community orchestra (and was so much of a go-getter that I would constantly bug my stand partner about borrowing her instrument should she ever wish to sell. She doesn't even play anymore since her arthritis and vision have become too poor.) I've liked them ever since. Anything unique about an instrument is fascinating to me, so I'm not particularly huge on mass-produced, modern instruments. I figured, after doing some research (and with my limited knowledge), that this particular violin was a German factory-made violin, which could potentially decrease the value significantly. I know that many Chinese makers now mass produce instruments of the Baroque style. I've seen some awesome/funky instruments with scalloped (pie crust?) edges, semi-rounded c bouts, or entirely corner-less (aka the guitar style?) I particularly admire the rounded violins and have found a few in the past few weeks of looking around:

http://www.dzviolin.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=119&products_id=1157

http://pickerssupply.com/new-and-used/cornerless-44-violin-used-bow-and-case

http://www.instrumentspast.co.uk/instruments/CV/C196V.html

 

If you're not all turned off my my verbose first post, hopefully you can guide me on a few things. I wouldn't be using this violin for any symphonic performances. I would get this instrument for (most likely) use with a Fishman pickup, since I currently don't have an electroacoustic violin for gigs where my Zeta Jazz Fusion's look doesn't really match the vibe of the performance. I've thought about investing in an electroacoustic or fully electric (with an acoustic feel) instrument that looks a bit more natural, like one of these:

http://www.electricviolinshop.com/wes-lambe.html (though I don't like the fact that the back exposes all of the electronics)

http://www.electricviolinshop.com/acoustic-electric/zeta-acoustic-pro-4.html (since I already have a sponsorship with Zeta, but was looking to branch out in terms of tone)

Note: I am an electric violinist and perform many genres of music, so I'm not just limited to classical or chamber performances. 

I know this eBay dealer is a little sketch, and that it's very difficult to know the playability of an instrument without having tried it first. The seller DOES have some good pictures of the violin, and also has included a youtube link to samples of the violin being played (albeit out of tune, and with steel strings that sound horrible. I do like the tone somewhat, though I can tell the strings are smashing a lot of the natural resonance of the fiddle. Once again, I am NOT looking for an orchestral instrument. I'm mainly looking for a cool, unique, older instrument with this particular body type and an interesting scroll.)

I've contacted the seller on eBay and received a somewhat vague, unhelpful answer regarding my questions regarding the violin's age, authenticity, appraisal, etc., as well as international shipping and return policy questions.

 

ALL OF THAT BEING SAID. 

 

I know this particular instrument is NOT worth the pretty penny that the seller is charging, but what are the general thoughts you might have regarding this instrument? What would be a reasonable price for me to offer? I really love the unique look of it, and it would be a backup for gigs where I need an acoustic-looking but electric-sounding violin. I am not concerned with the value as much as what I would potentially be spending. I love older instruments, especially rare or unique ones. This would potentially be a "knocker" violin I could use for outdoor gigs as well (since I also play a lot of beach weddings and events where I don't feel comfortable bringing my orchestra-ready violin.) I also don't mind that it's not the highest quality, but want to make sure that I'm not going to be getting ripped off with a less-than-tasteful, factory-made instrument (especially if it's not actually from the 30s-40s like the ad purports.) 

 

Any thoughts or even links to similar instruments would be wonderful. Thank you for reading this post!

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I was at this Skinner auction where the item below was offered, and the lion's head scroll on this violin was really beautiful.  I confess that I was tempted by this fiddle until I heard it--it had been so encrusted with patches and cleats inside that its voice was a little whiny thing.  It's a good example to compare, though, because this one is an entirely different quality from the dog's-head Dutzendarbeit that the OP was after.  A nice lion's head is a fine thing.     

 

http://www.skinnerinc.com/auctions/2688B/lots/97

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Any thoughts or even links to similar instruments would be wonderful. Thank you for reading this post!

 

First, welcome to MN.

 

Someone or several people made this violin.  It has been bought and sold countless times and is still in existence.  It therefore has some value, and no doubt has fascinated at least a few people.  If you like it you should buy it.  The fact that it is hideous is in the eye of the beholder (mine included  :) ), and it probably won't sound or play very well as an acoustic instrument for a classical player; but might do just fine for your purposes.  It seems to be in fairly good shape, with just an apparently adequate set-up.  But pictures don't always show problems.  My only suggestion is that the price should be negotiated.  (I have no knowledge or opinion about the seller's honesty, IF that is any concern to you.  But I join the chorus of people who stay away from e-bay.)

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Someone or several people made this violin.  It has been bought and sold countless times and is still in existence.  It therefore has some value, and no doubt has fascinated at least a few people.

I couldn't help thinking of the large showcase of Franz Ferdinand's (of Sarajewo fame) underwear I was looking at 2 weeks ago in the Heresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna, when I read that:) :)

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If you have been lurking on this blog for as many years as I have, you already know that unless a fiddle has unquestioned provenance, and is plated in gold, it likely will be considered as trash, by many of the members.  I have no argument with that. They have far more knowledge on the subject than I ever will.    I'm a retired player, not a maker.  However, the fiddle in question has great appeal to me ---as a wall-hanger. It would look great hanging  in my studio. I'm going to attempt to negotiate. 

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I couldn't help thinking of the large showcase of Franz Ferdinand's (of Sarajewo fame) underwear I was looking at 2 weeks ago in the Heresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna, when I read that:) :)

 

As we say in the U.S,  "Your honor, I rest my case."

 

I suppose in this case I should say, "I rest my violin case."   :)

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The Heidegger and the Gusetto looks they they were both recently refinished by the same person.

 

bwahahaha, here's a link for OP (whose screen name roughly translated means "trolling") to the much maligned the The Heidegger which was also sold by the same outfit out of Portugal, old-violin-international. Is that poor violinist still being kept against his will and forced to provide youtube violin samples? Won't someone please liberate that dude?

 

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329003-took-the-plunge-first-ebay-violin-toughts/

 

Hilarious bluntless from Jacob. I want to copy and paste that response to every violin ID request thread regardless of the instrument.

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I've already posted everything I found on the Portuguese ebay seller. I know everyone has different opinions. I find it to be a very unique-looking instrument. I would not potentially be buying this fiddle for classical gigs, as I've stated before. I would be buying it for country gigs, or any gig where it would be amplified. I understand that people on these forums get very heated and opinionated, but I am allowed to think it's interesting as a fiddle for NON-CLASSICAL gigs. I stated this before, hence why I prefaced it with being an opinion regarding a fiddle for non-classical gigs.

People are allowed to disagree with me, hence why I asked for advice. But sadly, I feel very put-off by the responses I've gotten. I was trying to be both curious and humble by signing up on here and asking for advice, not to be made to feel like an asshole for liking an instrument many of you find to be "hideous, worthless junk". It's the same thing that BassClef went through before when buying a violin from this seller. Everyone is so quick to assume that just because preferences differ that someone must be unskilled or completely ignorant. I am not a luthier. I never claimed to be. I am a violinist, and play all types of music. I was never saying that I would be using this for symphony gigs, especially since I noted that I would most likely buy a fishman pickup to use with it. The fact that it sounds different than a normal, high quality classical insturment doesn't really sway me. Sometimes, a tinny tone can actually help cut through in a lounder setting, like in a band. I also take great care to EQ my various electric violins. It doesn't really matter, though, as many of you merely seek to scoff at someone who doesn't want to drop 10k on an instrument used for smoky bar gigs.

I found Will's post to be the most helpful, so thank you [for not implying I'm an asshat for wanting a unique-looking fiddle]. Though I have still been researching other instruments of this style/taste, I don't need to belabour the vitriol that has obviously been aimed at my disgusting taste. But thanks for the input, however unnecessarily the disdain was directed.

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Hi stringinghimalong

I accept that aesthetics are very personal, and that in the 10 years or so that I have been dealing in violins my tastes have changed radically.

However, the significant point in relation to this violin is that it is an oversize Schoenbach trade violin, largely machine made, and its retail price is surely less than the seller is asking. Given that Ebay is normally a bargain basement forum where you buy a violin sight unseen and with no guarantee of sound quality (sound samples being possibly the worst way to form a judgment), we would be expecting an asking price of well under 50% of the retail price.

In the light of which this particular violin seems like a bit of a rip-off.

If its visual appeal is overwhelming and if sound is not a consideration, then I don't see why you shouldn't buy it. I certainly wouldn't expect you to bow to the aesthetic judgments of a bunch of violin dealers. As Michael Gove said recently in the context of the Brexit referendum, "I think we've all had enough of experts".

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Let me be the first to appoligize then, stringinghimalong. Online discussions like this does tend to get heated and amplified. In normal discussion we also have tone-of-voice to help us - something we cant use here. In an official statment we also censor ourself - on a forum it is often unfiltered thoughts. I know for myself that the more convinced I am of something, the stronger I can come across to others, in my pursuit to convince them of the same.

Hope you are not scarred to badly, cause we do want you to stick around - and I hope you find a good instrument!

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Old violins are a funny thing.  Just yesterday I was shown a beat up thing with opaque black varnish, great wear, many repairs, and shape and f-holes obviously del Gesu inspired—but ONLY inspired.  It was what we call junk, but it still captured the heart.  After examining it and raving about the charm, the owner looked shocked when I said it might be worth only $400, if he could find a buyer.  A violin doesn't have to be a masterpiece to capture the attention and the imagination.  Somebody made the damned thing and did so to the best of their ability under whatever conditions constricted them from being Stradivari.  Before and after they took their tools or brush to the instrument, they walked out of the shop into lives and times which we can only wonder about.  That's part of the charm of even the junkiest of old violins.  IMO 

 

Even the old case, the ephemera in the accessory compartment, the broken bow hair, the layer of rosin still showing the fiddle was a workhorse that gave pleasure to someone;  even though three of the strings are broken and the bridge hanging on for dear life is nowhere near where it used to do its job...

 

Even knowing I'm going to see junk, I don't think I have ever opened a beat up old violin case in my life that didn't get my heart going.  Not because I expected a pearl!  For me it's the age factor.  I don't get excited opening a new case, knowing I'm going to see a shiny new violin;  but give even that violin a couple of hundred years and it will capture someone's heart , if for no other reason than it survived.

 

—MO   

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In the end, just like in the plunge thread, if OP likes particular aspects of this instrument, wants an instrument with these characteristics, and cannot find one less expensive in the market, and wants it soon, and can afford it, and is not worried about recooping the money spent, I say go for it. Sometimes it's worth the extra money just to feel good, if that's what will happen.

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Well, I believe that these "Gusetto's" - with and without inner labels and outer brandings, are frequent enough, it is worth to trawl the internet for  a while, in order to learn other prices and looks.

I have one that I still prefer to the OP, regarding its looks (I do not like lions).

Sound is not outstanding perhaps according to the classical violin standard but is rather OK and it is easy to play.

And sticks out in a crowd, if that is what you seek. ;)

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 Sometimes it's worth the extra money just to feel good

I do that way to often. I fall for something, and I buy A LOT of crap. But I know how I am, and very often after having owned an item for 1,2,3 months or so, I am not that excited anymore. So it ends up on ebay or other classified pages etc. Therefor it is allways important (for me) to feel like I have a way out somehow. I bought a VW beach buggy a couple of years ago. Sold it. Only lost a little bit of money. Bought and sold several violins. Doubled my money - then spendt it on other instruments and tools. Money lost - so far. ;) 

So I do agree with getting something that your heart wants, but do try to make a decent deal, so that there is a way out. Unless you buy it from me that is. ;)

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Since I am possibly guity of introducing the word „Dutzendarbeit“ to the American language, it might be my responsibility to point out that it has a „d“ in the middle :)

 

Yup; it would really be a puzzler if »Dutzenarbeit«, as in »Der Geigenbauer dieser Violine und ich haben uns gedutzt.«  :P

Sorry, I couldn't help it.

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