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Hi All,

I am a high school student looking into purchasing a high quality viola. I am interested in instruments ranging from $12,000 to $20,000. I currently play a $4,500 Erdesz copy made in Washington, D.C. in 2016.

I am open to any suggestions of shops/makers, though these would preferably be located in the mid-atlantic/northeast U.S. 

Thank you!

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You could probably get a real Erdesz, not a bad choice. There are many modern makers in that price range. First place I would look is Brobst, if you havent been.

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Or perhaps if a trip to SoCal is in your future, Metzler's violins (Glendale) had a number of violas as part of their American luthier show.  Most of the violins and violas are still available, and will be there for a month or so. Many of the violas were between 12 -20K. I don't know if the "show" is traveling to other stores; I think Metzler organized this one.  There was something similar at Reed-Yeboah in NYC.  

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Are you in the DC area?  I’ve been going to Potter’s for my sons violin needs for about 10 years now. Always enjoyed the staff and never felt pressured to spend money. Dalton Potter once or twice talked me out of spending money when he didn’t feel it was in my best interest. If you’re interested send me a pm and I’ll give you a salesman that I trust contact information.  

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I suggest you also go to the VSA conference in Cleveland this November and take look at the violas entered in the competition.  There will be roughly a hundred entered from makers all over the world.

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5 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Are you in the DC area?  I’ve been going to Potter’s for my sons violin needs for about 10 years now. Always enjoyed the staff and never felt pressured to spend money. Dalton Potter once or twice talked me out of spending money when he didn’t feel it was in my best interest. If you’re interested send me a pm and I’ll give you a salesman that I trust contact information.  

I'd second Potters. Further, one of Maestronet's most celebrated makers of violas, Christopher Jacoby, works there!

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On 4/4/2018 at 3:18 PM, Christabel said:

Hi All,

I am a high school student looking into purchasing a high quality viola. I am interested in instruments ranging from $12,000 to $20,000. I currently play a $4,500 Erdesz copy made in Washington, D.C. in 2016.

I am open to any suggestions of shops/makers, though these would preferably be located in the mid-atlantic/northeast U.S. 

Thank you!

Julie Reed-Yeboyah has deep roots in that area; I'm sure she could offer helpful suggestions you might not get elsewhere.  Last I was there, she was on Broadway in Midtown, NYC.

Also, you might give Mr. Erdesz a phone call, but I wouldn't expect to get one for $20K.

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My 16-3/8" viola was made in 2008 by Shinichiro Yoshikai in Durham, NC, and it is an excellent instrument. His violins and violas still generally sell for less than 20K last I looked. Along with the many shops already recommended, I would say that if you are for any reason in the New Mexico area, definitely check out Robertson & Sons violins and also David Brewer Fine Violins. Both of these Albuquerque shops carry an amazing inventory of instruments in all price ranges. 

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5 minutes ago, Ron MacDonald said:

Otto Erdesz died in 2000.

In that case, pro'ly not an option.

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On 4/4/2018 at 10:14 PM, deans said:

You could probably get a real Erdesz, not a bad choice. There are many modern makers in that price range. First place I would look is Brobst, if you havent been.

 

20 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

Or perhaps if a trip to SoCal is in your future, Metzler's violins (Glendale) had a number of violas as part of their American luthier show.  Most of the violins and violas are still available, and will be there for a month or so. Many of the violas were between 12 -20K. I don't know if the "show" is traveling to other stores; I think Metzler organized this one.  There was something similar at Reed-Yeboah in NYC.  

 

19 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Are you in the DC area?  I’ve been going to Potter’s for my sons violin needs for about 10 years now. Always enjoyed the staff and never felt pressured to spend money. Dalton Potter once or twice talked me out of spending money when he didn’t feel it was in my best interest. If you’re interested send me a pm and I’ll give you a salesman that I trust contact information.  

 

13 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

I'd second Potters. Further, one of Maestronet's most celebrated makers of violas, Christopher Jacoby, works there!

 

5 hours ago, AtlVcl said:

Julie Reed-Yeboyah has deep roots in that area; I'm sure she could offer helpful suggestions you might not get elsewhere.  Last I was there, she was on Broadway in Midtown, NYC.

Also, you might give Mr. Erdesz a phone call, but I wouldn't expect to get one for $20K.

 

4 hours ago, Zeissica said:

My 16-3/8" viola was made in 2008 by Shinichiro Yoshikai in Durham, NC, and it is an excellent instrument. His violins and violas still generally sell for less than 20K last I looked. Along with the many shops already recommended, I would say that if you are for any reason in the New Mexico area, definitely check out Robertson & Sons violins and also David Brewer Fine Violins. Both of these Albuquerque shops carry an amazing inventory of instruments in all price ranges. 

 

4 hours ago, Ron MacDonald said:

Otto Erdesz died in 2000.

 

4 hours ago, AtlVcl said:

In that case, pro'ly not an option.

Thanks for all the suggestions! I'll continue looking into them.

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13 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I suggest you also go to the VSA conference in Cleveland this November and take look at the violas entered in the competition.  There will be roughly a hundred entered from makers all over the world.

Thanks for this suggestion! If I'm able to make it, I'll check out the VSA conference. 

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The OP could look into trying instruments by makers who trained with Otto Erdesz, such as Joseph Curtin, Jon van Kouwenhoven, or Lawrence Furse (who is a member of this forum).

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I manage the workshop at Potter Violins these days— we have great instruments in your price range, and I’d be pleased to meet you if you have some time to come over and say hello.

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Hi Christabel--To help get a more detailed idea of what you're looking for... What size viola can you play, and what kind of character are you looking for in an instrument (e.g., a dark/deep brescian type vs brighter)?  Also, are you only interested in a viola that is available right away or would you consider commissioning an instrument and waiting for it?

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15 hours ago, jezzupe said:

Luis Manfio!!!!

@MANFIO Workshop is a lot further away.... And probably has a waiting list of some years.... And might sell for over 20K..... But I'm sure he can correct me if I'm wrong.

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I'd make on in that price range (actually, below that range at the moment)... but I'm pretty far away and it wouldn't be done for another 2+ years... so that probably isn't very helpful.  I'm hoping I can get one done to have in the VSA competition, which is questionable, and there's someone waiting for it.

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To add to the suggestions made already, Carriage House Violins (near Boston) carries a pretty good inventory of violas in that price range.

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On 4/4/2018 at 12:18 PM, Christabel said:

Hi All,

I am a high school student looking into purchasing a high quality viola. I am interested in instruments ranging from $12,000 to $20,000. I currently play a $4,500 Erdesz copy made in Washington, D.C. in 2016.

I am open to any suggestions of shops/makers, though these would preferably be located in the mid-atlantic/northeast U.S. 

Thank you!

This may be a useful suggestion;  maybe someone has mentioned it above.   DON"T tell how much you want to spend.  Just say you want to see violas in the mid-range of price. They can decide what THEY think is midrange.  If it is a "reputable shop,"  please realize that they are still salesmen.  It is rather like buying a car.  Some here will feel insulted,  and perhaps others will agree with me.

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I agree with John, insofar as your specific budget is information best saved until later in the process, when you've narrowed it down to a few instruments that you enjoyed trying out during your shop visit. 

After all, the dollar figure attached to a bowed string instrument is actually not a reliable indicator of it's value as a musical tool. That might sound crazy, but it's absolutely true. 

The price of a viola is determined ultimately by it's value as an art object. Naturally this is tethered chiefly to the reputation of the artist that produced it. 

So - go into one of these great shops and start a conversation about what you're seeking in an instrument as a musical tool. Do you want a more projecting sound, or a greater richness of sound? Perhaps an instrument that is more responsive? Probably there are a number of things that you're hoping a new instrument will improve on over your current viola. The folks at these shops are professionals, many of whom play well also, and will understand your desires and do their best to find a few things in the shop for you to try that fit what you have asked for. 

Next, play the heck out of what they bring you! This is the fun part. If any of the instruments really impress you, then ask how much it costs. It may surprise you by being less expensive than you were imagining. If so, congrats! It's also possible it will be too expensive for you, but that's ok - no need to be discouraged. Just ask if there's anything else in the shop that has similar characteristics but that is more affordable. With luck, they'll have something else for you to try out.

Last thing, please be patient with this process. It can take a while to find your match, but it is so worth it once you do! Be prepared to travel to a lot of shops and try dozens of violas. That might sound daunting, but really what could be more fun than playing lots of instruments?

Best of luck, and enjoy!

 

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22 hours ago, Johnmasters said:

This may be a useful suggestion;  maybe someone has mentioned it above.   DON"T tell how much you want to spend.  Just say you want to see violas in the mid-range of price. They can decide what THEY think is midrange.  If it is a "reputable shop,"  please realize that they are still salesmen.  It is rather like buying a car.  Some here will feel insulted,  and perhaps others will agree with me.

This is silly! I'm only a salesman when someone wants to buy an instrument-- it's not a social disease. If someone comes in and won't tell me what they want to spend, my impression would be that cost is no object, and I would show the best instruments regardless of their high cost. If a shop takes 'midrange' as a price point and doesn't ask more questions, go to another shop with real salesmen that have enough inventory for that to be an important detail...

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I think we all know the uncomfortable feeling of walking into a shop and being asked for a "price range" The OPs prince range however seems to correspond with rank and file contemporary makers (perhaps not the superstars), so maybe he/she already has some knowledge of the market and is looking for some specific suggestions. There are lots of good choices and fortunately many good shops from Boston and DC to find something. Start trying stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The price range you indicated would cover the work of a wide variety of contemporary makers. Aside from the shops already suggested most makers will ship instruments on approval if asked. You can waste a lot of time however by looking for the perfect instrument and may pass over something which would be a good match by constantly trying to find something "just  a little better". Best bet is to get all the instruments you are interested in together at one time so that you can try them against each other. You really can't remember what an instrument sounds like after even a short time and you can go crazy imagining the sound of "the one that got away".

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3 hours ago, Christopher Jacoby said:

This is silly! I'm only a salesman when someone wants to buy an instrument-- it's not a social disease. If someone comes in and won't tell me what they want to spend, my impression would be that cost is no object, and I would show the best instruments regardless of their high cost. If a shop takes 'midrange' as a price point and doesn't ask more questions, go to another shop with real salesmen that have enough inventory for that to be an important detail...

I agree with Chris. I do think that there are salesmen our there who are a social disease, but you can avoid that malaise by going to good shops.

If you aren’t up front with the shop about your financial parameters, it can lead to disappointment. If you end up looking at instruments that are over budget, you run the risk of falling in love with one and not liking anything that is in your range. Then, you either have to settle for something that you know doesn’t sound as good or pay more than you can afford and regret it. I’ve seen too many customers come in without a stated budget and find their ideal instrument, only to be discouraged by the price tag (this happens at all levels). Starting with a definite budget doesn’t sound very romantic, but it really helps make the process smoother.

I would suggest finding a couple shops that you feel you can rely on AFTER the sale as well as during, and giving them a realistic picture of what you want. Good shops will be very helpful and might even pleasantly surprise you. 

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