not telling

Factory instruments reworked, sold as new artist instruments

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Judging from what I have read here over the years, most independent violin makers can't make a livable wage in America from making violins. I would not be surprised if the average hourly rate independent violin makers earn from making and selling a violin is less than the minimum wage.

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18 minutes ago, Bill Yacey said:

Unfortunately in the simplest of terms, it amounts to supply and demand. The Chinese wouldn't be building them if there wasn't any demand.

They also wouldn't be building them if they had to pay their workers what it costs to live in the US or Canada or even most of the West.

 

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2 hours ago, Nik Kyklo said:

I agree in many parts with you. You are right. It is shame. But it is also shame people in Balkans, China, Asia etc trying to survive (and not to live) with 250$ or less monthly. It is shame working on violin factories  that pay nothing. (And a pair of Nike shoes cost 150$). Saying "Chinese" or "East European" - sounds bit racistic. Who said that American or European instruments are  better than Chinese or ex East Europeans? This is called overgeneralization. Sure there are good makers at East. East Europe was great at instrument making too. For the same job you can be payed 2000$ in Germany and 200$ in Balkans and less at East.

For the word "bandits"  I have to divide it in two categories:

1. The human need

I live in Balkans (Ex East Europe). For example: What can a father do with 250$ per month? It is easier to become that "bandit". If he had a 'chinese' and could sell it as "European" or as his handmade instrument- watching his children starving - he would sell it.

2. The real "bandits"

"Big" instrument dealers (Companies, Banks, Goverments etc.)

If we want justice - we have to let the violins away and discuss about poverty, wars etc in our planet.

 

 

 

 

 

I don't want justicia, I want Δίκη, and there's a distinct difference between legalistic tit-for-tat, and the pursuit of righteous excellence.   I'd love to debate these matters with you in an appropriate forum.  This isn't it.  :P

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As several people have pointed out division of labor and out sourcing of parts and pieces is as old as violin making. Certainly it is just fine to use apprentices who work under the control of a master as has always been done. 

Controversy begins with whether you get the same product by using machines or outside labor working to set specifications. As I commented in the Strad Concept thread I personally believe that the best violins must accommodate the wood you are working with and that carving by hand imparts an individual character to the instrument which cannot be duplicated by a machine or someone working to pre-set specifications. In my own work I incorporate a great deal of tool marks and process artifacts which prove that the work was done by hand and add visual interest at the same time.

There certainly are people who beleive that they get the same results no matter how the waste wood is removed and that individual hand work is a waste of time however they usually don't reveal that to their customers. I think that ultimately that kind of work will not be as valued over time but if the goal is to make the most instruments over the shortest period of time with the highest profit margin possible then CNC machines in under developed countrys is the way to go.

Whether the customers would have the same experience buying and playing a machine made instrument is another question and I think most musicians who buy those instruments would fell cheated if they knew the whole story.

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Just now, Andreas Preuss said:

Did you ever ask the question where the parts of your computer, your car or your bicycle were made? 

In our modern world this is just the way how many, many things are manufactured, if we like it or not. It is upon the seller to maintain in this scheme a certain standard quality to justify the price, just like Vuillaume did. (nobody asks who were the makers of a Vuillaume, for sure Vuillaume made only a very small number entirely himself.)

Ethically you are right, in practice the world looks different. Money doesn't know ethics and never will.

Right, but when the news story about the little children mining cobalt for our cell phones hit, there was a small percentage of the readers who didn't just think, "That's sad, but it's capitalism." The outrage prompted companies to make statements about ethics. So change is possible, even if it's only motivation is the business interest.

I would add that the customers are paying a premium to not buy the "blood diamond"...and they would do so with instruments too. In many cases they are being bilked into the notion that they are not buying the violin equivalent of the blood diamond, when in fact they are contributing to the problem. As Nathan says, they would feel cheated if they knew...

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9 minutes ago, not telling said:

Right, but when the news story about the little children mining cobalt for our cell phones hit, there was a small percentage of the readers who didn't just think, "That's sad, but it's capitalism." The outrage prompted companies to make statements about ethics. So change is possible, even if it's only motivation is the business interest.

Bigger children? Sorry, not funny but I couldn't help myself. You know what I'm aiming at. 

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30 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Actually it would be a quite interesting experiment to send a reworked instrument to a violin making competition and see how it scores. 

I could easily pick out a pile that would fit right in with the current rank and file makers in a blind test, even beating some of the VSA medal winners. They wouldn't be the cheapest ones though. 

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Just now, deans said:

I could easily pick out a pile that would fit right in with the current rank and file makers in a blind test, even beating some of the VSA medal winners. They wouldn't be the cheapest ones though. 

So you know what you're looking at more than the judges, and you find it easy to pick out better instruments than medal winners can do, from a pile of factory work? 

Ok....

Eric Meyer, you're right...words... I was just remembering reading about four-year-olds working 12-hour shifts sorting the cobalt. Somehow it's worse and more horrifying if the children are really little, although the dangerous conditions should not be tolerated by anyone. It's bad enough that the adults are working there. Although we aren't all throwing away our cell phones in revulsion, I have hope that change is possible when no one can say they are unaware of a situation: especially those directly responsible for it. 

 

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When Peresson was found out, it hurt for a while, but prices for his instruments seem to have recovered.

I rework and varnish white instruments. Some German, some Chinese. They get a shop label, as they should. They fill a price-point and serve as varnish experiments that can be sold!

Charles Espey told me a story about being in France, at a bow workshop, and asking if they made their bows completely or outsourced the frogs and buttons. They insisted that they did all. Later in the evening, long after the shop had closed and wine was consumed, there was a knock at the door. It was a bowmaker, with a box of finished frogs and buttons to deliver.

This isn't new, either the discussion or the situation. What do you think nearly destroyed Italian violin making in the 19th century? Cheap instruments made possible by the Industrial Revolution from France and Germany that undercut Italian makers.If people had to pay a living wage to the workers who made their i-phones and other devices they would be quite the luxury items.

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30 minutes ago, not telling said:

So you know what you're looking at more than the judges, and you find it easy to pick out better instruments than medal winners can do, from a pile of factory work? 

Depends on who the judges are, some have different tastes,  a couple VSA judges were my teachers. I've also looked at a lot of violins in my time. I am 100% confident that I can choose a Jay Haide or Scott Cao that would rank higher than many VSA entries in a blind test on any given day.

I like the idea of hand made violins as much as anybody, and have put my money down several times, many from medal winning makers. But the reality is that production factory instruments can be great players, especially when adjusted well by someone who knows what they're doing..

Most people here would poo-poo the VSA gold medal winner violin currently on my desk without even hearing it.......

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1 hour ago, Violadamore said:

I don't want justicia, I want Δίκη, and there's a distinct difference between legalistic tit-for-tat, and the pursuit of righteous excellence.   I'd love to debate these matters with you in an appropriate forum.  This isn't it.  :P

I am happy seeing the Greek term. I used the right word for what I would like to say (even my English are not good). δικαιοσύνη. Maybe you mean the term Δίκη from the ancient perspecive - ex. the perspective of Aeschylus at the tragedy Ορέστεια. In such way you mean "revenge" / εκ-δικάζω (I re-justify the situation). --- You are right. Is not an appropriate forum for this topic. 

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21 minutes ago, deans said:

...

Most people here would poo-poo the VSA gold medal winner violin currently on my desk without even hearing it.......

Why?

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The idea of a maker working alone in his workshop is a modern thing. Andrea Amati had his "garzone di bottega", Stradivari had Francesco and Omobono.

Roger Hargrave wrote a nice article called  "Undercover Agents - When is a Strad not a Strad?", that is very insteresting and can be downloaded from his site.  https://www.roger-hargrave.de/Seiten/english/Bibliothek/Bibliothek.htm

   

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2 hours ago, Bill Yacey said:

Nothing like permanently slamming the door shut for any hope of a business opportunity! The person who made that comment was not a very good salesman.

He might have been, in some venues and cultures. It just didn't happen to resonate with me.

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12 minutes ago, Rue said:

Why?

He had a personality that made it easy for some people to dislike his instruments.

Which leads to a major point of the lure of individually hand made violins, the idea that some element of humanity gets built into the things. I have to admit I'm attracted to instruments by guys I like, people who have some connection with myself, from where I grew up etc.  But from a practical, playing standpoint, a no-name factory instrument can serve quite well. Of course a hand made violin from your local luthier also usually works out perfectly fine.

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1 hour ago, Violadamore said:

I don't want justicia, I want Δίκη, and there's a distinct difference between legalistic tit-for-tat, and the pursuit of righteous excellence.  

Agreed, but I will also acknowledge that I might be an outlier, in the general commerce view of things.

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3 minutes ago, deans said:

 Of course a hand made violin from your local luthier also usually works out perfectly fine.

Yup, even when the last handcrafting other than setup and inserting a label occurred several thousand miles away, right?  :ph34r::lol:

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4 hours ago, Don Noon said:

If the "industry" had a lot of empowered police to investigate and enforce their system... maybe.

 

Various forms of enforcement have been discussed, and were deemed to be untenable. Most of the "violin maker" organizations have no law enforcement or prosecutorial powers. When potential problems emerge' and reach a good level of subtantiation, about the most these organizations can do is kick these people out. But in general, these people know when trouble is on the horizon, already understand how their own actions made it that way, and resign prior to being booted.

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You could hire private thugs to go after anybody not making their own violins.  Everybody wants the government to do everything for them...  Then I start thinking you really need to be growing the trees too, and take care of all y'all.  Grow them from seed.  No seedling starts.  And make your own varnish brushes too.  And smelt the steel for your saws.  No ready-made smelters from China either.  Make them out of bricks from mud from your backyard.

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I worked for a very high profile “maker”  in the U.K. (I would really love to mention a name) and can assure you that this sort of practice has gone on for sometime and will continue to as long as there’s money to be made. I left this particular workshop because of it. Just as Nik Kyklo attempted, we can source a global-political cause  for this brand of dishonesty but of course it boils down to a decay of decent ethics broken down by the aged-old greed. “Money doesn’t know ethics” - but aren’t we supposed to? 

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7 hours ago, deans said:

Depends on who the judges are, some have different tastes,  a couple VSA judges were my teachers. I've also looked at a lot of violins in my time. I am 100% confident that I can choose a Jay Haide or Scott Cao that would rank higher than many VSA entries in a blind test on any given day.

I like the idea of hand made violins as much as anybody, and have put my money down several times, many from medal winning makers. But the reality is that production factory instruments can be great players, especially when adjusted well by someone who knows what they're doing..

Most people here would poo-poo the VSA gold medal winner violin currently on my desk without even hearing it.......

Why?

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Is there a difference between "hand crafted" by a single person vs." hand crafted" by many workers.  

If workmanship was the issue wouldn't a specialized factory worker doing purfling all day, every day be better at it than an individual maker making maybe a dozen a year?

 

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6 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

You could hire private thugs to go after anybody not making their own violins.  Everybody wants the government to do everything for them...  Then I start thinking you really need to be growing the trees too, and take care of all y'all.  Grow them from seed.  No seedling starts.  And make your own varnish brushes too.  And smelt the steel for your saws.  No ready-made smelters from China either.  Make them out of bricks from mud from your backyard.

Now that's really cooking from scratch!

7 hours ago, deans said:

He had a personality that made it easy for some people to dislike his instruments.

^_^

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Is there any documents indicating what Strad paid his apprentices?  It couldn't have been that good a wage as his own sons never left home.:ph34r:

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