not telling

Factory instruments reworked, sold as new artist instruments

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Watching a clip of a Chinese village workshop making violins and cellos for a western company (Stentor I think it was) I was amazed at the speed the workers produced the various components using mainly traditional tools. How well they performed each task though is open to question, especially in the slapdash way glue was applied from a container that looked like it hadn't been cleaned in  a long time.

There is no doubt that the world is awash with cheap, shoddy Chinese manufactured goods. Making high quality stringed instruments is not necessarily easy but it is the only defence against this sort of thing.

 

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Yet they show up every day to carve scrolls or what ever.... I would suppose to support and feed their families.. Not sure what THEIR options might be? I wonder if the "walk a mile in his/her shoes" thing matters much these days?

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1 hour ago, Dennis J said:

There is no doubt that the world is awash with cheap, shoddy Chinese manufactured goods.

I think the underlying problem here is they aren't shoddy.

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Perhaps, quality issues aside though, If an instrument is marketed as made by an individual, say Sam Z, and a premium is applied ,based on this preference, then I would expect that courts would side with the deceived party , I would caution any luthiers from the practice lest a class action lawsuit ensue from their act. Currently there is a huge Deal with Native southwest silver ,turquoise work being forged in Asia, no small deal for the buyers, several lawsuits against unscrupulous dealers going on now. Quality is not the issue misrepresentation is.

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As far a quality is concerned I think it is reasonable to assume that major joints in a violin, like the neck mortise, that are made in seconds must be of a doubtful  standard. The maker might fluke a perfect one now and again, but overall most would not be up to scratch.

On the other hand I know a lady who bought her daughter a more expensive Chinese instrument which her violin teacher said was very good, for playability and sound wise at least.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Dennis J said:

Watching a clip of a Chinese village workshop making violins and cellos for a western company (Stentor I think it was) I was amazed at the speed the workers produced the various components using mainly traditional tools. How well they performed each task though is open to question, especially in the slapdash way glue was applied from a container that looked like it hadn't been cleaned in  a long time.

There is no doubt that the world is awash with cheap, shoddy Chinese manufactured goods. Making high quality stringed instruments is not necessarily easy but it is the only defence against this sort of thing.

 

Would it not be advantageous commercial wise if these honest luthiers register their patents for their own violin design to prevent the Chinese shoddy goods? A patent can still be novel as long as it is a significant improvement upon old design.

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Well if the truck rolled up with the latest masterpieces presumably these violins are selling, which suggests that they are good enough, in terms of sound and how they play, for the people who are buying them - otherwise that truck would stop rolling up. 

How much do you trust your ears? OK so perhaps these makers are passing off all the work as being their own (if indeed they are doing that). It's disingenuous, deceitful. Not much new in the violin world then.  

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2 hours ago, Dennis J said:

As far a quality is concerned I think it is reasonable to assume that major joints in a violin, like the neck mortise, that are made in seconds must be of a doubtful  standard. The maker might fluke a perfect one now and again, but overall most would not be up to scratch.

I have a Stentor 2 violin which I paid less than ten dollars for second hand some years ago. It is well made and keeps in tune for months at a time. The tone is not the best, as the wood selection is of a lower grade, but it is more than adequate to learn the basics of violin on. The main problem with these cheap Chinese fiddles is the factory setup which  usually needs adjusting.

As for the idea that the joints are substandard because they are made quickly - practice makes perfect. This is with the proviso of course that quality control is maintained, and the workforce is not constantly changing.

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4 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

I think the underlying problem here is they aren't shoddy.

Some of them sure are, but ultra-cheap instruments are a huge and very successful part of their market.

What I found when I was in China was that most of these factory violin makers don't consider themselves to be "violin makers". They think of themselves as "factory workers", just like those in any number of other Chinese factories, and are paid about the same. They come to the factories from all over China, often from far far away, often live in dorms furnished by the manufacturer, live very frugally, and after 15 years or so, can return to their home village with enough money to perhaps buy a house or start a business. Working conditions may not look very good, by our cushy standards, but one of these factory jobs is considered to be a big opportunity, and offers them a step up in life which they wouldn't be able to achieve any other way.

My wife works for the American business unit of a huge Chinese company, and one of her observations while visiting one of their factories was rather interesting: In the parking lot of a US factory, one might find 5000 cars, and 3 bicycles. Outside a Chinese factory, one might find 5000 bicycles, and 3 cars.

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On 7/11/2018 at 3:05 AM, MANFIO said:

This is an old problem in Cremona, as you can see here, an article in one of the most prestigious Italian newspapers: https://milano.corriere.it/notizie/cronaca/16_marzo_09/i-maestri-liutai-guerra-44913e06-e573-11e5-a224-f2704d495d88.shtml?refresh_ce-cp

The journalist will not win the Pulizer award for this article, it's easy to say things without naming names (which he will know very well) only advertising for the nominated association and no serious inquiry .

Not to mention the appropriateness and usefulness of the self-certification to which the members of that association are kept, anyone can self-certify their honesty and then behave the opposite.....:rolleyes:

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On 7/11/2018 at 3:38 AM, Quadibloc said:

I've heard that Cremona regulates its violin makers, allowing them to only make so many violins a year. They have to keep their wood shavings in a bag for a government inspector to weigh them or something.

So, it a Cremonese luthier today were to be as successful as Stradivari, and seek to hire assistants to carve the necks of his violins and so on... he would have to move out of Cremona.

Which means that there is no danger of the Chinese coming there, apparently.

 

On 7/11/2018 at 6:17 AM, Wee B. Bridges said:

 

No.  

A long and contentious practice of reworking instruments in Cremona,  yes it is well known. 

In an effort to maintain  the good name of Cremona in the market place,  the Consortium was established to  bind members of the consortium to the greatest moral integrity in the exercise of their craft.

But only to be a member of the Consortium, and receive the official stamp of approval do you jump these hoops (some  as mentioned above.) 

http://www.cremonaviolins.com/en/the-consortium/  (more on the rules/use of the collective trademark after the jump.)

There are many more makers in Cremona other than those in the Consortium.

A certification will never be able to solve problems of this kind that are very complex and outside of the law, of course.

A detail that is always omitted regarding this certification is that it only certifies the origin of the product, not the quality.

Another "small" detail intentionally left in the shadows is that the members of this consortium are not obliged to certify all their production, but only the instruments they decide to certify, that is a nonsense and this completely undermines the credibility of the certification.

Not to mention the inspections, where those who must control are the same as the controlled.

The members of this consortium are constantly decreasing, many expert luthiers have gone out and many young makers have entered, mainly to take advantage of the facilitations in the participation in international fairs and exhibitions at a moderate cost  that they themselves would not be able to sustain.

I have always refused to join this consortium, which in any case represents only about one third of Cremonese professional violin makers.

So yes, there are many more makers in Cremona other than those in the Consortium.

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How could I as a consumer  avoid the problem?

Suppose I commission a violin (which I might do  sometimes in the future  -but that project still is in its "daydream phase").

Would a violin maker agree to workshop visits? For example one after the wood selection, one after the plates are carved, and one to see the violin in the white?

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Davide Sora said:

The journalist will not win the Pulizer award for this article, it's easy to say things without naming names (which he will know very well) only advertising for the nominated association and no serious inquiry .

 

Not to mention the appropriateness and usefulness of the self-certification to which the members of that association are kept, anyone can self-certify their honesty and then behave the opposite.....:rolleyes:

You are write about that!!! 

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7 hours ago, j15310 said:

Would a violin maker agree to workshop visits? For example one after the wood selection, one after the plates are carved, and one to see the violin in the white?

Most likely, as long as it doesn't necessitate long periods of inactivity, waiting for you to arrange to come by. And as long as they are really making their own stuff.

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8 hours ago, James M. Jones said:

Perhaps, quality issues aside though, If an instrument is marketed as made by an individual, say Sam Z, and a premium is applied ,based on this preference, then I would expect that courts would side with the deceived party , I would caution any luthiers from the practice lest a class action lawsuit ensue from their act. Currently there is a huge Deal with Native southwest silver ,turquoise work being forged in Asia, no small deal for the buyers, several lawsuits against unscrupulous dealers going on now. Quality is not the issue misrepresentation is.

Yes, that is a good example. But I suppose there are for native southwest silver turquoise work means to identify the malpractice.

For violins, especially if they are reworked by the master himself, I think it is basically impossible to proof. 

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2 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

 

 

A certification will never be able to solve problems of this kind that are very complex and outside of the law, of course.

 

A detail that is always omitted regarding this certification is that it only certifies the origin of the product, not the quality.

Another "small" detail intentionally left in the shadows is that the members of this consortium are not obliged to certify all their production, but only the instruments they decide to certify, that is a nonsense and this completely undermines the credibility of the certification.

 
Not to mention the inspections, where those who must control are the same as the controlled.

The members of this consortium are constantly decreasing, many expert luthiers have gone out and many young makers have entered, mainly to take advantage of the facilitations in the participation in international fairs and exhibitions at a moderate cost  that they themselves would not be able to sustain.

I have always refused to join this consortium, which in any case represents only about one third of Cremonese professional violin makers.

So yes, there are many more makers in Cremona other than those in the Consortium.

Davide, your statement underlines my suspicion that this was done for the Jspanese market. There was a time when some in Japan well known makers got accused to work from prefabricated parts. And exactly they became the first members. Not difficult to guess who created the consortium and for which reason. 

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10 hours ago, Dennis J said:

...There is no doubt that the world is awash with cheap, shoddy Chinese manufactured goods.

There are also high quality Chinese goods and low quality American goods.

7 hours ago, Dennis J said:

...On the other hand I know a lady who bought her daughter a more expensive Chinese instrument which her violin teacher said was very good, for playability and sound wise at least.

This shouldn't be surprising.

4 hours ago, David Burgess said:

... In the parking lot of a US factory, one might find 5000 cars, and 3 bicycles. Outside a Chinese factory, one might find 5000 bicycles, and 3 cars.

Curious though - how far away do the workers live from the factory? In Europe you can ride a bike almost everywhere. In NA - with our car culture and oftentimes a lack of public transport to outlying factory sites - you need a car. No car = no job.

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Yes, that is a good example. But I suppose there are for native southwest silver turquoise work means to identify the malpractice.

For violins, especially if they are reworked by the master himself, I think it is basically impossible to proof. 

Actually the same basic problems in identifying the source are in both fields , if the materials are sourced from authentic locations and methods closely adhered to, then it is easy to fake a proof mark. The main avenue of prosecution being paper trails, import papers , receipts , Emails, texts and undercover investigation,hard to not leave some sort of evidence , of repeated and habitual crimes, of course the tribes have a much larger financial  lever to peruse legal action than individual violin buyers, buI could easily imagine a scenario where several high end buyers who have been defrauded could join together, to hire investigators and lawyers to represent them to the courts. 

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As is done in the wine industry, surely a Violin makers association could simply have a starred certification system whereby; 

Made by Joe Blogs***    Means fully made by Joe B every step of the process

Made by Joe Blogs**     Means made by JB assisted by his workshop

Made by Joe B*             Means made in the workshop, but finished, certified and set up by JB

Joe Blogs                    Finished and set up by JB (from whatever source)

 

This guarantees only provenance

It implies nothing as to quality or sound. Sound is subjective and every buyer must hear, compare and judge for them selves

 

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1 hour ago, reg said:

As is done in the wine industry,

And many other industries.

But how much of an impact does this have? I can think of a few infamous guys in the past, but not now. Anyone have any estimate of how many makers are doctoring up factory instruments and selling them as own (here in the US)?  Dozens? Hundreds?

From my perspective there seems to be way more violin makers here in the US, getting good prices and making livings, than any other time in my life. Maybe its a misperception, but it seems like the field is thriving.

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11 hours ago, James M. Jones said:

Perhaps, quality issues aside though, If an instrument is marketed as made by an individual, say Sam Z, and a premium is applied ,based on this preference, then I would expect that courts would side with the deceived party , I would caution any luthiers from the practice lest a class action lawsuit ensue from their act. Currently there is a huge Deal with Native southwest silver ,turquoise work being forged in Asia, no small deal for the buyers, several lawsuits against unscrupulous dealers going on now. Quality is not the issue misrepresentation is.

Has everything that has come out of Sam Z's shop been made completely by Sam Z., or are the workshop assistants responsible for certain aspects of the work and Sam finishes them, and/or does it matter?

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There is another twist along these lines. Shop-labeled instruments from larger shops are sometimes made almost entirely by talented but nameless individuals, either in the shop itself, or from another location. In some ways the shop is down-playing the individual hand made aspects. Perhaps there should be a labeling requirement that recognizes that individuals effort.

My first (decent) viola was "Made in Weavers Violin Shop". Might have legitimately been labeled "Made by Robert McKluskey" and sold for a higher price.

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8 minutes ago, duane88 said:

Has everything that has come out of Sam Z's shop been made completely by Sam Z., or are the workshop assistants responsible for certain aspects of the work and Sam finishes them, and/or does it matter?

I don't know about this shop, but Fred Oster's web page has a Sam Z "workshop-made" instrument listed at very respectable price.

Actually just checked, says made by Dietmar Schweizer, so not quite was I was thinking.

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I don't know how many of you have seen this Documentary. It's pretty fascinating, and highlights some of this topic.

. https://www.fandor.com/films/mardi_gras

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