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jacklinks

US vs Italian (with assistance from China)

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I’ve seen threads from time to time that discuss whether some US and Italian makers buy Chinese Violins in the white and finish them off and sell them as their own. “Finishing” them could include a lot of things or very little.  Anyway, what percentage of US makers and what percentage of Italian makers do that (ie where is the practice more prevalent)? Or is it really not that prevalent? Broad question, I know.

Said another way, who are some US and Italian makers that you can know with absolute certainty that everything was made by their hand?

 

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I don't think this can even be answered, for the only way to truly know would be to stand over someone's shoulder and watch them work, day in, day out. So it can only be an assumption.

 

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I think very few American makers are reworking mass produced instruments and labeling them as their own. If you buy from a maker whose work is individual enough to be recognizable by knowledgable connoisseurs then you will be fine. On the other hand if you buy from a private party or the Internet then you have the risk that some one has copied that work and is selling it as original. 

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We should start a directory that lists these false 'violinmakers'.

Felix Ponziani of Cleveland, Ohio and William 'Jack' Fry of Madison, Wisconsin  are two that I have run across.

 

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26 minutes ago, donbarzino said:

We should start a directory that lists these false 'violinmakers'.

 

 

This is a great forum for learning and sharing information.  Please refrain from mud slinging.

Thanks,

Jim

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7 minutes ago, Jim Bress said:

This is a great forum for learning and sharing information.  Please refrain from mud slinging.

Thanks,

Jim

Agreed. The question is in general terms how prevalent it is in the US and Italy (if at all) and if it is, which makers are bench made. Nothing wrong with finishing a violin in the white. It’s been done for many, many years in Germany etc..  To me it is more of knowing ones that are bench made so you know which ones command a higher price for the experience and expertise of the maker.  

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1 minute ago, jacklinks said:

Agreed. The question is in general terms how prevalent it is in the US and Italy (if at all) and if it is, which makers are bench made. Nothing wrong with finishing a violin in the white. It’s been done for many, many years in Germany etc..  To me it is more of knowing ones that are bench made so you know which ones command a higher price for the experience and expertise of the maker.  

I think you're asking a question no one has the answer to. I don't know anyone that does this, but I do recall long ago following a link from here to someone did "reworking" and sold them, but was very up front that they were not his own work and or that he just retooled them.

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Even if it was known who was reworking white violins, once these things have changed hands several times a few years down the line, that distinction will undoubtedly have gotten lost or become blurred.

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I have a "reworked" violin. It was my intermediate instrument. Still have it - a student is using it at the moment

It wasn't misrepresentated. I think it's absolutely fine. Why not?

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I have a colleague who is a quite capable maker. His own cello is a Matsuda and his wife has a Caron. His bench cellos are labeled with his own name, but his cellos in the white( he gets them from Germany because he says the wood is aged better) have a “shop” label and he makes no secret of the distinction.

He buys the whites, removes the top and graduates( or regraduates) the top and back and then varnishes and sets them up. For the money they are splendid instruments.

I would imagine most capable makers do something similar.

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1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

I have a colleague who is a quite capable maker. His own cello is a Matsuda and his wife has a Caron. His bench cellos are labeled with his own name, but his cellos in the white( he gets them from Germany because he says the wood is aged better) have a “shop” label and he makes no secret of the distinction.

He buys the whites, removes the top and graduates( or regraduates) the top and back and then varnishes and sets them up. For the money they are splendid instruments.

I would imagine most capable makers do something similar.

Not most, but many. My husband learned a lot by being the one in a reputable shop who completed these makeovers of factory work. How many would sell such a product as their own Benchmade instruments, I can say it's far more than I would have imagined based on *what I heard*. You or someone can say screw what I heard, and not be wrong. I made a post awhile back based on this hearsay. Reliable source, yes. But I will never say who said it. I was infomally asking about this screwed up practice, like OP here. 

It would be wrong to give examples of prominent makers who make a living on this b.s. business model. Fun to watch the fallout, maybe, because ... yes, I think it should be known who is definitely deceiving buyers... but I don't want to be banned from these forums forever so I'm not going to be the one to say it. Not today. But I guarantee every prominent maker has an idea of who does this. It's a small community.

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I get Chinese and German instruments in the white and graduate and varnish them. I sometimes give them to friends to varnish for the sake of variety. They get a shop label.

I have a Ponziani viola in the shop. If you know what you are looking at, it isn't a problem. The Ponziani is clearly a Juzek purchased in the white. 

Who will be the person who sorts out modern Italian from fine modern Chinese instruments made by people who studied in Italy?

My take : sell what you know. Trust who you purchase from.

 

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33 minutes ago, not telling said:

Not most, but many. My husband learned a lot by being the one in a reputable shop who completed these makeovers of factory work. How many would sell such a product as their own Benchmade instruments, I can say it's far more than I would have imagined based on *what I heard*. You or someone can say screw what I heard, and not be wrong. I made a post awhile back based on this hearsay. Reliable source, yes. But I will never say who said it. I was infomally asking about this screwed up practice, like OP here. 

It would be wrong to give examples of prominent makers who make a living on this b.s. business model. Fun to watch the fallout, maybe, because ... yes, I think it should be known who is definitely deceiving buyers... but I don't want to be banned from these forums forever so I'm not going to be the one to say it. Not today. But I guarantee every prominent maker has an idea of who does this. It's a small community.

I’m not sure what you’re saying. Are you complaining about what my colleague does? Or are you saying that lots of people don’t do that, and instead pass Chinese-or other factory-work off as their own?

I find it hard to believe that a good maker would be interested in passing off factory work as his own handwork Because presumably the factory work would be so much less quality than his own, even down to the quality of the wood being used, so I guess I’m a little bit unclear as to what you meant to say?

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Somebody go get Jacob S. and tell him to bring his longest stirring paddle. :lol:

popcorn-and-drink-smiley-emoticon.gif.b91dc84498976a256fb546defe866437.gif

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1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

I’m not sure what you’re saying. Are you complaining about what my colleague does? Or are you saying that lots of people don’t do that, and instead pass Chinese-or other factory-work off as their own?

I find it hard to believe that a good maker would be interested in passing off factory work as his own handwork Because presumably the factory work would be so much less quality than his own, even down to the quality of the wood being used, so I guess I’m a little bit unclear as to what you meant to say?

I'm saying there's nothing wrong with shop models, either made primarily by an apprentice or reworked factory instruments made better by an apprentice or other maker. You have to say what it is though. All of the rental instruments and budget models in this shop my husband worked in had been made into very excellent instruments, as good as they could be. Normally my husband did this job. Not only is there nothing wrong with doing this, it's best practices and the good ones are all doing this. Not everyone has shop models, but same thing. It's best for the customers to have playable instruments at every budget. 

I think it's cool if a maker has an apprentice who is making violins...really making them..., then you can sell those violins as a special shop model and recoup what you pay the apprentice and then some, while the apprentice is paid to learn. That's what Ken Beckmann did when my husband worked for him. I think it works well for all involved. Certainly not everyone does that, not everyone has an apprentice. So thoroughly worked over, scraped, and oil-varnished factory instruments are usually called the shop models, and no one is saying that is wrong either.

Exactly what I was saying...some makers may lie about their Benchmade work. You would be shocked, I guess, to realize that once instruments reliably sell for over $20,000 someone might get both lazy and greedy. If working on pricing with an instrument that took 30 hours instead of 300, they might cut their customer a deal just because (hey, for you buddy, I can let this go for $16,000). Even a "good maker"... might not be a good person. Some ways the dirty deed is done:

Reworked factory instruments... request the factory to leave them unlabeled.

Send the factory nice wood and possibly nicer fittings, to remove some obvious tells of cheap factory instruments. Most likely the seller completes the full setup. Maybe even the layout and drilling of peg holes, not sure, but a professional may have different standards there.

Buy piecework scrolls from someone who does fine scrolls to help hide the factory origins of the body...and yes, there are scroll specialists because there is a market!

I'm not thinking too deeply about this...just saying that it happens and there are different ways to cut corners depending on whom you're hoping to convince 

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1 hour ago, not telling said:

I made a post awhile back based on this hearsay. Reliable source, yes. But I will never say who said it.

I remember that, and I was always going to PM you and ask who it was.  I guess I can forget it finally :)

 

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I remember the howl of outrage about 35 years ago when word leaked out that a big concern in Germany was making semi-finished neck-scrolls for Sergio Peresson. 

His hands couldn't take what carving enough scrolls from scratch to keep up with the rate he could make boxes were taking out of them.

It didn't seem to cast a very noticeable shadow over him, commercially.

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1 hour ago, not telling said:

I'm saying..............there are different ways to cut corners.........

But what about the Chanot models?  :huh::ph34r:

image.png.83ce0ae7100effbf1c5c95650b29f858.png

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33 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

But what about the Chanot models?  :huh::ph34r:

image.png.83ce0ae7100effbf1c5c95650b29f858.png

Wonderful - warmed my heart - which is a good thing because outside a blustery wind is stirring the 12 degree C air.

Too cold for the workshop - for about 5 more days.

cheers edi

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5 hours ago, edi malinaric said:

Wonderful - warmed my heart - which is a good thing because outside a blustery wind is stirring the 12 degree C air.

Too cold for the workshop - for about 5 more days.

cheers edi

You’re not in Texas, are you?

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7 hours ago, not telling said:

I'm saying there's nothing wrong with shop models, either made primarily by an apprentice or reworked factory instruments made better by an apprentice or other maker. You have to say what it is though. All of the rental instruments and budget models in this shop my husband worked in had been made into very excellent instruments, as good as they could be. Normally my husband did this job. Not only is there nothing wrong with doing this, it's best practices and the good ones are all doing this. Not everyone has shop models, but same thing. It's best for the customers to have playable instruments at every budget. 

I think it's cool if a maker has an apprentice who is making violins...really making them..., then you can sell those violins as a special shop model and recoup what you pay the apprentice and then some, while the apprentice is paid to learn. That's what Ken Beckmann did when my husband worked for him. I think it works well for all involved. Certainly not everyone does that, not everyone has an apprentice. So thoroughly worked over, scraped, and oil-varnished factory instruments are usually called the shop models, and no one is saying that is wrong either.

Exactly what I was saying...some makers may lie about their Benchmade work. You would be shocked, I guess, to realize that once instruments reliably sell for over $20,000 someone might get both lazy and greedy. If working on pricing with an instrument that took 30 hours instead of 300, they might cut their customer a deal just because (hey, for you buddy, I can let this go for $16,000). Even a "good maker"... might not be a good person. Some ways the dirty deed is done:

Reworked factory instruments... request the factory to leave them unlabeled.

Send the factory nice wood and possibly nicer fittings, to remove some obvious tells of cheap factory instruments. Most likely the seller completes the full setup. Maybe even the layout and drilling of peg holes, not sure, but a professional may have different standards there.

Buy piecework scrolls from someone who does fine scrolls to help hide the factory origins of the body...and yes, there are scroll specialists because there is a market!

I'm not thinking too deeply about this...just saying that it happens and there are different ways to cut corners depending on whom you're hoping to convince 

Thanks for the clarification. Yes there are always people trying to take advantage of the rube, and in the violin world, there’s lots of rubes.

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3 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

You’re not in Texas, are you?

Hi PhilipKT - no - Cape Town is at the bottom of the African continent - next stop - The Antarctic! The climate is noted as Mediterranean.

It's our winter now, so these low temps are not unknown. However the normal pattern is for the cold to only hang around for a couple of hours in the morning. Days are largely cloudless so the sun warms everything up about 10 to 12 degrees.  Comes late afternoon and the temps begin to drop again. For the temperature to remain steadily low for a week is unusual.

Anyway our houses aren't well - insulated.  They are more geared to dealing with summer highs rather than winter lows.

At least once every couple of years I give serious thought to installing a couple of heat pumps. However the discomfort, hot or cold, is only for a couple of days - a week at the outside - and life returns to normal.

We have a warm ocean current running from east to west along our southern edge. Then there's another ocean current, a cold one this time, that comes up from the Antarctic and runs from south to north along our western edge. Cape Town sits at the south-west corner of the continent and our weather gets modified by the fickleness of the winds and those currents.

I've experienced sea temps that ranged from 11C to 34C. In one you can't breathe worry like hell that you might bot be able to get out and in the other you feel like a wet rag and worry like hell that you might not be able to get out! Go figure.

The sea below our house hovers around 13C - I keep telling people "It's not too bad. If you can stick it out for 30 seconds you'll be OK. You won't feel anything!" Used to be a good place to dive for crayfish - until the Fisheries Dept declared it a marine reserve.

Air temps - Min low ~ 0C, Max high ~ 40C. Thank goodness those are only 1 in 35 year events.

At the moment the South Atlantic Ocean is a good deal cooler than normal - mind you the Indian Ocean isn't exactly breaking any warm temperature records - so cold is definitely on the menu. Maybe the Russian scientists we're correct. They never bought the global warming story.

About 600 km to the east and 3 600' AMSL my nephew has a mountain farm - tomorrow morning they are expecting -12C. When we bought the farm I suggested to my wife that it might be a good idea to move out there so that I could give him a hand - (every farm should have an engineer on permanent call) - thank goodness she over-ruled me.

cheers edi

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