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Garth E.

Violin collecting...when do you have enough?

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If I see a violin in a case at a yard sale, I'll probably buy it. That's the problem. I'll add it to my other violins and then see another one on E-Bay I need to buy. That kind of collecting may be the worse case scenario. Over the years I've tried to curb those buying urges and just appreciate the violins I have collected, for better or worse. I suppose had I spent $20,000 on just one, I may not need to look elsewhere to find something better. However underpriced/overpriced violins are everywhere and collecting is rampant. So I did manage to put the brakes on my obsession when I got very lucky with one violin. I was looking for an 18thc. violin and by sheer luck I picked one up under $1000. That scratched the nasty itch and put a stop to my mad collecting. Now I buy violin related books.... yikes.

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In my case all I need is two.

A bit like a Les Paul and a Strat.

One is quite thick and gives a mellow sound and is easy to play. The other has a very thin top and has a totally different tone and is much harder to play.

But I have just counted the violins on the shelf behind me and there are 13 more that need setting up.

I will get around to it one day.

Promise. :unsure:

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20 minutes ago, Garth E. said:

Over the years I've tried to curb those buying urges and just appreciate the violins I have collected, for better or worse. I suppose had I spent $20,000 on just one, I may not need to look elsewhere to find something better.

I think you have touched on something very important here, which is not often mentioned.

So many people are buying numerous violins, of mediocre quality and in poor condition. Always looking for "the one" and trying to snag a bargain, convincing themselves that what they bought somehow sounds lovely. To others, it sounds like nails on a blackboard, but friends will always say the right things of course.

Since it always seems to be a lifelong search, as can be evidenced by the postings of several MN regulars, I have to wonder if buying one good violin in the first instance, would have saved some money, and also a lot of time.
Time that could have been spent practising and getting better, so that mediocre violins would no longer hold any interest whatsoever.

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I see you live in my neck of the woods.

I have yet to see a violin at a garage sale or at an auction that doesn't sell for WAY over what it's worth.  I think it's because they seem to be relatively scarce out here, and because the general public thinks every old violin is akin to a valuable Strad, just waiting for a knowledgeable picker to snap it up (and that picker, of course, is them! ^_^).

Also...the Prairies are relatively 'poor' as far as disposable income goes, especially historically.  Even a cheap violin would have been expensive to the settlers and farmers of the 1800 and early 1900s.  Both fiddlers and the middle class, hoping to educate their kids, would have been buying the least expensive options from the Sears catalogue.  Then, once the instrument wasn't being used anymore, it would be stored in the back of cold closets, etc., since the houses weren't insulated very well, and subject to dry cold in the winters, hot summers and many lonely years of neglect...

The odd expensive violin that made it's way out West, would have been looked after, and sold on, etc.  People knew its value all along.

So to find an expensive violin that slipped under the radar, and was actually found under Great Aunt Maud's bed, when the family cleared the house out, that was deemed 'junk' (and wasn't taken to be valued - just in case it's that Strad)  isn't going to happen very often.  If at all.  

If you are collecting something, anything, you need to decide on - and focus on - what you are collecting, and learn to ignore the rest, or you just end up with a garage full of crap.

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5 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

 I have to wonder if buying one good violin in the first instance, would have saved some money, and also a lot of time.

No.

or, I should say, having one very nice one fueled my interest for crap that I could work on and not feel I was ruining something valuable.

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Yes.  One must resist a bad case of GAS. ^_^

However, in the defense of multiple guitars...there are more types of guitars.  I've acquired 6, because each type is different enough, and I'm (having fun) exploring those differences (and similarities).

If you're collecting from the violin family, and wanted to collect one of each of a violin, viola, cello and double bass to explore those instruments, that would be valid.

As far as how many violins do you 'need'.  I'd suggest two.  A good one, and a 'good enough' one, to be used as a spare or for outdoor workshop/demonstration (school) performances, etc.

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For a lot of people I think it starts when they first walk into a shop and are sticker shocked, so they start looking for bargains. It sometimes ends when they have enough cash to walk into a shop and comfortably plop down full retail, and have their choice. 

I like having different sounds under my ear. I just like to pick up and play different instruments. I'll see a fiddle I havent played in a while and think that I might just put it in auction, then I start playing it again and I find a quality about it that makes me keep it.

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33 minutes ago, Rue said:

.............

If you're collecting from the violin family, and wanted to collect one of each of a violin, viola, cello and double bass to explore those instruments, that would be valid.

As far as how many violins do you 'need'.  I'd suggest two.  A good one, and a 'good enough' one, to be used as a spare or for outdoor workshop/demonstration (school) performances, etc.

I've got multiple violins, plus a viola and a cello that suit my needs.  It's sometimes fun to be your own chamber ensemble via Audacity.

2 minutes ago, deans said:

I like having different sounds under my ear. I just like to pick up and play different instruments. I'll see a fiddle I havent played in a while and think that I might just put it in auction, then I start playing it again and I find a quality about it that makes me keep it.

Yup.  As of last month, though, I'm good.  I've finally got all my boxes ticked.  :)

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Bill Frisell used to live in my neighborhood. I even did some non-guitar work for him. We were chatting one day and I asked him how many guitars he had, and he blushed a bit, and answered in the 40's range. I bet that he has added more since I asked that question.

I guess that for a collection, if the collection has a focus, then when you have met that goal. I remember Dr. Fulton telling me that really all his collection lacked was a Strad viola.

I have seen collections, upon evaluation for estates, of which I simply wished that the person had chosen to invest in one fine bow and/or violin instead of a bunch of compromised and repaired old instruments and bows.

When do you have enough? That sounds like a question for a Bhuddist.

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I collect things, I am quite sure it is a mental illness. Just be glad you don't make, it's easy to justify a collection violins, not as easy to justify a pile of "special" lumber, and just pray you never get sucked into watch collecting 

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6 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Yup.  As of last month, though, I'm good.  I've finally got all my boxes ticked.

No chance that will happen with me, just too many interesting things out there. I'd like to reach a steady state of about a 6-8 each of violins and violas, but it will probably be changing my whole life. 

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1 minute ago, jezzupe said:

I collect things, I am quite sure it is a mental illness. Just be glad you don't make, it's easy to justify a collection violins, not as easy to justify a pile of "special" lumber, and just pray you never get sucked into watch collecting 

How many pocket watches constitute a collection? Asking for a friend.

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I like to think of it like this, if you buy a watch box that holds ten watches, and then you run out of room, and you need to buy another...you may want to seek professional help :unsure:, like Chrono24  :lol:

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16 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

I've got multiple violins, plus a viola and a cello that suit my needs.  It's sometimes fun to be your own chamber ensemble via Audacity.

Yup.  As of last month, though, I'm good.  I've finally got all my boxes ticked.  :)

ya, right, ticked, that's it, no more :lol:

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1 minute ago, jezzupe said:

I like to think of it like this, if you buy a watch box that holds ten watches, and then you run out of room, and you need to buy another...you may want to seek professional help :unsure:, like Chrono24  :lol:

My wife currently has maybe six guitars, a couple of amps, plus a mandolin and a keyboard. (I don't keep count, but what I do notice is that if the number gets too high, stuff tumbles out and tries to kill me when I open a closet door). :lol:

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1 hour ago, stringcheese said:

In the fretted instrument world the question is: How many guitars does a guy need? And the answer: One more!

A very good friend of mine and an old bandmate passed away recently. He had 132 guitars in his basement...mostly junk from E-Bay. I helped his wife sell them off. As Marley would say..."Heed my warning"

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21 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

My wife currently has maybe six guitars, a couple of amps, plus a mandolin and a keyboard. (I don't keep count, but what I do notice is that if the number gets too high, stuff tumbles out and tries to kill me when I open a closet door). :lol:

Ah yes, Mrs Whoopee's closet :lol:, Something tells me Vda's closet is very dangerous, swords falling and such

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4 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

Ah yes, Mrs Whoopee's closet :lol:, Something tells me Vda's closet is very dangerous, swords falling and such

Probably alligators, and 50 caliber machine guns too. ;)

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A collector has different goals than a player, and winds up with more of whatever it is that they collect than anyone could possibly justify. I topped out at 120 guitars, and given my collecting rationale could add more, but after putting 2/3rds into storage, had to ask myself what the point was.

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I thought everybody knew that you need n+1 violins provided that (n+1) ≤ (d-1), where 

n = number of current violins

d = number of violins which cause a divorce

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My wife’s grandfather always says “Up to three is a curiosity, more than three is a collection.”

The n+1 rule is pretty standard for collections of any kind, unless you’re able to collect an entire set of items in mint condition. With violins, that’s impossible to do, so n+1 it is, haha. 

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Somewhat related, how many cats can you have before you are that "crazy cat lady". I guess its also the n+1 rule.

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4 minutes ago, deans said:

Somewhat related, how many cats can you have before you are that "crazy cat lady". I guess its also the n+1 rule.

I've actually known a crazy cat lady or two who only had one...

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