MODERN LOW GRADE VIOLINS


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Are there any violins currently being made that are, in terms of materials and construction, the same as the German low grade instruments from the beginning of the period of mass production for export ?

If not, what significant changes were made in the manufacture of the finished instruments and when did that occur?

Thanks.

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The lowest grade instruments in the beginning of "cottage industry" production in Germany were poorly and hastily constructed from cheap materials. For example, the inside of the plates were often hacked-out quickly, and smoothed out only where the inside was visible through the f-holes.

The quality of low grade violins made in the "cottage industry" started to improve significantly around c. 1906 with the introduction of the Thau milling machine for making the plates.

Modern lower-grade violins are primarily made in China, and are vastly superior in construction than the early low-grade "cottage industry" production because of the use of machines, production lines, and skilled labor. 

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17 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

The lowest grade instruments in the beginning of "cottage industry" production in Germany were poorly and hastily constructed from cheap materials. For example, the inside of the plates were often hacked-out quickly, and smoothed out only where the inside was visible through the f-holes.

The quality of low grade violins made in the "cottage industry" started to improve significantly around c. 1906 with the introduction of the Thau milling machine for making the plates.

Modern lower-grade violins are primarily made in China, and are vastly superior in construction than the early low-grade "cottage industry" production because of the use of machines, production lines, and skilled labor. 

Ditto to all of this! I've never seen any Chinese violin anywhere near as bad as a low grade German dutzendarbeit

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I have been impressed with the quality maple on **some** of the cheap old German fiddles (nice flame, tight grain), and disappointed that such nice wood was wasted on them.  Modern cheapos, not so much, and in general it seems the maple is not as nice even in the unflamed variety.

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Thank you for your replies.

It is pretty much what I had gathered from reading quite a number of relevant threads in the archives.

I asked because I have been wondering what those early fiddles would have sounded like when they were new. Presumably, poor quality of construction and low grade gut strings would have produced a particular sound that became increasingly familiar in amateur music making from the mid nineteenth century onwards, as thousands of people accessed the blossoming trade, but that is now lost to us?

Is it likely that those extant examples no longer sound as they did when new, due to maturation altering the tone?

 

 

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The German could be crude in appearance, but I think the makers understood tone better than the Chinese factory workers,  the lowest grade of Dutzenarbeit would be more analogous to the $100 Chinese violins and comparing them I still think the German ones sounded better. Modern Chinese violins are closer in appearance to factory produced German of the 50s-70s, and the Chinese models are superior to most of these.

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5 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

The German could be crude in appearance, but I think the makers understood tone better than the Chinese factory workers,  the lowest grade of Dutzenarbeit would be more analogous to the $100 Chinese violins and comparing them I still think the German ones sounded better. Modern Chinese violins are closer in appearance to factory produced German of the 50s-70s, and the Chinese models are superior to most of these.

I'd make a guess that most of the "makers" of the dutzendarbeit  instruments, only saw parts, and not the instruments that they were making parts for. I'd also guess that most of them never played a violin, and had no clue about how what they were doing affected tone. The Chinese "makers", may be similar, but are working at a much higher standard.

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Makes sense to me! :)

I also think that today - anyone (which is [almost] everyone) with internet access to resources (should they want them) can up the game. Even factory workers.

And...the market is different. It's much easier to access violins, of all levels, now, than it was then. Interested buyers will compare and shop around. They're not restricted to only what they can order from the Sears catalogue, or from Herr Baumeister's Musikinstrumentenladen.

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30 minutes ago, FiddleDoug said:

I'd make a guess that most of the "makers" of the dutzendarbeit  instruments, only saw parts, and not the instruments that they were making parts for. I'd also guess that most of them never played a violin, and had no clue about how what they were doing affected tone. The Chinese "makers", may be similar, but are working at a much higher standard.

The survey of the Gewerbekammer Plauen reported that these Vogtländische Waren were supplied wholesale, starting at 18 to 30 Marks a dozen for “ordinare” violins, 30 to 144 Marks per dozen for medium quality, and up to 100 Marks EACH for the good ones. The parsimonious yanks generally bought the “ordinare” sort. The Chinese also make various qualities. Since the OP asks about the cheap ones, one should compare these “ordinare” ones with a Skylark, should one wish not to compare apples and oranges.

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9 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

The only change between the low-grade violins of the 19th. C and now, is that the old ones were made by hand from workers paid a pittance and modern ones with a maximum of machine use.

Not true. You're out of touch with what has been going on in China for the past 30 years.

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2 hours ago, sospiri said:

Millions of good to to very good musical instruments have been made in China over the past 30 years. As previous posters have noted.

And yes, they are handmade. And moreover the workers are very highly skilled. 

 

 

There is a lot of hand labour involved: 

 

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43 minutes ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

So why aren't the Chinese violins any better than the corresponding Dutzenarbeit??

Well that's a matter of opinion. I for one find average Chinese trade instruments to be markedly superior to equivalent Saxon trade instruments.

The measurements, model, arching, thicknessing - all these are pretty conventional and based on better information. Sometimes the wood is poor but that's true of both ....

 

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3 minutes ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

It all depends on which Saxon you're comparing to, if you're talking about a good 20s EH Roth, there are hardly any Chinese instruments that can compete

Not really. But the OP was about "German low grade instruments from the beginning of the period of mass production for export."

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1 hour ago, GeorgeH said:

Not really. But the OP was about "German low grade instruments from the beginning of the period of mass production for export."

Well then compare Low grade German to low grade Chinese, they start at about $30 with bow and case, that's about equivalent to a garbage German with crude carving inside. And Jay Haides do not compare to good Roths, no.

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On 9/19/2020 at 1:44 PM, ALCO said:

Are there any violins currently being made that are, in terms of materials and construction, the same as the German low grade instruments from the beginning of the period of mass production for export ?

If not, what significant changes were made in the manufacture of the finished instruments and when did that occur?

Thanks.

This is a stupid thread, since the OP question is not being addressed. The difference between a cheap Markneukirchen Dutzendarbeit from the 19th C and a cheap modern one, say Schrotter or Paesold, is that the new ones are largely machine made and the old ones were made with dirt cheap labour. I didn’t notice any question about mass produced Chinese instruments, and would be unable to comment on that, since I don’t have anything of the sort.

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Many people paint all production of good from the East with the same brush.  Consider Japanese cars produced in the 1950's with those produced now.  A lot of mass produced things used to be made in China but standards of living in China have increased   Now quality of instruments in China varies from mass produced using milling machines, etc., to totally hand made instruments that can be comparable to those made by good luthiers in the West.  Too often all Chinese instruments are lumped together and the lower quality ones are described as applying to the entire group.  As an example, I might mention the Jay Haide instruments which are at a high enough level of quality that they are sometimes used as backup, second instruments by professional players.  These are Chinese instruments and produced in large enough numbers to be widely available. 

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