Query: New violins at a price point


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58 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

1. No, it's about right. Of course if one sources magic this and magic that he'll hit $2000. And the end result is not quite the Soil Strad.

2. Make that $1000. Be generous.

3. Weekends off ???  

And by the way, I spoke about two weeks ago with a violin proff in NY - he used to be on MN. There are A LOT of violins looking for buyers and A LOT for $5000 or less. 

 

I have a colleague who is a very fine violist. She plays on a fine viola but has been regularly taking auditions and coming in second or third. Always making finals, never winning the job. She wants a better viola. The viola she has is probably in the $15,000 range, and the one she wants would be considerably more expensive and she cannot yet afford it.

People like her are looking for the kinds of instruments that I mentioned in my first comment. Those people are not interested in $5000 instruments, and they’re probably not interested in $15,000 instruments. They are interested in something that gives them what they do not currently have. And that costs money. It may be magic, but magic still costs money.

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6 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

People like her are looking for the kinds of instruments that I mentioned in my first comment. Those people are not interested in $5000 instruments, and they’re probably not interested in $15,000 instruments.

Maybe she could borrow the one she is interested in for her next audition.

But, regardless, if she is not happy with her current viola, than she needs to try a lot of violas in lots of different price points, not just more expensive ones than she has now. She is likely to find high-performance instruments at many price points. Instruments are priced on:

- Maker or workshop

- Condition

- Appearance

- Model

- Size and specifications

- Geographic origin

- Age

- Provenance

Note that "tone" is not a consideration in the price.

 

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3 minutes ago, Rue said:

Well...how much of that "need" for some arbitrarily priced $25 K instrument is in a musician's head and how much is based on the price-based elitism of the orchestra they are auditioning for?

That’s a valid question, and I cannot answer it. I won my job on a horrible cello that was full of worm damage. Six years later I bought a far superior instrument, but because I already had a job (although not a great one) it wasn’t necessary for me to upgrade at all. 10 years later I bought my current instrument, and it wasn’t necessary at all.
On the other hand, it was necessary, because the other instruments didn’t do what I wanted them to do, and my new one does.

I guess the final answer is that you need adequate equipment. And when you’re getting equipment you’re not aware what will be adequate, so you must get the best you can.

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So you make and sell an instrument for 22K and is a rich man ok?

I have good news for those who think this way...  you don't need to go to a college or having a title or professional registration to make an instrument. So, start making them!

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I have a colleague who is a very fine violist. She plays on a fine viola but has been regularly taking auditions and coming in second or third. Always making finals, never winning the job. She wants a better viola. The viola she has is probably in the $15,000 range, and the one she wants would be considerably more expensive and she cannot yet afford it.

People like her are looking for the kinds of instruments that I mentioned in my first comment. Those people are not interested in $5000 instruments, and they’re probably not interested in $15,000 instruments. They are interested in something that gives them what they do not currently have. And that costs money. It may be magic, but magic still costs money.

That's exactly what confuses me - the pretty strict connection I saw often being made here between price and "tone" or whatever better means in relation to using the instrument. 

On a different note the people she's auditioning for must be horribly biased or incompetent if she's right that the reason she's not winning is only a better viola. I attended ( not judged !) many auditions and an orchestral player needs do certain things dead right and others well enough - quality of instrument being pretty irrelevant. But things could be different in the US where seemingly any player is an artiste.  

I am interested in tone and I collected from YT, friends etc hundreds of tone samples , lots of new violins. A couple of those where outstanding but with ONE exception, to my ear, zero connection with price. Of course, if someone charges $30k for visual artistry, more power to him. 

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2 hours ago, MANFIO said:

So you make and sell an instrument for 22K and is a rich man ok?

I have good news for those who think this way...  you don't need to go to a college or having a title or professional registration to make an instrument. So, start making them!

 

 

 

Yes, sure, but then you have these problems where they are negligently made, glued with white glue, keep coming apart etc............................

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13 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

Yes, sure, but then you have these problems where they are negligently made, glued with white glue, keep coming apart etc............................

Yep.

If you see instruments as tools of your trade, I find their price quite reasonable, even in the 22K price mentioned by the OP. Studying music is not cheap...  I think Julliard's fees are about 70K a year.

I remember paying 2K dollars for a nice viola contemporary bow in 1989. In this same year I got a Macintosh Portable M5120 for 8K dollars.

I still use the bow, it kept its original price, at least, but I was able to use the  Macintosh for less than 3 years and gave it away for free.

 

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18 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

That's exactly what confuses me - the pretty strict connection I saw often being made here between price and "tone" or whatever better means in relation to using the instrument. 

On a different note the people she's auditioning for must be horribly biased or incompetent if she's right that the reason she's not winning is only a better viola. I attended ( not judged !) many auditions and an orchestral player needs do certain things dead right and others well enough - quality of instrument being pretty irrelevant. But things could be different in the US where seemingly any player is an artiste.  

I am interested in tone and I collected from YT, friends etc hundreds of tone samples , lots of new violins. A couple of those where outstanding but with ONE exception, to my ear, zero connection with price. Of course, if someone charges $30k for visual artistry, more power to him. 

Any competent musician will confirm that there is an element of sound that stands apart in terms of desirability, and at the highest levels of audition, the final choice(in an unbiased audition) comes down to a preference for sound, because every player who advances to the final group has shown they have all the other abilities of intonation phrasing rhythms and so on. They have Already shown they do “some things dead right and others well enough.”

it is at that point where the quality of instrument tips the balance.

The best Jay Haide in the world remains only a Jay Haide. I like them very much but would feel quite under gunned if I had to use one for an audition. 
My colleague is at the point where her very fine viola is not “par oneri”

She has played a Caron and a Burgess( @David Burgess I mentioned another colleague with one of your violas, and that is the example she played) and loved them both but couldn’t afford them. 

Regarding your youtube example, remember that any recording you hear is filtered through multiple input/output devices and all of them affect the sound.

And this true example illustrates the difference that high level musicians are seeking, and the edge they need to be the final choice.

Regarding “visual artistry” I have said often that my own cello looks rather boring, possessing a rather “understated” beauty( quite nice ribs, though) but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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23 minutes ago, MANFIO said:

Yep.

If you see instruments as tools of your trade, I find their price quite reasonable, even in the 22K price mentioned by the OP. Studying music is not cheap...  I think Julliard's fees are about 70K a year.

I remember paying 2K dollars for a nice viola contemporary bow in 1989. In this same year I got a Macintosh Portable M5120 for 8K dollars.

I still use the bow, it kept its original price, at least, but I was able to use the  Macintosh for less than 3 years and gave it away for free.

 

Exactly, the best brand new car in the world, will only be worth half of its purchase price in three years and in 10 years it will be in a junkyard somewhere waiting to be crushed.

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Its a question I would have asked at some point. If my daughter continues and goes to college we'll need to eventually shop for a new violin approaching a professional level. I am outside your world but seems like there would be buzz around makers making great playing instruments, but not yet being able to ask what the already recognized makers are asking. So finding the equivalent of the next Zyg. 

We went to the contemporary luthiers show in NYC last year (really in town to take kid to Harry Potter show on Broadway). My daughter loved a 20K violin by Isabelle Wilbaux. Would take a loan for our family, but like someone said, tuition at any decent conservatory makes that seem like pocket change. (Conservatory, if its her choice, is 5-6 years off.)

And per my posting  name,  as a professional I have not hesitated going to the bank and borrowing 20k

for a kiln. Really not a big part of trying to make a living or have a business.

(And yes, likely there is the needle in the Haystack 5K violin that sounds as good. Takes a lot of one's time to track down such a unicorn.) 

So. thats what I would like to hear, who is the underpriced next Zyg, Curtain, or simply who's out there making great violins that you would check out if shopping? 

 

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Well, I shouldn't have focused on the name, but mean undervalued and available (not endless waiting period) violins. In the 20-25k range the OP said. (looks like OP is gone?) But really just interested as a bystander and may never go there if the kid's enthusiasm diminishes.

 

 

 

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I keep getting the feeling that we're all guilty of ignoring the power of "name dropping".

Buying, wearing, and visibly displaying a known "brand" is an indicator of social status. It's hard to not fall into that trap, given we are an extremely social...and socially conscious...species.

I can use a cheap pleather purse from Walmart just as well as I can use an expensive leather purse handcrafted from a Canadian artisan. Functionality is the same. But I FEEL better/more confident when I use the leather purse.

...and DO NOT ever underestimate the signaling power of an expensive pair of shoes.

So..in part..the "next big name luthier" will be whoever catches the eye of a socially prominent player...and the hoard of violinists who want that connection, to be "just like them", or at least have something tangibly related to them and therefore to have in common...

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Potter said:

Well, I shouldn't have focused on the name, but mean undervalued and available (not endless waiting period) violins. In the 20-25k range the OP said. (looks like OP is gone?) But really just interested as a bystander and may never go there if the kid's enthusiasm diminishes.

 

 

 

A new maker's star rises because some influential player uses one of their instruments. So it's a logical impossibility to get in there ahead of the crowd ;)

Many makers who produce excellent sounding instruments will forever remain unrecognized for their talent.

The big problem with the violin trade (new and old instruments both) is that if you want a great sounding violin you have to be able to use your ears and act on your convictions. Most people can do neither, so they resort to following fashions or buying a label.

Edit : I see Rue has just made pretty much the same point!

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1 minute ago, martin swan said:

The big problem with the violin trade (new and old instruments both) is that if you want a great sounding violin you have to be able to use your ears and act on your convictions. Most people can do neither, so they resort to following fashions or buying a label.

That is true about so many things.

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4 minutes ago, avandesande said:

I think the obvious case for this would be Del Gesu... was there a latent modern tone that Paganini 'discovered' or was it just something he made popular?

Paganini probably had a playing style that suited the thick plates of the original Del Gesùs. Ironically, at the time Paganini started playing his del Gesù, the regraduating machine was already working, thinning down del Gesù violins so that they would be more Strad like...

Paganini was always looking for original, untouched  thick plated del Gesùs, he wrote a letter to a dealer asking for one from his death bed. 

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Someone mentioned instruments for students, I will quote this article by Laurie Niles:

"Your violin is your teacher, too: So get a good one

February 14, 2007, 11:28 PM · As of this month, I've been playing the violin for 30 years. My violin anniversary is February 18, to be specific. I know because I started on Melanie Mayer's ninth birthday, as did Melanie. She reminded me every year. So wherever you are, happy birthday, Melanie!

I've been playing on an excellent violin now for one year, and it has opened my mind in ways that nothing else could in the 29 years before.

 

Photo

 

That's right, my nine years of violin instruction before college, four years in college, two years in graduate school, years of performing in dozens of orchestras, solo recitals, not to mention literally thousands of hours in the practice room – none of it taught me what a good violin has taught me.

One sees this phenomenon in small children: the child with a quarter-size violin who is ready for vibrato, for example. The child can do vibrato, even, but neglects it because he or she can't see the point. Then the child gets a larger violin that resonates, and suddenly vibrato makes sense and he or she can learn it.

The highest violin technique makes sense only on a fine instrument.

I've been looking back at pieces I played in college and reading the notes my teachers wrote in the margins. At the time, I played on a German factory violin given to me by my grandmother; it had been in her attic. For all her good intentions, though, it was a squeakbox.

"More tone!" implores my teacher from the page of a Brahms sonata.

"SUSTAIN" in the last movement of the Saint-Saens concerto.

"Darker sound on the G string" was a comment in a Bartok piece.

Even "LOUD" at the end of the Andante melanconico in Intro and Rondo Capricc.

Certainly there were requests that had more to do with the player than the instrument ("Stand straight! Relax left hand!") but I also saw much begging for a sound that simply was not possible or that took such heroic effort. I worked and worked and worked to make those things happen, and still the results were marginal. I barely have to do anything to make more tone, or a darker sound, on my current violin.

Without having ever played a fine violin, I did not even understand the completely different plane of playing available to me.

I understand now why some conservatories and universities make fine instruments available to students. I used to think that if one played well on a bad violin, one would be way ahead of the game when stepping up to a better one. That if one was "spoiled," playing on a Strad in college, one would never figure out how to make do with something lesser. It's not true. If one plays on a fine instrument, one knows what to seek in any instrument, and one also knows its importance.

All those years of fighting a bad instrument cause frustration; they block out what could be; they prevent the exploration of one's fullest potential as a musician.

I am grateful to at last have an instrument that allows me this; even if I'm destined to be a very late bloomer! But I would implore parents, schools and young musicians themselves: get the best instrument you can. Get the one that will awaken you to your fullest potential!"

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

The big problem with the violin trade (new and old instruments both) is that if you want a great sounding violin you have to be able to use your ears and act on your convictions. Most people can do neither, so they resort to following fashions or buying a label.

This  makes sense. But still, when somebody buys an instrument from a solid  proven maker, even if the instrument is commissioned, or the player isn't quite ready, things still usually work out fine. 

 

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1 hour ago, avandesande said:

I don't think it is really possible to predict who the next 'rock star' maker (ie picked up by a major musician) is going to be.

Nor do I. If I could predict who the next "rock-star" maker would be (and I am in a pretty good position to be able to do that), I would have purchased a bunch already.

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