Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

The Local Hacks


gtd
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm by no means an expert but I try my best to learn and to be fair and honest to my customers. If I don't know, I don't know and I'll say that. Currently, I'm sitting on a few instruments that are potentially worth a significant amount more than I'm comfortable being able to accurately represent so I'm waiting until I can know enough. However, the local hack is really getting to me. 

He has a large number of violins for several thousand that are often stripped and revarnished. Violins branded as Ferrari (but clearly a slighly nicer German) are sold as Italian superb, master quality for the professional player, for 5000 usd. He has a genuine Vuillaume violin that is amazing, of Colin-Mezin quality- like of course who wouldn't! If it says Hopf it is a Hopf of amazingness worthy of the professional. If the violin is light-weight it'll beat any Strad.

White glue and the hardware hide glue variety are gobbed into loose seams and cheap ebay fittings are claimed to be original italian- a must have. Dents and scratches are filled with beeswax. This is occasionally seen in the background of some listings and according to one of his potential customers who realized what they were getting into before they came to me. Bridges and pegs are often ill fitting and brings a pain to my gut. I've pointed that out once and was told to have a good day. 

He seems to have a large following and seems to be able to sell some of these wrecks for several thousand.  Oh, and if you want to ask about bows- crudely rehaired bow with bad windings. For example, 4000 usd for a italian violin will get you a bow with a cracked head. I see these listing with disgust and interest as if they don't sell within a few months the price drops lower and lower until a few hundred before it presumably sells.

How do you deal with these people? Ignore them and carry on? Or shall we hash out your story :lol: is it better?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 53
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

5 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

These are some of the challenges of our business. A good BSer can often have a more enthusiastic following than someone who places integrity first.

Hopefully, you were at least semi-aware of this before getting into the business. ;)

If not, why not?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen a few of these guys entrenched in local communities, sometimes they get in good with teachers, sometimes they just have a good European accent.

At the same time there are many successful high quality shops out there, they survive it and eventually win out. But the violin industry is one area that doesn't do a very good job policing itself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a local hack experience that goes the other way, but for another market. I flip guitar amps, and there are a couple local guys that for some reason have good reputations but really doesn't like to get into even moderately complicated repairs, so they will just tell people that it isn't worth fixing. They then sell it to me for cheap. Whenever I see an ad that says "I took it to Brian over at XXX.." I know to take a closer look :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, gtd said:

I'm by no means an expert but I try my best to learn and to be fair and honest to my customers. If I don't know, I don't know and I'll say that. Currently, I'm sitting on a few instruments that are potentially worth a significant amount more than I'm comfortable being able to accurately represent so I'm waiting until I can know enough. However, the local hack is really getting to me. 

He has a large number of violins for several thousand that are often stripped and revarnished. Violins branded as Ferrari (but clearly a slighly nicer German) are sold as Italian superb, master quality for the professional player, for 5000 usd. He has a genuine Vuillaume violin that is amazing, of Colin-Mezin quality- like of course who wouldn't! If it says Hopf it is a Hopf of amazingness worthy of the professional. If the violin is light-weight it'll beat any Strad.

White glue and the hardware hide glue variety are gobbed into loose seams and cheap ebay fittings are claimed to be original italian- a must have. Dents and scratches are filled with beeswax. This is occasionally seen in the background of some listings and according to one of his potential customers who realized what they were getting into before they came to me. Bridges and pegs are often ill fitting and brings a pain to my gut. I've pointed that out once and was told to have a good day. 

He seems to have a large following and seems to be able to sell some of these wrecks for several thousand.  Oh, and if you want to ask about bows- crudely rehaired bow with bad windings. For example, 4000 usd for a italian violin will get you a bow with a cracked head. I see these listing with disgust and interest as if they don't sell within a few months the price drops lower and lower until a few hundred before it presumably sells.

How do you deal with these people? Ignore them and carry on? Or shall we hash out your story :lol: is it better?

 

Why don’t you contact someone who has “a small family business“

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, deans said:

good European accent.

At the same time there are many successful high quality shops out there, they survive it and eventually win out. But the violin industry is one area that doesn't do a very good job policing itself.

Yep I knew what i was getting into. But it's still a drag to see  people getting ripped off. 

Thanks for the comment.  I'm sure I'll survive it out. I'm past paying off my tools- only problem is now I'm looking for more.........:lol:

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once upon a time there was an old barber shop that charged $15 for a haircut. Everything was going well until a new barbershop moved in across the street with a big sign that said "$5 Haircuts."

How did the old barbershop respond?

They put up a big sign that said "We Fix $5 Haircuts."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2/13/2021 at 12:34 PM, deans said:

I've seen a few of these guys entrenched in local communities, sometimes they get in good with teachers, sometimes they just have a good European accent.

At the same time there are many successful high quality shops out there, they survive it and eventually win out. But the violin industry is one area that doesn't do a very good job policing itself.

 It isn't that they get in with teachers it's that they pay them off. Quality, service and expertise are all trumped by bribery and if the teachers are getting their cut these people  can sell whatever they want for whatever they want and the  buyers who are usually children believe whatever the teachers say.  

In my area more than half the teachers are involved with one of these con artists and even the customers who catch on seem to think the situation is normal.

Not that I am bitter or anything.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

 It isn't that they get in with teachers it's that they pay them off. Quality, service and expertise are all trumped by bribery and if the teachers are getting their cut these people  can sell whatever they want for whatever they want and the  buyers who are usually children believe whatever the teachers say.  

In my area more than half the teachers are involved with one of these con artists and even the customers who catch on seem to think the situation is normal.

Not that I am bitter or anything.

Well of course... As they said 2000 years ago,  "money is the root of all evil"

 When we give a discount to dealers, wholesalers, retailers, teachers, etc. it is in fact a bribe, otherwise they would not bother to sell your wares.... but that is a principle of capitalism, much better than ....

The good part is that you have the right to choose who you deal with.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

 It isn't that they get in with teachers it's that they pay them off. Quality, service and expertise are all trumped by bribery and if the teachers are getting their cut these people  can sell whatever they want for whatever they want and the  buyers who are usually children believe whatever the teachers say.  

In my area more than half the teachers are involved with one of these con artists and even the customers who catch on seem to think the situation is normal.

Not that I am bitter or anything.

If we think this situation is bad, you should experience what band instrument repair techs have to deal with regarding relations with school districts and band instructors.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, Mat Roop said:

Well of course... As they said 2000 years ago,  "money is the root of all evil"

 When we give a discount to dealers, wholesalers, retailers, teachers, etc. it is in fact a bribe, otherwise they would not bother to sell your wares.... but that is a principle of capitalism, much better than ....

The good part is that you have the right to choose who you deal with.

 I am not talking about giving discounts to people who support your shop. I am talking about teachers who tell their students that they are working on their behalf when they are actually a sales person receiving a ten percent commission when their students buy from  certain dealers.

 I bend over backwards for teachers who support me and if a teacher wants to charge their student a consulting fee for helping them with an instrument purchase I would tell the student or their parents that the money was well spent. However I have never in my life given money to a teacher behind the buyers back. The difference is that if the teacher is being paid by the buyer they are responsible only to them  with no conflicts of interest and if the teacher actually has expertise in choosing instruments then the buyer the teacher and the dealer are all better for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

 It isn't that they get in with teachers it's that they pay them off. Quality, service and expertise are all trumped by bribery and if the teachers are getting their cut these people  can sell whatever they want for whatever they want and the  buyers who are usually children believe whatever the teachers say.  

In my area more than half the teachers are involved with one of these con artists and even the customers who catch on seem to think the situation is normal.

Perhaps there is a local forum in which parents could be educated about this racket.    Maybe the local youth orchestra websites would be willing to publish an informational blurb to warn parents.    Or, the honest teachers could advertise their unwillingness to take kickbacks on their websites.       The honest violin shops could do something similar.   One would hope that education and awareness would reduce the problem.

By the way, I have only had one teacher ask for a kickback, although I think I have may have pre-empted some similar requests by other teachers by stating my position on this practice early on in an instrument trial process.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2/15/2021 at 5:56 PM, Brad H said:

Perhaps there is a local forum in which parents could be educated about this racket.    Maybe the local youth orchestra websites would be willing to publish an informational blurb to warn parents.    Or, the honest teachers could advertise their unwillingness to take kickbacks on their websites.       The honest violin shops could do something similar.   One would hope that education and awareness would reduce the problem.

While this sounds like a noble idea, the reality is that no one will admit to either taking or paying kickbacks. The whole reason it's under the table is that it's a form of corruption.

I've known of teachers calling out another for kickbacks, even though they were doing it themselves to an even greater extent, but hadn't been outed for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

I don't see any problem with kickbacks if it doesn't raise the price for the end customer

The problem is that it then becomes a case of which violin is best for the teacher (as in how much they would make), rather than which is the best violin for the pupil.

I'm not sure the end customer would be happy to know that a choice was made on their behalf for this reason, and that they had been essentially exploited for financial gain.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back to the "local hack", not all of these guys are part of the kickback scheme, many of them rant against this and the idea that the violin industry is corrupt in general. And they come in all sorts.

Some are just delusional.  They really think that every trade instrument they find is better than a Strad, or that their varnish recipe or regraduation scheme makes everything better. They believe it themselves, and sometimes confidence is attractive.

Others are normal, honest, well liked people in the community who's repair work or expertise just isn't up to snuff. But people like to support the local guy. Sometimes they are also a teacher.

They can all do damage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

53 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

The problem is that it then becomes a case of which violin is best for the teacher (as in how much they would make), rather than which is the best violin for the pupil.

It could just as easily be both.  Or a teacher could be an actual business partner with the dealer, telling him import this 'cause they're great.  He profits from the sale.  Or if the teacher works for a music store, maybe he gets a commission on sales he creates.  Or actually not allowed to tell a student to buy elsewhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

It could just as easily be both.  Or a teacher could be an actual business partner with the dealer, telling him import this 'cause they're great.  He profits from the sale.  Or if the teacher works for a music store, maybe he gets a commission on sales he creates.  Or actually not allowed to tell a student to buy elsewhere.

You should ask the pupil (or his/her parents) who are looking to you for impartial advice, if they are in agreement that you receive a commission/bribe. I would suggest they look for a new teacher

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...