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Makers and instruments to look for in the $20k-50k USD range.


supraman
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1 hour ago, supraman said:

Thanks for bringing this to my attention!  Looks really cool.  One day, after the pandemic is over...

 

I don't doubt that there are slimy dealers out there.  But as Jeff said, one should not generalize.  A shop I have had repairs and appraisal done at is Mr. Roland Feller's store in San Francisco, and he also did not upsell and was definitely an upright businessman. 

Tangential to this "controversy", one thing that I have always been curious is whether prices are at all negotiable?  Would it be very tacky to ask for a discount... perhaps if I buy a nice bow at the same time?  I am speculating, but perhaps it also depends on whether the violin is shop-owned or on consignment.  I do trust that reputable dealers are not ripping people off with crazy prices, but is there any "wiggle room" in the prices so to speak?

I don’t understand why anyone is inferring I was generalizing about dealers being slimy, when I have made it abundantly clear that I was not, and specifically said that although I know shady dealers, I never mention them anyway. 

I won’t repeat myself, but I shouldn’t need to.

Regarding negotiation, of course, no one will oppose price negotiation. I have always done so, and when have sold things, everyone has always negotiated with me. We figure out a price and everyone is happy.

When buying, I always ask for a cash discount, and then I ask the seller to cover tax. So, for instance, a violin is selling for $1200, i ask for and get- for instance- a 10% discount for cash, bring the price down to $1080, and then, I ask the seller to cover the tax(which in this area would be about $44.) so my out-the-door cost is $1080. Happens all the time.

If they say no, they say no, but there’s never been any harm in asking.

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17 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

I don’t understand why anyone is inferring I was generalizing about dealers being slimy, when I have made it abundantly clear that I was not....

I'll repeat your own words for you:

"If they insist you give them a budget, you can be assured they’re going to try and sell you something just above that upper margin. So they will be trying to sell you on price rather than on any traits that are meaningful to you."

For what it's worth, I never used the word slimy, but what you describe certainly isn't what I'd call commendable.

If you really can't see what I am referring to, no matter. Just carry on. The horse is dead.

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46 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

What does "upsell" mean please?

Upselling is a sales technique where a seller tries to convince a customer to purchase a more expensive item, upgrades, or other add-ons to generate more revenue. Some sales people augment the technique by withholding the presentation of appropriate items within the buyers stated price range.

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16 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

Upselling is a sales technique where a seller tries to convince a customer to purchase a more expensive item, upgrades, or other add-ons to generate more revenue. Some sales people augment the technique by withholding the presentation of appropriate items within the buyers stated price range.

Thanks Jeffrey. Amazing how much American jargon one may learn on Maestronet. Ten foot pole, snake oil, overstand, kick-ass-dude, upselling….

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6 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Thanks Jeffrey. Amazing how much American jargon one may learn on Maestronet. Ten foot pole, snake oil, overstand, kick-ass-dude, upselling….

I still have never been able to figure out what 'overstand' means, in spite of reading these boards for (I think) decades, and trying (many years ago) to google it in different ways. 

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11 minutes ago, caerolle said:

I still have never been able to figure out what 'overstand' means, in spite of reading these boards for (I think) decades, and trying (many years ago) to google it in different ways. 

It’s garbled German, the original is Überstand

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49 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

"Fine, if you can get an A string for a buck less on the other side of the Bay, and are willing to spend ten bucks to get there and back, go for it."

Mr. Feller is a great guy. But it would be nuts to go to any violin shop for an A string here in the Bay.  I figure half a day plus at least 20 bucks gas/tolls/parking/bart-metro just to visit any violin shop.

 

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1 hour ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

I'll repeat your own words for you:

"If they insist you give them a budget, you can be assured they’re going to try and sell you something just above that upper margin. So they will be trying to sell you on price rather than on any traits that are meaningful to you."

For what it's worth, I never used the word slimy, but what you describe certainly isn't what I'd call commendable.

If you really can't see what I am referring to, no matter. Just carry on. The horse is dead.

I have said multiple times, Jeffrey, I don’t consider that to be slimy. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you come in to my shop and say you’ve got $100 to spend, among the things I offer you, I will also offer you something that’s $125, on the chance, on the probability, that if you like it you can scrape up another 25 bucks. That’s not bad. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually providing a worthwhile service, because when you go into a shop with a specific budget you are, consciously or not, Eliminating anything in the shop that is outside your specified budget. That’s why my suggestion is to go in to the shop and ask to play their best stuff.

It is better to find out what you like and do your best to afford that, then it is to determine how much you can spend, and spend that much.

If I am in your shop, I want to play your best cellos. When I am at someone’s website looking at their instruments I always check out their best cellos. Especially the “call for price” examples.

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20 minutes ago, deans said:

Mr. Feller is a great guy. But it would be nuts to go to any violin shop for an A string here in the Bay.  I figure half a day plus at least 20 bucks gas/tolls/parking/bart-metro just to visit any violin shop.

 

Super swell guy...Last time I spoke with him he had mentioned how fortunate he felt to have gotten his shop space when he did.  I don’t know how any of you all who live there can afford to do much of anything.

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1 hour ago, Jerry Lynn said:

 I don’t know how any of you all who live there can afford to do much of anything.

I grew up 40 miles south of you in Northumberland county.  To answer to your question, it is that there are many more opportunities here, especially in tech, biotech, etc. My sin was being interested in science.  

 

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3 hours ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

Upselling is a sales technique where a seller tries to convince a customer to purchase a more expensive item, upgrades, or other add-ons to generate more revenue. Some sales people augment the technique by withholding the presentation of appropriate items within the buyers stated price range.

Oh, yes you did misunderstand me. I’m not talking about forcing someone to buy something more expensive, or trying to coerce them in any way. I’m only talking about showing them something a bit outside their price range in hopes that the pricier widget will sell itself.

”here’s five violins in your range and if you like, here’s a couple that are a bit more expensive, just for you to try.”

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I think a more common sales technique is to show someone a more expensive violin, that sounds terrible, making the buyer happier about the ones in their affordable range. There must be a term for this.

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16 minutes ago, deans said:

I think a more common sales technique is to show someone a more expensive violin, that sounds terrible, making the buyer happier about the ones in their affordable range. There must be a term for this.

It's called "Fagnoling".

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5 hours ago, Three13 said:

It's called "Fagnoling".

Funny. ? I assume you were kidding, or being ironic. Sort of. An acquaintance with usually good ears seems to think Fagnola's are way overpriced, lovely to look at, and most don't sound good. He prefers other equivalent Italians if one could be had at the same price. Is that what you were referring to? There's this, also: https://www.martinswanviolins.com/tonal-evaluation-violins/#f  3 yellows, and only 1 orange, if that's any indication, from a small sample size.

Now if we could only get him to continue to evaluate violins, consistently, there's a chance we may try the same violin he did, and adjust his scale to our perception...:-oD Of course, assuming this scales, is linear, and both of us are consistent. 

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On 3/16/2021 at 10:17 PM, David Burgess said:

OK, but let's face it. Just about any maker can donate a violin to some high-profile player, and expect some favorable reaction. Not saying that this is what happened in this particular case, but it certainly can happen, based on my experiences of having been solicited for such.

If I remember right, she bought Andrew's violin after it got the gold medal at the Paris competition in 1998. She was in the Jury. 

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Some updates on the violin search!  I managed to try a bunch more violins recently.  The two that stood out the most to me were local makers Andrew Ryan and Ben Ruth, if anybody here knows them.  One violin made by Dietmar Schweizer under the supervision of Zygmuntowicz was also excellent, and it also curiously had no antiquing. It was a bit of a surprise because most of the time, mentally speaking, one expects an orange, blemish-free fiddle to come from some mail order catalog and sound very squeaky, but of course this was not at all the case. 

The vintage violin I liked most was one by Gabriel Adolphe Thibout, seemingly a lesser known 19th century French maker. I also tried multiple violins by Grubaugh and Seifert, but I found their sound to be incredibly deep and dark, almost viola or cello-like. I tend to prefer a more direct, focused, tone, so that type of sound was not to my preference, but it also led me to realize how subjective matters of tone can really be.  

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On 3/25/2021 at 4:33 PM, supraman said:

 It was a bit of a surprise because most of the time, mentally speaking, one expects an orange, blemish-free fiddle to come from some mail order catalog and sound very squeaky

Really?!?

I can't believe these clichés still exist.

Oh well, I know, they exist...<_<

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13 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:

Really?!?

I can't believe these clichés still exist.

Oh well, I know, they exist...<_<

There is something truly beautiful about a well varnished non antiqued instrument from a fine maker. I appreciate antiqued instrument as well, but I do love to see a nicely done varnish.

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2 hours ago, Shelbow said:

There is something truly beautiful about a well varnished non antiqued instrument from a fine maker. I appreciate antiqued instrument as well, but I do love to see a nicely done varnish.

I too appreciate well-antiqued instruments, those which far exceed the level of typical junk-level antiquing.

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1 minute ago, Violadamore said:

They're much more defensible than lemon, lime, or raspberry.  [Heads to the fridge for some sherbet.]  ;):lol:

I do like orange - on some items, like traffic cones...

No, wait...wrong kind of cone...

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On 3/25/2021 at 8:33 AM, supraman said:

 ( ... )

The vintage violin I liked most was one by Gabriel Adolphe Thibout, seemingly a lesser known 19th century French maker. I also tried multiple violins by Grubaugh and Seifert, but I found their sound to be incredibly deep and dark, almost viola or cello-like. I tend to prefer a more direct, focused, tone, so that type of sound was not to my preference, but it also led me to realize how subjective matters of tone can really be.  

Great that you are looking seriously and hopefully are enjoying the process. Did you note the bows played?

I realize that the intent was to find an instrument of quality at a particular price point. The "matter of tone" is serious as is, playability/ articulation and projection/ dynamics. Perhaps as one continues this search, that revisiting instruments played in the past reveal developing characteristics in one's playing.

It is difficult to know how an instrument will develop over time, but it is possible to timeline one's playing. 

The ability to trade-up or across may also be a consideration, and if a shop offers a variety that suits your playing, the time spent at that shop can be very valuable. My observation is that this particular shop sounds like it is a great resource. As your playing better adapts to more capable instruments, your priorities will become more clear, more rapidly, where the level of quality is consistent. 

Not suggesting that you will purchase from this or any particular shop, but the familiar is good.  7 of 10 expensive purchases were made with one shop because the owner/ sales staff contacted me when instrument/ bows of interest arrived or traded in. Maintenance may also be best at a workshop of familiarity. Though I do most of my own work, there are those whom I respect and visit frequently for advice and look forward to quality specialty work. High-end touch up work is trusted to experts.  

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