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Chinese violins


Bardan
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Browsing through old threads I see lots of info about identifying Saxon and Mirecourt violins and a fair bit on rarer or more specific stuff, but nothing about identifying Chinese ones.  Is this because it's too easy?  Because I'm not sure I could do it reliably.  I know musicians get taken in every now and then, usually by instruments that were brought in unvarnished and then antiqued and tricked out locally.  

So how would you identify a Chinese Instrument?  I have some ideas, but I'm not at all confident about them.  

Or do you just eliminate all the obvious European sources and anything that looks rustic, and you're left with a probable Chinese attribution?

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36 minutes ago, Bardan said:

Browsing through old threads I see lots of info about identifying Saxon and Mirecourt violins and a fair bit on rarer or more specific stuff, but nothing about identifying Chinese ones.  Is this because it's too easy?  Because I'm not sure I could do it reliably.  I know musicians get taken in every now and then, usually by instruments that were brought in unvarnished and then antiqued and tricked out locally.  

So how would you identify a Chinese Instrument?  I have some ideas, but I'm not at all confident about them.  

Or do you just eliminate all the obvious European sources and anything that looks rustic, and you're left with a probable Chinese attribution?

The information you speak about is more about the attribution of violins from the later 19th C (also early 20th C.) at the onset of the industrialisation of the violin trade. The entry of the Chinese to the violin market is more from the last 30 years or so though. I often pity the violin appraiser of the 22nd or 23rd. Century, since the distinct regional building traditions that existed pre-1900 have gone, and it is nowadays pretty immaterial where a violin was built. Goodness knows how the appraiser of the year 2221 is going to work out if a (then) 200 year old violin comes from Bejing, Reghin or Ann Arbour

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1 hour ago, Bardan said:

Browsing through old threads I see lots of info about identifying Saxon and Mirecourt violins and a fair bit on rarer or more specific stuff, but nothing about identifying Chinese ones.  Is this because it's too easy?  Because I'm not sure I could do it reliably.  I know musicians get taken in every now and then, usually by instruments that were brought in unvarnished and then antiqued and tricked out locally.  

So how would you identify a Chinese Instrument?  I have some ideas, but I'm not at all confident about them.  

Or do you just eliminate all the obvious European sources and anything that looks rustic, and you're left with a probable Chinese attribution?

There's a vast variety of quality in Chinese instruments. This can range form the cheapest of the cheap Ebay VOSs, to award winning instruments made by very talented luthiers. There's also a huge number of instruments in the middle, that are sold by major distributors (like Eastman Strings, Howard Core, Metropolitan Music, and many others). Most of these instruments are better made than the old German dutzenarbeit fiddles. The better ones are made with European wood. I think that trying to separate a good Chinese instrument from a good Romanian instrument might be hard.

https://fiddlershop.com/blogs/fiddlershop-blog/why-chinese-violins-are-better

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We certainly have to stop lumping all Chinese-made instruments simply as "Chinese".

At least, when discussing the lower end, maybe start calling those "Chinese factory" instruments.  Or maybe there are a few better categories that are useful?

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26 minutes ago, Rue said:

We certainly have to stop lumping all Chinese-made instruments simply as "Chinese".

At least, when discussing the lower end, maybe start calling those "Chinese factory" instruments.  Or maybe there are a few better categories that are useful?

Oh yeah, I was thinking more of the nicer workshop ones.  I don't really care where the really basic ones are from. 

It wasn't really about quality either.  I play a Jay Haide a l'ancienne model, which I strongly suspect came from China.  I never really checked, and maybe it went to America in the white or in parts and got finished there.  Or maybe not.  Either way it's a decent fiddle, and about the best I could have got for the price at the time.  

I think my next one will probably be European with a bit of age on it, and hopefully better, but if my budget was the same as last time, I'd be looking hard at the better end of the Chinese workshop market.  I know of at least one person who took a punt on one from alibaba or somewhere and the result was pretty good.   

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I was in Shanghai for a year in the music district where the Shanghai Music Conservatory is located and the many music shops featuring hand made violins, cellos, and even pianos were throughout (these were small mom and pop shops, not mass scale factories).  Many had their wares on display and were ranging in the 8000-30,000 Yuan and up. At the time I was there in 2012 the Yuan was .06 to the US dollar so the more expensive violins I was looking at were $1800 (US). They were very high quality in construction and had beautiful clear voices. Yes the Chinese made instruments of mass production should not compare to the crafters/luthiers in these small shops. 

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