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"trade instrument" meaning


RolandS
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Dear Maestro's,

Not being a luthier, but very interested in your trade and craftsmanship, I am reading the pegbox with great interest.

Sometime later I plan to ask your advice on the ID of my wonderful cello.

Here is my question: What is a trade instrument? I have read this terminology ever so often on MN. 

If I propose the following ranks, where would a trade instrument be placed? :

Instrument for novice 
For advanced amateur
For professional student
For performing artist 

The expression "trade instrument" puzzles me, since hopefully all instruments are at least traded once in their lifetime. If traded, a seller wants to get rid of it, and a buyer wants to procure it. How could "trade" possibly denote a quality? 

Or would this be your meaning: if traded more often than once, it means that it buyers discover relatively quickly that it is no good, and want to get rid of it ASAP? 
 

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A trade instrument generally refers to a commercial instrument. Those made in volume by anonymous workers, who either worked for large workshops/factories, or supplied to wholesalers, who then sold on the instruments. They were made for “the violin trade”.

As to your quality designations, it can’t easily be answered. Most workshops produced instruments in varying grades, and while most people only see the cheaper end of the production, incredibly high quality instruments were also produced on occasion.

 

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41 minutes ago, RolandS said:

Dear Maestro's,

Not being a luthier, but very interested in your trade and craftsmanship, I am reading the pegbox with great interest.

Sometime later I plan to ask your advice on the ID of my wonderful cello.

Here is my question: What is a trade instrument? I have read this terminology ever so often on MN. 

If I propose the following ranks, where would a trade instrument be placed? :

Instrument for novice 
For advanced amateur
For professional student
For performing artist 

The expression "trade instrument" puzzles me, since hopefully all instruments are at least traded once in their lifetime. If traded, a seller wants to get rid of it, and a buyer wants to procure it. How could "trade" possibly denote a quality? 

Or would this be your meaning: if traded more often than once, it means that it buyers discover relatively quickly that it is no good, and want to get rid of it ASAP? 
 

What @Dave Slightso succinctly said.  Here "trade" is being used as the noun meaning "business", rather than as the verb meaning "exchange".  :)

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1 hour ago, RolandS said:

What is a trade instrument?…

Many years ago, I asked Kerry Keane, who was then Skinner’s musical instrument specialist, the same  question.  He succinctly answered, “An instrument made for the trade.”  By “the trade” he meant “the business.”

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Ditto on what Dave said. There is also included the "cottage industry" part of it, where part time workers made parts, and sold them "by the dozen" (dutzendarbeit = dozen work) to the "factories" where they were assembled and finished. Hundreds of thousands of instruments were made and sold like that.

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2 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Many years ago, I asked Kerry Keane, who was then Skinner’s musical instrument specialist, the same  question.  He succinctly answered, “An instrument made for the trade.”  By “the trade” he meant “the business.”

 

2 hours ago, Violadamore said:

What @Dave Slightso succinctly said.  Here "trade" is being used as the noun meaning "business", rather than as the verb meaning "exchange".  :)

The "business", as in for example the Strads being auctioned and locked-up for not-playing but rather investment ... ?

I bet that this is not your intention. ;) But indeed rather something like mass production (Dave Slight, FiddleDoug). This goes with a lower quality due to less attention for craftmanship. If this is what you actually mean with "trade instrument", communication would gain by avoiding that expression. "Trade instrument" - if so intended - has a negative connotation, by sort of implying that the buyers are the victims of their stupidity, whereas in reality they buy something that suits their purse and skills.

 

Beware, if you continue to use "trade instrument" in a pejorative manner, I shall call every Stradivarius or Del Gesu that is not played but only sold a mere "trade instrument" :lol:

Greetz!

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18 minutes ago, RolandS said:

But indeed rather something like mass production (Dave Slight, FiddleDoug). This goes with a lower quality due to less attention for craftmanship. If this is what you actually mean with "trade instrument"

I would disagree about the craftsmanship. The division of labour required, often meant the individual workers carried out specialised tasks, such as purfling, scroll carving, varnishing.

To take purfling as an example, a specialised worker doing that task day in, day out, will become very adept at it. Comparing that to an individual maker, who may only do that job half a dozen times a year, and wobbles around the belly accordingly, the difference is clear.
Most hobby makers would struggle to match a Markneukirchen or Mirecourt violin, even after many years of experience.

Mass production doesn’t necessarily mean bad, although some times it does. Individual maker doesn’t necessarily mean good...

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Some really good makers produced instruments for the trade. Would a Carl Becker made for Lewis and Sons be a "Trade instrument", probably not because he labelled them as such. But there is a lot of grey area, especially German makers who probably made instruments individually and supplied the higher end American shops.

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5 hours ago, RolandS said:

Here is my question: What is a trade instrument? I have read this terminology ever so often on MN. 

In my mind, it is an instrument which was made to specifically target the much less expensive end of the fiddle market.

 

4 hours ago, Dave Slight said:

A trade instrument generally refers to a commercial instrument. Those made in volume by anonymous workers, who either worked for large workshops/factories, or supplied to wholesalers, who then sold on the instruments. They were made for “the violin trade”.

I'll also go along with that.

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2 hours ago, RolandS said:

 

The "business", as in for example the Strads being auctioned and locked-up for not-playing but rather investment ... ?

I bet that this is not your intention. ;) But indeed rather something like mass production (Dave Slight, FiddleDoug). This goes with a lower quality due to less attention for craftmanship. If this is what you actually mean with "trade instrument", communication would gain by avoiding that expression. "Trade instrument" - if so intended - has a negative connotation, by sort of implying that the buyers are the victims of their stupidity, whereas in reality they buy something that suits their purse and skills.

 

Beware, if you continue to use "trade instrument" in a pejorative manner, I shall call every Stradivarius or Del Gesu that is not played but only sold a mere "trade instrument" :lol:

Greetz!

Given the wide variety of violins which could be called a "trade instrument", I consider that term to be a description of how, and for what market, a violin was produced, not as an automatic pejorative against its quality as a tool for a player to use.  Some brands of mass-produced violins, such as Roths, are expensively priced, and considered "fine" by many dealers.

You don't really know what you have until it's expertly set up and you've played it, no matter what it is, or how much you paid for it.  Just because you got it cheaply doesn't mean that it might not play very well, and paying a million dollars for it won't guarantee that it isn't substandard acoustically, compared to some cheaper violin.  :)

Violins are a weird business, anyway.  :lol:

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How about "made to be sold by a retailer using their own choice of label rather than that of the maker". I like the fact that early English trade violins often have the maker's signature beneath the table, showing that they were actually quite proud of their work.

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