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Violin Supply Shortage? Inflation?


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7 hours ago, John_London said:

Concerning the Cremona maker, I saw in the small ads in London a "master" violin by the owner of a Romanian workshop for about half the expected price. I found an email address, and the "maker's" son told me that the date on the label was enough to show it could not be genuine. On the other hand I did buy a violin with undoubted provenance from a living maker for about half price because the owner who had it from new wanted to sell quickly, and his usual shop offered a ridiculously low price. (Perhaps they perfer to sell on consignment.)

I bought a bow in the March Brompton's general sale, and noticed that items with name recognition sold, though with a few exceptions around the bottom of somewhat optimistic estimates, and many cheaper items remained unsold. Inflation is a tool to cause the rich to turn cash into enduring assets (and get richer) and the poor to cut expenditure in an attempt to cover the cost of food and shelter (and get poorer). So it would not be surprising to find violins which appeal to the wealthy reach eye-watering prices, while items towards the bottom of the market fall, and present nice opportunities for someone who does not need a big name violin and bow to play their best.

I told my student to ask about the Cremona instrument's papers.  If it doesn't have any, I'll contact the maker directly.  Your thought about items priced-to-move on consignment was definitely my first thought.

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2 hours ago, Stephen Fine said:

I told my student to ask about the Cremona instrument's papers.  If it doesn't have any, I'll contact the maker directly.  Your thought about items priced-to-move on consignment was definitely my first thought.

With instruments described as made in Cremona there is a wide range of prices depending on the reputation of the maker and the degree to which the violins are actually “made” by the person whose name is on the label.

These days there are hundreds of violin-making operations based in Cremona, and having this word on the label is no guarantee of anything.

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

With instruments described as made in Cremona there is a wide range of prices depending on the reputation of the maker and the degree to which the violins are actually “made” by the person whose name is on the label.

These days there are hundreds of violin-making operations based in Cremona, and having this word on the label is no guarantee of anything.

Yeah... that was my second thought.

I have nothing against shop instruments.  In fact, in my student's price range, it's what I thought I'd be mostly seeing.  But it seems like that information should be presented up front to the consumer.

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3 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

But what actually is a "shop" instrument? Most of these guys seem to work alone, or with one assistant.

What could be special about a bought in white violin from Eastern Europe or China, then varnished and labelled in Cremona?

What's special about any violin?  They're all carved out of wood in roughly the same shape and size.

Usually, I wouldn't want to buy a shop instrument from Cremona because you're paying a premium for the "Cremona" printed on the label, but there's no reason a shop instrument can't be a superior product. It's about materials, skill, method, and care.

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18 minutes ago, Stephen Fine said:

What's special about any violin?  They're all carved out of wood in roughly the same shape and size.

Usually, I wouldn't want to buy a shop instrument from Cremona because you're paying a premium for the "Cremona" printed on the label, but there's no reason a shop instrument can't be a superior product. It's about materials, skill, method, and care.

Mr. Butcher asked what a "Shop Instrument" is

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2 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

That's really the issue. "Shop" instrument is deliberately vague.

In the case of the Cremonese instrument in question, I just received an email back from the maker who reports master-made instruments at the price point I'd expect and then "handmade workshop" instruments for students.

So, now it's up to the shop to tell my student what's what...

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26 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

Hopefully the shop will be truthful, and explain it clearly.

"Handmade workshop instruments for students", could come from any workshop in the world.

 Yup, probably deliberately vague for strictly marketing reasons, since including one or a few words about the source would involve about zero website expense.

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On 5/14/2022 at 10:50 PM, Derek Law said:

In any case, is Sean Peak violas actually Chinese factory products, or are then hand (mass)-produced in a workshop in the US?

Sean Peak is a real maker who made his career in the Chicago area. He worked for some time at the W.H. Lee workshop alongside Tetsuo Matsuda before going out on his own.

He keeps to himself and doesn’t advertise because he has no need to do so and so that he can devote all his working time to the wood. After finishing his instruments in the white, he delivers them to The Violin House of Weaver, where they’re varnished by Bill Weaver. Each one bears Peak’s signature on its back.

For a long time he made only the Gofriller model, but a year or two ago he began making copies of a great-sounding viola by Luigi DiGiuni as well. 

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1 hour ago, Wood Butcher said:

Hopefully the shop will be truthful, and explain it clearly.

"Handmade workshop instruments for students", could come from any workshop in the world.

Any "workshop" instrument I'd assume is imported in the white from elsewhere with lower labor costs.

As you say, I'm hoping the shop will be clear.

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2 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

For a long time he made only the Gofriller model, but a year or two ago he began making copies of a great-sounding viola by Luigi DiGiuni as well. 

Thanks very much. I tried the "Gofriller" model, which sounded quite nice. When I tried to look up the model on Tarisio's database but couldn't find anything with such a wide lower bout, and that also got me cautious - made me wonder at that point whether that was a "made up" model by a "made up" maker. Next time I am in the shop, I need to give the Sean Peak model some more serious consideration.

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19 hours ago, Derek Law said:

Thanks very much. I tried the "Gofriller" model, which sounded quite nice. When I tried to look up the model on Tarisio's database but couldn't find anything with such a wide lower bout, and that also got me cautious - made me wonder at that point whether that was a "made up" model by a "made up" maker. Next time I am in the shop, I need to give the Sean Peak model some more serious consideration.

I think Gofriller model is marketing lingo for what's more commonly referred to as the Tertis model. :P

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Just coming out of the blue I'd interpret 'Master made' as an instrument made by a trained master maker, either entirely or in all aspects that would affect appearance, quality of construction, and tone.  I'd expect the tonal quality would be sufficient to enhance or maintain the reputation of the maker.  On the other hand I'd expect a 'shop' instrument to be constructed and finished by one or more employees or sourced from outside, possibly made in part by machine, use cheaper materials, and have lower tonal quality.  If there are intermediate grades it' might be to cover shop instruments that turn out surprisingly well or master instruments that are surprisingly not up to standard.  Within rather loose limits I would expect master instruments to have more consistent 'playability' than the shop instruments.  My 4 cents (accounting for inflation)

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