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Vitali Import Company Violin on consignment


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This violin on consignment at the local music shop caught my eye. I also had the chance to play it side by side with the other consignment violins and my own ($850 outfit rental) violin. It's priced at $850 and is a Vitali Import Company Violin that says it's from 1970 and a copy of "Joseph Guarnerius..." (can't remember the rest). Do any of you have any feedback on this violin? It played nicely to me although I definitely sense it hasn't gotten much love for a long time.








Edited by persimmon
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@persimmon, Vitali Import Company was a violin (and other stringed instrument) parts brick-and-mortar-plus-mail-order-catalog business in Maywood, CA.  Their product line included complete instruments and bows in addition to all manner of parts and accessories.  As an article (linked below) states, "The store was founded in 1959 in Maywood by Polish immigrant Vitali Rymsha, who exploited a niche in the violin parts market by traveling to Frankfurt, Germany, every year for the annual music festival where he acquired European violin parts that he sold to violin makers and music schools in the U.S."  The verb "acquired" here probably means "arranged deals for", because Vitali had a broad catalog selection, and could provide in quantity.  When Rymsha retired in 1982, it was bought by his employee Lauretta Craven (who joined the firm after graduating high school in 1962), and moved to Whittier in 1996.  It passed to her employee Francisco Chavez sometime between 2014 and 2017, and moved to Pomona, where it still operates.  While the old website isn't working, you can still find them on Facebook  

You can occasionally find the old catalogs on eBay or Amazon.  Some are preserved at the Smithsonian. :)






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Thanks for the info! Had not known they still operated.

My knowledge of Vitali is that I went there as a child and to a home to pick up various supplies. Not just for bowed instruments. Should have picked up more books and paid better attention to what was going on. Met with Ms Craven later in Whittier. She would also pick up the phone quite a bit. It was a scrappy outfit that did pretty good mail order services. I used them until about the 2010s until purchasing my first apple 2. The hours were also limited at the store so relied heavily on their expertise as opposed to interactions at the shop.

Cool to know they are still operating. Should stop by.

Not sure about the neck angle based on the photos. I have not had to reset my instrument yet.

I have a Weisshaar workshop instrument from that era ( maybe a bit later ) and no one has been willing to reveal the source, though have not questioned anyone directly. The particular instrument I own looks very similar, but for some details and stylistic differences in the scroll. But like mine, the work is clean. It's still around because it sounds very good. Perhaps mine might be a bit more artistic? less perfect in the corners and around the eyes.

In travels up and down the westcoast shops and in meeting players of various genre, there were similar instruments. Again, can not tell you the source, but with similar clear, clean factory three part purfling, color, varnish. There are many more experts here familiar with instruments of the era, but my guess is, that the instruments were sourced from the same region. Yours is more student- ish than mine, but I have kept these because they play well and sound quite good. Mine is beat up a bit from some youth orchestra play, yet would be a great loaner for a student moving up from a 3/4 as a first fullsize. The sound is big and reasonably sensitive. 

There are no dots to connect based on what is written here. I am sure to have passed up many like it with lesser sound qualities.

Based on the photos presented, the instrument is more of a student model, but the details are ok and condition is quite good. Paid a bit more than the price you stated almost 20 years ago for my instrument. As for actual Vitali instruments, the ones that are encountered have been abused. There are still a few in schools but they have held up to this point. These were with more traditional darker varnishes, fractional sizes.

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Based on what I'm seeing, which isn't everything I would need to know, I would buy it. The caveat is that is has a nice new setup and a new bow in a bag? That *may* be an indication that someone thought it would be easier to donate for a tax write-off than to sell. Take someone who plays with you to make sure it doesn't sound like a tin can.

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So much interesting information in this thread - thanks everyone! I don't think the setup is new, since this is a general music store and not a string store. I feel like the violin might need some setup work which makes me hesitate a little since that's another additional cost and maybe I could do better. It is interesting that the bow is in a bag like that; I didn't look at the bow at all when I tried it (used my own bow on all of the various consignment violins). Maybe I need to take a closer look at it.

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The fact that it is set up with add-on metal fine tuners tells me that it is likely no one has ever known its potential.

It looks pretty!

Vitali Import Company is the store where I discovered the chinrest design in the 1960s that has served me ever since, I think I bought all they had left in stock:

"Original Stuber, Germany." To buy a chinrest of that design today you have to have it tailor-made or try Alexander Accessories, LTD.

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I'm definitely going to take another look at the violin/bow soon everyone!

Andrew Victor, I'm glad to hear someone else also thinks it's pretty as that was my first thought, but I'm not at all experienced with violins. I've read many of your posts over at violinist.com. :)

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I do not think so, necessarily, but possibly. 

My father would take these weekend business trips on occasion and we drove along the coast and the Sierras and the desert plains. He loved music would meet up with players along the way. There were also instrument collectors along the way, but that was in passing. The players would show what they owned. I just recall being shown instruments that did not mean much to me, but did recall hearing interesting names. I can not recall ever purchasing one, but do remember sitting on aluminum folding chairs on concrete slabs playing into the wind. I was on an upside down wooden fruit crate.

I think it was possible to buy a fiddle or a guitar for $100 back then.

Players played. Priorities were different. So my memories were likely better than the truth, but it was a place where the melodies were passed around and I got to know what a Jam Session was about. You know the joke about the upright bass student where on the third lesson, he came home late because he was gigging. Well, when I was tall enough, that was me.

At one point, our paths should have crossed. My dad was the relationships person so must have known more people than I would remember. From classical to bluegrass, if I was not there to meet people, at least I could pass the time looking around for lizards and lost pennies in the parking lot or around the structures. There were many Alligator Lizards for pets. They were the slowest.

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