VSA Competition results

November 13, 2006 at 04:53 PM · Anyone heard from the Violin Society of America violin and bow making competition results in Baltimore?

Replies (101)

November 13, 2006 at 06:22 PM · I was there, and have a list of all the competitors (close to 400 instruments and bows) which includes awards received.

What would you like to know that I can answer quickly? I'm trying to catch up and put in a productive work day.....


November 13, 2006 at 06:22 PM · I was only looking for the list of the 2006 competition medal and certificate winners. Maybe just violin making and bow making...

Thank you for your time.

November 13, 2006 at 07:50 PM · Right, I meant there were about 400 instruments and bows in the 2006 competition alone.

How about violin and violin bow winners?

I'll work on it and post it up in a bit.

The results will eventually be posted along with all past competition winners on this VSA web site

November 13, 2006 at 08:17 PM · Please don’t hold me responsible for errors or omissions

An explanation of what these awards mean is at http://www.vsa.to/medals.htm


Barnes, Dorian: Certificate of merit for tone;

Bartos, Jan: Certificate of merit for tone;

Bernabeu, Borja: Silver medal for workmanship;

Bingen, Peter J: Certificate of merit for tone;

Hu, Xueping: Certificate of merit for tone;

Jiang, Feng: Certificate of merit for tone, Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Jiang, Shan: Certificate of merit for tone;

Krupa, Krzyszlof: Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Mahu, Philippe: Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Phillips, Jeff: Silver medal for tone;

Schryer, Raymond: Silver medal for workmanship;

Scott, William R: Silver medal for workmanship;

Soltis, Ryan: Certificate of merit for tone;

Spidlen, Jan: Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Wu, Zu-Liang: Silver medal for tone;

Zhao, Shinquan: Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Zhu, Ming-Jiang: Gold medal;


Dignan, Thomas: Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Dow, Robert: Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Hawthorne, David: Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Krupa, Marcin: Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Le Canu, Yannick: Gold medal;

Lee, Jeong-Bong: Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Morrow, Robert: Certificate of merit for workmanship;

Wehling, Matthew: Gold medal;

If you don't see a name you might expect, bear in mind that with this particular competition, a sufficient number of gold medals means that one can no longer compete.

You can check this on the link to past winners in the previous post.


November 13, 2006 at 08:03 PM · mr burgess, if you recognize a maker despite effort in blinding the label, what do you do?

November 13, 2006 at 08:54 PM · Many Thanks for the post David.

Congratulations to Yannick LeCanu and Matt Wehling on winning the Gold Medals in Violin Bow category.

November 13, 2006 at 08:09 PM · I believe a judge who recognizes an instrument is supposed to disqualify himself from judging that instrument, but maybe Jeffrey Holmes who is on the VSA board can give a more precise answer.

Sorry for being hazy on this.....the last time I judged was two years ago.


November 13, 2006 at 08:24 PM · David,

Out of curiousity, what are the results for the other categories:

Viola and Cello.

November 13, 2006 at 08:25 PM · the reason i ask is because it seems that some of you can make fairly accurate deduction on makers without bothering to look at the labels,,,

not questioning the process, just pointing out the potential for some inherent bias built in the system.

since gennedy congrads to "some" winners, to be fair, i say good job to all, even those chinese sounding ones:)

November 13, 2006 at 09:39 PM · Gennady, can I put that up later tonight or maybe tomorrow?

I'm trying to salvage some delivery dates after being gone for a week.

I'm just a one-man band... ;-)


November 13, 2006 at 08:43 PM · Just so you are aware Al,

When instruments and bows are submitted, they are not stamped nor branded. That is part of the criteria for the competition.

BTW, I think I was clear on congratulating the Gold Medal winners in the Violin Bow category.

It goes without saying Congrats to all.

David, thanks in advance.

November 13, 2006 at 08:40 PM · gennady, that is exactly my point...that people good at identifying violins look at the label the last or not at all. but they recognise the varnish, the scroll, the corners, may be even the sound. can't blind them all.

ps, i think the makers can have labels already affixed inside the violin, but need to find ways to cover the label.

November 13, 2006 at 08:45 PM · al,

your ps doesn't make sence to me.

November 13, 2006 at 09:24 PM · Al;

I can only assure you that the contest organizers seem to do everything humanly possible to get valid, unbiased results. That's probably one reason why they don't use the same panel of judges all the time.

Another example:

When instruments and bows are submitted, they are assigned a number. Later, all the numbers are changed so that a competitor no longer knows which number is his/hers, and couldn't possibly communicate that information to a judge.

It's kind of funny though to imagine someone bribing a judge, telling the judge their instrument number, and someone else's instrument wins because the numbers were later switched!

When I was judging the Cremona competition, a competitor came to the judging area (he wasn't supposed to be anywhere in the vicinity) and started to blurt out a description of the unique and unusual string windings on his violin. Was this to be followed with some kind of financial offer? I don't know. He was sent packing.

You're right though, stuff COULD happen, even possibly the scenario you've described.

If you're concerned about this, I suppose you could pay more attention to a competitors track record over multiple contests with different judging panels, and less attention to the results of one individual contest.

In the VSA competition, all instruments selected for awards are reviewed one last time by ALL the judges to make sure every instrument or bow is worthy, so I'd think that the efforts of an unscupulous judge might be transparent at that point.


November 13, 2006 at 10:25 PM · david, appreciate your time and the explanation. all is well and i have absolute confidence in the professionalism from the judging side.

i also appreciate your acknowledgement of what i was saying. for instance, you have won more than one time. my hunch is that after you won the first time, those sharp eyes and minds in the industry have got your violin's features ingrained in their system. the second time around, when they see another violin of yours, even with just a number, bells may ring:)

but, if the judges can judge based on the true merits, it does not matter after all.

November 13, 2006 at 11:58 PM · Sorry for the delay.

I wanted to get permission from Helen Hayes, the president of the Violin Society of America before posting all the results from the competition.

This is a "Word" document with the results scanned in

It's a download, and many computers take some time to load all the pages.


November 14, 2006 at 12:19 AM · A great many thanks David.........

wow for LeCanu, 2 Gold Medals from two bows submitted (violin & cello bows).

November 14, 2006 at 01:06 AM · Very impressive for LeCanu. This is definately a maker to look into in the future.

November 14, 2006 at 01:49 AM · Al, you made some really good points, and I don't mean to minimize them or be defensive in any way.

I'll be the first to admit that the world is full of people who can be corrupted.

I only hope there are enough "hold-outs" to make a difference.


November 14, 2006 at 02:38 AM · Pieter,

My crystal ball tells me, that his bows will be more expensive very soon............:)

November 14, 2006 at 03:21 AM · From Pieter Viljoen;

"Very impressive for LeCanu. This is definately a maker to look into in the future."

Yes, but don't forget all the bow makers who have won in the past, including:

Jose Dacunha

Paul Siefried

Christophe Schaeffer

Klaus Grunke

Reid Kowallis

Charles Espey

Stephane Thomachot

Jean Grunberger

Arnaud Suard

Yung Chin

Randy L. Steenburgen

Roger Zabinski

Thomas Dignan

Morgan Andersen

Robert Shallock

David Russell Young

Shu Sheng Kot

D. William Halsey

David Samuels

Noel Burke

Eric Grandchamp

David Samuels

Kunitaka Ohse

George Tepho

Rodney D. Mohr

David H. Forbes

Roy G. Quade

Gregor Walbrodt

Josef Gabriel

Mitsuaki Sasano

Gregor Walbrodt

Pierre-Yves Fuchs

Matthew Wehling

Robert Morrow


November 14, 2006 at 03:25 AM · Gennady,

I'm sure that he's going to become very successful. He took over from Millant, so does that mean that LeCanu is also issuing certificates, or is that not his speciality? In the future I might consider getting better certification of my G/T Millant, but only if I want to sell it (I don't think this will happen any time soon though).

Mr. Burgess,

I know, there are a lot of makers on that list which I endeavour to own. I have a thing with bows, and right now my meager collection of 3 is doing well for me, but I feel like I want to have a bit of everything. Obviously not totally possible right now, but over time I plan on owning several on that list.

November 14, 2006 at 03:35 AM · Pieter;

Collecting bows takes up much less space than collecting violins........ or cellos or cars! ;-)

November 14, 2006 at 03:49 AM · Pieter,

He is already very succesful.

And btw,it is his uncle and aunt that took over the Millant shop in Paris.

He did apprentice there when he was younger. I don't think he is interested to be the next Raffin. He is more of a Thomachot if you know what I mean.


Back to our old argument.

From a "Market" point of view, how many on that list command the prices today?

Thomachot seems to be the Knight in Shining Armor don't you agree?!

November 14, 2006 at 03:51 AM · Now I see. I saw the LeCanu name but did not see any mention of Yannick. Now I know what that's all about.

David, that's a lot of the reason behind it. To me, I find having one violin is really the best, I don't know why but I never really wanted to own multiple violins. I did at one point, owning a Gia Bata Morassi and an old French violin by Solomon, but even though the former is famous in Italy, I didn't think it was that fantastic.

But one day I'll probably want to own many different violins. For now though, having many bows is both cheaper and easier.

November 14, 2006 at 04:19 AM · From Gennady Filimonov;


Back to our old argument.

From a "Market" point of view, how many on that list command the prices today?

Thomachot seems to be the Knight in Shining Armor don't you agree?!"

Gennady, I can't argue with you on this. Some on that list had their moment in the limelight and have faded away. Some are no longer in the business. At least one is deceased. I didn't attempt to edit the list in terms of investment value.

And Thomachot has been directly or indirectly involved in the training of many on that list.

November 14, 2006 at 05:18 AM · I made a guess that a certain violin maker was undervalued and ready to pop. I wonder if he just now did that.

November 14, 2006 at 05:40 AM · who would that be?

November 14, 2006 at 09:18 PM · Why are Ming Jiang Zhu's instruments only marketed by companies targeting the entry level? You'd think that after 2 Gold medals and other things like that, the prices for his violins would be higher?

Maybe this is one of those really good value for money makers.

November 14, 2006 at 10:16 PM · I see one listed for $5200 by a retailer, but the ad implies it's a workshop product. Don't know if it's the same violin that wins metals. The ad calls it number 700 though.

November 14, 2006 at 11:19 PM · Pieter,

It takes a lot more than a Gold medal to become a hot commodity.

If you look at the list of other Gold Medal winners from 1994 (in the instrument category), I would say 1 or 2 have become very big names. Frank Ravatin

for sure.



I have seen some listed for 3K and some for 4K as well.

There was also a HK dealer selling on ebay (not so long ago) his fiddles for a few hundred bucks.

I guess that doesn't help matters any if one is a Gold medal winner.

November 14, 2006 at 11:20 PM · So it seems. It looks like Feng Jiang has been the only one to successfully market himself into the price range of the top makers.

November 14, 2006 at 11:23 PM · Thanks to the fact that he learned & worked in the Alf studio.

November 14, 2006 at 11:34 PM · I would like to humbly nominate Ole Kanestrom for the bow list -- as he's a multiple VSA gold medal winner.

November 14, 2006 at 11:50 PM · Sorry Sean, my mistake in omitting his name. Ole is a top notch maker and a great guy.

I'd go back to that post and add his name, but it looks like the board isn't giving me an "edit" option.

November 15, 2006 at 12:15 AM · Sean,

You know, after leaving Soviet Union,

I grew up in Brooklyn since I was 10 years old.

I humbly propose you test drive all of the makers on that list including your favorite, and compare it to the guys I alsways like to talk about, that includes this years 2 Gold Medal winner Y. LeCanu.

Ole does make nice bows as well.

But to each his own, some like their bows whippy, some like it stiff etc. etc. etc.

November 15, 2006 at 12:24 AM · Dear Mr. Burgess:

Do we have a multiple VSA gold metal winning violin maker selling his violins for $3-5000, or a few hundred dollars on ebay?



November 15, 2006 at 12:38 AM · Here are a few sites that may confirm:


Ming Jiang Zhu #500, $4100.00 Canadian Dollars

Ming Jiang Zhu #700, $5200.00 Canadin Dollars


Violin by Ming Jiang Zhu. $3,000

Just google it.

November 15, 2006 at 12:36 AM · I googled it already. I don't doubt you. What I want to know is if they're the same level as the ones that won metals.

November 15, 2006 at 12:48 AM · I am sure that he did his best work for the competition don't you think?!

November 15, 2006 at 01:00 AM · Of course. But we have an interesting cross-economic system, cross-cultural values situation here. Maybe the $3000 ones are made by his friends and neighbors...

November 15, 2006 at 12:56 AM · Here is a fascinating article:


November 15, 2006 at 01:33 AM · I guess at this point I'd get a VSA judge to help me buy one, just to be sure, if I was in the market.

November 15, 2006 at 01:38 AM · Normally and most of the time, Gold Medal winners are not trying to corner the Student market on the Global arena.

November 15, 2006 at 03:17 AM · Gennady, interesting about your Brooklyn roots. What neighborhood? I'm actually in Park Slope -- about a 15-minute walk from Zygmuntowicz --although I've never been there (I once looked up his address when I found out his studio was in Brooklyn).

About the bows, the Kanestrom is actually my 11-year-old daughter's. She tried quite a few this summer in her quest for her first full-size bow and some were on that list -- among those I remember are Roy Quade, Robert Morrow, Doug Raguse, Roger Zabinski (two), and Lee Guthrie, but there were many others. (Even some carbon fiber bows.) I remember I wanted to try bows by Morgan Andersen, David Samuels and Pierre-Yves Fuchs but didn't come across any. Maybe next time around. And I'll definitely put LeCanu on the list as well.

I do know that testing bows was a lot of fun, and an incredible learning experience. I can see why people collect multiple bows. At the end of the process, although my daughter was especially fond of the Morrow and Raguse bows, on her particular instrument the Kanestrom was the unanimous choice of student and teacher (and me). I must say, though, that if I had the money, I would have snatched up the Morrow bow, and the Raguse as well. Maybe some day.

November 15, 2006 at 06:39 AM · Sean,

When I came to America, I grew up on Brighton Beach.

BTW for anyone interested in LeCanu bows, I have represented him (and other top French Makers) for the past several years (since before his gold medal of 2004).

Feel free to contact me about auditioning his bows.

(pardon the shameless promotion).

November 15, 2006 at 07:48 AM · Who were the judges for this year's VSA competition?

November 15, 2006 at 08:48 AM · to know details about the competition, go here:


November 15, 2006 at 01:08 PM · 2006 VSA competition

Instrument workmanship judges:

Rene Morel, Hieronymus Kostler, Eric Blot, Luiz Bellini, Gregg Alf, Tchu Ho Lee.

Bow workmanship judges:

Morgan Andersen, Pierre-Yves Fuchs, Benoit Rolland.

Tone judges included the Audubon quartet.

Violin Tone:

Jose Cueto, Ellen Jewett, Akemi Takuyama

Viola Tone:

Toby Appel, Paul Hersh, Doris Lederer

Cello Tone:

Joel Bechtel, Clyde Shaw, Jeffrey Solow

Bass Tone:

Michael Formanek, Paul Johnson, Jeff Weisner

November 15, 2006 at 03:13 PM · Re: Ming-Jiang Zhu violins. Those that you posted at around $3000 are workshop violins. He has a line of violins. You can download a brochure from http://upnorthstrings.com/violins.html

I've also tried a line of them at Kamimotos they range from $1600 to $3500 depending on how experienced the maker is, and what type of wood is used. They have a Ming-Jiang Zhu made one for $7500. I don't know if they distinguish on the label who made what, I suspect probably like Scott Cao, there is a numbering scheme.

Hope this helps.

November 15, 2006 at 11:29 PM · Thanks, Clare. I suspected that, but it was too foreign for me to know for sure. That seems to me to be the Chinese model, as opposed to say Burgess, who I would guess is a similar kind of maker, but wouldn't put his name on a student line in a million years.

November 16, 2006 at 08:43 AM · I studied with Ellen Jewett last year. She's a wonderful lady and a great violinist. I think she was an excellent choice for violin tone judge.

November 17, 2006 at 06:37 AM · Hello and congratulations to all who entered the competition. Congratulations to all winners including Nick Lloyd (double bass) and Ming Jiang Zhu.

Since Clare mentioned me (Up North Strings) :-), I can spleak about Ming Jiang Zhu a little bit.

I don't personally know Ming myself but do know his cousin who is the dealer of Ming workshop violins. I deal in student grade instruments mostly but do have access to Ming Jiang's master instruments although they are very difficult to get here in the US. He has a long list as you would expect for his bench instruments. I had a rare opportunity to get one of his violins last summer, but didnt (darn).

It is true that Ming markets a line of instruments from his workshop in Beijing. The workshop is small, something like 10 to 15 workers who are hightly skilled and work under Ming himself, watching over their sholders. They use modern tuning methods to achieve different goals although I don't know the specifics of this at the moment. The workshop violins are very high quality, especially those with Euro wood.

Things are obviously different in China and I think Ming is using his notoriety to help many folks. Traveling to the US for a competiion is a big undertaking in time and effort. I have been told that this will be his last competion.

November 17, 2006 at 07:23 AM · Funny thing is that no American Maker (Gold Medal Winner) nor a European Maker (Gold Medal Winner) for that matter is trying to corner the Student (violin) Global Market?!

In retrospect, that undermines the credibility of his master instruments. Since the workshop is more abundant in the production of student instruments.

November 17, 2006 at 08:48 AM · It definately undermines the marketability of his master instruments. I doubt it detracts at all from how well they stand on their own. You believe in these Gold medals quite strongly Gennady, so I think that clearly, Mr. Zhu's work speaks for itself.

November 17, 2006 at 09:12 AM · Well Pieter,

I wonder if you can distinguish a master instrument from a workshop instrument of his.

Since they are always labeled as his own.

That's why later down the road, it only undermines his (own) full output and the defining characteristic of his (own) instruments.

November 17, 2006 at 02:34 PM · As far as I know a Zhu workshop violin or viola will be clearly labeled as such and a master instrument will also have documentation that it is an instrument made by the master.

Zhu's instruments stand on their own merit with an intangible magic that puts them in that Gold category. And the workshop instruments carry the essence of the master who is nearby sprinkling magic dust in the air... well, I may be sprinkling magic marketing Bologna around but you get the idea. :-)

BTW I have never sold a Zhu workshop violin to a student, all were pro wanting a nice back-up.

November 17, 2006 at 06:24 PM · well............the ones offered on ebay, were also promoted as master instruments with documentation. So what do you think those were? master or workshop?

November 17, 2006 at 06:38 PM · Gennady,

The point I am making is that his best violins are obviously very good, and the fact that he might do questionable things does not make his own, best work, worse. Part of your selling point are these gold medals. Well, he has several so obviously people like Greg Alf and those of his ilk think he's special.

Do his practices affect his credibility as a maker? For sure, but the lesser output by his assistants don't make his own work worse.

November 17, 2006 at 07:08 PM · Pieter,

It is perhaps due to all those things that not much has happenned between 1994 and now. Unlike G. Alf.

Reputation is everything! (in this business or any other).

And btw:

about your comment: "For sure, but the lesser output by his assistants don't make his own work worse." - perhaps not but the workshop fiddles outnumber his own production by a few thousand........... :)

ps: and I never commented on his ability as a maker. I am sure he is a very talented craftsman.

November 17, 2006 at 07:11 PM · The results are now on the VSA website at:


Many thanks to Mr. Burgess for his time.

November 17, 2006 at 07:14 PM · one thing both you gents need to be aware is the cultural differences between what you two are experiencing and what makers in china are facing.

sure, reputation is important. but there may be others factors in play that make other issues more of a priority, such as improving living standards from a very low level, such as throwing everything onto the wall to see what stick.

back in the industrial revolution england, the dickinsonian oliver should have gone to school instead of sweeping chimneys. what was his employer thinking!

well, money. oliver could care less because his next meal was on the line. he lived to sweep!

when the soviet union collapsed, army generals were driving taxis to make a living.

oh yeah, back to chinese violin makers...:)

to understand them, may want to start with a harvard sociology class or spend some time in china. until then, it will be more prudent to observe and accept because there is no basis to approve or disapprove.

November 17, 2006 at 07:01 PM · The problem is the confusion it creates. Even if they're clearly differentiated it would still exist because they use the same name. What violin is someone talking about? What's on ebay? Combine that with the fact that half of what a tourist can buy in China is some kind of forgery of something, like those fossil fish painted on rocks everywhere, and there you go. It's a mystery wrapped in an enigma. It doesn't invite you to spend money.

November 17, 2006 at 07:16 PM · "It doesn't invite you to spend money."

jim, you are probably the only one left holding the outpost. you may want to check out the trade inbalance. If china really makes everything the way you see fit at a competitive price, you may have no money in the bank to buy anything:)

November 17, 2006 at 07:23 PM · I don't know what you're talking about, but it might have been better if I'd written specifically "It doesn't invite you to buy a violin." :) We're talking about violins.

November 17, 2006 at 07:23 PM · i was specifically talking about fossil fish painted on the rock, whatever they are:)

i am also confused by antonio stradivarius. he should have used the wording "genuine" on his label so no one later will be confused by the copies:)

November 17, 2006 at 07:37 PM · Same problem from a different perspective:


November 17, 2006 at 07:42 PM · Al,

your comment:

"i am also confused by antonio stradivarius. he should have used the wording "genuine" on his label so no one later will be confused by the copies:)".....is amazingly obtuse.

Stradivarius was busy making violins only for those who could afford to buy them.

The copies made 100-200 years later, were made by others who tried to use the name to appeal to a certain market.

Vuillaume did it out of his repsect for the old, and the market demand for antique looking instruments. Vuillaume revered Stradivarius above all.

Vuillaume's student line of production was the "St. Cecile" line of fiddles, for which he used a totally different varnish recipe.

In the 20th century, many started using the concept in mass production instruments trying to appeal to the student market.

It is quite a different issue when one and the same maker is doing both: making master instruments and trying to corner the global Student market with his workshop. And the workshop fiddles end up outnumbering his master fiddle output by a few thousand.

November 17, 2006 at 07:47 PM · come on gennady, i was being facetious:) !!!

thanks for the info on vuillume though.

November 17, 2006 at 07:43 PM · yes because only in a Harvard sociology class could you possibly understand social dynamics.

November 17, 2006 at 07:45 PM · Passive-Aggressive??!

November 17, 2006 at 07:49 PM · gennady, i have lost all my respect for you as a very fine violinist since you took that sentence that literally:) cheers!

November 17, 2006 at 07:54 PM · Al,

I seem to recall many comments I've made which you took literally.

But, I am not worried.

November 17, 2006 at 08:08 PM · He was being facetious at the literal level. He still thought he had a good point though:)

November 17, 2006 at 08:18 PM · "Time Flies like an arrow. Fruit Flies like a banana " is a good point too but..........

November 17, 2006 at 08:05 PM · I can clearly understand the confusion here.

Let me try to clear this up. If you want a Zhu workshop violin then purchase one from a reputable dealer and you will have a very nice fiddle for a decent price made in a small workshop (not factory). It will have a label reading "made in the workshop of Ming jiang Zhu..." It will clearly be labeled with the model number VN-600, VN-700 or VN-800, or VN-900.

On the other hand if you are seeking a Ming Jiang Zhu bench made violin, Ebay is probably NOT your best bet! You might want to contact Zhu himself or a dealer.

November 17, 2006 at 09:00 PM · Ken,

But you do see the point made.

What does it do to the value of his master instruments when the output of his workshop fiddles is outnumbering his own output by several thousand?

It does not help.

Due to this, I find that his own fiddles will have difficulty in attaining a climb in value as did Zygmuntovitch, Alf and so many previous Gold medal winners.

Perhaps it is the reason he entered again (despite the Gold in 1994).

But I am sure he is laghing his way to the bank anyway.

November 17, 2006 at 11:26 PM · Yes I get your point and that is a very legitimate concern. Not everyone would want to plunk down 20-30k for an instrument that is possibly going to be devalued by some irrational force. I have seen no evidence that Mings workshop is or was selling violins on ebay or trying to pass off bench instruments as workshop ones. Maybe I should investigate this myself.

I am trying to be persistent in my intent to distinguish Ming bench instruments and Ming workshop instruments. And my point is is a firm one: not everyone out there is trying to decieve fine working violinists. On the other hand, not everyone has time to, or is able to investigate thoroughly either. So you are very right to be an advocate for those who "pays their money and takes thier chances".

But since Ming has a long waiting list it seems players are waiting to get in line and take a chance that present value will carry and future value is a bonus.

November 17, 2006 at 11:22 PM · BTW Ken,

I assume that you see that my comments are directed ONLY towards his output of Master violins vs Workshop ones and their future value.

November 17, 2006 at 11:32 PM · Yes I do and you have a good point.

I edited the post above yours as you were writing.

November 17, 2006 at 11:58 PM · My opinion is that winning gold adds value to the workshop instruments but the workshop instrument line doesn't detract from the present or future value of his bench made ones.

November 17, 2006 at 11:48 PM · I guess I will reiterate:

It takes a lot more than a Gold medal to become a hot commodity.

If you look at the list of other Gold Medal winners from 1994 (in the instrument category), I would say 1 or 2 have become very big names. Frank Ravatin

for sure.

Becoming the next Fagnola, Bisiach, Antoniazzi, Sgarabotto, Fiorini,Poggi etc. is a whole other matter and discussion.

November 18, 2006 at 12:02 AM · Yes, I would love to read that discussion! Or better yet, have a time machine.

November 18, 2006 at 12:12 AM · Ken,

he won the gold in 1994 right?

Here is my point:

In 1980, Chen Jin-Nong & Samuel Zygmuntowicz won Gold Medals from VSA.

Where are they now?!

There's your time machine.

Zyg's fiddles are now around 60K.

as for the other............anyone out there know the name?

November 18, 2006 at 06:07 AM · I think that the reason Zyg's instruments are 3X other great makers price has a lot to do with many factors. I think we all know what they are.

Zhu is a great craftsman though and I wish him much success.

November 18, 2006 at 11:28 PM · Ken,

You didn't aknowledge where is Chen Jin-Nong now?! and if anyone knows who that is?

Unfortunately he has faded along with his victory.

Anyway, same thing can be said for Frank Ravatin as opposed to u know who......... both 1994 Gold Medal winners.

Ravatin is enjoying a world renowned career, and the prices for his instruments have increased (doubled and then some) since then.

In retrospect, Zhu's student violins could have mass appeal being that they are cheap and for the price well crafted.

But if his Master fiddles ever try to compete in the range of 8K-10K, that is an entirely different story.

Then you have a wide range of top young Italian, French & American makers who people may prefer to invest in (with prospects of increased value for their $$).

Again, perhaps it is the reason he has entered 2006 VSA competition (12 years after his Gold in 1994)?!!

November 19, 2006 at 01:29 PM · Gennady, I may have lost you here.

(Just trying to "draw you out" because my work day is done and you're fun to spar with).


November 19, 2006 at 07:10 AM · David,

I think I was "sparkling" clear as to what I was sayin'.

That is just reality when it comes to shopping for fiddles 8K and above.

That is my point of view.

November 19, 2006 at 08:25 AM · I think Gennady is trying to say that Zhu does not have name appeal of a young Italian, French or American maker (as long as American maker has an European name).

All I can say is time will tell. Jiang, Cao, Zhu have done quite well in anonymous VSA competition. But there is still a bias from some 20th century people against Asian named makers. But maybe not from the billions of Asian-named violin players of the 21st century to come.

November 19, 2006 at 08:41 AM · Gennady, just out of curiosity who are the Italian, French and American makers in the 8-10k range that you are thinking of whose violins would be on par with VSA gold medal winning instruments?

November 19, 2006 at 01:19 PM · Gennady, maybe it's more a question of immediate economics and "branding". For some the question may be more about now and less about the future value of instruments.

Which is economically more viable? To make 6 instruments a year that sell for $15,000 and which MAY become more valuable 20, 50, 100 years down the track. Or to personally make 6 instruments a year which sell for $8,000 now and may only sell for the same in the future, while at the same time owning/running a workshop that turns out hundreds of instruments a year selling in the $500 to $1500 range.

I'm not sure there is anything wrong with taking the short term view. For some people, simple circumstances can force them into meeting immediate financial needs.

If the value of any one instrument (i.e. a gold medal winning instrument) is devalued because the maker's name also appears on el cheapo workshop instruments then so what? Maybe that's just life or maybe it says more about buyers' (in)ability to evaluate single instruments when purchasing.


November 19, 2006 at 05:42 PM · Guys,

I have been in the business long enough to know how things go.

If you scroll up, you see my personal observations.

If you don't like them.....I have others.


most Asians (at least the ones I've dealt with), want to own Italian Fiddles and French bows...........

As well as CHANEL NO 5 (EAU DE PARFUM), BMW or Mercedes-Benz and a house in the most expensive neighborhood. And they are not the only ones who want those things.

With regards, to European names etc., there have been many asian makers (award winning) in the 70's, 80's, 90's etc. Time has already spoken about them and the market.

I have been collecting and in the business for 25 years, so I am speaking from experience.

This is a very old argument. If you own the M. Brinser book, take a look. Same arguments were presented (back in the 40's-60's), and take a look who withstood the test of time.


From the buyer's perspective, a good cheap fiddle is great (short term is fine). Once you pass the threshold of 8K, then one starts to ponder over long term investment.

But the market is not based on "so, what". There are many factors involved in why and how an instrument becomes a collectable.

Ferrarris don't make a line of affordable cars for the mortals do they? And that is part of the reason they are Ferrarris which maintain their appeal.

And like I said, despite what we say, Zhu is laughing his way to the Bank (RE: Student Line of Workshop Fiddles).

November 19, 2006 at 03:17 PM · Genady, I don't know where Chen Jen Nong is, but I will try to find out. I was not really looking at things from your perspective, so this is helpful to me as a dealer of semi-pro and student instruments.

I think Ming's thinking above the curve by acting in a way that helps China as a whole, Chinese workers, himself, dealer networks and higher level players. Okay, lets say Ming were to say "I have a name now and I am moving west to stake my claim in violin history". He could move to New York and hook up with a bunch of high level players, undoubtedly making them happy. His rep would grow, prices rise...success, right? From the perspecive of some, yes. But what if he he stays in Beijing in his workshop (not factory) to try to achieve the highest level of violin quality bringing extreme knowledge and clout to compete in a mega-industry there? Is this a higher achievement? For him I think, yes, it is.

November 19, 2006 at 06:05 PM · Ken,

I think you missed the point if you have to go and look him up ( Chen Jen Nong). It is now 26 years passed, and if one has to say "WHO is that?" and let me look him up, that says everything.

The one who is a household name (in music circles) is Zyg.

Both of them won Gold medals in 1980.

Again, we are going in circles Ken.

No matter how you slice it, I am sure Zhu will do fine with the workshop fiddles..............

November 19, 2006 at 06:15 PM · Gennady, in your fervour to be right you missed my point. The "so what" was from the maker's point of view not the "collector" or the player. If a maker is making $$$ from both his bench instruments and from his workshop instruments then so what? Why should he give a flying f..airy what you think of him?

But hey, don't let me spoil your fun in denigrating Asian makers simply because they choose a different marketing model from one that would suit you.

Oh and btw, Ferrari does make a cheap line of cars, they're called FIATs. Of course, that could also be put the other way round. Wonder how upset you'd get if a maker called his bench instruments after himself, but used a totally different name for his workshop fiddles.


November 19, 2006 at 07:22 PM · Neil,

I stated several times:

".....despite what we say, Zhu is laughing his way to the Bank (RE: Student Line of Workshop Fiddles)."

What I am stating are observations (from many years of experience in the business).

I have not made any comments regarding abilities as makers or other.

If you haven't noticed, this is a discussion forum.

I guess I should point out the total history of Ferrari to you:

Ferrari is an Italian sports car manufacturer based in Maranello, Italy. Founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929 as Scuderia Ferrari, the company sponsored drivers and manufactured race cars before moving into production of street legal vehicles in 1946 as Ferrari S.p.A.. Throughout its history, the company has been noted for its continued participation in racing, especially in Formula One, where it has largely enjoyed great success, especially during the 1950s, 1960s and late 1990s.

After years of financial struggles, Enzo Ferrari sold the company's sports car division to the Fiat group in 1969 in order to help ensure continued financial backing for the foreseeable future. Ferrari himself retained control of the racing division until his death in 1988 at the age of 90.

BTW, you also missed the point I made, that if one's workshop fiddles outnumber your Master instruments by a couple of thousand, that doesn't help nor ensure the future value of the Master instrument(s).

I guess long live Free Market Communism....Great eh?

November 19, 2006 at 07:19 PM · Gennady, I'm never sure if you're just being deliberately obtuse or what.

I'm very well acquainted with the history of Ferrari. I'm unclear why you would think otherwise. You indicated that you believed Ferrari did not have a cheap brand of cars. I merely noted that they're now owned by FIAT and consequently most definitely do have the automotive equivalent of a workshop range of cars. Sheesh, it's like discussing something with a jellyfish.

Anyway, fortunately this thread's about to reach its limit so I'll let you have the last word. Go wild.


November 19, 2006 at 07:42 PM · Neil,

You missed every point I had made regarding this thread. So if you think you are an expert in violin market analysis, then speak your mind and shed some light on the subject.

You are "critisizing" my observation(s)?

Like I said; if you don't like it........I have others!

I have pointed out my personal observations on the subject. No "dissing" here. I have stated what the facts are and what has recent history shown.

So who is being obtuse here EH?

And BTW, FIAT's, have nothing to do with crafstmanship nor design or etc. of Ferrari's do they?

PS: again you also missed the point I made, that if one's workshop fiddles outnumber your Master instruments by a couple of thousand, that doesn't help nor ensure the future value of the Master instrument(s).

........and despite what we say, Zhu is laughing his way to the Bank (RE: Student Line of Workshop Fiddles)

November 19, 2006 at 07:50 PM · I don't think Ferrari is a good example, but I know what he means. Brand name identification and association is an important thing that's being thrown out the window here. If Chanel bought Old Spice and it became "Chanel Old Spice" (otherwise known as Chanel No. 13) It would kill Chanel. It's very basic. Now - if 14 years hence, you have to look up a gold winning maker, he doesn't have that much of a "name" to exploit for the sake of his countrymen as Ken implies he wants to do. You have to ask why not. But would I rather own a violin workshop than be a good independent maker? Probably.

November 19, 2006 at 08:00 PM · Great point Jim....."Chanel Old Spice" (otherwise known as Chanel No. 13) LOL indeed!

To your other post:

"But would I rather own a violin workshop than be a good independent maker? Probably."

But only if you lived in China could you afford to and then actually make money.

'Free Market Communism'....Great eh???

November 20, 2006 at 02:35 AM · Not sure if this was mentioned before, but Gennady's viewpoint reflects the age-old concept of "branding." Once a company has established a high-end reputation (i.e, become a "name brand") it will usually do whatever it can to protect the value of that name brand. If there are profits to be made in the lower-end scale of the business, they will often release such line of lower-end product under a different name. Which is why Fiats were not renamed Ferraris, and why you don't see Toyota mentioned in ads for Lexus, Infinity for Nissan, Accura for Honda, etc. This seems to indicate a fair amount of corporate anxiety that a name can be tarnished, and sales/value suffer when a hi-end reputation is attached to lower-end fare. Note that this says nothing about the profitability of the lower end goods, which may benefit greatly from the association, but may do so at the expense of hi-end market share, etc. I don't think Gennady is talking about the bottom line (hi-end plus low-end profits). He has stated many times that he is speaking of collectible-grade instruments.

My $.02.

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