Stefano Trabucchi Violins. Thoughts?

July 29, 2017, 10:10 PM · Hey Guys,

I'm thinking of buying a violin made by Stefano Trabucchi, a luthier based in Cremona. Do any of you have experience with his violin? Any comments? They are priced in the 10-20k euro range.

From what I've read online and conversations with the luthier, seems like a legitimate guy. Anyone who own or has played in his violin, any comments regarding quality and craftsmanship? Thanks in advance

Replies (39)

Edited: July 29, 2017, 11:10 PM · He is more than a legitimate maker, he's president of the violin makers group in the Confartigianato artisan union.
July 30, 2017, 3:01 AM · Wow, coming from the famous Violin case maker himself! Thank you for your input!! Highly appreciated and looking forward to buying your case soon!

With regards to sound and playability, anyone have any experience with his violins? Thanks in advance.

Edited: July 30, 2017, 4:05 AM · A couple of years ago I tested one that was sold by a privat person (around the time when I bought my current main).
It was a fine violin, not too special and a bit too bright, missing depth or bight for me. The craftmanship was quite nice! Playability was good, but I found it hard to vary the sound. It was made on order and I only played that single one. It was very competitive in the 15k price range (where the person sold it).
Did you play any violin by him or are you looking to buy completly blind?
Edited: July 30, 2017, 5:12 AM · I do not know this maker and have not tried his violins. Here is a more general observation:
As mentioned before, one does not buy a name and lineage, unless one is buying a violin as an investment.
No matter how great the maker is, there is always variance in maker's output. We tend to believe that, the more famous (and esteemed) the maker, the less variance is in his / her output. But this does not have to be the case.
It only takes one famous violinist to purchase maker's violin for price to jump and then we tend to attribute and project many non-existing qualities to the name, not hearing the particular instrument.
Always, always ignore the label, visual appeal, lineage.... and do not listen to the dealer. Listen to the violin instead. Do a blind test. Compare it to other violins. Buy only when you love the violin.
Edited: July 30, 2017, 5:52 AM · If a living luthier has a particularly good reputation look out for that luthier's violins whilst he/she is living, because when that luthier is no longer around the value of those violins could well rocket. The same reasoning applies to the best bow makers and their output.

But, as always, be certain to apply the Milankov Test before you buy!

July 30, 2017, 6:48 AM · A lot of overrated violins go down in value after the makers death, too. Just saying.
July 30, 2017, 7:17 AM · Usually those are already dropping between new and used in lifetime. But of course you are right, this happens more often than some seem to believe.
July 30, 2017, 7:56 AM · Hi,

Thanks for all the input.
Marc, what do you mean by hard to vary the sound? I agree that doing blind test is always the best, but it is impossible to find a decent violin shop in my country.
I know that violins are very subjective. I just want to compare trabucchi violins to those around the same price range, determine if they are worth buying. I'm currently playing a German Reinhold Schnabl bubenreuth 1991, which I love, but I would love a spare and based on online research and cold calling some violin dealers, seems like Trabucchi makes good violins in the price range.

Keep the opinions on Stefano Trabucchi coming!! Thanks guys!

Edited: July 30, 2017, 8:43 AM · In that price range, having read posts by well experienced players and buyers here, it seems to me there are many choices, italian and otherwise (not that theres anything special about it being italian). So, discounting that youve found a rare deal, is there a particular reason why youre focusing on this luthier?

I think youre looking for someone with a good policy of return in case you dont like the violin. And if youre experienced and know what youre looking for, maybe have a trustworthy good luthier make one for you with the condition that if you dont like it, you wont have to buy it. Im sure the luthiers here, not just players, can give excellent advice about how the process of comissioning n instrument should be like for you.

July 30, 2017, 8:37 AM · Actually just to add some context. The exact violin that caught my eye is his Homage to Cremona violin which according to Stefano himself is unique , I really adore the artwork and anyway I was planning to make a nice humidity controlled display case complete with mirror to show off the back.

http://www.trabucchi.com/bmd_portfolio/omaggio-a-cremona-2015/

Unfortunately I'm not able to blind test violins or I won't even post here. I know that buying a violin based on looks is not the right way, but so far this is the best for me. Which is why I'm still searching for any comments regarding this luthier's work in general.

July 30, 2017, 9:07 AM · In this price range there are quite a few very good makers available, some would maybe be willing to send a trial.
I personally love quite a few instruments by Rittwagen, but this really is only one of a huge list of good modern makers without years long waiting list.
The specific violin I tested seemed to have a very similar sound, no matter what I tried. So not many colours available. The craftmanship however was really really good and the next violin may have sounded completly different.
July 30, 2017, 9:11 AM · Why not make a pilgrimage to a city where there are several to many violin shops and luthiers, and spend a few days trying out many different instruments? Then buy the one you most like. I suppose Cremona might be just such a city!
July 30, 2017, 10:09 AM · Will, would love to but not able to for now. When I can find time to leave I definitely would. That's why this forum is an important source of knowledge for me.

Jeff

July 30, 2017, 10:13 AM · May I ask for the country?
July 30, 2017, 10:16 AM · I'm in Indonesia. Not a single violin shop that has a decent selection
Edited: July 30, 2017, 10:25 AM · If you are going for the looks, buy one of good-looking Chinese fiddles.
Once you fall out of love, reality will not knock you(r wallet) that hard.
I have an odd feeling that salesmen will take you for a ride.
Edited: July 30, 2017, 11:31 AM · Jeffrey, no one is saying that the luthier in question is suspect (i think mr musafia 's post rules that out). But even if you chose this luthier, have you checked his policy? Have you enough information? What if you dont like this instrument acoustically, can you replace it with another?

Being abroad poses many difficulties for you and for the luthier; this is why its crucial to have as much 8nfo as possible and with all due respect, I think the reverse route of searching would be more likely to land you a long term useful violin (that will maintain its price at least). Asking for peoples recommendations for luthiers and seeing whose name crops up...and how it corresponds to what youre after..acoustically and visually.

Also keep in mind that the example youve shown, while it might strike you as aesthetically pleasing is so 'self-marked out' that should you choose to sell the violin at a later point in your life, this might ..probably will...work out to its disadvantage. What might be aedthetically pleasing to some might be kitsch to others.

Im not hating on the violin..but its a lot of money and there are so many choices you have. Why rule them out for a violin that wears some embellishments. Im just putting myself in your situation. At one point, i was also very distant from decent choice of violins...so im familiar with the kind of difficulties.

July 30, 2017, 1:16 PM · Indonesia of course is not the best loction, also not to convince a luthier to send a trial package.
Do you have a concrete sound in mind you want to achieve?
You should at least buy with some return policy, request an audio before or even better, ask somebody reliable to check tht violin out before.
In this price range you should easily be able to improove on your current violin.
Sometimes a seller like corilon can help in this case.
The violin you presented us is of course looking special and from a respected maker. How did he descripe the sound?
July 30, 2017, 2:26 PM · It would drive me crazy to have such an ornamented violin. I agree with Tammuz that there is likely to be a limited market for resale of such a violin later.

I'm curious about the fingerboard decoration. Fingerboards are one of the replaceable parts of a violin; any fingerboard that is played on regularly will eventually need to be "dressed" (planed down) to eliminate ridges and valleys resulting from percussive finger action, and a fingerboard can only be dressed so many times before it will need to be replaced. This takes place over a long period of time but surely it would eventually affect the decoration.

Edited: July 30, 2017, 6:12 PM · Tammuz, Marc, Ellen and others, thank you so much for your inputs. This forum has been really helpful!
So this is my situation:
1) Sending violin for trial is impossible, there is a real chance it will get destroyed/stolen through customs. Plus there is a 30% import duty where I live so no way to transport, trial and return.
2) I have cold called several dealers who carry his violins and asked for comparisons, and they have all been positive. But again, I know these are dealers and their opinion may be subjective.
3) Unfortunately there is no one available to test/check the violin.

What I have learnt from you guys:

1) I will place less importance on decorations and will not discount other makers.
2)I will try and ask for a video of the violin being played and judge.
3) I'll open my discussions about other makers. I've already emailed Vittorio Villa and Marco Nolli and will consider their offerings as well. I'll call other dealers again and gather more information.
4) I'll try and check their sales policy with regards to returns.


Thank you. This is harder than I thought because I'm going in blind. At least I'm traveling to Hong Kong and Singapore soon so I hope I can find some violins to try. Thanks!!


Any other advice would be appreciated. Thank you everyone!

July 30, 2017, 6:49 PM · If I recall correctly, I've tried one previously. It was bright, and sounded easily, but it didn't have much depth, richness, or color. It was comparable to other contemporary instruments in its price class, but not exceptional.
Edited: July 30, 2017, 7:29 PM · Hi Lydia,
When you say its comparable to other violins in its range, does that mean that a 10,000 to 20,000 $ (or €?) violin, in your experience, is not expected to have depth, richness or colour?
Edited: July 30, 2017, 8:39 PM · Peter Sargent, Luthier and Violinist
Making a violin purchase because you want an Italian violin may be worth it to you. Provided a recognized maker is of greater value to you then sound. If you are looking for sound, most of the italian violins I have in my shop, or have played are pretty good, if set up right, but not like the older ones I also carry in my MN violin shop.
There are many excellent sounding bargain violins around this country. They may not have an Italian name, or look so beautiful, but often play really well.
If you work with a top Luthier to find a bargain that really play well, try the violin after he or she sets it up for you. Many very good violins include a German Hopf, American Carl Becker and or a German Meisel. Do not short yourself by overlooking some Chinese violins. Zehn Quan and Wayne Chow are some very good makers. If you find a used one of these, it could be at a bargain price and the sound you were always looking for.
July 30, 2017, 8:36 PM · A lot of the contemporary Cremonese instruments I've tried have what I think is a superficially attractive sound. It's easy to get a sound out of them, and they're bright and loud and resonant. But they suffer from a deficiency of character and color.

I've played contemporary instruments in the sub-$20k range that have character and color. This can vary across a maker's output, also, so one specimen might not be great but another is very nice. That's why it's extremely important to try the particular instrument that you're thinking about buying.


July 30, 2017, 8:43 PM · There is no way that a Carl Becker (either Carl G. Sr, or Carl F. Jr) is in the OP's price range, which seems to be $20k and under.
July 30, 2017, 11:11 PM · The really good Hopf are usually more than 30k too.
I happend to like this one: http://www.corilon.com/shop/en/item1360_1.html
It is very resonant and easy to play, beeing quite open in sound. I think its at a fair price, but it is not a really solistic instrument, more like the perfect violin for the second violinist in a quartett.
Other than that I can always recommend Rittwagen or Schleske in the 20 000€ range, both seem to have not much dropouts, never played a violin of one I really disliked and both seem to be able to descripe the specific violins well.
The problem with a completly new instrument might be, that some need a new soundpost or other adjustments within the first year of playing (mostly the top sometimes settles a bit). Can you get the violin to somobody capable of that in your region?
July 31, 2017, 12:51 AM · Hopf for 30,000, are you kidding me?????
July 31, 2017, 1:17 AM · Again mixed it up with Klotz, they sound so similar that this happens to me quite often...
July 31, 2017, 1:46 AM · Klotz for 30,000 I can believe. Hopf more like 10,000 tops??
July 31, 2017, 2:35 AM · Of course you are right.
July 31, 2017, 8:54 AM · Personally I don't like the painted decoration, but to each his own. BTW you pronounce his name tra-book-key if you ever speak to him. Good luck with your search.

Cheers Carlo

Edited: July 31, 2017, 9:25 AM · Lydia, Peter and others, thank you for all your kind comments!!
I have learnt a lot from all of you through this thread.
The luthiers Lydia, Peter and others mentioned, I will look into them. Thank you guys!

I'm an amateur violinist. Did my Grade 8 exams, was quartermaster in my high school string orchestra, stopped playing for 16 years, got a 18 month old baby girl who somehow likes to hear the violin, that's why I pick it up again leisurely. Gonna start the music education early, that's how I stumbled on this website looking at children practice advice.

I play a German Reinhold Schabl 1991 bought 20 years back. Figured I'm building a new house, came up with the idea to build a climate controlled violin display stand (complete with analog hygrometer for looks) like those in Cremona to display Stradivarius, with certificates. I cannot afford a strad or a classic antique today which is why I decided to get a violin with some decorative aspect but still making great sound.

Unfortunately I was just informed by Trabucchi that the particular violin was just sold in Japan and he couldn't get it for me. So now I'm switching my attention to the Villa brothers which I know received some mention here. I see the violins he makes for Raphael Klayman and I really love their inlaid violins. If anyone know anyone besides Villa that makes violin that sounds great and have some aesthetic aspect besides sound (inlaid, painted, unique editions, under 30-40k), please chime in and let me know! I'm all ears! Thanks again

July 31, 2017, 10:13 AM · Well, if you're looking for a good-looking decorated violin, you should check out the Amati copies made by Maurizio Tadioli...no idea how they sound, though. Search around the internet, here's a link to get you started:

http://www.thepicta.com/media/815966822083082939_402259365

Edited: July 31, 2017, 2:19 PM · I uncovered a fake Tadioli a few years ago here in Ontario. If there was one, there might be others circulating around.
After reading your replies, I really think that you should settle with a solid German violin up to $2000 US, or a Chinese instrument up to $1500 or even less.
Buy yourself a great bow and learn more about violins and violin market. Spending a lot of money on a violin based on visual appeal is no different than buying a car at a dealership because you love design and colour.
At the end of the day, it is your money, but I do not think you are ready.
Edited: July 31, 2017, 3:11 PM · personally I find all that inlaid 'regalia' stuff just works against the inherent beauty of the instrument. It starts to look more like a decorative trinket. But thats my taste. I have to say though, i liked the guy rabut violin Laurie linked to..well at least the top plate part. Theres something modernist about the composition. The black and gold lost me though.
July 31, 2017, 7:11 PM · That's what he already has, Rocky!!
August 1, 2017, 6:56 AM · Well, I have a nice German violin already, 1991 Reinhold Schanbl. Looks are subjective, Rabut violin is too futuristic for my taste. Not ugly, nicely made but just not my cup of tea.

Thing is, I'm not a professional violinist but I would like an upgrade over my German violin with some aesthetic aspect that I like since it will be both displayed and played. Hence I feel like painted or inlaid Italians would fit the bill. If I were just after sound, I'd probably be focusing on sound only and would have a different focus.

Thank you for the overwhelming response, I have really learnt a great deal. It has been 16 years since I last purchased a violin and I'm absolutely excited!

August 1, 2017, 6:57 AM · Well, I have a nice German violin already, 1991 Reinhold Schanbl. Looks are subjective, Rabut violin is too futuristic for my taste. Not ugly, nicely made but just not my cup of tea.

Thing is, I'm not a professional violinist but I would like an upgrade over my German violin with some aesthetic aspect that I like since it will be both displayed and played. Hence I feel like painted or inlaid Italians would fit the bill. If I were just after sound, I'd probably be focusing on sound only and would have a different focus.

Thank you for the overwhelming response, I have really learnt a great deal. It has been 16 years since I last purchased a violin and I'm absolutely excited!

August 1, 2017, 7:10 AM · Reinhold Schnabl (very southern German name) made good basic violins. 1991 is a very late one, I dont think I played any which was made after 1980, but those were pretty standard (not bad).
With the price tag you called (which is about ten times the current violin) it should be easy to get an better one.

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