Looking for a 10k-15k modern violin.
I am a student currently in the last year of my DMA program in Violin Performance. Currently, I play on a wonderful loaner Martin Fendt Violin from ~1820. The violin is in the 20k range and I will most likely be giving it back to the original owners at the end of the program as that was the plan we agreed upon.
I have decided I would like to purchase my own instrument, but would really like to keep it around 10k-15k for a first violin out of school. Does anyone have a luthier in this range they would recommend? I'm willing to try anything. Right now I am tending towards a modern instrument, but am up for anything. I'm not even sure where to start looking, honestly. Any suggestions would be great.
Thanks for your help :)
The range of 15-20k is VERY crowded with modern instruments. In fact, I'll bet that 90% of all modern American instruments fall in this range.You'll likely get all sorts of suggestions, but the best thing is probably pick some shops with a good selection and start looking.
10-15k for a modern American is either a second tier maker, or an up and coming master that will soon be selling for 30,000 etc, I would not rule out antiques, I would compare many violins in the price range and use your own judgement, one persons recommendation will be for their own specific preferences in tone and playability, not yours, so advice on given makers may have limited value, that and no two violins are the same, even by the same maker.
Thanks Scott and Lyndon, - There are many things I like about the Fendt, but I've also developed a few things I'm not so crazy about in the instrument either.
Go out and try as much as you can. You might find gems for less than what you expected.
there is this person who s a member of the american federation of violin and bow makers.
If you are looking for 10k-15k modern, you will get a 10k-15k modern violin. No less, no more.
If you wish an excellent sounding violin in that range, probably at about $12k see http://www.timothyjohnsonluthier.com/ He is a professionally trained maker who sells instruments through http://www.davidbrewerfineviolins.com/
There are a zillion contemporary luthiers making violins in that price range, although I suspect an increase to the $20k range will give you a broader selection from more established makers.
I'm with Casey on this one. Try a variety of affordable violins and pick your fave. There are definitely cheap gems lying around that cost less than you expect. I do see the point of setting an absolute minimum price range (perhaps $5000, there's a very tiny chance that there might be something you love that costs less than that, since I know a professional teacher who plays on a violin that costed $1000 in addition to owning an old practice violin with zero projection and lots of complexity that costed maybe $3000).
Thankfully, there's a lot of good instruments in that price range that you can play for a career. There's always going to be those that insist that a certain price point is "necessary" but we know lots of folks who make their living on reasonably-priced modern fiddles from contemporary makers.
I dont know if they are still in this price range, but Radke used to be. He makes good sounding and playing violins. Not really beautiful lookong most times but definitly worth a try and I remember he also had some in US shops.
Beware of the age old saying of new violin improving with time - not entirely true.
I play on a violin by Anton Krutz. They are based out of Ks but like others will do shipping trials if you can't get up to their shop. He's a great guy.
I play a Topa violin, which I like. Yixi Zhang on v.com plays one too. You can find them at dealers.
"10-15k for a modern American is either a second tier maker, or an up and coming master that will soon be selling for 30,000 etc"
Smiley had a great thread a few years ago and wrote up a synopsis. My hunch is that the instruments he was looking at would be slightly out of your price range but his process might be good to read about:
Here's another thread that might be useful:
The OP is a professional violinist so I imagine he would have tried different violins and knows what he wants from a violin.
I think all the op asked for were a few makers names so he can try out the violins and does not miss a gem.
I think multiple people (including Scott Cole?) have recommended John Harrison in Redding, CA.
PS: take your time! I think I rushed my shopping experience last year a bit--it didn't feel like it at the time, but in my price range I probably could have looked further afield. I tried a couple of Topas and didn't like the sound under my ear, but the faculty at Stanford were impressed with them (under someone else's bow) and it's possible I just wasn't skilled enough to coax out the nuance. I ended up with a bright, rich, even-sounding Heberlein that felt like a bargain at $8500. Everyone who tried it liked it, and I was so thrilled by the clarity of sound and ease of playing (compared to my student violin). But now I'm wondering if I should have held out for something with a broader range of tonal textures. Considering what you've been playing and your skill level, I'm sure you won't make the same mistake. Have fun!
There's no reason you can't go into a good shop and ask to play "their best violins at or below $15K and then spend time playing them. It is a good idea to always bring a trusted friend/teacher/colleague with you. If the shop as a larger room or recital hall (like Robertson & Sons in Albuquerque) then you can get a better sense of how the instruments fill the room. You could also bring a zoom recorder to get a more "objective" sense of the sound across the room. As others have said, there are many modern makers and most, if they are not "big names" have instruments in this price range. The only specific current maker I'm familiar with is Yoshikai out of Durham, NC. Beautiful workmanship and first rate sound. I have a superb viola of his, and have seen his violins & cellos as well. He keeps a low profile, though.
I don't think you should limit yourself to trying violins you can afford. If violins costing twice as much are better, wouldn't you want to know how?
Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions, ideas, and opinions. I'm excited to start the search! I really appreciate you all taking the time to share your thoughts with me.
Paul, you raise a good question. You can try unaffordable violins just for the heck of it. I actually did that once and even asked for a teacher evaluation. I didn't buy it, however. I'd say that it is not a good idea to buy a violin, hoping it will change tonally over time, and in most cases, for the better, since degree of tonal change varies from violin to violin. Some violins change a lot over time, whereas others don't. When a violin's sound changes dramatically, it's usually for the better. An exception could be violins that have recently come out of long-term storage. During a long-term storage period, violins can lose their resonance and projection, and sometimes, complexity. However, after a violin that has come out of long-term storage has been played actively for several weeks and has had its strings changed, tonal improvement can be quite evident. However, when you come across an inactive violin during a violin shopping trip, I would not put it under consideration for further evaluation unless you believe that it has the potential to possess all of the qualities you're looking for after several weeks of activity.
Scott, I find odd that you disagree, while stating essentially the same. We keep having asked the same question: x-dollar violin
You can never predict the chemistry that there may or may not be between any given player and any given instrument. But I will recommend in this price range the maker, Vittorio Villa of Cremona. I am not his sales agent but I have become his friend. You can easily Google him. His violins may be found, among in many other hands, in the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Shang Hai Quartet. I am the proud owner of 2 of them.
I like how everybody writes Sam because the family name is hard to remember.
I have a personal favorite that might be a little out of the range. Douglas Cox makes wonderful instruments, but he charges $20K. If you are willing to stretch your budget, I think he is a really good choice.
Marc, what's so hard to remember Samuel Zygmuntowicz? It's nothing like this Welsh name:
I would not like to be his teacher and have to do roll call with that name!
North of the border, they often charge in Loonies, which can help. Raymond Schryer and Hermann Jantzen are excellent options.
Joel Shewchuck is a great maker ,also from land of the Loonies.My former teacher Steven Staryk has one and is happy with it,replacing his ex Barrere Strad.I think it fits your price range Timothy.Just my two cents worth.
Buy a ticket to NYC for Oct 14-16--the modern maker exhibition that Julie Reed has every year. http://www.reedyeboahviolins.com You will see an incomplete list at the website, and she usually has about 40+ makers represented. Some are very well established (and out of your desired price range), but you will probably see many that are.
stay well Raphael!
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is a small place in Anglesey, an island immediately off the N-W corner of Wales, reached by a road bridge. If you understand Welsh orthography the name isn't too difficult to say - just take it steady. If pronunciation is a problem then it's fine to refer to it as Llanfair-PG; the locals will understand.
I keep collecting interesting names for boats and rock albums-- that might make the list.
If you're still looking for suggestions, I play a mid-tier Klaus Clement.
I wonder how these lower tier modern makers would compete against a top ranked 20s EH Roth for somewhat less money, Or a good Heinrich Th Heberlein, pre 1900 or an older Colin Mezin from Mirecourt
Some of the really good Roths are quite competitive in my opinion. Others seem to agree:
Its hard to compete with the EH Roth quality of workmanship, either, at least with the 20s and 30s ones.
Ironically his succes as a maker made his bad name, he was good enough to get a name helping to sell manufactured instuments.
The only Roth with a bad name was the brother that founded Scherl and Roth. Terrible quality violins!!
There are also a lot of low tier EH Roth around.
But even the low tier Roth 1700 model from the 20s is a very decent $7,000 instrument IMHO
When customers come to my shop and ask to try instruments in a certain price range give those to try as well as below and above with out them knowing what is what
Funny, the OP asked for good contemporary violin makers in the $10-15K range, Lydia suggested "There are a zillion contemporary luthiers making violins in that price range", but all except a couple suggestions are in the $20K range. Really, I don't see the contemporary maker's market being that crowded in the OP's price range, on the contrary, given the evidence, perhaps rather limited actually! I think Lyndon got it right, "10-15k for a modern American is either a second tier maker, or an up and coming master"... who are?
Bertrand Bellin is an absolutely first rate maker in Germany who is in that price range; his resume and client list are very impressive. I tried a Bertrand Bellin/Roger Hargrave collaboration violin (modeled after the "Lord Wilton" Guarneri) a few years ago at Rare Violins of New York that was outstanding.
A good point-- once you get away from Greiner, et al., prices seem to droop a little faster across the Atlantic.
Not realy, I can tell you a long list in the 20-25k range in Germany, also in Italy, GB and France. All four states have also makers above 30k per violin.
Btw, I second Bellin as worth a look if he is still in this price range. The workmanship is also on a high level.
Adding to the confusion is that not all violin makers are masters of "the set up"...finding a person particularly skilled in this area is an insurance policy against whatever violin you finally decide upon. It sometimes takes a year of playing before you really start to hit a wall with an instrument - and unless you find that genius violin from the start, you'll need someone who can figure out if it's the violin itself, or the thousands of things that can be changed to make it a much better playing experience.
Thats right, the setup often is not taken care of enough.
If I were in your shoes (and city) I would contact shops in Albuquerque (Robertson +) and Dallas (???) to find out what they have in and around your price range and then if it seemed promising I would visit the relevant shop(s) and test instruments (and bows?) and of course tote along my own stuff for comparison.
"As long as you're looking outside the US, Martin McClean in Northern Ireland gets good reviews and is said to use much the same system as Howard Needham."
My #1 violin belonged to my mother who inherited it from her grandfather, and he in turn from his father who had acquired it in 1850. In 1920, my mother's violin teacher, Maurice Alexander, a soloist and former leader of the early Proms orchestras at the end of the 19th century, offered to buy it for £100 (quite a substantial amount in those days, and a dealer's markup would probably double the figure), but fortunately my grandparents had no intention of letting this particular family heirloom leave the family.
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