Who's buying all these violins?
There are Chinese and other factories churning out violins constantly, seemingly endless smaller shops all over the world and hobbyists who give making violins a crack. There's an ocean of used violins on Craigslist, Ebay, pawn shops etc. There must be hand-me-downing that goes on.
It seems amazing that there's enough of a market for new instruments to keep all those making violins afloat.
Well, obviously people in China are buying these instruments. There is a huge market in eastern Asia. Your question sounds a little Ameri-Euro-centric.
I have two thoughts:
Competition is not a new thing in the violin market. The Hills mention that the competition with cheaper Milanese violins lead to the decadence of violin making in Cremona.
We have no numbers on how many violins are actually sold. There might be thousands laying in warehouses. If they don't move the factory probably re tools and makes something else for awhile.
There are a lot of rather new markets opening up with not many old instruments in it. China, India, Russia (although the violin got played there quite some time there are still not as many available as in Eu/us) and even Africa.
I think a lot of violins end up in closets and attics.
Yes, many new markets in Asia. I recently sent one of my violas to Hong Kong.
Timothy has noticed that many ebay violins aren't selling. A few weeks ago I put up a functioning violin from a decent Schoenbach workshop, Jan Basta, without huge expectations but hoping to recoup my total outlay of about £90 with a little interest. It received nearly 1000 viewings, 17 watchers and 3 bids all from Asia, the winner being £64. I'd said I was prepared to ship it worldwide for no more than the actual cost, but the winner then declared his bid to be a "mistake" and cancelled. That was OK by me!
I wonder this about many things. From the sideline it seems little demand from such large numbers. But, it must work out fine because if someone wasn't meeting their profit lines it wouldn't be happening.
Steve - re: Ebay sales - when selling an instrument I recommend putting up a decent quality video on Youtube with particular attention to the audio showing what the instrument can do and embedding it in the auction - eliminates the pig-in-a-poke factor.
I'm surprised that one didn't sell Steve. It seems a fair price for a decent violin.
There are high-end instruments made by individual Chinese luthiers, that cost the same as other contemporary master-made instruments. Some of these luthiers no longer live in China (for instance, Scott Cao, who works out of the Bay area). The late Ming Jiang Zhu made fine instruments of his own, but he also lent his name to workshop instruments under the MJZ brand.
I did link the ebay sale to a still audiovisual clip (Yeti microphone/Audacity with reverb added) on youtube. One of the unsuccessful bidders complimented the violin's tone!
Another group of violins and violinists that hasn't been mentioned in this thread is fractional violins. Professional-quality fractionals are fairly uncommon, but not impossible to find. There are many child-aged violinists in the world. Also, fractionals get passed around a lot because kids constantly grow out of them. It is also fairly common (especially with fractionals, I think) for violins to sit in a closet unused for a period of time and get passed on to siblings and friends. What about the market in South America, Central America and Australia?
Chinese "factory" violins are sold all over the world, at a rate of about three hundred thousand per year (last I heard, if I remember correctly, and if the factory reps in China weren't lying to me).
Lydia, it's a good thing that Chinese violins wind up in attics and closets. In 50 years time, after the labels have faded away, a certain small fraction will inevitably be reborn as Stradivari.
When you look at buy it now options on ebay, you can easily make the mistake of thinking these instruments are actually selling for those prices, fact is very little of it is selling and much of it is so overpriced that it never will sell.
Most violinists own multiple instruments. Primary, secondary, outdoor, and so on.
I've asked a similar question about many other things. Who buys all those new cars on the lots? Actually,
Our entire economy is based on the idea that people will buy way more stuff than they need, that people need an endless array of choices. Just look how many different kinds of dog food there are.
Sampling dog food is kind of like sampling cheap Chinese violins off ebay!!
At least sampling dog food I don't get splinters in my gums. :)
I have a MJZ workshop violin as a backup for outdoor performances and travel. Several of my friends also have workshop instruments from Cao, Snow, MJZ, etc. for similar purposes. The principal second violinist in our orchestra has a Snow viola that she bought used from a college student so that she could diversify a bit and get more gigs.
David Burgess said on October 3, 2017, 3:01 PM · "Chinese "factory" violins are sold all over the world, at a rate of about three hundred thousand per year..."
The Chinese factory made violins are usually for practice or secondary instuments. There are plenty of people destroying violins- ex) toddlers who first learn the violin and is not careful, people who forget all about it in their garage, violinists who take cheaper ones with them it trips and them being damaged, etc.
Anyone have decent figures for French factory violin production rates for example? According to this -
I don’t think the population is growing so much but that the economic growth is playing a great role at enabling more people to afford violins and violin lessons.
Am I the only person who thinks that it's a beautiful thing that the world is flooded with violins? I am more than a tiny bit scared to see so many guns are made and sold in some country.
Yixi, you are not the only one. A world flooded with violins is a beautiful one.