What is your faviorite modern?

December 18, 2006 at 05:38 AM · Retirement is cool! I remember the days when I use to have to work up a different piece every week with the philharmonic. Long practice days, tired hands, back aches, etc…

Now I live vicariously through some friends I have made in the studio industry in Los Angeles. I go to some of their sessions, especially if one of my friends wrote the parts; the best scores you can imagine. And I love to go to some of their quartet gigs. I even bring the ax and play sometimes, and through it all I have found myself even practicing again, when I had stopped playing seriously for years.

And during the last year or so I hopped on one a few of these studio player’s backs and joined them as they looked for the ultimate modern fiddle (going to break the bank and spend some of it so my grandchildren do not become flakes living off of their inheritance!) Man I have played more fiddles in the last year than in whole playing career.

After playing so many of the most famous makers in the world, the violin I love the most so far is a friend’s Needham. But I just played two violins by Burgess and I am impressed with his sound and work. I am waiting to try Dilworth and Robin, and would also like to try Rattray, Scott, Borman, Croen, Seifert & Grubaugh, Pistoni, and Alf. At that point my yearlong journey is done and I commission something.

Do any of you have any experience with these makers that I have not yet tried? Do any of you play on great moderns that you want to share with the rest of us?

A blessed Christmas to all!

Replies (100)

December 18, 2006 at 09:34 AM · Peter Greiner.

AMAZING.

December 18, 2006 at 10:21 AM · I know someone who just acquired a Greiner, a violin for which he has frosaken a pricey 18th century italian. I'm very interested in Greiner and a few other makers. Unfortunately, his prices are due to rise to Zyg levels, and they're incredibly scarce in North America, so it's very difficult to acquire one.

I tried a wonderful Borman, and an Alf a long time ago. I owned a great Morassi, which I thought was superb, but I've heard better.

December 18, 2006 at 02:44 PM · i just got to play a Greiner: a studio friend in L.A. had about 6 famous makers out here, in the end it came down to Needham and Greiner. He bought the Greiner. The two violins were absolutelly different; the Griener was a smooth Strad type of sound, the Needham was a gutsy del Gesu sound--absolutely different. No one was able to say which was better because it was like comparing apples and oranges--we thought they were both great!

But you are right about the Greiners being hard to find, this one came from a friend he had on the east coast who needed to unload some of his pricey violins. I do not know what he payed for it, but I am sure it was a bit much.

Among the many he had out here was a Scott, which I did not get the chance to play. Has anyone played a few Scotts?

December 18, 2006 at 03:17 PM · My favorite modern violins are by Robert Kimble of Atlanta. Years ago he was a professional violinist, and it shows in his work. Every measurement feels just right in the hand. The tone is very resonant and even up and down each string.

December 18, 2006 at 06:41 PM · How much do Greiners usually cost?

December 18, 2006 at 07:16 PM · Greiner violins are superb - Peter Greiner himself is a funny a very reliable man, too. Check out his site for purchase-details, Rachael (violin currently approx. 21,500€ plus sales tax). Right now, you'll have to wait for four years until the instrument is finished.

December 18, 2006 at 07:52 PM · Mr. Danchenko, who I studied with for two summers at Encore, has a Borman and it's amazing. I heard him play on it and it sounds like a Guarneri. (I also know Mr. Borman and he's a really nice guy. :) )

December 18, 2006 at 08:15 PM · Hmmm, I tried to look at the sample contract to see how much the renting fees were, but alas, I can't understand German! So does anyone know?

December 18, 2006 at 08:49 PM · I'll have to check but I think the new prices will be 30+ Euros for the Greiner.

December 18, 2006 at 08:39 PM · 1% of the current price for new made instruments plus VAT, which will be 19% (wtf!!) from 2007 on (insurance included). The lease can be prematurely terminated by both sides with a time limit of 3 months. If you buy the instrument later on, the rent won't be taken into account. Short version.

December 19, 2006 at 03:10 AM · His fiddles are definitely nice and look good. And one is surely paying for the hype................there are many other excellent makers for much less $$ (American and ITALIAN).

December 19, 2006 at 03:30 AM · ...Greiner violins are superb ... Right now, you'll have to wait for four years until the instrument is finished...

great. now after this email thread the wait is going to be eight.

December 19, 2006 at 03:53 AM · Apparently Elmar Oliverira likes his fiddle made by Michael Koberling, details:

http://maestronet.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=4&threadid=314725&enterthread=y

December 19, 2006 at 05:26 AM · Elmar is a great guy.....and is always promoting someone new every 8-12 months making the instrument the next Ex-Oliveira fiddle:)

That is nothing new.................

20 years ago it was Curtin & Alf, then it was a long list of younger makers such as J. Young and so many more since.

In '85, I played for him in a masterclass at which he was playing a fantastic Fagnola. I told him if he ever wanted to sell it, I'd be first on line. I bought that fiddle and played on it for 7 years. Then I got my Vuillaume.

December 19, 2006 at 06:57 AM · I'm sorry but I've never encountered a new Italian fiddle that measured up to some of the better American makers or someone like Greiner or Spiedlen. I've tried so many from Morassi's school (and I owned one by Gia bata Morassi), and all those like Tarasconi and those types.

Greiner definately does make you pay for hype but the quality is high nonetheless. If there are professionals at the level of Tetzlaff giving up great instruments to play on something that cost him 10k Euros, then it must be worth checking out.

December 19, 2006 at 08:19 AM · Thanks Scott 68 for mention my name here.

Elmar have ordered a second Violin from me. Still in discussion with him, because I like to trade back the first one for myself. A CD is coming out in March with it. Here are two names of other great contemporary Italian makers. Both prefer to stay quite.

Luca Sbernini,

Giancarlo Guicciardi (the only pupil of Poggi)

December 19, 2006 at 11:21 AM · From Gennady Filimonov;

"Elmar is a great guy.....and is always promoting someone new every 8-12 months making the instrument the next Ex-Oliveira fiddle:)

That is nothing new.................

20 years ago it was Curtin & Alf, then it was a long list of younger makers such as J. Young and so many more since."

Good point. The are quite a few "name" players who will own, play or promote a violin for the right price. I've been solicited........

I imagine it can pay huge dividends for a maker, seeing how often "who plays what" comes up in these discussions.

Maybe someday it will be like sports, with decals stuck to the outside of the violin, names embroidered on the back of a tux, and the performer putting on the sponsors hat before coming back out to take the final bow. :-)

Another useful promotional tool is "wait time". It sounds much better to have a long waiting list than to have violins sitting around looking for buyers. Sometimes, violins can be had rather quickly from makers with long waiting lists, especially if you're someone important.

http://www.burgessviolins.com

December 19, 2006 at 12:20 PM · The problem with the decal idea, David, is that even when players actively promote a maker it can backfire. Case in point: in March I played in Chicago and used a very new Howard Needham Strad copy for the concert. Main reason was that it basically could blast a hole through a Wagnerian orchestra, let alone one for Mendelssohn. But what I love about that instrument is how multi-hued and well-nuanced it played. And so, to give Howard a bit of a plug - and to show my gratitude to him for allowing me to borrow the fiddle for the concert - I announced from the stage that I was using a four month-old Needham.

End result? The review mentioned Howard but said something along the lines of how I could make anything sound good (I paraphrase to tone down the very flattering comments of the critic). Never mind the fact that sounding good is a whole lot easier on a violin like Howard's, as opposed to a violin that's kin to a kazoo. I mean, I appreciated the critic giving me such an endorsement, but there I was trying to give an endorsement myself!

So I could easily see an era of makers having artists play their new fiddles for an endorsement. And just as easily see either the artists' well-wishers or modern fiddle nay-sayers turn that into a vote of confidence in a good player's ability to get good stuff out of anything. Which, as I've repeatedly said on these boards, misses the point by a mile.

What's the point? It is not whether a bad violin can sound good in capable hands. It is threefold:

a) whether those same hands would sound even better on a good violin and

b) by how much would a casual listener prefer the good instrument to the bad if the same hands were to play them side-by-side, and

c) how much back-breaking, eggshell-treading, intuition-testing, patience-breaking effort will it take to have those hands elicit something pleasant from a piece of junk vs. how joy-laughingly, euphoria-inducingly simple is it to elicit something leagues better from a good instrument.

December 19, 2006 at 12:47 PM · Emil, thanks for giving Howard credit, even if it didn't turn out exactly as planned.

I've known him for 20+ years and wish him all the best. What a great guy!

December 19, 2006 at 01:04 PM · "Another useful promotional tool is "wait time"".

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, good David! Now somebody say the truth in the puplic. We have now 5 year waiting time as a record togehter with other brutally promotions. But wait-time is not allways "work-time". But is a long wait-time really a promotional tool?

December 19, 2006 at 01:35 PM · Hi,

Great discussion. Mr. Koeberling, as to wait-time, the answer is yes it is a good promotional tool, because if follows the perverse human instinct that the more something is unavailable, or not easily available, the more valuable it seems. There is research on this left and right.

Good modern makers... So many. I play a 1997 violin by the Montréal maker Denis Cormier, considered one, if not the best instrument he has made by many who hear it and try it. It is beautiful. I remember playing a Prokofiev concerto years ago and two guys coming after to congratulate me and asking if I could resolve a bet they had made as to whether or not I was playing a Golden Period Vuillaume or a Pressenda. I told them what it was. And somehow, they had a hard time believing. I am lucky - I know it, and appreciate it.

There are a host of great makers in North America producing great sounding violins. I have tried instruments by Curtin&Alf, Mr. Burgess, Terry Borman, etc. that were all great sounding instruments.

I have not tried a Greiner yet, but am a little bit distrought by the fact that he asks one to submit a resumé to see if you are qualified to be on his client list. I can see some point in that, but still, that seems a little odd to me...

I am of the belief that in the end, a violin is a working tool (for me) and sound is what matters since that is what we hear and the object of our profession.

Cheers!

P.S. Emil - I liked your post.

December 19, 2006 at 02:05 PM · You are right Christian. As you know my wait-time is around 6-9 month. It is true. It is not a "promotion tool"

December 19, 2006 at 07:25 PM · Well my understanding is that Greiner just sits in his little room, chugging along happily making violins and his publicist or whatever, because of the enormous demand, chooses who gets what. And yes, if you're someone famous or have a famous friend/teacher, I'd imagine something could pop up rather quickly.

December 19, 2006 at 09:04 PM · David B wrote: "Good point. The are quite a few "name" players who will own, play or promote a violin for the right price. I've been solicited........"

I know the solicitation thing happens... I think it's unfortunate... I’m pretty sure those who benefit from it have a different view... They probably see it a good business move.

Concerning Elmar; I certainly don't know about Elmar's business practices with new makers, but other than attempting to construct a "good" deal when he's interested in something older (as any customer might), I've not seen him try to take unfair advantage (of me), personally. Maybe I’m wrong, but other than Michael, I don't think any of us here know what his arrangement with any particular contemporary maker might be... I had the impression that he simply purchased things he liked, but I never asked.

When he visited me with Michael's violin, he seemed honestly very excited about it. When talking about other makers that he's championed, or simply appreciated but not owned, same thing. I can't fault a player for enjoying, and helping to promote, modern instruments in general, and individual makers that he enjoys playing... especially when it does not seem to be "old school" (promoting only one, 'cause he's a buddy and kicks back money or favors).

I took Gennady's comment as supporting an earlier claim that there are many excellent makers out there. Elmar does tend to go through a series (trading one for another of the same maker’s instruments; and the old one is often traded back to the maker for a new one... so the ex-Oliveira marketing strategy is really up to the maker/reseller ). He also seems to actively seek out "the next" maker's work.. something new. I think he really enjoys the process of getting to know a new fiddle... and I think he “learns” an instrument very, very quickly.

Jeffrey

J. S. Holmes Fine Violins, Ann Arbor

December 19, 2006 at 08:40 PM · Jeffrey,

It is very true, Elmar loves fiddles, playing old as well as new ones. And if he can have fun endorsing etc. why not?! Not long ago he even did an Ad for a vey nice suffisticated man's watch.

BTW, Greiner is the first Violin Maker in history to have a manager (incidentally same one as Tetzlaaf's). What a concept?!

What would he do without Tetzlaaf? I wonder...........

As I have said before in several other threads, I have compared his fiddle with some others. My Pietro Sgarabotto for example (as well as my Vuillaume for that matter), unfortunately blew his fiddle away. We compared them in Benaroya Hall (Seattle).

I am sure Tetzlaaf could make many fiddles sound great old and new.

December 19, 2006 at 09:53 PM · Gennady it would be wonderful to hear this Sgarabotto of yours, it must be a real gem.

Personally I've had little luck in finding modern italians from Bisiach to Fiorini which really blow me away to the extent that some of these top contemporary violins can. Someone explained to me about Greiners manager and I don't think it's as big a deal as some people might think it is.

I do think however, that it is quite meaningful when Tetzlaff sells his Strad and makes a point of using Greiners.

December 19, 2006 at 11:01 PM · Has anyone tried a Finnegan?

December 19, 2006 at 11:04 PM · Ray,

I'm going to be trying one very soon, in January actually. Excited to hear how it sounds.

December 19, 2006 at 11:16 PM · nice to see the maestronet crowd post on this board...

December 20, 2006 at 01:57 AM · or vice versa...

December 20, 2006 at 03:15 AM · Pieter,

There are lots of fiddles such as Fagnola, Fiorini Scarampella, Sgarabotto and many more that are light years superior to what you are talking about. I have played such fiddles, so I do know.

I also play a lot of moderns and know how they compare.

Perhaps you just haven't seen such fiddels that are well set up etc. As you may or may not know, set up is everything!

Greiner is very good in quality and looks. But it seemed a lot better 2 years ago when it was 16K (Euros that is). Now at double the price, personally I would rather be looking for an early 20th century Italian. But that's just me.

December 20, 2006 at 05:34 AM · I agree, at 32K Euro a modern does not make much sense! I really do think that Greiner has worked the market well, and again I liked the Needham that a studio guy here in LA has much more than the Griener (but sound is subjective, just my opinion). I did like the Griener I just heard, in fact just as much as the Needham del Gesu it was compared to, but I did not like it as much as the Needham strad that I just mentioned. I also liked the Burgess violins that are outhere now more than the Grierner, but again that is just my ear. The Greiner was great, I feel that the Burgess and the Needham were better.

Just an old guy's ear! Hope it helps.

Has anyone played a Grubaugh & Seifert? Or does anyone actually own one? I hear nothing but great things about them!

December 20, 2006 at 05:42 AM · And I have heard that if you find the right Fagnola or Sgarabotto you will have a hell of a violin. But as Gennady just mentioned, set up is everything, so you need to not only find a good one, but find someone to do good adjustments on them. How much does a good Fagnola or Sgarabotto cost? And where to find one?

December 20, 2006 at 06:04 AM · I think almost every shop in the USA has a Scarampella right now. They're fairly ubiquitous.

I've heard a few nice Scarampellas for sure, but more often than not I find them underwelming and rather ugly. My stand partner in October had one, and I play one at just about every shop I go to.

Fagnolas are more expensive, and if you bought one in the early 90s you will have made a hell of an investment. Personally I think you can do a lot better with a Vuillaume or Lupot for example, but I think they might be more than Fagnola. (or not, I think Fagnola is 200k now for a good example?). In any case, I still haven't found violins that totally blow me away for under the range one could buy say, a Gofriller. Hence, my interest in modern and old composite instruments.

As it appears now, buying something like a Greiner would not be as wise an investment as buying something like a Sgarabotto, but it's important to measure how much that matters to you. At this point I've forgotten about that and am chasing the sound, and will make investments later. However, everyone's priorities are different, and we never know what direction the market will go in.

December 20, 2006 at 06:16 AM · Pieter, I agree about chasing the sound! In the end I buy property to make money, not violins. And after having fun with this for more than a year I have given you my opinions about sound. But there are still a few makers that I want to try, which I have mentioned.

As for the Greiner: great violin, but I think you can do better for much less (just my opinion after playing a few in San Fran, and one that a L.A. player just bought). And it is not the much less that attracts me, it is the better.

Emil, sounds like you are just as impressed by Needham's work as I am! The fiddle this guy has out here puts out a lot of sound, a complex sound, a thick-smooth sound. In fact, the other night I heard him in a pub with a quartet, and man did he sound good. Yes, the player had a lot to do with it (the guy can flat out play!), but I have heard him with other fiddles and he has never sounded as good as he does with this one! Which, I believe, was the point you made.

I would have loved to have heard you on a Needham fiddle! Did you ever record with it?

December 20, 2006 at 08:10 AM · "personally I would rather be looking for an early 20th century Italian. But that's just me"

Gennady, me too!

I love the early 20 century Italian makers alot. This makers have something I can not explain.

Michael

December 20, 2006 at 08:50 AM · if a violin sounds good (and big) under the ear, responds fast, makes it easy for me to play vibrato and chords clearly and in tune with rich overtones (undertones), and does this at all registers, that's enough for me.

i've managed to do this with a 1951 German (student) violin, with the right setup after some experimentation. (Gennady, this is the same violin i used for comparison at your place, but i've put a new set of strings on and adjusted the tailpiece since. this setup has raised it to a new level.) To repeat what Gennady said, there is a lot you can achieve with just setup. There are lots of possibilities out there, if you're willing to experiment.

December 20, 2006 at 11:35 PM · Pieter,

I've been doing this a long time.

When I bought my Fagnola in 1985, I bought it at the top price of 25K. What can I say....?

The market has proven itself "tenfold" in my investments.

December 21, 2006 at 12:34 AM · "Fagnolas are more expensive, and if you bought one in the early 90s you will have made a hell of an investment."

- Pieter Viljoen 1 day ago.

I know Gennady. I'm just saying, not everyone can afford to make a good investment and get a good sounding instrument. I've played so many modern italians between 30 and 100k my head is about to explode, so I definately know what is out there. If I could afford to have a nice Fiorini kicking around to use when my Vuillaume is taking a break, I'd definately do it, but that isn't in the cards. That's why I'm telling you that some people who only have enough for 1 violin might have to let the idea of "investing" take a back seat, as I've learned.

December 21, 2006 at 03:10 AM · Pieter,

I was referring to your:

"However, everyone's priorities are different, and we never know what direction the market will go in."

Choosing fiddles as investments is very much like picking stocks.

December 21, 2006 at 03:47 AM · What I meant is that we don't know if instruments by Greiner or makers like him will be the valuable instruments of tommorow. I just don't see the italian "bankability" continuining with the current crop of makers. Nowadays, the famous makers are in Germany, Britain, and the USA. I think the marketplace has changed, and although I hear this argument from dealers trying to push their Tadiolis and whatever else, I don't buy that only the contemporary italian instruments will live on from an investment standpoint.

December 21, 2006 at 05:33 AM · I agree Pieter...the difference is that US makers are now very much in the scene, and that was not the case before (Becker is an execption).

And I do not know anyone who thinks the best makers today are in Italy. A generation ago, however, most did think the best makers were in Italy.

Of course I see nothing wrong with buying violins as investments, but most cannot do this as well as Genady has! And I still hold to the fact that money is better spent on property than violins, if we are talking investments. I do not think anyone really wants to argue that, at least I hope not; to do so would be really stupid! LOL

If we are talking sound than for the money it is hard to get past the best makers of today. And in general, those makers are in the US and Britain (Needham, Burgess, Seifert, Scott, Alf, Dilworth, Rattray, Borman, etc....)

December 21, 2006 at 06:08 AM · Pieter,

fagnolas are now more expensive than scarampella? a local shop had both recently and priced them the other way around.

Maybe it's the specific examples, but is what you say true of the general market?

December 21, 2006 at 06:37 AM · I could quite possibly be completely off. I always thought Fagnola was in the price range of Rocca and Pressenda... I think that's probably way off.

Raymond, I certainly agree that there are better ways to put your money to work for you than instruments.

December 21, 2006 at 06:41 AM · You were off a bit, Pieter... :-)

December 21, 2006 at 06:53 AM · um,

i'd take a pressenda or rocca over fagnola anyday. different levels.

notice how this thread has sort of evolved into "what's your favorite vintage Italian?"

December 21, 2006 at 06:45 AM · The problem with buying violins for investments is when you turn around and try to sell it. They don't move that fast, and there is a big percentage given to the dealer. Real estate is 7%, but violins are typically 25%, which means you need 33% gain just to break even. The crux comes when you are trying to find a buyer, and how fast you need the money.

Add to that, if you have an old violin, you need to get it authenticated by a dealer. They might not authenticate it for you, in which case you have a nobody instrument that you then auction it off or sell it to them as a "German". After they buy it, it gets authenticated and they make the huge profit, not you. Selling on your own will not work because no buyer would buy just on your word only, without a certificate.

Remember, as with all investments, you have not made the return until you have sold and paid the commissions and taxes. Then you have your total return. Ask all the folks who thought they were millionaires during the dot.com bubble, or the real estate multi-millionaires during these last few years.

December 21, 2006 at 07:46 AM · well, those commissions are a bit off. Firstly, I think 20% is pretty standard for most commissions. I know this because I consulted a lot of shops about selling my Ouchard, and 20% is pretty much universal from Montreal, New York, Chicago, Philly etc (although where I have it now there is no commission, just guaranteed net)... Also, that number goes down as the value goes up. If you're selling a 6 figure instrument, the percentage is lower, and goes to single digits when they're dealing with a really serious instrument.

PS. I know why I got the values of Fagnola mixed it... in any case, I'm sure you've taken a few jars of salt with what I've said.

December 21, 2006 at 01:44 PM · Fagnolas are not up to 200K yet, unless someone was taking you for a ride.

BTW, for all those who are new to instrument hunting, the argument of contemporary American, German etc. vs Italian is an old argument.

Just find the Marlin Brinser book and you'll see.

There have been prolific makers in the US as well as Germany etc., and what always has proven true is that Italians are the ones that become collectable no matter how you slice it. That has been so since (for example) the begining of the 20th Century. (Becker is an exception, and Zyg. is todays phenomenon).

In the last 20-30 years it has been pretty much the same thing. The Italian makers who have passed away in the '80s-'90's are the collectables now: G. Lucci, P.Sgarabotto, S. Rocchi, M.Capicchioni, Poggi, Bisiach family members, Sderci etc.

December 21, 2006 at 01:55 PM · gennady, good call on the fagnola and good info in general. incidentally, that return mirrors the stock market pretty close, except you really cannot make paper certificates sing:)

if you have another 200k at your diposal, would you put it in stocks, real estate or violin, if the objective is capital appreciation?

btw, i actually got the tape FAME and saw you! very impressive playing, but i do not have the facility to convert a tape into a digital file:(

December 21, 2006 at 02:41 PM · From Gennady Filimonov

"In the last 20-30 years it has been pretty much the same thing. The Italian makers who have passed away in the '80s-'90's are the collectables now: G. Lucci, P.Sgarabotto, S. Rocchi, M.Capicchioni, Poggi, Bisiach family members, Sderci etc."

Always good when a maker kicks the bucket. ;-)

Hmmmmm, I'm not feeling too well!

David Burgessori

http://www.burgessoriviolins.com

December 21, 2006 at 02:57 PM · I'm telling you, David... we all need to list our high-risk behaviors on our websites. Good for marketing to speculators. :-)

December 21, 2006 at 03:02 PM · Ah, Tanti Saluti Burgessori :)

December 21, 2006 at 02:57 PM · One difference in valuation between modern American instruments that are commissioned and purchased directly from the maker versus modern Italian instruments (20th century to contemporary from living makers) is the absence of dealers in the case of the former.

Not that dealers don't believe that the instruments they sell are better than the ones they don't sell, the fact remains that instruments which require a dealer of some kind to be sold are valued in the market by that very same small group of dealers, whereas instruments sold directly by makers do not have entrance to this game.

As a result, you have the relative bargain of American violins / inflated prices of modern Italians in the $25,000 - $50,000 range that represents a large part of the market for serious players.

December 21, 2006 at 04:48 PM · "One difference in valuation between modern American instruments that are commissioned and purchased directly from the maker versus modern Italian instruments (20th century to contemporary from living makers) is the absence of dealers in the case of the former.

Not that dealers don't believe that the instruments they sell are better than the ones they don't sell, the fact remains that instruments which require a dealer of some kind to be sold are valued in the market by that very same small group of dealers, whereas instruments sold directly by makers do not have entrance to this game.

As a result, you have the relative bargain of American violins / inflated prices of modern Italians in the $25,000 - $50,000 range that represents a large part of the market for serious players."

Peter, with all due respect, I'm not sure you understand all aspects of how instruments are valued/sold/resold. Both "markets" you mentioned are part of the same game... and the products sell and resell to the same group of customers, basically... In the case of a maker who sells their own work, they ARE the dealer; servicing the player and backing-up their product. The time required to sell/service their product comes out of the pool of time available to make more product... There is a cost. If other shops sell their work, it's most usually (but not always) at the same price as the maker would charge. The maker, in this case, pays the dealer to sell his goods. If the resale value of a maker's past work does not stand up in the market, the value of their new work may not either.

There are a number of American makers (the top end, of course) who sell their own instruments (directly to musicians) in the $25K to 50K range you mentioned, BTW.

The real difference isn't who's selling and setting the values... it's a supply/demand/status/perceived value/investment thing. Dead makers aren't making more product although someone else may sometimes make it for them :-)). Limited supply. Live makers are still producing. Makers who sell mainly through dealers are still subject to game rules.

December 21, 2006 at 04:51 PM · Jeffrey,

I'm referring to those American makers whose violins are not sold through shops, and those shops which do not carry contemporary American makers but carry modern Italian makers, along with other violins from the 18th to 20th centuries. In my experience looking for a violin over the past couple years, this dichotomy exists. A very well known dealer I have done business with is fairly ignorant of the top American makers mentioned in this thread. That is not his "line" or his concern, and their relative value compared to the violins he carries is something he apparently need not concern himself with in order to have a thriving business. My point is the market for violins in the price range I mentioned is segmented. The prices of modern Italians are subject to the collector's market, antique market, investment market, and player's market; whereas the prices of contemporary American violins are subject to the players market.

December 21, 2006 at 05:30 PM · Peter; I don't doubt your experience, but I don't accept it as a rule... If you specify "those shops" that don't offer US contemporaries, you've limited the field. Some shops specialize. In that case it's like going to a Subaru dealer for a Honda. Some shops work to offer clients a wider choice... or have appreciation and interest concerning contemporary instruments as well as older ones... or have personal relationships with some of the makers. Some shops have pet makers who produce just for them.

First, there are certainly collectors who buy modern American instruments... a good number, in fact.

Second, there are dealers who offer contemporary American instruments & bows along with older pieces. I'm one of them. Some of the contemporary instruments I offer are usually sold by the makers themselves. I'm honored to be an exception. Maybe I am one 'cause I'm just a nice guy. :-)

The products compliment each other... as does the market for them. In my experience (which is limited to a bit over 20 years), while customers do have varied motivations, there is not a line defining this market into segments as as clearly as you've implied... and the price these items are sold for still ends up relying on the rule of supply and demand.

December 21, 2006 at 05:33 PM · jeffery, with violins, however misconstrued, there are the italians, and there are the rest.

you will see burgess joke to italianize his name, but you will not see italian makers americanize theirs.

how unfair!:)

December 21, 2006 at 05:44 PM · "jeffery, with violins, however misconstrued, there are the italians, and there are the rest."

Hi Al;

I understand the concept... especially when dealing with rare old instruments or popular modern Italian (dead) makers.

If we're talking contemporary instruments, I think it would be interesting to compare the top of the market (makers who have established and maintained their reputations and prices) for American, non-Italian European, and Italian violins and see what things really look like. Just reviewing prices mentioned in this thread show that things are closer than many might imagine... and the world has become a smaller place. Fedex is a heck of a lot faster than a slow freight ship and the internet is faster than even express mail. :-)

I’m not talking speculation for future value here… just what the current prices are.

December 21, 2006 at 05:38 PM · agree on that, on merits alone, the americans are very competitive, the ones to watch out for imo. an excellent opportunity for those with a sharp nose for investment.

however, the italian tradition is simply too powerful and deep to shake. the only way to change the landscape of mentality is to reinvent antonio stradiviri into a legendary american indian fellow named quarter- cut- maple- tony...

December 21, 2006 at 05:51 PM · From al ku;

"you will see burgess joke to italianize his name, but you will not see italian makers americanize theirs."

But Al, Burgessori IS my real name. I Americanized it to Burgess. :-)

December 21, 2006 at 06:26 PM · "however, the italian tradition is simply too powerful and deep to shake. the only way to change the landscape of mentality is to reinvent antonio stradiviri into a legendary american indian fellow named quarter- cut- maple- tony..."

:-) Maybe cloning might change a previously defined nationality??

December 21, 2006 at 06:23 PM · "But Al, Burgessori IS my real name. I Americanized it to Burgess. :-) "

con le scuse insincere, alfredo:)

":-) Maybe cloning might chance a previously defined nationality??"

Nature publication potential:)

December 21, 2006 at 06:29 PM · LOL, Al, I just tried to read *both* your responses as if they were in Italian...

December 21, 2006 at 06:31 PM · Egghead, i mean Egad!

apparently a recent report indicates that over 50% of food items available in italy are not made in italy anymore.

still hope for American Revolution, part 2.

December 21, 2006 at 06:45 PM · Yeah, and another recent report says that 30% of food in Hungarian stores is illegal...*barf*....

December 21, 2006 at 07:31 PM · that day i was slurping in some rice noodles while listening to Emil's CD and suddenly the grandma screamed at the top of her lungs, at a pitch higher than the double harmonics, from her room at the end of the hall: STOP EATING THE NOODLES! (in italian of course)

turned out she was watching satellite TV and saw some news item from asia that a particular brand of noodle from china was spiked with excessive chemicals that cause people to lie in hospitals with unhappy livers.

she checked the label and our eyes met. i stopped chewing.

i have no problem with people putting italian sounding labels inside violins for whatever reasons,,,but leave the food alone, man!

ps. the noodles were so very white and succulent. Bah!@

December 21, 2006 at 07:47 PM · I keep hearing that these mediocre instruments from Italy will be respected in 50 years and people like Alf will be relegated to 99 cent bins like some American makers of the earlier 20th century have been.

I just don't see it happening.

December 21, 2006 at 10:25 PM · Well, I don't see it happening because I'm unlikely to be around in 50 years. But there is a tradition of violin making in Italy that cannot be denied. And there are modern makers Italianizing their name, Konya to Conia, there is Pietro del Rhee (Korean), among others.

Chiara Chiuza

December 21, 2006 at 10:56 PM · "Fagnolas are more expensive, and if you bought one in the early 90s you will have made a hell of an investment."

Maybe I am way behind the market, but I thought that Fagnolas were in the $100-$125 K range. If you bought one for $25 K 20 years ago, you have done about 4 percent per year.

December 21, 2006 at 11:12 PM · My assertion was made upon a false assumption...

December 21, 2006 at 11:11 PM · Chiara,

Yes, one cannot deny the great Italian tradition. But it seems to me that nowadays a fair number of Italian makers are using the fact that they are Italian to make up for only mediocre craftsmanship. Not all of them, of course, but definitely some.

Maria Geretti :)

December 21, 2006 at 11:42 PM · What do Vuillaumes and Pressendas sell for these days?

December 21, 2006 at 11:53 PM · Too much!

December 22, 2006 at 01:07 AM · "What do Vuillaumes and Pressendas sell for these days?"

Want one, Ray? :-)

December 22, 2006 at 02:01 AM · a pressenda sold at a recent auction (christy's or tarisio, can't remember which) for about 200k.

December 22, 2006 at 02:13 AM · I hear top Vuillaumes are at 200K.

December 22, 2006 at 04:19 AM · I'd expect an especially fine Pressenda to be around $300K, or possibly more, in a retail showroom. In the '90s one had already sold at nearly $250K at auction.

A decorated Vuillaume violin sold at auction in Europe earlier this year for (the equivalent of) just over $200K. As far as I know, that's a record for auction or retail... but there may be a sale I haven't heard about yet.

...but we've fallen, yet again, into the world of antiques... I thought this thread was about "modern" makers.

December 22, 2006 at 04:41 AM · back to modern "faviorites"

i was lucky enough recently to try in one venue, a Feng Jiang, Curtin, Ravatin, Zyg, Borman, and Alf. The one i really liked during that trial, which is not on that list, was better than these IMHO.... i have to admit though that the venue was not ideal for trying violins...

December 22, 2006 at 04:49 AM · I have to agree with Pieter, although maybe my experience is more limited. I was in Cremona for a few days 2 years ago and tried about 20 modern violins. None of them compared with most american violins of the same price that I've tried, or even a lesser price if you were to buy the italians through an american dealer. Perhaps as an investment they would be better, but they certainly didn't sound any better.

December 22, 2006 at 05:46 AM · i was in Cremona for the triennale/Mondo Musica 2 months ago. only thing i can say is that it is a tough place to try violins if you're only visiting for a few days. I wish i'd brought a violin i'm familiar with to use as comparison control.

This is off topic (in fantasy land again) but i thought a Landolfi i tried there was better than a Strad there. Price difference was more than tenfold. If you're curious this landolfi sold at the last Tarisio auction.

December 22, 2006 at 06:24 AM · Right now I can only think of two Italian makers I have tried that compare to the many great American makers: Pistoni & Regazzi

And agian, I do not care much about the market because violins are not much of an investment in comparison to real estate! Is that so hard to understand? So why do we keep talking about investment when we should be talking about how good these violins are (modern or antique). Look, I bought 5 houses in CA in the last 30 years, spent 300,000 to do so. That would be what, 3 or four great Italians that have been mentioned, right? The houess make me more than 10, 000 a month, and are worth more than 4 milllion right now. I have been making more than 8k from them for 15 years! Now, why the hell are we concerned about a violin market?

Just find a great fiddle and buy it and play the hell out of it! Don't buy it as an investment, buy it because you love it! And then put your money to real use! Man, why is something this obvious this hard to understand on this site?

December 22, 2006 at 06:52 AM · Does anyone know anything about Nicolas Giles? And what about Wheling, Cohen, and D. Samuels for bows? What about Fuch for bows?

How do u contact Zhu who just won the VSA comp?

December 22, 2006 at 08:57 AM · Raymond, you can get Zhu's instruments at a number of places, but I hear his new bench instruments will cost 15k.

To be fair, the real estate bubble is popping everywhere and won't remain as profitable as it was before for very long. Of course, it is a market which will once again benefit sellers, but soon (depending on your location) would not be the right time to unload your portfolio if you're looking for max profit.

So, we should at least acknowledge that almost nothing is a sure thing, all the time.

As far as bows, I know Fuchs is great. He's from Switzerland and his bows start from 4k. He's really worth checking out.

December 22, 2006 at 09:50 AM · California is no longer the place to invest, but what happened here is happening in other parts of the US right now, I am sorry Pieter, but you are wrong on this one! With just a little knowledge of real estate anyone can make a fortune if they have the money to invest. But few have the capital to do so. My point is taling about violins as investments is almost "cartoonish." The reason to buy a great violin is to play the damn thing! And that is enough reason because playing the violin well and playing a good violin is one of the great gifts this life has to offer!

December 22, 2006 at 09:55 AM · And you are right, wrong time to sell, but right time to buy! And while I am waiting for prices to gain even more I am collecting 10K in rent! And people on here want to talk about violins as investments? LOL Have to laugh!

December 22, 2006 at 07:36 PM · "And agian, I do not care much about the market because violins are not much of an investment in comparison to real estate! Is that so hard to understand? So why do we keep talking about investment when we should be talking about how good these violins are (modern or antique). Look, I bought 5 houses in CA in the last 30 years, spent 300,000 to do so. That would be what, 3 or four great Italians that have been mentioned, right? The houess make me more than 10, 000 a month, and are worth more than 4 milllion right now. I have been making more than 8k from them for 15 years! Now, why the hell are we concerned about a violin market?

Just find a great fiddle and buy it and play the hell out of it! Don't buy it as an investment, buy it because you love it! And then put your money to real use! Man, why is something this obvious this hard to understand on this site?"

I agree with your advice concerning the motivation for buying a fiddle. Buy one you like and that gives you some pride and joy when you open the case. I think that in most cases, the feedback and joy an instrument gives to the player is as important as pretty much all other factors that are discussed here (within reason). I buy what I like for resale as well. I rarely-if-ever factor what I think the instrument will be worth in the future in a concious way... although at this point in my professional life I'm sure there are a few numbers being juggled around in my mind somewhere. What I'm really dealing with is "now" and "6 months from now" anyway.

Since you brought it up, values of certain rare instruments often follow a similar path to values of real estate... especially when the initial investment is on par with real estate. In the '20s, the cost of a good Gagliano violin was roughly equivalent to the cost of a small farm in certain areas of upstate NY. Now, the value of a Gagliano is roughly equivalent to the value of a small farm in those same areas of upstate NY. If you put that same $300,000 you spent on houses into a great Strad 30 years ago, you'd probably have a nice 4 mil. + fiddle now... Of course, you can't live in it, rent it, or list it in the multiple listing guide... and it's probably not as "liquid". :-) On the other hand, there are tax advantages in both areas, if one is a pro.

Speculation is something else. Individuals have made "killings" or lost a great deal of money in many venues... violins, art, real estate, the stock market, etc. What we choose to spend our money on depends on our priorities.... and our means. I'd rather have violins than real estate... 'cause I love to have them around... and it's important to my business to have them... but that's just me. I wouldn't presume to project my own priorities onto another... and if asked for my opinion, what is given is just an opinion... which will rely on those priorities the person asking for it wishes to disclose.

December 22, 2006 at 05:49 PM · raymond and jeffery, i think both of you have made a valid point, which is, buy what you know, the peter lynch way.

if you are a violinist that does not know much about stocks and real estate or even violin, you should not go there, at least not on your own, may be with professional help. but if you are crazy about violin, i mean, having wet dreams about strad, the violin, not the guy, or may be the guy, then you MAY make a good speculator in violins IF you do your due diligence. but, most will agree, violin market is only tangible or comprehensible to 20 guys in this world plus jeffrey:) not as liquid as stocks, probably not even as real estate. when you sell in a hurry, expect major slippage plus one of your thumbs. stocks and real estate are commmodities. violins are more art than commodities. therefore, if one day i really need to get a serious violin, i would not hesitate paying jeffery or micheal d for their opinions. the worst thing that can happen or have happened many times over is that in the name of investment, people lose big money while trying to save pennies,,,yes, i can land the jumbo 797 because i think i can. if you are looking for a ferrari, you do not go into the dealer to bargain. you need to pay the sales manager a good tip so that he will move your name up on the list, when the car is still in italy.

to be fair, you really cannot enjoy stocks except some may pay dividents. you can live in a house or collect rent like raymond.

with violin, you can sniff it, taste it, stare at it, listen to it, whisper to it, hide it, rub it, revarnish it

:(, put a label in it(!), italianize it(!!), americanize it (!!!), humidify it, dehumidify it, golden shower it or even play it... in other words, you can have much more fun!

happy holidays everyone!

December 22, 2006 at 06:30 PM · I don't understand any of the above discussion!

What about french violins? I played a beautiful instrument by Chaudiere some years back and it was not expensive for the quality. He is not alone in Aladfi and the other excellent french makers organisations in making very good quality instruments.

I know Mirecourt has more or less ceased to exist...with maybe 2 luthiers and no more bow making but that doesn't mean France is dead for good work!

December 22, 2006 at 07:05 PM · French makers are as abundant as American Makers.

And as far as bowmaking, there is a great number of top makers now from France including some top award winning younger makers such as Yannick LeCanu, Sylvain Bigot, Gilles Nehr, Edwin Clement and others.

The best makers in France are spread out and do not need Mirecourt to make a living.

Many of them graduate from Mirecourt, and then go on to settle elsewhere.

And I agree with Jeffrey entirely. People invest in what they know and like. Some do well in the Stock Market, some in Real Estate, some in the Fiddle Market etc.

To each his own. Most people today, when shopping for an instrument over 5K, would like to know that what they buy, may bring in a return of somekind. Especially if they are shopping for something good over 30K.

December 22, 2006 at 07:43 PM · Raymond, I haven't yet recorded on a Needham but hope that this will be remedied quite soon. Meanwhile, at least the Wigmore concert recording is, as far as I know, a given. And since both Jamie and I were playing on sterling instruments, I can't wait to hear the playback footage to see whether we might be talking about a "LIVE from Wigmore" debut CD...

By the way, Raymond, it seems we really have similar tastes. Of all the living Italian makers I've tried, only two stand out: Roberto Regazzi and someone in Genoa whose name slips my memory at the moment.

December 22, 2006 at 08:28 PM · Emil,

I guess you mean Alberto Giordano of Genoa.

There is also Luca Primon, and Sbernini and many more IMHO.

But I guess we are always talking apples and oranges here, since some wish not to talk about fiddles as investment and some do.

Some wish to discuss old rather than new, and some don't.

Whatever...........

Happy Holidays Ya'll!!! & Oy Vey everybody....

December 23, 2006 at 08:41 AM · Emil, yes we do seem to have the same taste, and we both seem to think very highly of Needham's work! Man I cannot wait to hear you on a recoriding with this filddle!

As for the Chaudiere: I played one and liked it a lot. I would need to play it again and for a longer time to be certain of it. But it was one of the best fiddles I have played.

And Genady, I could not agree more about the bow makers you listed here.

Emil, record the violin back from Needham and record with it! Man you should have heard my session friend play some Sarasate with it in a pub last week with a quartet. The Needham violin sounded HUGE! And I am sure he would be the first to admit that he is not the player you are so we would all love to hear you record with your Needham! I'll be the first one to buy the CD!

And man I really would like to play Chaudiere's violin again. But I only know of one in the states.

December 23, 2006 at 09:38 AM · Feng Ning who recently won the PAGANINI competition in Genoa used a Peter GREINER for this comp. This is mentioned on Greiner's website.

MP.

December 23, 2006 at 05:05 PM · From Michael Parry;

"Feng Ning who recently won the PAGANINI competition in Genoa used a Peter GREINER for this comp. This is mentioned on Greiner's website."

_________________________________________________

My question is always,

"What else did they try before making that decision?"

How many "moderns" were auditioned?

That's what's most interesting about what the studio people are doing.

This is the biggest and most comprehensive “fiddle shootout” I’ve ever heard of outside of formal competitions!

Maybe Raymond could comment on the number of makers involved?

Of course, their results may not be the same as yours. Taste varies, and in most cases I'd imagine that they are only testing one example of each maker's work. No two violins turn out exactly the same, even when a maker tries.

And sometimes a maker is asked to make a violin that "blends"; other times to make a violin that "cuts through".

I still think it's really intesting though, as long as no one tries to use the results to establish an absolute hierarchy among modern makers.

As interesting as "who comes out on top" might be "who is grossly over-rated", although they may not share this.

David Burgess

http://www.burgessviolins.com

December 23, 2006 at 07:25 PM · I think Joseph Tripodi deserves mention.

December 24, 2006 at 03:06 AM · BTW,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!!!

December 24, 2006 at 04:27 AM · Yeah David, the shootout is very interesting. But there is a reason for the “shootout;” most of the players involved have played with mediocre fiddles their whole lives, and they have waited for this moment for a long time (breaking the bank and spending all they have on one great instrument). There are 3 players involved besides me, but one is out because he just made his decision—a used Greiner. So now there are four of us, and one of the players, the best of the bunch for that matter (the guy can flat out play!) is looking for quite a few instruments, and has already bought the Needham that I have talked about, and the rest of us have been drooling over that instrument ever since.

Ok, list tried so far (that I know of): 1 Chaudiere 1 Belini 2 Patrick Robins 2 Hargraves

2 Finnigans 2 Burgess many “Cremona” Italians (too many to mention, none were great, though many were good) 1 Regazzi 1 Curtin 1 Jang 3 Cisons 2 Gottings 1 Giordano

1 Pistoni 1 Borman 3 Greiners (one was bought)

3 Needhams (one was bought) 1 Caruthers 1 Wiebe 1 Widenhouse 1 Borman

1 Dilworth 3Zygmuntowicz (everyone felt they were good but not worth the money)

***Note Only one person played the Dilworth and he loved it, but wants to play it again before making a decision. The rest of us have not tried it.

*** Only two people played the Borman, one loved it, the other wants to look at it again.

The standings so far;

1. The unanimous vote is for the Needham Strad (already bought, the others want it! LOL)

2. Burgess and the Needham del Gesus (tie)

3. Greiner (one person like it above all, the others think it is good, but would not have bought it).

Violins still on the list to play:

1. Scott

2. Alf

3. Borman

4. Croehn

5. Siefeirt & G.

6. Rattray

Violins the group wants to look at again (these have earned our respect and we want to look at them again):

1 Robin

2. Dilworth

3. Pistoni

4. Borman

5. Chaudiere

We were only disappointed with one violinmaker on the list, and we do not want to mention who it was.

*** We know of Tripodi, but even those who know him seem to question his ability to finish commissions, so we have not pursued his violins.

And yes, a blessed Christmas to one and all!!!!!!!!!!!

December 24, 2006 at 06:46 AM · Raymond,

what specifically about the needham makes you drool over it? (make sure you give us the x-rated version.)

also, just logistically, how are you arranging to try all these instruments? do you pilot your own aircraft or something?

December 24, 2006 at 01:14 PM · Has anyone had an opportunity to play a Luff?

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