Anyone heard of / using English violin???

January 6, 2007 at 09:02 PM · I am now trying an English violin made by the Banks family. It is 17xx, and the price is 26000

any comments?

Replies (96)

January 6, 2007 at 10:33 PM · I personally think that 26000 can be spent a LOT better. There's been a few Banks in town here, and I played one in New York. I really don't think it's worth it.

January 7, 2007 at 12:21 AM · I'm sure "It's high for a Banks: my stand partner bought one in 1963 for $2000" will be along soon, along with the other classic kills that people who aren't buying a violin use to convince their friends to do the same, such as "anyone who wants to sell you something is a crook".

If you like it, John, and it works for you, you should buy it. There's a little rule in the violin business that tons of people will be happy to tell you why you shouldn't do something, but very few of them will take the implied risk of being responsible for saying "go ahead, do it," so you might want to mentally filter responses accordingly, unless your objective it to be talked out of it.

The Banks family are some of the most respected of the middle-early English makers, and some of the best craftsmen of that period. Benjamin is the best of the family, and the one most seen. The other familiy members are less known, less skilled, and less respected, so knowing which you're looking at is important. Benjamin Banks cellos (as with most good English cellos) are really good (old English cellos are often regarded as second only to old Italians), the violas are often too small for modern players (15-1/4" is a common size), and the violins variable, depending on the model. If you find one that's got a good model that puts out some volume, and is in good condition, that's a plus. There are also a lot of tiny-sounding but pretty-sounding Stainer-type violins that aren't really appropriate for a modern professional player, and are difficult to sell in this country.

Generally they are attractive instruments. I'm not up on price--maybe Pieter can be helpful and tell how much the ones he didn't like and wouldn't own were going for.

January 6, 2007 at 11:51 PM · Michael... don't be such an ass, as hard as it might be.

He asked for an opinion, not necessarily a whole hearted corroboration of his feelings. Personally I've never liked English violins, and Banks isn't an exception. In that range, I really think that ones best bet is a modern instrument. Had I known that before I bought my current instrument, I might have been a lot happier. If you want something old, I think you'd be much happier with a Paul Bailly or a Derazey. I'd just be surprised to hear that this violin is the best you can find for $26,000. If it is, then by all means buy it.

January 6, 2007 at 11:55 PM · OK, I guess Pieter doesn't have any numbers, then.

January 7, 2007 at 12:17 AM · I agree with Michael's assessment ... unless you want to buy the violin for Pieter. He probably wouldn't like it.

January 7, 2007 at 02:20 AM · I also think Michael's assessment is reasonable although Pieter's statement might also have some truth to it. In that price, you might indeed find something better for your money, but the question is, as Michael touched upon, will the "better deal" work for you?

So it all comes down to how much you really like the instrument. If you do like it a great deal, do some research and see how much "overprice", if it is the case, you are willing to spend on this one.

I remember a close friend of mine told me how difficult it was to find a home in San Francisco (in the late 90's). He was interested in a small house for $300K, but it was sold for $320K before repairs. Is it worth paying that extra? The answer obviously is it depends on the potential buyer.

January 7, 2007 at 12:56 AM · John, read Michael's assessment and then read it again. After that read Jeffrey's. They DO know what they're talking about and have the background to back it up.

Neil

January 7, 2007 at 01:59 AM · The numbers? Mid 20s. I didn't think it was important. Please, Mike and Jeff, point out where I said it was overpriced (and as I'm sure as you both know, a violin's antique value doesn't always have something to do with its value as an instrumente pure and simple)?

Again, I'm giving my opinion on the quality of these instruments from a player's perspective, not what an expert can convince someone to pay for it.

All I can say, is if you intend on buying it, make sure it has a good certificate. I made the mistake of not getting a good certificate with my violin...

January 7, 2007 at 02:17 AM · You didn't say it was overpriced--I was just referring to the general theme a lot of these discussions take, not predicting your own next post.

In fact, my initial thought, before you posted, was to make a list of the likely responses, which always seem the same, and rarely have much to do with the precise instrument involved or the questions being asked about it. (Ever notice, for instance, how if someone asks about a specific new maker, fifteen people chime in to say you really should look at the violins of the guy who made theirs?)

I could be selling a Strad for five dollars, and there'd still be someone saying it wasn't worth it, and I was a thief because I'm a dealer and probably only paid two for it.

When people aren't doing the buying, themselves, it seems much easier for them to trash things rather than compliment them, and buyers should take that into consideration. You'd think that professional orchestra players would be a shop's favorite customers, but I can tell you they aren't--what happens is that your violin gets taken in to a rehersal, and 30 people in the section, to reinforce their position and their egos, get to explain to your customer why they made a better decision than the one your customer is about to. Not only do you lose one sale, you lose the potential of showing that instrument to every other member of the orchestra, all of their students, and their friends. It doesn't matter if the violin was good, bad, or if people in the orchestra viewed that player as a threat, and wanted to eliminate the possiblity of him having a good violin. In that city, that violin is effectively dead, and it probably has very little to do with the quality of the instrument. When I was actively dealing, a friend/customer said to me that he was probably the last on my list, behind the pros. Actually, he was the first, because he made his own decisions, based on his own needs, and did so in a professional and timely fashion. He ALWAYS got to see the best stuff first.

I even had a situation once where I was selling a Strad, and the player's teacher brought every violin he owned (none of which were near the Strad in quality) so he could show how they were better than the Strad! The world needs many, many fewer people like that.

On the other hand, I also got to see a friend who'd bought a very nice violin from me say to a quartet partner who commented that he didn't like playing my friend's new violin "Well, then, it's a good thing I didn't ask you before I bought it." Very few players are that sure of themselves.

January 7, 2007 at 02:20 AM · Hi Michael,

Thank you for articulating this frustration more clearly. I now understand you better. In fact, a while ago I made a post which infuriated Jeffrey, in which I said that I'm tired of hearing how someone's german fiddle or whatever other pawn shop wonder sounds better than X fiddle worth 2 billion times more. I don't remember what the specifics were but whatever.

I hope I don't come off like that, and I will certainly endorse what I know about. In my own case, I've played a ton of violins, and have said what I like and don't. Perhaps it is true that online forums aren't that great to discuss violins, other than the indisputable facts of dates, provenance, price etc... because sound cannot really be discussed properly.

As for your profession being derided, I'm sorry for my comments earlier, though I meant them, and should have been more clear as to what I mean. However, you also have to understand the violinist side of the story, who is not an expert. We often speak in incredibly simple terms, and don't consider the all the things that you might when purchasing an instrument. Also, most of us aren't very rich, and unlike you, do not get to handle $50 million worth of instruments in one day like I'm sure you got to at B&F. I can just tell you, from my correspondances on this site and my own friends who are taking loans to buy great instruments or what not, that the frustration is widespread, and often not based on pure ignorance.

So, as wrong as someone like me could be, it does come from somewhere real. I am not a fictitious character who just window shops and kicks the tires, so for someone of my age, I think I've been around the block. With the small size of people in your industry, I'm sure you must know someone who has sold something to me, so I'm not making up anything I say.

January 7, 2007 at 02:26 AM · Don't worry Michael,

I am sure most realize that Pieter is a young lad learning the ropes. Although he wants to come accross as an "expert"....which he is not. Trying out fiddles is one thing, knowing the market etc. is another.

There are also wonderful French fiddles in the range of this Banks, such as George Cunault for example and others.

I had a fantastic Cunault made in 1900 as a copy of a Guad, and it was stunning (looked like a Lupot), and sounded excellent as well.

January 7, 2007 at 03:43 AM · On second thought...

Gennady, you need to drop this young lad bit. I've often admitted my own ignorance and the fact that I'm learning. The fact that sometimes I disagree with you on modern instruments (and the majority of this site as well), does not mean I think I'm an expert. I'm just not as meek as some others in telling you I think you're full of it.

Stop with that patronizing BS.

January 7, 2007 at 04:06 AM · I have always tried to be accurate and truthful about what I know about selecting violins, and one of the reasons I quit sales was because customers almost always came into the shop expecting that I was a crook who was going to lie to them. I also know that there are a lot of violin shop people out there for whom that's an accurate description, not only because of their intent, but also because of their ignorance, in many cases. I do recognize that players are at a huge disadvantage in the violin market; I don't know a good solution for that.

January 7, 2007 at 05:37 AM · Michael,

From all the violin shopping I've done, it has become clear who is honest and who is trying to sell a violin against their better judgement. When we violinists discuss our experience, we often have a concensus on the good vs bad. While I have had bad and uncomfortable experiences, I still know of and often recommend many dealers and collectors who I feel are genuine.

I have no idea either, how these problems of trust can be resolved. Obviously business is good though, so I doubt it's a big problem.

January 7, 2007 at 06:39 AM · "In fact, a while ago I made a post which infuriated Jeffrey, in which I said that I'm tired of hearing how someone's german fiddle or whatever other pawn shop wonder sounds better than X fiddle worth 2 billion times more. I don't remember what the specifics were but whatever."

I'm not sure how you were relating that situation to what Michael wrote, but I actually do remember the specifics. It had to do with a thread in which someone was asking about a rather inexpensive instrument in an unsophisticated, but innocent manner. I recall you kindly e-mailed me to clarify yourself and apologize. I kept the correspondence, but wouldn't quote your e-mail without permission. I will quote a portion of my response to you, however.

Here it is:

"I will admit to defending those who aren't "in the know", so to speak. The simple music students and non-affluent amateurs. To me, even though I don't sell things or offer services they need (or would really understand), I think they have a place in keeping music, and the music industry, healthy. Indeed, they are the people who buy symphony seats… just not season tickets maybe. I'm not alone in cherishing these innocents... I've seen Charles Beare roll around a dreadful VSO in his hands for 15 minutes talking to a nice couple that approached him with hopes it was a lost treasure, to be able to tell them only "well, it's really not much of a violin, is it?" but have them leave happy (for the attention)."

The truth is, someone who believes that the inexpensive fiddle they own sounds better than the Guad in my shop simply isn't my customer. Doesn't matter if I don't agree. I gain nothing by trying to convince them that the Guad is better.

In terms of this present situation, the original participant posted a question about English instruments. We understand that you don't like them, Pieter... but the truth is, these are the bread and butter tools for many, many professionals in Great Britain and elsewhere, due to their relative quality compared to their prices. Some, especially the higher class British fiddles, are outstanding (like the John Lott that went through a couple generations known as a del Gesu). Not to say that all are good... or that the particular one John is looking at is good. As Michael mentioned, it depends on the model.

A specific instrument of any origin or character is not appropriate for all players. While some instruments have wider, or narrower, appeal, it's still amazing to me how quickly some players will pronounce a fiddle "great" or "terrible" only to see the next player try the same group and pronounce a different one great, and the (earlier) great one terrible. I think the reason for this is that players have different points of reference, and different requirements. Those who are most successful finding instruments they like, in my opinion, are those who have carefully considered their priorities before shopping. They quickly know what they think will work well, and what they don't think will work well... for them. Because different players have different tastes and priorities, it’s probably good that instruments vary in response, tone color, and volume.

Jeffrey

January 7, 2007 at 08:14 AM · Pieter,

I will tell you bluntly........cut your Bull___t.

Much of what you know (which is still not a whole lot...in violins and bows comes from Jeffrey, Michael and myself included). I have seen your posts on other websites where you go on describing the very makers I have been talking about for years.

In the past, despite your attitude, I had offered lots of information about makers such as Bigot, LeCanu, Gilles Nehr and Millant.

So be greatful for the generosity (and wealth of information) from such individuals who offer their knowledge and expertise. 20 years ago, people like me did not have that luxury.

Being an arrogant git with a Messiah complex will not make you popular nor will it get you a job in this business.

Remember, you are still a student. Just wait till you start auditioning......you'll see how important attitude is and behavior towards colleagues especially those who are older than you.

It will mean the difference between getting your tenure & getting the boot.

Your comment : "The fact that sometimes I disagree with you on modern instruments (and the majority of this site as well)," ........is utter crap.

So easy on the milk and chill with the verbiage!.

ps: (does karate violinist ring a bell?)

January 7, 2007 at 10:13 AM · Jeffrey, I'll quote my original post.

"I personally think that 26000 can be spent a LOT better. There's been a few Banks in town here, and I played one in New York. I really don't think it's worth it."

Hardly a universal argument. I use personal pronouns often, and relate my comment to my own personal experience. For me, in that price range, I think one can, in general (without hearing the specific instrument in question), do better. Once one asks a question about a violin on the internet, you understand that the people can only go on those qualities which can be generalized. I never said all the pros in Britain who use them are bad, I just said that in my experience, there is a better way to spend 26k.

If my post offended you in any way, to prompt you to make the comment you did, then I do apologize but I just don't see it.

Gennady...

I'm getting quite tired of this. You didn't have to come in here and start with this again. First of all, you know how many times I've thanked you for all of your help, not to mention the e-mails in which you solicited me for one of your bows long AFTER our initial discussions about it.

Yes, I do talk about Nehr and Bigot, because I have tried these, and I own a Nehr (for which you wanted a commission).

So, it does not make me some expert wannabe, to tell people that I think such and such bow is good, because that is my opinion. And funny enough, even recently, I've referred people to you about Bigot, so it's not as if I don't know where they're comming from.

Other people might back down from your histrionics, but I'll continue to react against them. I didn't say anything that concerned you, and you made the decision to insult me. I will, however, keep it civil and just laugh like I usually do.

If anyone feels the need to keep getting personal, at least do it by e-mail. All I'm trying to do here is discuss the topic at hand.

My apologies John. If I have anything else to say, I'll just e-mail you.

January 7, 2007 at 04:00 PM · I am one of those, unsophisticated and innocent buyers, add gullable in my case. A few months ago I wasn't sure if my daughter will continue with violin because of her technical problems. Following suggestions by Buri and others on this site, we compiled a few exercises for her to do every day. She seems to make a good progress now and we may need to upgrade her instruments in a few years. I was following these threads in preparation.

I am sure gentlemen have good reasons to be upset with Pieter, but I have to say I don't like the threatening tone that is expressed, "Just wait till you walk into my den, we don't hire musicians by their playing, we hire by how deeply they bow to us," depriving us, general public, chances to hear magnificent talents. I just wonder why people make such a big deal about bullies in schools. It is ingrained in our daily life as grownups. N'est ce pas?

Ihnsouk

January 7, 2007 at 05:24 PM · Let's see....as far as who said what and when.

I believe that my comment was light hearted:

"Don't worry Michael,

I am sure most realize that Pieter is a young lad learning the ropes. Although he wants to come accross as an "expert"....which he is not. Trying out fiddles is one thing, knowing the market etc. is another."

It is Pieter, who gets defensive and starts blowing his horn.

And BTW, the times he used to email me more than a year ago for info about the many makers, I was patient enough with him to answer and even suggesting schools and teachers for his violin studies.

He is the one who always turned arrogant, insulting and ungrateful. I don't recall that many thank you's. Rather more insults from his direction, in fact he has the audacity to talk to me and Jeffrey (whom he has insulted in the past as well as others) that way?!

Music world is a very small world indeed. I suggest he remembers that.

Pieter has no shame, for most of the information he shares now with others, he has pumped out of Jeffrey, Michael and myself. He hounded me with many emails, pumping me for information. Since he was shopping around, and being that I do represent Bigot, LeCanu and have represented Nehr, naturally I offered to show those bows if he was interested to see them. Then he has the audacity to post such garbage with an attitude.

After the many emails of pumped information (from me), he ends up buying a Millant (a maker I strongly recommended and a Gilles Nehr of whom I told him about).

As far as brilliant talent goes....I have listened to his Prokofieff which he posted for everyones perusal a while back. I have not commented about it before. But if you insist, he has much to learn, and that is why he is still studying..............

....................................

Incidentally Ihnsouk Guim,

for the most part, most orchestras hire on the basis of playing. Then the tenure trial begins. To keep the workplace in good running order, it is imperative that people get along and play by the rules (which in our business is Core Values).

If someone does not respect those rules after winning an audition, he/she will not be given tenure. That is reality & fact in this business.

There have been several musicians around the country (in the past two years for example) who are huge talents, who have won auditions but were not given tenure due to behavioral/attitude problems.

January 7, 2007 at 05:28 PM · Pieter wrote: "For me, in that price range, I think one can, in general (without hearing the specific instrument in question), do better. Once one asks a question about a violin on the internet, you understand that the people can only go on those qualities which can be generalized. I never said all the pros in Britain who use them are bad, I just said that in my experience, there is a better way to spend 26k."

My point is that it's really all about the specific instrument in question. Since none of us has seen or heard it, I think it's pretty difficult to determine if John can do better or not.

Ihnsouk: "I am sure gentlemen have good reasons to be upset with Pieter, but I have to say I don't like the threatening tone that is expressed,"

I wasn't aware that I was expressing a threatening tone. I was expressing my opinion and attempting to give John some accurate information. I'm not selling the Banks, so I have nothing to gain or lose if he decides on it or not. Feel free to write me privately if you feel I was out of bounds. I'm always happy to learn.

January 7, 2007 at 07:40 PM · I must admit I fail to see how anyone has been "threatening". Gennady stated a simple fact about getting along with people. Neither Jeffrey or Michael uttered anything that could even be remotely construed as threatening.

Back to the discussion in hand, for me this statement by Jeffrey is the absolute key point, "...it's really all about the specific instrument in question." It doesn't matter if Pieter's played other instruments by the same maker, if he hasn't played the one John's trying then he has no idea if it's worth the asking or not. I'm unclear why someone would have such difficulty recognising the concept that instruments vary no matter who the maker is. I think Michael also made much the same point.

Neil

January 7, 2007 at 08:02 PM · I've heard the same instrument absolutely blossom in some hands and absolutely flop dead in others, and that's not been a rare occurrence at all. I'm often struck by how differently different (and competent) players approach the same instrument, which is why I'm not big on the idea of having friends try instruments you're considering buying, while you listen.

It took me a very long time (far too long) to realize as a maker and adjuster that my opinion about how a violin worked for me was essentially meaningless, which is why, in another thread, I'm suggesting you don't have to be a player to be a maker: if anything, a maker/adjuster's own ego is a hinderance rather than a help.

When I worked as a salesman, Bob Bein kept telling me that my opinion about the quality of an instrument was the last thing he was interested in, unless I was buying it, and he was absolutely right. Of course the obvious conclusion here, which I'll repeat, is that what another player thinks about how your violin (or one you're buying) works for him is about as useless as. . . . well, you get the idea.

The only really accurate description of a bad violin would be one that absolutely no one can make sound good, and those have a way of not being bought by anyone, too, so I don't see the room for much discussion of that subject.

January 7, 2007 at 08:08 PM · Jeffrey... I know that I cannot comment on the specific instrument in question, just like none of us can, since we cannot hear it. I gave my opinion based on what I know. In the end, he asked a question on an internet forum.

Let me just tell you, that when I ask about a maker or whatever on a forum, the most helpful posts are often the ones who offer personal experience, rather than the also quite common "we'd have to see it", which of course makes a lot of sense, but is not the most helpful.

So like I said before, if it sounds better than the others, and it works well with your bowing style and can respond in such a way that you feel you can best express your own abilities, then you should definately buy it.

Michael, the idea of not having a friend try it is interesting, and probably a good one. The only issue though is, how do you know how it sounds at a distance? Sometimes I've tried instruments which are not so great under the ear but sound great at even 15 feet.

January 7, 2007 at 08:48 PM · "The Banks family are some of the most respected of the middle-early English makers, and some of the best craftsmen of that period. Benjamin is the best of the family, and the one most seen. The other familiy members are less known, less skilled, and less respected, so knowing which you're looking at is important. -- Michael Darnton"

I wonder whether John and Pieter were talking about the same Bank since there are different "grades" among the Banks themselves.

Certainly most of us have a lot to be thankful and grateful to those, whom have shared with us their time and PRFOESSIONAL expertise FREE OF CHARGE. Generosity really is an understatement. The few names mentioned in thread certainly deserve all the recognition we can shower upon them.

Kudos to all led by Buri, Jeffrey, and Michael (named in this thread), who have lent their hands to people like me overwhelmed in the sea of violin world. Many thanks indeed!

January 7, 2007 at 08:51 PM · Vivian,

I'm assuming we are talking about the same thing since we're discussing similar price ranges. The violin was showed to me as a fine example of his work, so I don't think it was of lesser quality.

January 7, 2007 at 09:49 PM · Vivian,

Hmmmmmmmmmm, funny you mention "Kudos to all led by Buri, Jeffrey, and Michael" .... I don't see any posts from Buri on this thread?!

January 7, 2007 at 11:05 PM · Jeffrey and Michael, my apologies for grouping you to receive my accusation. My post was implicitly addressed to Gennady. I read his post again. To me that's not the way to teach young people how to get along with others as Neil mentions. It could be that I don't really know what's going on here. I agree with Vivian. I learned a lot from you two gentlemen's informed posts. Thank you.

Ihnsouk

January 8, 2007 at 12:48 AM · ...

Neil

January 8, 2007 at 01:35 AM · Ihnsouk Guim,

I have been posting here for a long time, before Pieter was a member.

And have been away on vacation, so I joined in on the fun.

If you read some archives about bows and fiddles, perhaps you will note many informative posts I along with Jeffrey and Michael have made. You may also see some of the posts by Pieter which turned things sour. So please don't presume...........

Perhaps you are one of those parents who thinks it is OK for students to bring guns to school and or scream or abuse teachers?

Do you really believe he (a student) has the right to be abusive, arrogant and obnoxious to those who have provided valuable information to him?

I stand by my earlier post, which is reality and fact as far as things go in the world of professional musicians.

Gennady Filimonov

member of:

odeonquartet

Seattle Symphony Orchestra

and Appraisers Association of America

January 8, 2007 at 02:08 AM · Thanks, Gennady, for the reply. I have to say I don't really understand how it is fun telling a high school kid that he won't have a career if he doesn't behave. If anyone wishes to communicate what the real world is like, I am sure there are better ways. Since you have been posting so long, you would know how, I would think.

I do believe that no matter how well one plays, one should be courteous for one's own good. I also believe it would help if people in the music industry are not so quick to judge budding talents. In the interest of music and in the interest of general music loving public. This is the opinion I hold whether I burn a flag or polish a gun.

Ihnsouk

January 8, 2007 at 03:40 AM · Ihnsouk Guim,

Perhaps we are reading entirely different threads.

You should scroll up and re-read my post and his reply.

I believe that my comment was light hearted.

His reply was not.

I also suggest you look into the archives and see some of his outrageous (insulting) posts. He has insulted Jeffrey as well, but that is in the past.

I think you really don't know some of the history here between Pieter and some other members.

The point is, that he has pumped professionals for information (like Jeffrey, Michael and myself), and then has the arrogance to insult those same very people who offered him this valuable information, going around not only on this site but on others offering his "opinions" as an expert wannabee.

If you missed the point, then that is your loss.

Any professional at a receiving end of such insults, would give him similar advice. In fact most would tell him much more and in a more stern manner........

I have given him much information in the past, and advice. Despite the many insults, I was still civil about it.

Perhaps you should give him a word of advice about humility, respect etc.?!

January 8, 2007 at 05:35 AM · BTW,

getting back to the thread.............

there is a slew of excellent English makers such as: Banks, Betts, Lott, Dodd, Panormo,Fendt, Gilkes, Hardie, Forster, L. Hill, Kennedy. Unfortunately there was a decline in English making towards the end of 19th century.

The next best makers from England were the Voller Brothers (who worked from the end of 19th and into the early 20th century.)

One of the best English fiddles that I know of is a Voller Brothers copy of the 1735 "d'Egville" Del Gesu which Fulton owns.

He also owns the original Del Gesu as well.

January 8, 2007 at 08:17 AM · "

Hmmmmmmmmmm, funny you mention "Kudos to all led by Buri, Jeffrey, and Michael" .... I don't see any posts from Buri on this thread?!"

Hi Gennady,

Buri was mentioned in Ihnsouk's post for his help with the daughter's tech issues. Buri helped me not only on this forum, but also through email as well, that's why I am comfortable thanking him in this thread. I have read posts by Jeffrey and Michael for over a year. I am a big "fan" of theirs.

Originally, I wanted to name you, but then I have not read many of posts of yours regarding the French bow and Italian, and felt that it would be a bit superfacial for me to do so. The same reason for Pieter as well. You are not mentioned is not because of you, but because of my familarity with your posts.

But as I dig into old posts, you will certainly have a new "follower". :-)

January 8, 2007 at 09:51 AM · Vivian,

I am not an expert, just an enthusiast. I don't wish to be put in the same category, and have never campaigned for that. No need to thank me, as I simply offer my opinions about my own experiences.

January 8, 2007 at 02:36 PM · Hi,I own an English violin by Kennedy in London, mid 1800's. It appraises @$10K now. I like it very well, as it plays very easily- like cutting butter with a knife. I went looking for a more mellow-toned violin that would be easier on the hands and liked this best. I had a French violin from a known maker before,1930's, which was in such good condition it looked like new, but it was bright for my tastes, so I didn't play it much. I'd say if you're not sure, keep looking. Unless you're working with someone who has a very liberal trade-in/trade-up policy you can go a while finding somebody to sell a $26K violin to if you end up not liking it. Sue

January 8, 2007 at 03:53 PM · BTW, thanks Vivian.

Yes I've been busy since last year, so I have not been posting as much as before. If you are interested in French bows and or contemporary bows, just google it and you'll see many of the old threads come up on this site. Same goes for Modern fiddles and Italian fiddles.

January 8, 2007 at 05:01 PM · Am I the only one around here who wishes that all of the ad hominem arguments be taken offline into the back room. You've all got e-mail so attack each other there where it's out of the public eye.

Sheeesh! Less heat more light!

January 8, 2007 at 05:06 PM · Gennady,

You mentioned in one of your previous posts: "there is a slew of excellent English makers such as: Banks, Betts, Lott, Dodd, Panormo,Fendt, Gilkes, Hardie, Forster, L. Hill, Kennedy."

Could you tell me more about the English violin maker Panormo? I owned a violin by him seven years ago and played it for about two years before I decided it was time to move on. I'm interested in knowing more about him and his violins because he wasn't listed in the book I own about violin makers. Thanks!

January 8, 2007 at 06:32 PM · I think as we progress, our point of reference and our prerequisites change accordingly. What seemed great just a short while ago, becomes insufficient unless one has a trully great instrument from the start which has all the qualities one needs (and then some).

Julie,

Which Panormo are you talking about? Vincenzo or Louis Panormo.

Louis Panormo (more know as a great Guitar maker) was the 4th son of the Italian maker Vincenzo Panormo.

Louis's two elder brothers Joseph and George, and their respective sons, Edward and George Lewis, were also successful luthiers.

Italian luthier, Vincenzo Panormo (1734-1813) was born in Palermo.

Learned with Bergonzi's (but not Carlo).

He moved to London in 18oo's (worked for Betts before establishing his own shop). He also lived and worked in Paris (1753-1772) and Dublin.

His instruments are excellent and many experts have said that tonally quite outstanding. But being that he had many helpers in his shop, not all are of equal quality.

He mainly worked on the Stradivari models which he made very individual and fine.

As Henley puts it: "The ever-lasting dream of Vincenzo's life was to faithfully copy the Stradivari models to the minutest particulars".

January 8, 2007 at 05:51 PM · I played on an English violin made by WILLIAM WALTON Preston 1928 from 1957---1973.My next violin was a new violin made by WILFRED SAUNDERS from 1974--1981,the tone was too loud and strident.After that I bought an English violin by ALFRED VINCENT...London 1929.I owned this violin which was the best tonally from 1981..1998.Three English violins in a space of over forty years.My present violin is made by NIGEL HARRIS who comes from New Zealand,who is based in the UK.

January 8, 2007 at 10:37 PM · Gennady,

I guess I was talking about neither Panormo (Louis/Vincenzo). My violin was made by Edward (probably a different spelling, I can't recall.) Ferdinand Panormo.

January 9, 2007 at 03:04 AM · I have just read the thread, and I think the basic problem is one that we have had many times on this site: some want to think of violins in terms of sound, while some cannot think of them apart from "investment potential." Which, as I have said before, is rather silly since violins are poor investments in comparison to other things. I will not even try to prove this point because it is to silly to even ponder.

I think Peiter was just sayint what he thought after playing one, and his opinion was just based on his ears as a player, that is all.

I also agree that in the end the only opinion that counts is yours. If that violin feels good in your hands and sound like what you want it to sound like than buy it.

The value of getting other opinions on violins in this site or anywhere else is it helps sort out things and makes the hunting easier (so many violins to try, etc...)

I would also like to point out that violins may not be as subjective as some have said on here, and as I just said. I say this because I and 4 other players have been searching for great moderns for some time now (we believe that for the money you cannot get better violins than what can be bought from violin maker today) and while our opinions have differed a bit, they have not differed a lot.

January 9, 2007 at 03:40 AM · Raymond,

Sorry but your opiniopn is still quite subjective.

I have done very well investing in instruments and bows.

We invest in what we know and understand best. If it has not worked for you, it does not mean it has not worked for others.

Real estate is much more volatile for example, the same goes for the stock market.

The instrument market on the other hand has been a very consistent climb.........up!

It is just a matter of doing your homework like in anything else.

Most people, when spending more than 5K, want to know that what they buy will go up in value unlike a negative investment (a car for example).

Why do you think there are people out there investing in art, instruments etc.....

January 9, 2007 at 04:03 AM · Raymond wrote: "I would also like to point out that violins may not be as subjective as some have said on here, and as I just said. I say this because I and 4 other players have been searching for great moderns for some time now (we believe that for the money you cannot get better violins than what can be bought from violin maker today) and while our opinions have differed a bit, they have not differed a lot."

Hi Raymond;

I'm not sure I'm with you on the "basic problem" you mentioned about the thread. I thought most of the opinions expressed were leaning toward the appropriate choice for the player/purchaser... but I might point out that (as illustrated even in your own posting) in the end, it comes down to perceived value for the money.

I very much enjoyed your thread on contemporary makers... and I agree that for some, or probably it's safe to say many, they can be the best tools available for the money.

I did have a question, though. I had the feeling that the players in your group were colleagues, correct? Studio musicians? Do you work together quite a bit?

I ask, because my experience with specific groups of colleagues is that they are more likely to agree on what "good" is. A group of players (that I worked with a decade or so ago) who, as I recall, worked together in Disney's studios were avidly seeking 19th century French fiddles (J. Hel, Vuillaume, Chanot, Sylvestre). Their tastes were very, very similar. Members of the sections of particular orchestras often seek similar instruments to those owned by their colleagues (some orchestra sections like the sound of Beckers and Kimbergs, others like older fiddles... or at least instruments that sound like older fiddles, etc.).

Maybe it's not so much that "sound" is subjective, but that the point of reference makes the definition of "good" or "best" subjective?

Gennady: As was mentioned on other threads, and to which I agree, people tend to invest in what they understand. If they are lucky enough to be able to also have that investment include things they like and have a passion for, that's all the better. I'm glad you've done well with the instruments you've purchased... but I have a funny feeling the appreciation you enjoy is not the only reason you bought them... and I'd bet it makes little difference to you, at least most days of the week, if you could have done better in another investment vehicle or not. :-)

January 9, 2007 at 03:45 AM · The real point, I think, has only to do with one issue: an individual's experience is ONLY one dot on a much broader range of individual experiences. If you have access to all of the dots, you can say something about the overall trend, but the one dot can ONLY speak for himself. When speaking of value, tone is irrelevant, personal opinion is irrelevant; the thing that determines value and price is the aggregate data of all of those individual dots, viewed collectively over a long period of time.

January 9, 2007 at 04:00 AM · Michael, is that your personal opinion? :-)

January 9, 2007 at 04:05 AM · Jeffrey, absolutely right.

I love all of the different bows and fiddles in my collection.

At least I can be polygamous with my instruments......:)

January 9, 2007 at 05:04 AM · No, Jeffrey, I have no personal opinions anymore. Robert pretty much cured me of that.

January 9, 2007 at 05:53 AM · Personally I like a dealer who has the expertise and knowledge to comment objectively on the instrument's place in the market, but who also has a personality, and an honesty to tell me what I might need/don't need. I'm not sure what you mean by Mr. Bein trying to tell you not to have an opinion. Is it bad in the violin sales world?

January 9, 2007 at 06:07 AM · I think he's talking about boss/employee relationships and sticking to the script.

January 9, 2007 at 08:30 AM · In a way he was, but more importantly, he impressed on me the importance of being able to differentiate between opinion and fact. It's a valuable lesson.

January 9, 2007 at 09:25 AM · Are there any makers about whom you think one could do better for the money?

January 9, 2007 at 12:43 PM · If you're asking me, I try not to traffic in opinions.

There are new makers whose prices I believe may be difficult to find support for in the long term, and that's because how new things are priced doesn't always directly relate to value--there are other factors that confuse things in the short term, but on old stuff, usually the pricing is a direct result, in some way or another, of the desirability of the maker's work in a long-term, overall sense, which is hard to argue with, at least if you're a rational being.

In the current instance, if $26,000 is a consistent price across a number of transactions in the market (and I don't know if it is or not) then you pretty much have to say that's what one is "worth" until enough pricing events occur regularly that contradict that. The other thing we don't know is what dealers were offering at that price--some dealers traditionally ask high and sell low, and some don't, and the real mark is the actual selling price, not the asking price. This is where dealers have the advantage, because they eventually hear all the gossip about what various things actually sold for.

January 15, 2007 at 12:24 AM · Thank you for your comment Jeffrey. The answer is I do not work much with this group of players because I do not work much anymore, period! LOL

I am a retired player who teaches a bit now, that is really it. I became friends with a few players that make their living in the studio industry, including the great Jon Holland, who use to do a lot of solo work in Europe.

I do sit it with them on some quartet gigs, etc. and I have played on a few sessions with them, but to tell you the truth I find the session world fun to watch but very hard to participate in; there is just NO room for errors—either you can read like a mother and get things right on the money the first time around, or your not working soon. I honestly have an appreciation for those who work in this field that I did not have when I was a Philharmonic player.

I am not sure if I agree with your argument that our choices could be affected by the fact that we run together. The truth is that an even greater number of players have played the instruments we have looked at in the past year, and again most have generally agreed.

As for investments: I agree that it is great if Gennady or anyone else can make a good investment and enjoy playing it at the same time. My point is, however, that as investments go violins are a poor return value for your money, a point my broker friends would laugh at if I even mentioned it.

As for real estate: I cannot think of a safer more prosperous investment. Which is not to say that it is not possible to screw it up, it is to say that with a little work and the capital to invest with, millions can be made in a hurry. If you think otherwise than please send me the money you made on your investments with violins and lets compare it to the many millions I have made with real estate. Please, lets stop making fools of ourselves with this silly argument.

So my point is the same: lets buy a violin because we love the damn thing and then lets play the hell out of it and make some great music. Isn’t that what violins are supposed to be about?

January 15, 2007 at 03:18 AM · Hi Raymond. Thanks for responding... and I agree concerning the studio players... amazing accuracy and reading ability.

Two quick comments set in with quotes from your post:

"I am not sure if I agree with your argument that our choices could be affected by the fact that we run together. The truth is that an even greater number of players have played the instruments we have looked at in the past year, and again most have generally agreed."

It's OK... We don't have to agree... I just stated what my experience has been... and from that experience I'd say that taste is affected by association and geography. There are also similarities in some groups and locations that can be related to others.

Concerning investment: "Please, lets stop making fools of ourselves with this silly argument."

I don't think I was arguing with you, was I? ... but maybe you weren't really directing this at me?

Jeffrey

January 15, 2007 at 03:10 AM · "As for real estate: I cannot think of a safer more prosperous investment. Which is not to say that it is not possible to screw it up, it is to say that with a little work and the capital to invest with, millions can be made in a hurry. If you think otherwise than please send me the money you made on your investments with violins and lets compare it to the many millions I have made with real estate."

We're all ears...

January 15, 2007 at 03:52 AM · No Jeffry, I was not talking about you when I mentioned investments in real estate compared to violins.

January 15, 2007 at 08:35 AM · Raymond,

As far as your quote:

"My point is, however, that as investments go violins are a poor return value for your money, a point my broker friends would laugh at if I even mentioned it."

Why then does someone like David Fulton put a lot of his money into creating the finest collection of bows and instruments in the world????!!!

He is a very bright man, and if he (for example) thought that it was such a poor investment, he would have never gone into it, would he? With all of his capital, he could have invested in anything he wanted to, especially Real Estate, yet he chose to do it with Fine Instruments.

Hmmmmmm........go figure?

January 15, 2007 at 11:23 AM · There's only one way to invest millions of dollars. That's in constant parties in every far flung corner of the globe. What good is driving by your real estate or wishing you could play your expensive violins. When the money runs out, it you arent' dead, it won't matter 'cause you had your grand old time. You can live out your days on the street. Strumming guitar on the sidewalk for spare change. Like I'm going to be doing soon.

January 15, 2007 at 01:16 PM · Hi,

Why buy a large collection of the world's greatest instruments? Two reasons, I see. First, philantropy - helping to make the instruments available to the most talented who may not be able to afford them. Secondly, control and power over where, to whom and why it goes there.

On the subject of English violins, I think that it is like with any violins: each instrument is different.

Investing is good, if you can afford it. I do find it sad that many violins are now out of reach price wise from most players.

Cheers!

January 15, 2007 at 02:23 PM · Is that how you spent your millions, Jim? And yet, I never received an invitation... tsk, tsk.

Real estate is most certainly a better investment -- note that "investment" instruments are only purchased by people who have already made millions in some other way! :) However, fine instruments are far more interesting than a fixer-upper apartment building in Duluth.

January 15, 2007 at 05:54 PM · Again, one cannot stipulate as to what is or is not a better investment for someone else without taking into consideration the level of knowledge he/she has in that particular area and if they are willing to take risks investing in that area.

There are those who make a living Gambling (or playing Russian Roullette)........

We invest in, in what we are familiar with and know best.

It is futile to keep repeating that real estate is best, it is not.

It works for those who know that market (Real Estate), and are able to time the market so they are in the position to buy low and sell high.

But it doesn't always work out that way. There are times when the market slumps as it has recently, and what you hoped to get out of your investment did not come to fruition.

January 15, 2007 at 06:30 PM · Totally agree Patty!

Real estate going bad??? It has never, ever done so in the history of the two countries I know, the problem, is my own money goes on buying the place I live in, otherwise I would be joining all those global parties.

The problem is not the ignorance of where to invest, but the "pasta" (bit of Spanish slang) to do it with...

By the way, where is John of the original post? Do let us know what you decide.

January 15, 2007 at 07:30 PM · "Real estate going bad??? It has never, ever done so in the history of the two countries I know, the problem, is my own money goes on buying the place I live in, otherwise I would be joining all those global parties"

In the U.S. in the past 25 years, we've had some really significant crashes not only locally, but even regionally. And on top of the appreciation, you have to pay property tax every year, as well as maintenance. And in some areas you pay a 4% transfer tax at the sale. Real estate is a very poor investment.

In 1987 or so we had the beginning of the end in the real estate runup of the 80s. By the early 90s even regular houses were down 30% over the high in 87. "Premium" houses fell over 50%. (Back then, my father's neighbor sold for $400k what he had bought for 1.1 million.) And now in the past 5 years, we've had runaway appreciation of 15% or greater per year, now followed by a very significant decline. Already 20% down in my area, and I'm in a "desirable" area.

Of course some will say I'm crazy--"of course real estate is great. Why, my uncle Merv bought his house for $20,000 back in 1963 and he sold it for $325,000 last year."

Well, let's do the numbers on that one:

Log(e) 325k = 12.69

Log(e) 20k = 9.90

difference of logs = 2.79

Number of years (2006-1963) = 43

2.79/43 = .0648

e^(.0648) = 1.067%

So, the gross appreciation of uncle Merv's place is 6.7% per annum. Now, account for the taxes, and the maintenance, and the insurance and finally consider the inflation over that same period, and what do you have left?

Sure, own your house that you live in. But as an investment, it is not good in general!

January 15, 2007 at 08:06 PM · well put Bilbo!

January 15, 2007 at 09:33 PM · Gennady says:

"Why then does someone like David Fulton put a lot of his money into creating the finest collection of bows and instruments in the world????!!!

He is a very bright man, and if he (for example) thought that it was such a poor investment, he would have never gone into it, would he? With all of his capital, he could have invested in anything he wanted to, especially Real Estate, yet he chose to do it with Fine Instruments.

Hmmmmmm........go figure?"

Gennady, I think you answered the question with your lead sentence. He did it for "creating the finest collection of bows and instruments in the world". I doubt investment had much to do with it, beyond not wanting to do something patently stupid. He's done many things with his money, things with no investment potential, for the experience. Money isn't something he has to worry about to the point where every penny has to be pinched and evaluated as an investment.

There's another aspect to be considered, too. The BEST of anything is rarely a bad investment, regardless of the category. It doesn't follow from one person's experience buying the very best examples to come to market that those buying things valued 0.43% of the cost of the best (to use real examples from this thread) will follow even vaguely similar rules regarding investment potential.

January 15, 2007 at 10:13 PM · Investing in violins is not as simple as many people think.

Assuming you buy a violin from a reputable shop then you are probably paying a hefty mark up on the auction price for a violin by the same maker. The shop has to make a profit, offer a warranty, assure the buyer of the instruments provenance etc. Some work on the violin has almost certainly taken place and the shop may also be selling on commission, the actual seller might be lucky to see 70% of the retail price.

If you are thinking of buying a violin as an investment, then ask yourself how do you ultimately intend to sell the violin- shops find it difficult enough to sell instruments despite having prime locations, established customer bases, established reputations etc.

You might consider buying at auction but then provenance might not be certain, the instrument may not be perfectly playable and a trial period isn't possible. Most players don't have the experience to spot the problems an old instrument might have. 15% buyers fees (plus tax?) might also be a consideration.

January 15, 2007 at 11:08 PM · martin, lots of good points. but the leader should be changed to:

Investing in violins is not as simple as FEW people think:)

January 15, 2007 at 11:13 PM · phew- glad you picked up on that

January 16, 2007 at 01:53 AM · Like I said before, we invest in what we know best.

It takes lots of homework to invest in anything and do well with it.........

January 16, 2007 at 06:30 AM · This has to be the only site that I know of where sane human beings actually talk about violins as investments in the same catagory as real estate.

And Bilbo your facts are accurate but they only tell a portion of the picture, just enough to make your arguments work. If you looked at the whole picture you would see that you could not be more wrong.

Man I am glad that I never thought as some of you think because I like not having to work simply because I bought property, rented it out for big money, and then sold it for many millions when I only invested a few hundred thousands!

As for Fulton: yes he has done well with his collection, do you want to compare his investment in violins with those who have done the most in real estate? Man those figures would be sad to look at.

The truth about Fulton is that he did this for personal reasons, as someone stated earlier.

And Gennady, if you really want to make money than sell some of those violins and call me, I could tell you how to make more money from those dollars than you have made in a life time.

The only ones who have ever lost out on a real estate are those who sold when they should not have because they could not afford to hang on. It takes capital, and that is about it.

For example: one of the many houses I own has gone down in vallue bby 200,000 in the last three years. Am I worried? Heck no! I bought it for 500, 000, it is now worth 700,000, and I rent it out for 2500 a month. It will eventually get back up to a million, as long as I do not panic and sell it before I should.

Oh and what rental value do good fiddles bring? I make more than 10,000 a month of those investments, while they keep going up (though at times they go down, you have to be patient). Again, what do you make off your fiddles?

To sum up my point: I think that for the money the great moderns of today are the best fiddles out there because I want to buy a fiddle for what it plays and sounds like, not for what I may get in return. Why? Because I spend my real money on what has made most of the rich, rich!

I invite those of you who want to argue this point to do it on an investment site; I think they could use the laugh.

Find a great fiddle, play the hell out of it, and make some great music!

January 16, 2007 at 07:29 AM · I've got to agree. Before I was concerned about spending mid to high 5 figures for a violin and it not turning out to be a good investment. Then I realized that that isn't what instruments are for. They are of course, often an excellent and very safe place to park money and is essentially "useable" equity. It makes it a sound hobby financially, but unless you're a dealer with a wide network, I doubt having a few fiddles will really do much for you.

January 16, 2007 at 07:23 AM · By the way: Fulton made his money in computer software which eventally became part of the microsoft empire, not violins! In fact, he has often said that collection violins is a really poor way to make money! He considers his collection a financial drain, and does it for the love of the instruments, not investment potential!

Look it up yourself, you can find this on almost every articel written about him!

January 16, 2007 at 08:29 AM · Raymond...

No sense in carrying on the debate. Trust me, it's like trying to convince a brick wall to turn into a big pile of balloons.

In the end, you'll make more money, and those who want to invest in violins will do so, and everyone is happy.

January 16, 2007 at 09:19 AM · yes a Rose is a Rose, isaRoseisaroseisaroseisarose..............

Ray,

And those who invest in Hedge Funds would laugh at those who invest in Real Estate.

To each his own. I know many who would prefer to invest their capital into Hedge Funds. If you have a few million to spare, I can hook you up with an excellent fund.

BTW your comment:

"I say this because I and 4 other players have been searching for great moderns for some time now (we believe that for the money you cannot get better violins than what can be bought from violin maker today) and while our opinions have differed a bit, they have not differed a lot."

....does not reflect the view of most musicians. Your argument is an old argument that some have taken up even a 100 years ago.

The reality is, that most players like and prefer older instruments.

Hence the original post up above!

And if they can only afford new instruments, they want them to look old.

Pieter you deserve a Zidane headbut.

January 16, 2007 at 11:55 AM · Oh I do not debate that most players prefer older instruments, I debate that it is justified, especially if we compare dollar per sound.

As for the quote: I was not saying that to prove that most like modern instruments, I was showing that sound can be more objective than perhaps we may all think. In other words, I think good players would be surprised by how much they would agree about fiddles if a bunch of good fiddles were left in a room to try, etc.

Gennady I do not want you to think that I am down on everything you write here; I am not! I fully realize that you are a huge contributor to this site and we would all suffer if you were not here. I disagree with you about the value of moderns and whether one should consider violins as an investment when they buy them, and I only disagree to a point. But as I look at all that you have done for this site I cannot help but thank you.

Oh and one more thing: a few players out here have heard you play and they rave about your playing and we need great players on this site; it adds integrity to the site.

Besides Gennady, if you were not here I would not have anyone to argue with and I may take it out on my wife instead! LOL

So for what it is worth, thanks for being the force that you are on here.

January 16, 2007 at 05:53 PM · Thanks Ray.

BTW,

do you know Anatoly Rosinsky?

January 16, 2007 at 10:48 PM · Ohhh . . . thanks guys. It was getting really dark in here and I was afraid because I didn't have my flashlight.

So, someone shine the light on this little example for me:

Did my parents make a good "investment?"

They bought me an instrument from Peter Zaret which, is documented to be, a Mittenwald instrument from the shop of Karl Roy made in 1959 and sold in 1973. In 1991, it was $2500.

A well known shop owner said he would give me $6800 in trade for the instrument if I bought from him. But, what if I don't buy from him? What if I just want to sell it for money?

Would I get more than $3000 for it from any dealer? Certainly I'd be lucky to see $3000 if I sold it on ebay. What if I put it in the paper? I'm no good at marketing violins . . . that's not my job. Will any shop owner, out of the goodness of his heart give me more than $3000 for it? I doubt it. He'll give me as little as he thinks I'll take and not more than he's willing to part with--already tried this route.

So, it seems I'm stuck trying to sell the thing for little more than my parents paid for it or using the "appreciation" I've built up to whittle away at the cost of a new inflated fiddle.

As I said. I'm in the dark. Someone explain this. Did we do okay?

January 16, 2007 at 09:23 PM · "In 1991, it was $2500.

A well known shop owner said he would give me $6800 in trade for the instrument if I bought from him. "

2007-1991 = 16years

Ln(6800)-Ln(2500) = 1.000

1/16 = .063

e^(1/16) = 1.065

So that's quite good. It's better than the bank would have been; about the same or even better than a decent mix of CD/mmkt over the same period! Certainly beating inflation--and you got to play the darn thing while doing it!

January 16, 2007 at 10:45 PM · Yeah, I agree. It was a better investment than a car would have been (alas, I had no car in high school, I had a violin . . . but the violin is still around and so am I . . . so maybe the folks didn't do so badly).

I just realized I hijacked this thread . . . I apologize. I'm going to go march myself into the practice room and punish myself with some chromatic scales to remind myself not to meander.

January 17, 2007 at 12:19 AM · Perhaps he's adding $6800 to the price of the violin you are buying from him

January 17, 2007 at 10:44 AM · Can anyone offer a "player's opinion" on violins by William Luff?

January 18, 2007 at 07:36 AM · sure Gennady, wanna try and give me one?

January 18, 2007 at 09:29 AM · Pieter,

you react just as quickly as the guy who went down...........

check this out

ps: karate violinist ring a bell?

January 18, 2007 at 09:57 AM · Gennady, I actually just found out about the Zidane comment, a friend sent me the link. That's a good one. Gennady made a funny.

ps. No... and I don't really care... but if you want to come and ring my bell that would be nice.

January 20, 2007 at 01:28 AM · BTW Raymond,

as far as what you mentioned about Dr. Dave Fulton.

He most certainly started collecting for his own reasons.

The major reason is that he loves instruments and the world of classical music.

He did it for fun, 'cause as he says there is nothing better than to put some of your extra cash into the best instruments in the world.

And he has done "pretty well" with some of the fiddles that he has sold. Most definitely more than doubled what he paid for it (and they did not come to him cheap either).

January 20, 2007 at 03:04 AM · Among my several instruments I have an English violin made by Thomas Kennedy c. 1840 and authenticated by J&A Beare. When I considered buying it a number of years ago it was considered to be by Vincenzo Panormo (value about $60k at the time). Further research by Moennig said it was George Panormo (about $30k). Beare then said it was Kennedy and price dropped to $12K and I bought it. Obviously the sound did not change. I am very happy to have this instrument at this point which is probably worth around $30k in today's market. I am a great fan of certain English instruments because some show great craftsmanship, sound good, and are underpriced. My Kennedy sounds almost as good as a Vuillaume I had for a number of years which at this point is probably valued at over $100k. I hope this gives some perspective to the discussion. With English violins look for superb workmanship. Then if it sounds excellent, then buy it for a fraction of an old Italian, or good French.

January 20, 2007 at 09:39 AM · Consider Giovvani Gaida- a french maker who, apart from a few years in Milan, worked in London, yet he is considered an Italian maker. No Italian training, varnish, climate etc. He did have an Italian name so players often hear an 'Italian' tone from his violins. If an instrument is nicely made according to the correct proportions, thicknesses etc it will work as an instrument. The idea that a violin should be inferior because of where it is made is highly questionable. The lofty position enjoyed by many old Italian violins is not entirely undeserved but there is a degree of snobbery involved. Ask yourself how makers like John Lott and the Voller brothers were able to produce such convincing 'Strads'?

October 5, 2011 at 07:44 AM ·

Today, my dad brought over his old violin that had been stored in his closet for the past 35+ years.  He bought it for $300 in Pittsburgh PA in '75 from a dealer who had said it was previously owned for a long time by a very "old man".  The label inside is old and worn, but I think it reads:

VINCENT PANORMO

Rue de l'Arbre-Sec, a Paris, 17

The violin certainly looks like it could have been made in the 18th century, and it is still in pretty good shape.  If this really is an authentic Panormo violin, I'm curious to know how much it could be worth?

 

October 7, 2011 at 06:07 AM ·

Greetings,

vilinsby Luff someone was asking about.  I remeber a few of them floating around when I was at RCM 25 years ago.  I think Hugh Bean was a great admirer of them.  The ones I saw were lovely instruments.   I used to play ona Hesketh as a stunet. It wa sslightly on the small side had a sweet sound but lacked power.  Another Hesketh a friend of mine had had a vastly superior glowing red varnish and the most sumptuous and p@owerful sound.  A fantastic instrument.  I think with Hesketh and rather a lot of Enmglish instrument you have to be a little careful of provenance .  The English fiddles I have not ever seen really good examples of tone wise are Craske .  The four or five I played on at avrious tiems always seemed somewhat clunky and over priced.

As always,  just but what works for you,  if you can afford it.

Cheers,

Buri

October 7, 2011 at 06:24 AM ·

 I had a Craske a few fiddles back. When I listen to my recital recordings, I'm surprised at how good it sounded. Craske made a huge number of fiddles, presumably some are better than others.

October 7, 2011 at 10:57 AM ·

 Greetings,

I may be misremebering but I think there were a lot of people sticking Craske labels in lesser works.  I probably never got around to playing the real thing.  I`m a follower of Lao Tzu`s little known pearl of wisdom that if it plays and sounds like a good violin it is a good violin.

Or was it Clausewitz?

Cheers,

Buri

But isn`t it great to see this ornery thread back up.  Today`s members can see what they escaped...

October 7, 2011 at 09:12 PM ·

 I'm intrigued Buri.

How DID you manage to substitute SHIFT-2 for o, to get p @ owerful?  

Gennady was a little fire cracker.

October 8, 2011 at 04:03 PM ·

It's not hard for even a new v.commie to miss Gennady--I "met" him at the same time I found v.com, googling for cf bows.   That must have been just before he was kicked off because his postings to this thread are tame in comparison.   But I wish Jeffrey Holmes was still posting

September 19, 2015 at 01:43 PM · I chanced upon this ancient thread, googling Alfred Vincent after eyeing a nice example of his violins on ebay.

John Taylor posted "..I played on an English violin....My next violin was a new violin made by WILFRED SAUNDERS from 1974--1981,the tone was too loud and strident.After that I bought an English violin by ALFRED VINCENT...London 1929.I owned this violin which was the best tonally from 1981..1998...etc...etc".

I began my professional career on a Wilfred Saunders violin; earlier, I'd taken my Cambridge MusB practical on an Alfred Vincent fiddle, one of a quartet by this maker bequeathed to the University by my first teacher, Montagu Cleeve.

My experience with the Saunders instrument was that after a while I couldn't get the sounds from it that my orchestral superiors obtained from their Italian ones. I bought a Guastalla, and was then told by a colleague that I sounded like the Concertmaster. ("You sound just like Martin Milner; how do you DO THAT ??) This was probably not intended as a compliment - that player HATED our leader...

Quite recently I went to an exhibition of new fiddles at the Manchester (UK) RNCM. Only one violin appealed to me and it happened to be the only Italian-made one on display , by Luca Primon.

Why Italian violins can STILL SEEM to some players to have different sounds within them from a good many English-made ones is a mystery.

Many wise words, particularly from Mr. Darnton. Had I taken no notice of the derogatory one-liners from colleagues and followed my own instincts I'd be a richer man now; for example I allowed myself to be persuaded to refuse a Giulio Degani for £189. Inexperienced orchestral fiddlers can be a nightmare for dealers for exactly the reasons he outlined. One dealer refused to let me have a violin on approval, saying "the others will only put you off it".

However, sometimes one does get good advice. I had on trial a circa 1890 Chanot (can't remember which one of the family, F.A perhaps ?), an Ole Bull copy. Our Concermaster observed that it "did not ring like a good Italian". Then when another player in the bandroom tuned his Pedrazzini the process sounded ever so much more like Menuhin tuning his Strad than did the Chanot.

That gave me plenty to think about for the next 40 years or so !!

Incidentally, a Concertmaster near me plays a Daniel Parker violin. Another DID play a John Lott, but swapped it for a Zanoli.

Another prominent professional had the use of 2 del Gesù violins ( not concurrently !) but now sounds extremely well on an N.F Vuilaume. Indeed, as a LISTENER, I'd prefer his output on the latter.

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