Scott Cao violins?????

May 9, 2007 at 09:27 PM · I curious as to what kind of value do Scott Cao instruments represent. I don't care about investment value I'm interested in one as a quality instrument.

Replies (27)

May 9, 2007 at 09:51 PM · My experiences with Cao violins is that in general, you get more than you pay for. In other words, they are a very good value for the money and I prefer them (or the Jay Haide instruments) to any other widely distributed line of instruments.

- Ray

May 9, 2007 at 10:50 PM · I'm curious. Have you also tried/compared the Stringworks instruments (from


May 10, 2007 at 02:43 AM · I'd have to rate the Jay Haide instruments and the Salvatore Caligari instruments better than Scott Cao's at that price range. Some of the more inexpensive lines from Scott Cao are good value for the cost, but since these are all factory instruments (hand made from a variety of makers), the differences between each instrument can make a big difference.

May 10, 2007 at 03:01 PM · Angelo--I've tried to locate info on the Caligari violins and all I get is info on the cabinet of Dr Caligari--a great movie but not what I had in mind.

May 10, 2007 at 04:28 PM · The Caligari's are currently carried by Arcos Brasil (the bow company). I'm not sure all the retailers that carry them, but I carry them in Arizona, John Montgomery in North Carolina, Ron Sachs and Reggie Williams in Atlanta, Barbara Duffy in Miami, and David Kerr in Portland are some of the retailers currently carrying the line. They have options as far as model (Strad, Guarneri, and Guadagnini-my favorite) as well as wood (all European, European front/Chinese back, and all Chinese). I've found they produce a very good sound for the price, which can range from about $2K-$4K depending on model and wood combinations. Surprisingly even the lower priced combinations still produce a good sound and the difference between the sound from the lower to higher is not that large in all the ones I've seen and tried. You could probably call Arcos Brasil (888) 343-8046 ext #1, to find a retailer in your area.

May 11, 2007 at 12:18 AM · I considered stocking them in my shop but found that, although beautifully made, they sounded poor. You can buy much much better for the same money. A decent maker should be able to improve them dramatically.

May 11, 2007 at 01:47 AM · Scott Cao instruments come in several different lines. There are the lowest priced factory ones, the middle priced workshop ones made in China, and the mid-high priced ($3500-$5000) ones made in the US workshop by individuals who trained with him for many years. Finally there are the ones that Scott makes himself for $10K approx.

I find the STV-1500 Artistic Series ($3500) about at the optimal price for performance curve. These are the ones that are made by individuals (labeled as such) in his USA workshop. Others find the mid-priced STV 750, 850 to be just right for the intermediate student.

May 11, 2007 at 09:11 PM · In my opinion Scott Cao's greatest talent is making reproductions of famous instruments such as Kreisler's Guarneri del Jesu and Paganini's "Cannon" Del Jesu. These instruments sound and look good and can be purchased at around $1,500.

June 14, 2007 at 06:55 PM · Martin, was that your experience in all of Scott Cao's models? Was there a line that sounded better to you?


June 14, 2007 at 10:42 PM · Everyone has their own expectations and needs. I noted excellent woodworking in the Cao's, but the sound was not to my liking - the ones I tried did not have the concert sound I sought, at any price.

The Dietrich I bought for less money has the sound I expected for a concert violin, for the price of a Cao advanced-student model (at the time).

I hear good things about some eastern European luthiers, but so far no one has confirmed to me the violins have the "concert sound".

I can steer you Miss K Abhuel in Cremona, who makes lovely violins with concert sound, but at a Cremona price. Hers are owned by some rather famous people.

So far, the best concert-sounding violin I have found for the price is the Dietrich. (I am in no way affiliated).

good luck!

June 14, 2007 at 11:38 PM · I sell Cao violins and agree with Clare regarding the sound versus price. I think the Ming Jiang Zhu violins are also a great choice. I sell both lines but find the Zhu are better at the "concert" quality level. The eastern European instruments in general can work out real well in this range also. I like them all :-).

June 14, 2007 at 11:44 PM · I purchased a Scott Cao STV-850 Il Cannon model and love it. My teacher's violin was made in the early 1800's and said my violin sounds and plays better than his.


June 22, 2007 at 09:09 PM · When we bought my daughter's 3/4 violin, we spent around a month sampling violins from several shops around the country. My own opinion is that a violin is as good as it sounds. We ended up buying a Scott Cao because it was best for her hand, but I would also say that another instrument by the same maker may not have pleased us as much. So I suggest playing the instrument and buying it if you like it more than anything else you try.

For what it is worth, she is very happy with her Scott Cao (Chinese made STV).

Also, the choice of bow makes a big difference to how the instrument plays. So when you get an instrument to try out, make sure you get several bows to try out the violin with.

June 22, 2007 at 11:09 PM · very well said Kumar i couldnt agree more nor have said it any better

May 14, 2008 at 11:22 AM · I recently bought a 1/10 size Scott Cao violin for my son (the STV017 model). I compared it to Eastman violins of the same size and having the same strings. The Eastmans, which were twice the price of the Scott Cao, sounded like tin boxes in comparison.

I haven't heard the larger scale violins but Scott Cao makes one helluva good fractional violin at an affordable price.

May 14, 2008 at 02:34 PM · Violins are totally subjective, try them out and see what you like, what you like might not be what someone else likes. I've tried violins people raved about only to be very dissapointed and wonder what the hype was about... And I've tried violins called "factory made" that sounded much better than violins costing double.

May 14, 2008 at 06:58 PM · Michael,

Would you have bought the factory made if it cost the same, say 10K? I used to think the sound is the only thing that matters. I still do most of the time. But I would be hesitant to pay about 10K for a factory/shop violin. I don't know if I can sell it in the future for that price if I decide to upgrade.

May 14, 2008 at 07:14 PM · Ihnsouk,

No I wouldn't buy it at that price range, I was looking for a cheaper price range like the OP. I myself could never justify spending anywhere near 10K on a violin, I wish.

May 14, 2008 at 08:36 PM · It is too little to like the sound of the instrument and buy it and after a while to notice changes in the sound and OOPS! your instrument came apart. When you buy shoes, that looks great, you wanna make sure that it also has a good quality and you can wear it for a long time. If you choose an instrument only because the company has a good advertisement, it is not going to do any good. It is very important for you to be able to hear how they sound like and to get more information about the actual luthier.

P.S. Good sounding instrument is always a good investment.


August 14, 2008 at 06:52 AM · Im sure the quality of the 10k Cao violin must be good but if your going to spend 10k a 1920's Roth in the same price range has a better resale value and has aged a bit and played in as well than a off the bench S.Cao

August 14, 2008 at 09:06 AM · Just a question, how many of these shops actually spend time to do a fine tuning/setup on these instruments?

You might say it's not worth the hassles, but I believe if that's the reason these violins are sold higher in the shop than everywhere else, I guess it's much worth it?

May 17, 2010 at 03:03 AM ·

Duplicate post.

February 1, 2011 at 12:35 AM ·

 My daughter has been using a Scott Cao 750 violin since she was able to handle full size violin, She is now in DYAO. Granted, she has now out grown this violin, this violin has served her well in last decade.  The strength of this violin is its projection. It projects better than many violins we have tried over $4000.  Over the years, we have been looking for an upgrade for her.  But when we compared with the Scott Cao violin, we (including her teacher) were not impressed. Recently, we came across an EH Roth violin that we really like, but that was a $5000+ one. 

When we first purchased Scott Cao violin, her violin teacher then was very impressed with the value of the violin. She predicted that this violin would be good enough well into high school. She was exactly right. She also said that although her violin projected well, but it lacked "complexity."   We also found that there is slight wolf tone issue but not terrible. 

We also found that the best string for our Scott Cao violin is Thomastik Infeld Red. There is a significant difference in responsiveness and tone quality among the different strings.


July 28, 2011 at 06:37 PM ·

I recently found a 15.75" Caligari viola for one of my students, made this year, and it is a stellar instrument for the price (only a few thousand dollars). You almost never find an instrument in this size and price range with a rich, full, and complex sounding C string and this one was a welcome find!

I didn't spend much time playing the Caligari violins when I was at the shop (Morey's Music in Lakewood, California), but there's quite a number of them that sounded pretty good and will be looking at them again when my next group of little kids moves up to full size.

July 31, 2011 at 05:24 AM ·


Please see here.

November 6, 2011 at 12:15 AM ·

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