Tell me your experiences of buying violins on Ebay

November 16, 2007 at 04:35 AM · Curious to know one's experiences of buying violins on Ebay. I did a bit of trolling and saw some curious items. For example, saw a violin with a starting price of less than $700. Did a search on the name of the maker and found several stores on the web offering a similar violin between $5000 and $1000. Please explain.

Replies (59)

November 16, 2007 at 01:14 PM · i wouldnt trust the bagpipe world they have these highland bagpipes that come from pakistan and they go for around 150 bucks and there made of rosewood and they are junk.for a set of good pipes would atleast start at 700 and would be blackwood.there are alot of conmen on ebay also they get there buddies to bid prices up !also some violins on there say you will get one like the one they are showing unless its and older or fine violin.but the idea of shipping makes me nervous

November 16, 2007 at 03:02 PM · I mean't to say between $5000 and $10,000. This seller on Ebay has a video of him playing the violin he is selling. He also has a 7 day guarantee (although I don't know if those 7 days are from the time he ships it or from when it arrives).

November 16, 2007 at 03:25 PM · I think it is a big risk. I have done a lot of selling and purchasing on Ebay and for the most part it has been a very good experience but there are definitely some bad sellers (and buyers!) out there. I purchased 1/10 student violin for my son to begin on because it was drastically less expensive than retail and had a great experience with it. The instrument is fine and I got a good value but I knew that I wasn't getting anything spectacular.

The 7 day guarentee probably can't be enforced by Ebay so I wouldn't consider that a factor. I think you would want to play on an instrument before purchasing... ?

November 16, 2007 at 04:35 PM · There are many past threads on this very topic. You can read these and get a good overall impression.

The term VSO or Violin Shaped Object is very true. It can be a beautiful looking object that may cost you an arm and a leg getting it to playability. It may need the fingerboard replaced, new sound post, bridge may be improper. Every aspect of the violin may need to be either adjusted or replaced, costing into the hundreds of dollars. In my humble opinion, it just simply is not worth it.

Support your local luthier and violin shop. Try out the different instruments and bows. Listen to the advice of the violinist that patron the shop. You can always rent before you buy, and if you do buy, you can purchase with confidence.

Ebay is a great flea market. But I wouldn't buy a violin at my local flea market either. Maybe a pair of socks, but not something that is going to become an extension of me. Though, I've been accused of having socks that smell as if they're and extenstion of me.

Ebay is fun, but I wouldn't purchase a violin unless I was 100% confident that what I was purching was authentic with undisputed provenance. That is very difficult to do on Ebay.

Best of luck in what every you decide.

November 16, 2007 at 05:26 PM · I have bought violins on ebay but didn't tell myself to do what I was told because I thought it was too expensive (if I did what I was told).

November 16, 2007 at 07:45 PM · james, if i am reading into your inquiry correctly, you may be looking at a violin that is described as MADE BY a specific maker, or something to that effect,,,(if it is "labelled as", then imo it is safe to assume it is not the real thing,,,on ebay)

so you are like,,hmmm. what's up here...

i think of all things in the ebay violin world, this is probably the trickiest catagory. often, or more often than not, you see junks and it is easy to decide. (i bought my kid her first violin on ebay knowing full well it was junk, because i knew it fitted her beginning playing nicely. the shipping was more expensive than the violin, alright, vso:):):)

problem arises when there is a disassociation between reality and fantasy, between a fair price and a steal, when a deal seems just too good to pass, i actually mean, too good to be true.

in this case, i suggest you make every effort, if you are interested, to find some pics of the real violin from that maker and try to compare. often, it will not take more than 10 seconds to conclude: the F holes are not even close, the scroll is not even close, the c bouts, the corners, the varnish,,,etc. or even ask someone who is knowledgable to take a look for your education...

return policy, true or not as found out later, is better than stated no return policy. (i love to read things like,,,no return, good luck:). still, you have to decide whether it is worth the time, effort and risk to get involved in the first place.

if the violin is legit, it is very possible on ebay it is discounted comparing with "stores" which need to charge more for overhead. but often, you won't see the final price until the auction ends because people tend to final bid later and later.

November 16, 2007 at 06:25 PM · In the price range you're thinking of, if you DO decide to take a flyer, I'd go to the hassle of getting an escrow service. What this does is hold the money until you've released it to the seller after inspecting and playing the violin. (They charge a small percent of selling price to do this). Any reputable seller should be willing to do this. If he refuses, move on.

Be aware that all the 'buyer protection' bumph you read is BS. eBay makes money on the sellers, not the buyers, and this is reflected in their policies. The Paypal protections are the same. I've never heard of anyone actually getting their money back on a deal gone bad.

Use the escrow service if the savings are too big to resist :).

November 17, 2007 at 12:41 AM · I've bought 6 violins, 3 violas and a bow from ebay. On the whole, I've done pretty well.

There've been two dogs: a baroque violin that was basically a 1880-ish German factory fiddle, made over with a baroque neck and bassbar, and a viola labelled Didier that turned out to be another German piece.

Of the others, only one was not as good as expected; it's a 1850 era Italian that had a new belly done around 1919. Still a decent fiddle, but not as nice as I'd hoped.

For the rest, there've been 3 instruments that were actually made by the person or shop whose label they contain, one with a fake label that was advertised as a fake, and a couple unlabelled instruments whose quality exceeded the price paid. One of these, which apparently served for a while as a home to a family of mice, is one of the household favorites, a real bargain in my estimation.

I figure I've gotten most of these at or below wholesale. While I've put new strings on all of them, and had setup and repair expenses, I've expected to need work done, so it was not a traumatic issue.

I believe that excellent players' instruments can be had, and one can even find decent instruments at decent prices. For example, a Marc Laberte 16.5" viola, and a H Th Heberlein violin, both actually made by the makers in question, averaged 2K apiece, which is probably less than half what they'd run in a shop. Both are fine instruments. Perhaps not a steal, but not bad at all.

I'd recommend not buying an instrument located in another country, due to currency and bank expenses as well as hefty shipping costs. I'd also recommend buying from someone who will offer a return policy. Check the feedback to see whether the policy has been honored. Expect to have to cover the cost of strings and setup. It's also best to buy from folks who are knowledgeable about packing and shipping. But be aware that the more knowledgeable the seller, the less chance of a huge bargain. But the less chance of being burned, as well.

Sometimes you will find sellers within a reasonable distance, offering the opportunity of an in-hand checkup before bidding. This is a good idea, of course, if it can be arranged.

I don't expect to get a Strad for $500, but I do think one can find a really decent fiddle for that amount. If it's investment quality you're interested in, you'd best be patient, have a good eye, and iron nerves, and the ability to absorb a loss. Or go to a reputable shop and pay the asking price.

November 17, 2007 at 02:29 AM · When ebay started up, I was amazed how honest it made people look in general - you send them money and they send you an item, when they really didn't have to.

There are ways to protect yourself by using special services outfits like PayPal provide, I think. And the crooks are generally the ones who don't answer questions right and can't spell, and so on.

But, to keep things simple, I wouldn't buy something on there for more than I was willing to lose, except under special circumstances. I bought something on it for $4700 once, and drove to Philadelphia to pick it up and pay in person. Which was fine at the time, because I needed the vacation. The machinist at a large company I used to work for supplied most of his shop with equipment he found on ebay; large machines like milling machines and CNC stuff which came in by truck. For that stuff there was always a satisfaction guarantee in the ad, something you don't find as often for something like a musical instrument, where its quality is more subjective.

November 17, 2007 at 01:20 AM · I think it is fine when buying in a certain price range since there really isn't that much to choose from in the retail market in the hundreds of dollars. If that is your range, there are some dealers who have surprisingly decent instruments. I have bought a few that actually are pretty good. However, in the price range you are speaking about, I would recommend proceeding with a great deal of caution. Listening to the violin played by someone else on the internet is not a bad thing but it is not that 'true' because of distortions, not to mention you still don't know how it feels, its responsiveness to you, and the ease of playing it. Something funny happens, as you know, when an instrument is tucked under your ear versus hearing it from another player at a distance let alone over the internet. I bought my violin as a result of hearing someone else play it because what I heard under my ear as thunderous (which wasn't a bad thing of course but it was harder for me to discern the actual tone) was actually a violin that carried well with a much more beautiful tone that I thought in my initial impression.

I would be fine with it if it was a reputable dealer who may have been recommended for there are many good dealers present on eBay as well. But, the reason so many unethical sellers have staying power is because of three reasons I can think of: 1) Many customers are not aware they are getting deceived 2) they actually use the ebay feedback forum to hold the buyer's reputation as hostage (which is really a major issue I have with eBay because their rules regarding removal of it amounts to enabling libel and slander 3) the dollar amounts lost does hurt, but legal fees to recover the loss will be just throwing more money at a relatively unresolvable problem.

There is one dealer on eBay who has resurrected using different names. He is fine to deal with so long as you do not have an issue. He has also used forum sites - not this one - as a way of attempting to lure in buyers by pretending to be a recent customer of his who was absolutely thrilled with both his product and service. Although he is in violation of interstate commerce and federal mail fraud statutes besides a host of civil actions with regards to misrepresentation, fraud, breach of contract and unconscionability, he manages to evade all this because of the red tape it would create to do anything.

Also know that in my opinion the feedback that matters is not the good but the nature of the negative feedback, as well as how the seller responds to negative feedback. It doesn't matter if a seller has 2000 positives compared to 5 negatives. Read what the negatives say and then click on the seller's 'Feedback left for others'. Some of it is actually appalling.

Sorry for the long response, but if it prevents just one person to fall prey to this, it was worth it. I hope this helps.

November 17, 2007 at 02:29 AM · I would never buy a serious instrument off ebay. I think it takes time to try it in person. It's even more important than trying on shoes or pants (which NEVER seem to fit me right)!!

I DID however buy a viola off ebay...however, in my defense...

I made sure it was not just some crappy brand (like Palatino)...

it was not a bright purple or anything...

it had average or normal materials used to make it...

it wasn't $.99...

AND it was from a store that just so happens to have an ebay portion for selling "on sale" instruments that has been advertised in ASTA and Strings magazines.

For a travel/teaching/beginning/secondary instrument, I am satisfied. If you're careful and avoid the "too good to be true" deals, I think it can work out okay. Mine was not outfitted and just a little over $200.

November 17, 2007 at 04:53 AM · This one item I've been following seemed pretty legitimate; the guy even had a video of him playing. He had over a hundred good pieces of feedback. A few things I found odd (not withstanding the terrible misspellings) 1) just before his first item sold - a Fiorini violin - he posted another item which was a Salvatore del Durro (or something like that). The descriptions of both were almost identical even though the Fiorini (if authentic) would be a handmade that shops list for over $5000 and the other violin is one of those names that was used to sound authentic. His video sounded almost the same. And he doesn't use Pay pal; only checks and money orders. It strikes me as odd.

November 17, 2007 at 05:35 AM · no paypal no money from me!

November 17, 2007 at 05:55 AM · There's a gambling side of me that just loves to buy violins off eBay.

I have bought 4 violins from eBay, all 4 from dealers. They all cost me between $150-$400 to set up.

The first was from Italy, very pretty, but I didn't like the sound. It was too big of a deal for me to ship it back, so i sold it here in the US. To my teacher, who is madly in love with it and uses it as her primary violin instead of her $15K one. No regrets, I still don't like the way it sounds.

The second one was from Portugal, a Maggini style, which had a beautiful tone, and which I sold by accident.

The 3rd was also from Portugal (same dealer) which was very, very beautiful "mastermade" by a swiss luthier, and sounded horrible no matter how much work was put into its set-up. I'm still trying to sell that one.

The one I have now is the fourth one, bought from Germany, made by a Hungarian. I like its dark sound and I'm keeping it until I find THE violin (not from eBay)...although...

November 17, 2007 at 12:19 PM · I actually was just in the violin shop the other day and a lady came in with a brand new cello from ebay. it had a nasty crack on the bottom right quarter. the luthier said the wood was probably wet when it was made.

November 18, 2007 at 09:55 AM · I have bought a few violins on eBay and have been very happy. There are sellers out there who will take advantage of the unlearned and innocent. Just be very careful when buying a higher dollar instrument and USE THAT ESCROW SERVICE. Buy the way, Stradivari 1719 is back at it again selling his "original masterpieces". LOL Won't he ever learn? Joseph

November 18, 2007 at 03:25 PM · I have sold many items on ebay but have only purchased 5 items (non-violin related). Three of those items purchased were not as described by the seller: one item was not in working condition, one item was completely different than the picture in the auction, and the other was much smaller than described. I would never buy anything on ebay again.

November 18, 2007 at 03:48 PM · Do you find that most local luthiers (non-ebay) are honest? Perhaps I'm a naturally skeptical person, but because I'm rather new at the experience of buying a quality violin, I wonder whether these shops are taking advantage of my ignorance and inflating the prices on the violins I see. It is difficult to determine because I can't imagine seeing the same maker of violin at different shops.

How firm are prices at most luthiers? Are we supposed to haggle?

November 18, 2007 at 04:11 PM · Like anything else, there are good and not so good in all forms. That would include the local luthier. If you are dealing with a reputable one, it is appropriate to negotiate.

The ebay issue is that it makes it easier for the disreputable to ignore you after the deal is done. A local luthier cannot. For instance, if you were being "taken for a ride", there are more legal options available to you at less expense (e.g. small claims court) than trying to go after someone legally on the internet, With that, you have jurisdictional issues, dollar mounts for federal dispute so on and so on.

For a violin that is under $1000, ebay is fine as is the local guy. You just have to be observant, and like I said before, the negative comments and the seller's responses to them are the real essence of the seller - not a 99% positive rating.

Whether it be on the internet or locally, an excellent option is to listen to the experiences of other clients and customers. Also know, if it sounds too good to be true....


November 18, 2007 at 04:29 PM · But I would think it would difficult to proceed legally if you buy a "$3000" violin that the luthier sells for $5000. Obviously, the more knowledgable you are about the market the better but I've been in several "quality" luthiers and I wonder whether they are showing me their low end goods at a mark-up rather than helping me find a quality instrument.

November 18, 2007 at 07:06 PM · The difficulty in buying a good 4-figure violin has something to do with the buyer. Frequently this is the first big step-up from s fractional or student-grade instrument, and the buyer may well be unable to judge the quality of a better fiddle. It's further complicated by the incredible variety of offerings, from new Chinese violins thru 100 year old German factory fiddles, to instruments produced in small workshops, etc.

Then there's the trust factor. One sometimes has the feeling that the shopkeeper dissolves in evil laughter when you walk out the door with a musical cigar-box that you've paid 5 grand for. Since the whole valuation process is based on a body of knowledge and observation that takes years to acquire and hone, and the fine arts trade is notorious for being a hotbed of crooks selling to fools, it's a legitimate concern.

My first purchase of a decent violin was serendipitous: my granddaughter needed a 4/4 instrument, had recently been influenced by a Celtic kids' jam group which assisted in boosting her skill level considerably, and I happened to log onto the website. Well, they'd just posted a violin from the John Hartford estate, which Mr H. had owned and played for some 40 years. I spoke to Mr Gruhn, who told me Hartford was an inveterate violin-trader, but had kept and performed on this fiddle for several decades, until his death.

This seemed ideal. The long period of ownership by a professional musician, coupled with the Celtic cross-connection, made the decision for me. Subsequently I had the fiddle appraised informally by local folks, who assured me its price was in line with its quality, and not boosted by the provenance.

At least one other purchase, of a Heinrich Th Heberlein violin, was due to a combination of reasonable price and known shop. While it's no Strad, it's a fiddle of reasonable quality and a decent "brand name". This is an example of a shopmade fiddle from a maker of good reputation, with pricing that is more or less stable across the marketplace. Roth violins are another example of this sort of instrument; you can be reasonably certain of both the quality and the price range.

There's doubtless a number of shops in the SoCal area that could be visited; innumerable violins to be sampled, and by doing so one can build a knowledge base. Meeting and evaluating the proprietors is also of value. Take up your lantern and go searching for an honest man. I'm sure he's out there somewhere, and he may have a violin.

November 18, 2007 at 07:56 PM · The legal issues related to buying a $3,000 violin for $5,000 would certainly be challenging because you would have to prove that the dealer knowingly deceived you and generally, unless his mother is willing to testify against him, it more than likely falls under 'caveat emptor'. Also, the court would be mindful that there would be a flood of frivilous cases every time someone purchased something they could have gotten for less. This, too, protects the good faith dealer.

Assuming unethical behavior that can be proven, I think the power of the legal process here is not so much a remedy as it is a warning. Getting away with unethical practices, in my opinion, is like rewarding the bad guy, and what gets rewarded gets repeated. Therefore, legal action in an available tool but not one that will guarantee all transactions because there is such a thing as a buyer exercising bad judgment, as well.

Besides misrepresentation, there is also uncosncionability of contract whereby a dealer charged you or provided credit terms that were inordinate and he did so knowingly to take advantage of the customer. On ebay, I notice one seller who auctions violins for $150 but advertises them in Buy It Now on eBay from $1,000 to $3,000. I certainly hope no one has paid that but if they did, there is a clearer case of a knowing intent. That conduct is unconscionable. Also, since the US mail could be involved in his shipping of the item, there can be issues of mail fraud. The government doesn't like it when you use their services to defraud the public so penalties are very severe in some cases.

The bottom line is James, be cautious and do your homework so that the legal process is a last resort and not viewed as a safety net.

November 18, 2007 at 08:22 PM · Be aware that the term "labelled" is generally taken to mean "someone put a fake label in this violin" rather than "this violin is made by".

Be aware that an instrument on ebay selling for 700 is not likely to be worth 5-10000. While sleepers do exist, and are sometimes sold by fools, it's much more likely to be the buyer who is fooled.

November 18, 2007 at 10:08 PM · "selling for 700 is not likely to be worth 5-10000"

Years ago I bought something on ebay that wasn't what was described, but the mistake was understandable and the value about the same, so I didn't say anything. What he sent is now worth about 10x more than it was then, and what I thought it was still costs about the same. But if somebody says this is worth 10x more than I'm selling it for, not likely :D

November 19, 2007 at 03:24 PM · So far,I've had no problems,other than being outbid.I just purchased a instrument from a repairman/luthier in PA that sells hotrodded Yita violins,and for the money,you can't beat it.I would remember that you're not going to get a high-end instrument from anyone without taking out a second mortgage.I would check to see if they have a website,and how well they communicate.The one I got from Veritas Violins is a great instrument for the money,has a lifetime warranty,the buy it now price was under 700 and he has a couple of others for even less.I will buy another one,for sure.My main complaint was now I have to buy a better bow.And if you're buying for a young person,they will NOT put it down,and that's a good thing....go look.....mine's great!

November 21, 2007 at 07:30 PM · If your ebay seller is also the violin maker, and it's a reputable maker, then I'd say you are good. The first time I heard of Gliga, it was from the company actually showing their violins online on ebay. I ended up buying one from them direct, and love it. My teachers have always commented on its great tone too.


November 24, 2007 at 03:20 AM · Greetings,

If you don't know much about violins, DON'T BUY FROM EBAY!

However if you do or know someone that does, and can repair, it's great up to a certain price range. You can get a great violin for less. Value is the only issue. Buy low. If it doesn't sound you can sell it at a bargain. What something sounds like has little to do with the value. Sometimes a great sounding violin goes for cheap because of condition and value. Under $300.00- $500.00 you can't go wrong if you know what you're doing. Never buy for value or above value reguardless of what it sounds like.Never go over $1,200 unless you are sure of the value.

Don't fall in love. Love is blind. Look for %100 feedback and a long money back guarantee (at least 14 days). Avoid bank or wire transfers. I have made mistakes, but also made up for them with some great deals. Knowledge is Power!

November 24, 2007 at 06:25 PM · I have purchased a number of violins and violas from eBay. It is always a gamble. I picked up a fabulous Richard Blois viola, a wonderful Wenzel Fuchs viola, a decent Stainer violin copy, a so-so Juzek violin, a Juzek viola that WOULD have been nice but it had a soundpost crack (grrrr!) for which repairs would cost more than the value of the instrument, an American violin that was fairly nicely built but had a tinny sound I didn't like, and a bunch of really lousy violins (a French "Conservatory", and a lot of German and Bohemian "Strads" that were in really poor shape). I've also picked up some good bows (new and old, carbon fiber and pernambuco), plus some firewood with some horse tail whiskers on them. I've kept them all, so far. I'm planning on using the junkers to try my hand at some repairs. In a few years, with enough practice, I may attempt a violin of my own. If I ever decide to get rid of the junkers, I'll probably offer them back on eBay again for about 20% of what I paid for them (and, of course, disclose all their faults as I know them). The 80% I lose is the price I pay for having gambled and lost. But I also got some real winners, so I think I'm actually ahead on the deal so far.

In reference to Gliga violins. I have one I really love! But then again, I went to their Pasadena store and tried out more than 20 before I settled on the one I purchased. Just about all their instruments are attractive and appear well made. However, the proof is always in the playing. Each instrument is different. Some are darker, some are lighter (in sound color). Some have thicker tops, some thinner. In general, I am very please with the company and their products, and I have recommended their instruments for people here in So. CAL who can travel to their store and try out several instruments.

I still think playing an instrument is the only way to find the instrument you want (even though I go gamble on eBay purchases myself). I am retired and have a lot of time on my hands, so it's kind of like playing the lottery for me. You know you're not likely going to win the jackpot, but you play anyway just hoping there might be a winner out there for you.

November 26, 2007 at 02:44 PM · It's a gamble. I've bought two violins off of E-bay. One was a Berkeley Strings 5-String electric violin. The fiddle was not exactly what was advertised..... but was a decent electric fiddle for $85. I bought my second violin from a chap in California... a "Franz Heisler".... probably a Chinese instrument. Came with nice case, cheap bow, luthier setup for about $250. Had some incredibly bad strings, but after switching them to Visions... turned out to be an impressive sounding violin. Great volume, rich tone, even across all the strings.

I would be more hesitant about spending more than $500 on an ebay violin....unless the seller was offering a trial period.

November 26, 2007 at 09:46 PM ·

November 26, 2007 at 05:43 PM · James,

Lots of good advice here already. One of the best though, IMHO is Jim's:

"But, to keep things simple, I wouldn't buy something on there for more than I was willing to lose"

because you just might 'lose' the gamble.

I bought a violin on the Polish equivalent of e-bay, having checked that person's comments. Seemed OK. It had the name of a well known (deceased) Polish luthier. When I took it to my local shop to have strings and a tailpiece put on, I was told it was a factory made violin, and of workmanship no self-respecting luthier would ever put his name to. So how the name got on there ...

My naivety and my mistake. It wasn't tons of money, but for that amount I could have had a shop bought workshop violin if not luthier made.

I have since bought from a luthier, and chose one which I played on myself, prior to purchase.

If you can, it might be worthwhile travelling there and trying out the instrument. Any picture and therefore also any 'sound' can be posted on the internet. What you are seeing and what you are hearing may well be a lie.

Just my two cents. Hope it stops you losing rather more than that as I did.

It is well worth trying out instruments. Then you know what you are paying for and if you will fall in love with it.

Unless of course, you do like gambling and don't mind losing.

November 26, 2007 at 08:31 PM · It depends. If it is under priced, then they are going to stick it to you in the shipping and handling charges. If the current bidding is low, it could be that there is a long time left before the bidding ends. Also, you will see many fake "Stainer" violins on eBay. Do not fall for those. Another to remember, old does not equal valuable. There are a lot of cheap CHinese instruments on eBay; avoid them. Having said all of this, I did purchase a decent violin that was made in Berlin around 1900 for $150 on eBay.

November 27, 2007 at 01:39 AM · From all the feedback (thanks) it strikes me that buying a violin on EBay is more for sport than anything. I guess if I repaired violins for a hobby, then it would be fun to go through the process. Otherwise, probably best to stay away.

November 27, 2007 at 10:21 AM · I've only ever bought an electric violin on eBay --and even then, I insisted on meeting the seller personally to inspect the item before handing over my cash payment.

For general purposes, eBay is great... Especially if the seller has a decent feedback rating.

However, I wouldn't recommend eBay for very personal things like violins. There's so many subjective variables involved ("Is the sound right for me?" "Is it light enough to my taste?" "Am I comfortable holding it and playing it?") That there really isn't any fool-proof way to guarantee your satisfaction other than seeing the item up close.

And then there are people like this guy who keeps insisting on selling his stuff for exorbitant prices, hoping to snag naive buyers with his misleading ad copy:

"This is an antique violin from Nicolo Amati. He was the grandson of Andrea Amati, the inventor of the violin..."

November 27, 2007 at 01:09 PM · oh my god..... the bridge is so thick....

November 27, 2007 at 05:20 PM · eBay is a great gamble. I love purchasing clunkers and bringing them up to speed. Sometimes they turn out to be gems, and othertimes they're fancy firewood. For me, spending $30 to get a broken violin and case is worth the minimal investment. Even a cheap violin has some history, and it's fun to undo the ridiculous things that people do.

If someone is searching for 'the one' violin for the rest of their career, the odds are against them if they plan to acquire it on eBay. I've seen some lovely instruments go through, and some ridiculous ones as previously mentioned. It's very hard to tell quality craftsmanship via images alone. As so many people have stated, any smart individual would want to play a serious investment before comitting to it. What's wrong with buying something locally (that you can try out) from a reputable seller? If you don't like local merchandise, you may have to travel to try things out.

As far as my over all eBay experience, I'd say that is has been very good. When I buy a piece of junk, I know it's probably going to be worse than depicted. It's also interesting to see how people ship violins... do I really need to go there? In the rare situation that I had gut feeling concerning a pricier instrument, I have been pleseantly suprised.

November 27, 2007 at 11:48 PM · I bought a pretty decent 5-string viola for $50 on Ebay at the last minute. Yes $50. That's not a typo. That was a good experience.

Check the seller's profile for customer feedback and see if anyone else was satisfied with a similar product.

December 11, 2007 at 03:24 AM · You can spot the phony ebay ads sometimes.

March 13, 2016 at 05:57 AM · I only bought a used electric silent violin eBay. I got it for 72$, shipping included, and it came with a case, a bow, a tuner, a headset and even a book of the "for dummies" series. I thought the risk was acceptable, the amount expendable, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Of course this is not my primary instrument, and the point was to get something to practice on at night, without annoying my fiance. I don't think I would ever buy my primary instrument on eBay. I don't necessarily think eBay is a bad marketplace... it's just impossible to try an instrument before taking it home. I bought my primary instrument locally, only after renting it for a few months and after my instructor had a chance to try it and "bless" it.

March 13, 2016 at 12:34 PM · And if you believe that, you might want to try buying Gold on ebay for as little as $100/oz, makes sense doesn't it?!?

March 13, 2016 at 06:49 PM · No, it doesn't Lyndon.

It would be better for all concerned if you tried dealing with the realities of living in 2016, instead of shooting your mouth off with your sarcastic put downs to all and sundry who state the above or similar and who, clearly and evidently, know better.

March 14, 2016 at 01:52 AM · You have no idea who or what you are talking about, a week doesn't go by Joe Green "discovers" another Strad or Guarneri on ebay, how come none of these instruments have ever been authenticated or made it to auction, I didn't think you knew!!

March 14, 2016 at 02:06 AM · I don't have a dog in this fight, so I'll just say for the newer members of this forum: Joe Green (under this name and some others previously, I think) has a history of making a great many claims about discovering the genuine, unauthenticated work of major makers on eBay and elsewhere. Broadly, he claims that many experts either can't recognize such work, or for reasons of their own (presumably unethical ones) refuse to admit to doing so when presented with such examples.

This seems improbable to me, but he's entitled to state his opinion.

March 14, 2016 at 02:09 AM · There are clearly members of this forum with "fun money" which they are comfortable using to buy instruments on a speculative basis off eBay. Some are restorers or violin-shop owners making educated bets about instruments that cost little enough that they can make a profit by fixing them up and selling them. Others are players who like to indulge in violin-shopping unheard; think of it as a form of gambling. You win some, you lose some, but unless you're an educated buyer, your odds are effectively random and perhaps even skewed against you, since on eBay you are often bidding against knowledgeable parties.

March 14, 2016 at 06:02 AM · Yeah we don't have to look far to find ebay crooks on, buying Markneukirchen Strads for $100 then advertising them for 3 million on ebay, they should be locked up IMHO.

PS Lydia, well spoken.

March 14, 2016 at 09:01 AM · Which came first, Stradivari's Markneukirchen period, or his Mittenwald period, or his Eastman period?

March 14, 2016 at 01:56 PM · Yes Jon Scotty, we know thats you too, using multiple personalities to mount personal attacks on reputable dealers, you've been reported to the moderators,

March 14, 2016 at 02:11 PM · it's all too easy to buy a reference-book with photographic reproductions of the labels of famous makers which can be cut out and inserted into fiddles by "lesser", or anonymous, makers. An Italian name is usually favoured for this type of scam - and Stradivari is a poor choice now as it's been done to death already and so many folk will be on their guard. A lesser-known name will whet the appetite of an unwary enthusiast.

Was I caught out only once on ebay ? Though the violin wasn't made by the maker whose label it appears to bear (worth a long-shot chance, thought I) it is nevertheless a quite decent violin, probably Markneukirchen - it sounds well. I have developed a little experience viewing timber, model, varnish etc. which meant that though I didn't get a violin made by the man-on-the label I did actually get bang-for-my-buck.

I don't think I have developed a multi-personality disorder yet.

March 14, 2016 at 02:24 PM · Well. This is an interesting turn of events. I frequent several other forums and sites, where people are not NEARLY as pleasant as general on here. Most are mma abs Brazilian jiu-jitsu related so you can imagine. Thank you Joe Green for the reminder that those people who are less than honest, delusional or just plain scam artists are everywhere. I almost feel arty home now.

Carry on people. Don't feed the troll!


March 14, 2016 at 03:04 PM · There's never been a single documented example of a Stradivari or Guarneri violin being bought for a song on ebay, if there was we'd hear all about it from people like Charles Beare, not Joe Green.

Seriously I'm getting called a troll for saying you're not going to find a genuine Stradivari on ebay, you're not going to win the powerball jackpot either, why is that so hard to understand??

March 14, 2016 at 06:21 PM · Lyndon. My post was entirely sarcastic. Jon is clearly the troll and needs to take his snake oil elsewhere. No one here is buying!

March 14, 2016 at 06:29 PM · For the benefit of the beginners on this forum, who are unfortunately possibly too credulous: Lyndon isn't the troll here. I know it's attractive to think that you can make incredible finds on eBay -- kind of the Antiques Roadshow jackpot that people hope for -- but it's doubtful at best, especially if you're not someone who's deeply educated in identification.

What *is* possible is to find pretty good deals on eBay or Craigslist, where ordinary people are selling their own student instruments and whatnot. You might luck into a decent-sounding violin for less than you'd have paid at a shop, even after you have some work done (new set-up, minor repairs, etc.). And there are some commercial brands (like the much-discussed Yita) that use eBay as their primary storefront, which can be a reasonable way to buy if you're willing to take an instrument you've never heard.

March 14, 2016 at 06:42 PM · I'm a fairly new parent-of-a-violinist and I've had good luck with buying student instruments for my kids (and I have one too) on ebay. I think as everyone has said it's a calculated risk. My guess is that the ebay violin market is a mix of newbies who want a new cheap violin, people who are shopping for an ok beginner/intermediate instrument, those who enjoy tinkering with broken or old instruments, and educated and uneducated speculators.

I think there are probably different goals at different price points. As a relative beginner I can now hear the difference between a VSO and a beginner instrument, but it will probably take a couple of years before I would really profit from trying out multiple instruments and picking the one I like best. And for me, even at that point, I might do better trying to get an intermediate Eastman or Yamaha half price on ebay than buying new from a violin shop. On the other hand, for serious students, you probably need an expert to help you really listen to a lot of different instruments.

March 14, 2016 at 06:52 PM · I have two Eastman 305 violins. One was my first store purchase (new) and the second was a 2006 used violin I found on eBay - in nearly mint condition with only a few indications of use. The store bought new violin took about two weeks to loosen up and sing more freely. The eBay used version was much smoother from the start and is still a much nicer specimen in terms of sound. The eBay purchased 305 was about 60% of the violin cost of the new one. So in this case, the use of eBay produced a good value proposition. Of course it could have turned out to be a dog :-)

Before I started my lessons, I bought two cheaper used violins. One is a good starter instrument (I think - nothing more) and the other was a complete mess. Because I did not know much/anything about violins, while convinced it had nice sound, my trip to the local store to get it set up showed the fingerboard/neck to be have been modified to be too low - shop said about $800 to fix - I am sure this was probably an inflated value but in any event, it made that eBay purchase a waste of time and money although I do have a nice, vintage looking violin ready to hang now :-)

My current favourite also came from eBay and the only reason I bought it was due to a reasonable and reassuring level of relevant seller feedback - it was clear this seller had experience selling and did not appear to have had many sales resulting in bad outcome - so it was a chance taken, but has been also very well worth it.

One more chance on eBay turned out to be pretty much as expected - nothing better nothing worse

So stats are:

1/1 for store bought new

3/4 for eBay bought used

So the natural question is why do I use eBay? Mostly because it is a convenient and (usually) low risk way to buy an instrument at a more attractive price. All store experiences so far have been good but at a much higher price point. I do think, however, as I progress up the ladder in terms of skill and instrument capability, I will be using the store avenue more often since it sees to be more about a longer term relationship and the ability to trade up etc. But there is a price for that set of services.

March 14, 2016 at 08:48 PM · I've bought one instrument (a viola) on Ebay and a couple of cheap violin bows. The bows I still have, and I didn't overpay for them, didn't underpay, either. The viola was a different story. This was a few years back, maybe 2008 or so. I would call it a "classic Ebay instrument scam" because the pictures were well done, and the description was just right - very well worded.

Like mentioned above, they don't say "Strad" any more, but instead choose lesser known 20th century Italian makers that are harder to find, yet are find-able if you look hard enough. The viola looked very good in the photos, and I thought "well, it's a long shot, but maybe worth the gamble". So I bought it - I think it was 1,100 or so - not chump change but also not a huge risk - especially if the instrument was as labelled. When it arrived and I opened the case, I smelled fresh varnish and knew right away that the instrument was not what I was hoping. And, the bridge wasn't even cut! Needless to say, I sold it the best I could, taking a loss. Lesson learned.

March 16, 2016 at 09:26 AM · K.W. wrote:- "Like mentioned above, they don't say "Strad" any more, but instead choose lesser known 20th century Italian makers that are harder to find, yet are find-able if you look hard enough. "

An example is Marlin Brinser's "Dictionary of Twentieth Century Italian Violin Makers". This contains a great many facsimiles of real makers' labels.

I've been VERY successful buying used clarinets on ebay - every purchase excellent. But the violin listings have always contained a huge proportion of very suspicious ones.

Among the bar-GAINS are many bar-LOSSES.

November 17, 2016 at 10:09 PM · Hi folks I am new to the forum and found this topic interesting. I sell on Ebay and have a perfect feedback score. There are alot of good sellers and buyers and bad sellers and buyers. Now that i got this out of the way i purchased a violin on ebay about a month ago. I am 63 and did play the sax 50 years ago but it was stolen and have not touched an instrument till now. I love Irish violin music so i thought maybe i could learn to play the violin. I did not want to spend a lot of money just in case i could not learn. So i saw an auction on Ebay and at the last minute i bid and won at $30.00 with case bow rosin. The violin is beautiful to look at and plays real nice at lease to my ear. One week and i can play Mary had a little lamb and twinkle little star. I love playing the violin. But if i decide in a year not to i will be out $50.00 or sell the violin. So for me it has worked out so far with minimal cost. If i get real good then i can always upgrade to a better violin.

November 17, 2016 at 11:11 PM · Congrats! Way to go!

Get Suzuki Book 1 - at the rate you are going you should be able to ply thru it by this time next week.

November 18, 2016 at 12:02 AM · Thank you for the encouragement Andrew I will get the book found it on Amazon

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