Luis and Clark for the College Student?

November 7, 2008 at 12:09 AM ·

The current dilemma is choosing an appropriate violin for school. I live in Alaska and plan on going to school in Chicago for a degree in Violin Performance. Was wondering about people who have experience with the Luis and Clark Violin, and how it compares with violins in the same price range. If so what are the pros and cons of a CF violin compared to a 5000 dollar wooden violin. Also need to factor in peoples biased about alternative violin material, how is it as a student going for a violin degree with a L&C violin. Also if it is worth each and every penny of the 5500 dollar price tag?

Replies (27)

November 7, 2008 at 12:20 AM ·

I believe you should contact the teacher you are going to study with.  \\\



November 7, 2008 at 03:48 AM ·

Don't get one. There's a reason that they don't come up that much. Nothing is really going to beat the sound of a fine wood violin. There is a direct sound comparison of a L&C and a normal violin on youtube.... I hate the luis and clark cellos and the violins have a "tin" sound.

What's the  most your willing to spend on a violin?

November 7, 2008 at 01:05 AM ·

I have never seen one of the violins, but a client of mine has one of the cellos. I remember being quite impessed with the quality. I would guess that it makes more sense with cellos as $7000 doesnt get you much with traditional cellos. Violins on the other hand, 5 to 6 grand could get you a pretty decent violin.  Checking with the teacher you will be studying with before you make the purchase is a good idea.

November 7, 2008 at 01:07 AM ·

Paul, everything sounds tinny on Youtube :).


I don't have any experience with them, but I like what I've heard, even from seasoned professionals.  Also, the high quality sound tapes on their website are impressive.

I shall look at these violins AFTER I somehow get myself a Musafia Enigma :D

November 7, 2008 at 02:46 AM ·

As with any violin, I wouldn't make any kind of decision one way or another until you try it. See if you can get a carbon-fiber violin for a week or two on a trial basis, and you'll be able to decide whether you like it as much as the violins you could buy for around that price range.

I had never considered getting a carbon fiber bow until I tried one a few months ago, and I love it!

November 7, 2008 at 03:23 AM ·

I tried a few of the fiddles.  They are well made, and behave well for what they are.  Essentially, they play in tune (meaning their overtones don't clash), and respond to differences in articulation, vibrato, volume, etc.  From the D-string up they actually sound pretty good.

You don't get a lot of resonance on the G-string, nor do you get a lot of unaided volume.  It does what you ask, but no more.  An excellent practice or travel instrument, and fairly priced for someone who really needs one.

November 7, 2008 at 03:34 AM ·

The L&C violins have a REAL problem getting people to try them--as they have a trial policy consisting of forking out $5000 for the instrument outright with no trial per se.  That is the limit of the violinists knowledge of these things really--they have so few takers because you can't try them out without buying them---for the most part.



Paul--don't comment on something you haven't seen and had under ear in person. mkthxbai. 

November 8, 2008 at 08:41 PM ·

 A lot of people are kind of against them on principle and will dismiss them without playing them or judge their tone from Youtube or L&C's badly recorded samples (video camera?). Paul, the comparison on Youtube, if it's the video I'm thinking of, is not an L&C violin or if it is the it's an early prototype - note the wooden neck.

I have played a bunch of Luis and Clarke's violins as well as their viola and heard the cello up close. They are perfectly good instruments and I would buy one in a snap if I had $5000 spare. I wouldn't say they are overpriced but I'm imagining that one day mass production could bring the price down. L&C don't really seem interested in doing this however. They do NOT sound tinny, in fact the violin sounded surprisingly woody from a distance. I really liked them and they would be ideal for someone like me who needs something a bit more durable and weather proof. They may not be for everyone but nobody is suggesting that every wooden instrument be burned and replaced with a carbon fiber! Really the thing is to try them and not trust a word that you hear on forums, especially from people who haven't actually played them or heard them any other way except from an unprofessionally recorded low quality video.

November 8, 2008 at 08:59 PM ·

I was agonising over buying a used L&C violin for a while - in fact, the only used L&C I've seen in the marketplace. Fortunately someone else made the decision for me (by buying it).

I've seen a cello in use by a touring musician, but was not up close; further, the sound was miked thru a mixing board, which makes it tough to determine what it might sound like unmodified and unamplified. Still, for a musician who must travel a lot, CF instruments make sense.

That said, I don't think it's the best choice for a university student musician, for reasons mentioned above: you'll face prejudice, it's far from cheap, and unless you're travelling a lot between Alaska and Chicago, you probably don't need the strength and stability that CF provides. (If you were a permanent Alaskan violinist, i wouldn't hesitate to recommend such an instrument; the problem of humidity or lack thereof is considerable in a cold dry environment, or for that matter a cold, wet environment). For the money you can find a fine wooden instrument, and nothing prevents you from keeping an eye out for a used L&C. (The one I saw was selling for $3500, which seemed reasonable, and I would have had a 48 hour approval period as well).

November 10, 2008 at 04:56 AM ·

Well now things have changed, taking a gap year and working up at northern alaska to help pay for a new violin and school, most im willing to pay is about 6,000. I did fall in love with a 1780 mittenwald violin that was priced at 5500, tried about 15 violins, I was thinking that the pay is good at what I am going to do and was thinking about getting both the l&c and the mittenwald or are there any passionate objections for getting better at 5500. Have a double case for the violins and a separate case for the L&C when appropriate. Opinions?



November 10, 2008 at 06:14 AM ·

I'd say if you are in love with the mittenwald, get that, and invest the rest in a really nice bow, case, and then save the rest for living in chicago or tuition.

November 10, 2008 at 06:18 AM ·

Sorry forgot to mention, If memory serves me right the usual figure for bow to violin price is your bow should be about 1/3 the price of your violin, I think thats about what they say at least.  Basically, just be sure to get a very nice bow to go along with that violin, as the bow is just as important.

November 17, 2008 at 10:21 PM ·

Well, I found a used violin for $4500.00, the owner is a fiddler from the Steve Riley Mamou Playboys, including a coda classic bow and case. The reason for his selling is that with cajun music his low tension tuning for the violin bridge, he had an issue with the bridge staying in place. He also mentioned, " I've found that it takes a $12,000 worth of new wooden violin to please me, and only some of those really do it for me" .  The question is what gives me better bang for the buck, is the Luis and Clark really in it's own category of sound for it's price? It's hard to say with the lack of it being able to be played before purchasing.

November 18, 2008 at 12:38 AM ·

I don't know about the violins, but I have heard one cello and it was massively unimpressive. Tonally, it had exactly one sound, and one volume--I could see the poor kid who owned it was trying to get something out of it, but I wasn't hearing it. It also sounded a lot like an Ovation guitar, which is not a thing in its favor.

Anyway, I think you should wait until you get to Chicago. There are lots of good violin shops here, and I suspect if you show up with an L&C the first thing your teacher is going to do is make you go out and buy a violin. Something like this, when you have a future teacher coming up, should be co-ordinated with your future teacher, because he's going to want to have some say over how you sound and whether the tool you have is adequate for the job.

November 18, 2008 at 01:53 PM ·

 I thought the cello sounded fantastic! Especially in its price range.

December 6, 2008 at 12:33 AM ·

I bought a L&C violin. The service was outstanding and I felt that the buying experience was second to none. When I first got the instrument, I loved it. However, after playing it for awhile, I became unsatisfied with the sound. It seemed to lack a certain tonal color that you would get from a wooden instrument. I think the L&C is perfect for a player in a group that travels extensively or for a backup or summer instrument.

I would agree that waiting to you can preview some instruments with your teacher is a wise move.

I dont regret sending it back.

December 11, 2008 at 09:15 PM ·

 Sadly, for all the excellent qualities that the makers have managed to bestow upon carbon fiber bows and instruments, they just can't make them sound like good wood.  I'm not saying they sound bad, they just don't sound like wood. Many people haven't been able to get over that issue yet.

December 12, 2008 at 01:05 AM ·

In regards of the L&C CF instruments, there are pros and cons.  I have looked into getting one of them myself, but couldn't justify one, until I got a chance to play one.  I tried a viola, painted brown here in VA Beach, VA.  I personally, did not care for it, I felt that my 2G viola sounded better (but I did get a needle-in-a-haystack instrument however).  But, I will state some of the pros and cons to the L&C:


1) Being that you live in Alaska, and moving to Chicago for violin performance, you might want to take into consideration the weather.  With the L&C instruments, unlike classic wooden ones, they don't contract nor expaind during weather changes.  They have mechanical pegs on there as well, so they won't slip during the changes either.

2) Durable and Waterproof!  If you read some of their articles that they have, they stated that a cellist thought she lost her CF instrument. But turned out all she needed was a new bridge and sound post, and dumped out the water of course. Just another pro to having CF during bad weather. I've also been told if you drop the instrument, just by mistake, it should not affect it or shatter.  Since CF is stronger than steel, in some aspects, there is appriciation toward the instrument's durablity, compared to some older, finer wood instruments.

3) Consistant sound.  Even thought the strings may benfit the insturment, the humidity changes wont' affect the sound.  It is suppose to have consistant sound no matter what status your playing. (Solo in the south, or chamber orchestra in the fridged cold.)

4) Warrenty.  Not many instruments that you buy have these, but like the Coda bows, L&C instruments come with a life time warrenty, I believe.


1) You stated in your discussion before, that your going to play at the Chicago Violin performance program?  Well, unfortunatly, this is where you need to find out for yourself about sound. The CF instruments, personally, didn't have as a clear sound as I would want.  But changing strings and having a great bow may help, but I doubt you may get the sound out of it that would compare to a 5G violin.

2)Standing out.  Well, again, since you said your going into performance, you may like the looks of it compared to tradition Strad. models.  The natural CF look is cool, but then again, it may draw too much attention in the orchestra, if you play with them.  But during Solo time, it may be attractive to the spectator's eye.

3) Is it a toy or for real?  I personally didn't like the feel of the CF instrument.  It did feel like someone made a cheap model of the instrument, while playing. But keep in mind its made of CF so it will be lighter and the properties will be totally different than that of a wooden violin.  The coating on the intstrument wasn't very pleasing to me, because it felt very slick and over all a different feel than that of normal ebony fingerboard, for sure.

These are some things that I found out, personally.  I would contact them and ask to see if someone near your area has one that you may try (Violin or viola).  I had to find out myself before making a purchase/investment myself. 

Good luck, hope to meet you one day in the music world.

December 12, 2008 at 07:53 AM ·

It would be interesting to find out how many of those who use the L&C instruments use them as their only instrument and how many have a high quality traditional instrument as well.

I venture a guess, but only a guess, that the latter group is most probably significantly larger, at least that would seem to make a lot of sense.

If my guess is correct, then it would suggest that it may not be the very best idea to buy a CF violin as the main and only instrument for conservatory. Instead it would seem that the real attraction of these instruments is to get an almost indestructible second instrument that is nearly but not quite as good as one's main instrument.

To me the L&C violins seem particularly attractive as travel instruments. Yes, you can insure a wooden violin, but if it does get seriously damaged or lost or stolen and it was an instrument you really really liked, can the insurance money really replace it? A CF instrument on the other hand is fairly unlikely to get seriously damaged in the first place and in the event of theft or loss, it is easily replaced by another one from the same manufacturer.

December 12, 2008 at 07:34 AM ·

I love how my current violin can do all sorts of colors, from whisper soft tone to mellow warm tone to aggresive bright crunchy tone, and that's my first instrument that's able to do that, and literally change my way of thinking about what set a good violin apart from a student violin.

And it fall in the price range of what L&C offer, to be accurate, slightly more. If what Michael Darnton said is true, then it's a little too much to invest in L&C instruments IMVHO. Maybe it's a great instrument for those who travel a lot, but I'd trade the armour for the soul of the instrument anytime, since I don't travel much.

Just my insights.

December 12, 2008 at 01:54 PM ·

"From Dwight Brown
Posted on November 7, 2008 at 12:20 AMI believe you should contact the teacher you are going to study with.  "

Absolutely the best advice you could get!



December 12, 2008 at 02:33 PM ·

In this case, yes. 

Even if your teacher is wrong on the merits, he or she can make your life miserable if you stray too far from center.  You don't want to endure 4 years of funny looks and snide comments.

January 10, 2009 at 05:13 AM ·

There are certainly some good thoughts here. I personally weighed many of the same pros and cons and came to the conclusion that in my present situation, the pros of owning one of these outweighed the cons in a significant way.

My situation is remarkably similar to the originator of the thread. Although I don't live in Alaska or even a far away state from where I  study, I am in Chicago, and I don't have a lot of money. I also don't have a car, which means I spend a lot of time on  the public transportation system in the Chicago area, or on foot getting around (or on my bike). That means every day back and forth from school (I live in an apartment walking distance) and bus/train rides downtown for lessons. So I'm moving around alot, and weather in Chicago can be not-friendly and unpredictable, as can the climate control unit in my University building where I keep my instrument and bow during the semester. So having an extremely durable, weather and minor accident resistant instrument was and is very appealing to me. Plus, it is something that will always be an asset for the same reason, and just fun to play, even if I do get a fabulous wooden instrument somewhere down the line.

But that brings me to another issue: money. While nice instruments certainly are available for between 3 and 6 grand or so, That is still seriously infringing on budget possibilities for me. An instrument over 6 grand was out of the question without some sort of loan, and going to school (paying for school) and living in an apartment in Chicago does not "lend" itself to having outstanding balances here and there. My parents also don't have the money to help out with a major expenditure in the area of 5- 10 grand, which is what it could take to really up the ante in the search.

Finally, I had the oppurtunity, unlike a number of reviewers above, to try 3 different LaC violins and hear 2 LaC Cellos in action. Two of the violins are owned by students of my current teacher, and he owns one himself (so the teacher issue is not mine...). One of the cellos was owned by a student in an orchestra I play in, and the other by a seasoned professional, former concertmaster of fourteen years at Florida Phil, and while he has a very nice wooden instrument, he swears by the cf as well for many of the reasons above, as well as, believe it or not the sound and the volume. Of the violins I tried, my teacher's is the nicest. The sound was really very good, and in my opinion achieves a bit more color than some reviewers seem to have grasped. It projects very well, the tone is very balanced, but the G string, while effective, is not as good as the others. Overall the response is quite good as well. And another plus for my teacher-no wolfs. His violin has none. I played every quarter tone on that instrument with and without vibrato in 4 different dynamics with varying degrees of bow speed- it's wolf free as he got it. Mine has only one, the second octave B flat on the g string, but then again, the g string is the culprit in terms of overall quality. The whole g string thing could also improve with a different string, as the stock combo is dominants with a pirastro e...  

After weighing all of the issues, I decided to get one. I've had it for awhile, and honestly I haven't gotten bored, and it has become my main instrument, at least at this time for the reasons stated above. But honestly right now I think the only reason I'd go for a nicer wooden instrument is if someone loaned me one indefinitely or I suddenly came into a lot of money.

As for playability and design, which I haven't adressed... this may or not be annoying for some people, but the cornices on my wooden instrument quite frankly got in the way. Looking back, the circumstances under which I came to own that instrument were not entirely ideal, and some of the issues I've had with it can be explained by that I think, but the cornices-definitely an issue. Also... varnish.... my poor violin's was pretty weak. I talked to my luthier/repair guy and he looked it up. Apparently it was made overseas in a shop just as the ownership of the business was changing hands, somewhere in the transition my instrument didn't get the best varnish job, I think it has only one or two layers, can't remember, but it's wearing out and it soaks up a lot of grit.

Both of these problems are eliminated with the cf. the "varnish" hardened poly-eurethane I believe, and it provides for a glossy and beatiful finish that isn't in a position to suffer as much as a wood varnish may. Also, if you look at the pictures out there, you'll notice that there are no cornices. I find this very helpful coming from my other instrument. While cornices can be avoided without sacrificing much of your right side posture, I always worry about smacking mine, maybe it's just me.... but that's not an issue anymore, nor is hurting the varnish. Heck All I'm worring about now is fingerprints :).

As for the feel of the finish as a fingerboard, I'll be honest, at first I worried that when I got sweaty or nervous I'd be slipping and sliding around like crazy. But it really wasn't a problem. And in fact, I can also say with complete honesty that I've adjusted just fine to the different feel, and I wouldn't put it past any experienced player to do the same without  problem.

Final verdict for me:

Definitely worth the money, sound is really great and much better than what I had. Many of the playability questions are muted after spending a good couple of days with the instrument.  I was fortunate to have a protracted experience with the instruments and, as this is not the case for many people, do to the practice of L a C and the number of instruments out there as of yet. It won't break unless you do something really dramatic, it's weather resistant in every way (except tornado of course, and probably tsunami of large height :-]  ) and it's fun to play.

In any case I wholeheartedly agree with the advise of checking with your teacher-to-be. It could make all the difference as to whether or not it would work and all.

Best of luck,


September 14, 2015 at 04:14 AM · I am a bit angered over some of the comments that have been made over the Luis and Clark instrument. ANYONE KNOWS THAT MOST INSTRUMENTS will have a tonal change whenever some thing on it is modified, replace for a different part, or changed in some way. Such as moving a post, or replacing a bridge to different one, replacing the tailpiece especially the strings. With the Luis and Clark instrument is no different. Yes when you buy a L&C at first it will have a bit of a metallic sound but that goes away after a few plays. My cello has been reset and I have different strings on it than with what it came with and I had changed the tailpiece all for a more warming sound cello.

September 14, 2015 at 04:14 AM · I am a bit angered over some of the comments that have been made over the Luis and Clark instrument. ANYONE KNOWS THAT MOST INSTRUMENTS will have a tonal change whenever some thing on it is modified, replace for a different part, or changed in some way. Such as moving a post, or replacing a bridge to different one, replacing the tailpiece especially the strings. With the Luis and Clark instrument is no different. Yes when you buy a L&C at first it will have a bit of a metallic sound but that goes away after a few plays. My cello has been reset and I have different strings on it than with what it came with and I had changed the tailpiece all for a more warming sound cello.

September 14, 2015 at 09:01 PM · You realize you're reviving a thread from 2008?

(I do wonder what the OP decided to do -- and what reaction his teacher had if he bought the L&C.)

September 14, 2015 at 11:56 PM · I almost bought one of the Luis and Clark violins a while ago!

Does anybody around here have one? If so, what has your hands-on long term experience with it been like?

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