The Gammuto Violins

November 12, 2008 at 10:05 PM ·

There has been a lot of discussion on this board with regard to the quality and origin of the Gammuto violins.  As many of you know, Mr. Gammuto is a sponsor here and posts often.

Unfortunately most of the discussion has been negative and largely heresay and opinions.  I am the only one to step up and declare myself as an owner of one of his fiddles. 

Let me first give you some of my personal background.  I am a retired senior executive (cement company)  I started playing when I was six and continued through age 19.  During that time I served as Concertmaster of the California Youth Symphony, under Dr. Ernst Katz.  I was third chair Burbank Youth Symphony and concertmaster of the Hollywood High School Orchestra.  I was also selected as one of three violinists from California to the National High School orchestra under the direction of Thor Johnson.  We performed in St. Louis Mo.  I recorded with a studio orchestra that provided background for the movie, Unguarded Moment, with John Saxton and Esther Williams.  I got out of music for a variety of reasons but returned upon my retirement.  I have a passion for the instrument and my skill is slowly but surely returning.

While I am not a woodworking expert or luthier,  I think that I know a good fiddle when I see and play one.  I bought my first Gammuto, a student instrument toward the first of the year.  I was so impressed with it and after looking at other volins in Los Angeles, I decided to step up to a soloist model.  With the lack of references on his website, it was a matter of trust.   I bought the violins directly from Gammuto and not from his E-Bay store.  But I did check his feedback.

Since the have been some serious misgivings regarding his fiddles,here and also on Maestronet,  I undertook some in depth discovery myself, including communications with Gammuto. 

I would like to say here that I am entirely satisfied with what I have found and and state emphatically that the man makes his violins and does not substitute or use white blanks from China.  He is also a dealer and he does re-sell what he takes in but not with his brand on them.

The violins that I have our first class, and the quality is everything he says and I say they are.

It is unfortunate that such a witch hunt has occured which could do considerable damage to a honest maker.  Mr. Gammuto is sometimes opinionated and certainly there is some heavy duty pride which makes it difficult to respond to what has happened here.  I owe him an apology and I hope all of you join me in this.   Thanks.

[Editor's note: Violinist.com's Guidelines for Writers states that "Attempts to harass or intimidate others are grounds for expulsion from the site."

Over the course of this thread, it became apparent that Violinist.com members who had seen Mr. Gammuto's violins were of the opinion that they were of acceptable quality, given their stated prices. A trusted member of the site even visited Mr. Gammuto's shop in person.

Yet others on this thread continued to rail against Mr. Gammuto for a variety of reasons not related to direct personal experience with his violins - his website, his past work as a carpenter, his profile on eBay, etc.

And they wouldn't let it go, despite first-person accounts from actual owners of Mr. Gammuto's violins, and gentle rebukes from Robert and me that this thread was getting out of hand.

For some on this thread, these unsubstantiated criticism about the quality of Mr. Gammuto's violins crossed the line into personal attacks on and intimidation against Mr. Gammuto and his customers. That is not acceptable on this website.

Criticism of violin makers is welcomed on this site, and we provide both a luthier review section and this discussion forum for that. But personal vendettas are not.

For that reason, several individuals who participated in this thread have been banned from the site. We wanted to let you know why.]

Replies (100)

November 12, 2008 at 10:35 PM ·

Would you be willing to provide more details on the in-depth discovery process?

Sometimes, I'd like to be able to check the backgrounds of people wishing to enroll in various violin-making related courses I direct, so any tips you can give me would be appreciated.

November 12, 2008 at 10:39 PM ·

No sir, under the circumstances I would certainly not provide the details.  But I can tell you it involved contact with other respondents, a discussion with a person that has seen one his insturments and opinions from two local luthiers.  There is more, but I'm going to keep that to myself. 

November 12, 2008 at 10:59 PM ·

When judging violin making competitions, one of the concerns is that the instrument entered has actually been made by the competitor, so if you've come up with a good method for determining this, we could used some help on that as well.

Thanks

November 12, 2008 at 11:05 PM ·

David, George is not a luthier, so he can't comment as a luthier.

November 12, 2008 at 11:36 PM ·

While I've read the posts to which you refer, I haven't commented on the issue... and since I don't have first-hand knowledge of the instruments in question, or the person (beyond his posts and website), I still don't have any meaningful comments to make... but I have to admit that the ruckus has made me curious at this point.

In my view, without details I'm afraid the discussion remains an exercise in hearsay...  seeing your post, I was hoping that there might be some light (information) at the end of this tunnel.  Seems odd that you'd have gone to the trouble to verify the situation and not be willing to share meaningful information.  

I was also puzzled by Mr. Gammuto's response initially, but I don't pretend to understand what's in a barrister's head.  If he went to the trouble to get legal advice from a pro, I would think he should follow it.  Maybe you're suffering from the same restraints (do to your inquiries)?

Oh well.  Guess we will all have to wait for lawyers, guns and money (as the song goes).

 

November 12, 2008 at 11:26 PM ·

Greetings,

I find this thread as solipsist as it is non sequiteur;)  I am looking forward with great cheerfulness to where it goes next.

Cheers,

Buri the defenestrator.

PS There has been a lot of discussion on this board with regard to the quality and origin of the Gammuto violins. 

I don`t think there has.  I would like to be pointed to it. 

Thanks again,

Buri

November 12, 2008 at 11:26 PM ·

First of all,  Thank you Laurie.  I appreciate your putting and end to this ............on the issue of lawyers, guns and money.  I hold a BL.  I am not a lawyer and it was something to help along in my business career.  Having said that, I do not know where Mr. Gammuto can or will go with all this, but I think any further discussion on this subject is not in order.  One other point,  I am and in no way associated with Gammuto other than that of client.  Remember David,  I'm the guy who owns the Gammuto,  so pls let it go.......Best Regards,  gf

November 12, 2008 at 11:35 PM ·

Well Mr. Buri, or Steve, while I confess that I have no idea what you are talking about,  look upwards,  there is a whole thread under sticky fingerboands on this subject. 

November 13, 2008 at 12:11 AM ·

Hi Laurie;

I realize that George doesn't claim to be a luthier, but he stated the following at the beginning of the thread:

"I would like to say here that I am entirely satisfied with what I have found and and state emphatically that the man makes his violins and does not substitute or use white blanks from China."

On November 11th, in another thread, he stated,

"I sent Mr. Gammuto an e-mail yesterday expressing my concerns with as expressed here and on Maestronet.com. He responded but did not answer any of my questions or requests for quantifiable references. He did point fingers, however. So the saga continues."

A little confusing to me, but sometimes people who are not in the business have less "tunnel vision" than those of us who are heavily immersed, so if George has come up with a reliable method of determining whether a maker truly makes his own stuff, it would surely be of benefit to us all. Especially if this can be done in one day.

 

Edit:

Oh, sorry George. Activity has been so fast that I didn't see your post (two up) before I put this one up.

November 12, 2008 at 11:50 PM ·

OK, I'M CONFUSED.

What are you all talking about? I don't know any threads questioning Mr.Gammuto's violins. I know it was very kind of him to give one of his violins to a deserving student. I saw them on ebay and they were starting at six grand.

What are you all talking about though? Can someone link me to the thread so I can follow along?

I can only imagine how this must feel to him. Horrible.

November 12, 2008 at 11:59 PM ·

Good thing this thread came up...seems verrrrrrrrrry important.  What kind of strings should I use with a Gammuto violin?  What piece should I play next on my Gammuto violin?  Hmmm, Hmmm?

 

PS

ALL PUBLICITY IS GOOD PUBLICITY...CUROIUS ABOUT THE SOUND?  GO OUT AND GET YOURSELF A GAMMUTO ;-)

November 13, 2008 at 12:03 AM ·

Paul I'm with you. I'm also confuse about this subject......

November 13, 2008 at 12:07 AM ·

Started in this thread:

Loss of sound after repair

... as a tangent to what was being discussed at the time.

November 13, 2008 at 12:10 AM ·

Fascinating thread, and to think that some of my friends believe that violins and the violin world are BORING! 

All I can say is that if I had the skills and expertise to be a luthier, I'd be really happy and have no qualms to demonstrate MY "mastery" of violin-making for everyone to see/hear/observe.

November 13, 2008 at 01:00 AM ·

David, just quicky then I'm done.  When I need expert advice, I ask people like you.  While I don't think anybody can be absolutely sure about anything, I might say that I could have had a better choice of words in my first post.  What I am sure about is that my violin is not machine made, it is not reworked Chinese violin and is bench made. That is local expert opinion.  (Los Angeles)  It has Mr. Gammuto's label, and a have a certificate of auth. from the maker.  The verbage is pretty air tight.  Beyond that how would anybody know if any maker is legitimate?   I think to determine that would require some very costly research.  Much more that what Mr. Gammuto's violins are worth.  I guess anybody can be corrupted. Some people start out with best intentions and somehow greed gets in the way............it happens a lot as I'm sure you aware. That is why I think these forums are a lot of value.  And maybe they provide a little peace of mind......

November 13, 2008 at 01:16 AM ·

To George:  The question being asked here and Maestronet is...are the Gammuto violins handmade? 

EDIT: Thanks for answering that question, George.

Mr. Gammuto, this is an unfortunate situation for you.  Perhaps you would explain why your web page used to be devoted to furniture restoration only...and then in the last couple of years you changed your focus to violins and now claim to have been a violin maker for 39 years.  Truth or no, your credentials as a luthier are suspect.  

Business ethics are all about the wording.  If you claim to be something...you darn well better be that thing.  There's a world of difference between buying blanks and reselling them as finished violins,  and actually making the instruments yourself.

 

 

November 13, 2008 at 01:35 AM ·

my take on the situation, not on violins, is that george kinda regrets that he started that thread on the M site which turned his question or confusion or suspicion to a direction with quite a bit of negative sentiments, to the point that it is more than what curious george asked for.  it is now out of his control and hard to contain.  if later people ask,,,who started the thread, everyone will say,,,george.   (right here, it reminds me of mccain on leno saying that after the election he slept like a baby,,,2 hours of sleep, then 2 hours of crying,,,)

it is anyone's guess, not sure if george himself thought clearly about his intention then,  on why george had expressed similar sentiments on this site, on an otherwise unrelated thread, knowing full well that it  would be read by everyone.    it is like someone charged into a battlefield not to fight, but to check things out.   in other words, for no good reasons.

so, today, he started the thread to specifically make his current stand very clear, that everything and anything is fine.  AND, leave me alone.   well, it is one way out, not sure what i myself would do if backed into a corner like that. 

it is indeed a touchy situation with so many factors involved.  it will probably get more people to read the thread for sure since some of us live for gossips.  inquiring minds want to know, as long as it is  at  other people's expense, right?

wrong, because that other people include v.com in my opinion.  i think it will be a good thing to delete threads related to this issue and let people square this issue out in private or in their own front yards.  

 

 

 

November 13, 2008 at 01:34 AM ·

Paul G, I'll try to respond to your confusion.

This controversy may have started when Mr. Gammuto made an arguably dismissive (insulting?) response to a post by Mr. Manfio in the following thread.

Loss of sound after repair

Subsequently, Mr. Manfio posted a link to a  thread which may call some of Mr. Gammuto's  claims into question.

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=318640&st=0

If it sounds like I'm treading carefully legally, it's because I am. Gammuto has posted that he now has an attorney involved.

The drama gets even better, because Mr. Manfio is himself an attorney.

I've had quite a bit of interaction with Mr. Manfio, have seen one of his instruments (which I believe he made), and think of him as a high-integrity guy.

I know next-to-nothing about Mr. Gammuto.

George, just now seeing your post above, I didn't mean to slam you. We all just do the best we can with the information we can get. Hope we can still be friends.

November 13, 2008 at 01:40 AM ·

david, how do you know there is an attorney involved?

November 13, 2008 at 01:49 AM ·

Ah, ok, I see what's going on here. I will say that Mr.Gammuto's posts are usually filled with info that would be hard for the regular scam artist to pass off. His instruments (http://jgammuto.com/35912.html) aren't to my liking really. I don't like the look, but it's not all about the look, obviously.

I don't think a criminal would consult a lawyer like he said he did, but I think the first to find out if action will be taken will be Laurie because a lawyer would most likely deal with this through her. So who knows what will happen.

A simple google search doesn't really bring up any suspicious information. I haven't suspected Mr.  Gammuto before but now I'm wondering... I will not accuse him of lying or forgery activiities until professional, serious evidence is presented.

You are innocent until proven guilty in my book, Mr. Gammuto

November 13, 2008 at 02:02 AM ·

Al, check out the www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm thread.

Paul G, opinions will probably not be forthcoming. I'll do my best to stick to easily verifiable facts. Defending myself in a lawsuit, versus making violins, is not among my favorite activities.

November 13, 2008 at 01:52 AM ·

Al, we don't know. We just know what Mr. Gammuto said:

"Thank you very kindly for your well thought out response. I have consulted an attorney on this matter, he has advised me not to respond, and let him do his job and bring this to a speedy, just conclusion.  I am sorry that is all I can say at the moment."

November 13, 2008 at 02:02 AM ·

david, i am disappointed,,,to my question,,,you should have said: i don't know,with a wink.  :)

 

paul, go back to your violin practice!!!!!!!!!!!  :)  to reach stardom, you should never be bothered with wordly affairs,,,confucius says.

November 13, 2008 at 02:45 AM ·

Wink!

I don't know, never too late to learn. ;-)

November 15, 2008 at 05:33 PM ·

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November 15, 2008 at 05:34 PM ·

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November 13, 2008 at 02:38 AM ·

al: george didn't start the thread on maestronet.

November 15, 2008 at 05:34 PM ·

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November 15, 2008 at 05:35 PM ·

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November 13, 2008 at 03:29 AM ·

Al,

I did! It's all in tonight's blog haha.

November 13, 2008 at 04:30 AM ·

thank you for pointing out that i have gossiped and made wild accusations at other's expense:).   since some have given plenty with their so called investigative work, thought they should be able to take some:)  

really, does it really matter if i mistaken one ebay deal seeker from another?  aren't they the one and only  reason for the existence of scammers?   i mean, when an ebayer pays 5000 dollars  for a violin unheard, unseen, unheld and then whines,  can that person really find an audience to confide to and who am i to argue here?:)

love public service, just not necessarily the way it was conducted here and there.  a little too sleezy and cheap for my taste to be honest.

act like a man when the cat is still in the bag, and when you have close to nothing to lose, don't taunt people to sue you....it is kinda insincere and misleading:)

November 15, 2008 at 05:35 PM ·

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November 13, 2008 at 05:09 AM ·

Come on boys, play nice.

November 13, 2008 at 05:10 AM ·

michael, thanks to george, no, you, consider me interested because you have made it  interesting:)

earlier you wrote, and  you have since rewritten and most likely forgotten during rehearsal, that since the "cat is out of the bag", you felt comfortable to reveal your identity and explained why you made that M post.   if you are that interested in the violin,  why not contact the seller directly to confront him instead of keeping no profile until the last moment?    how do you manage to be that concerned about the seller  to be a "fraud" there and then worry about embarassing him here??? allow me,,,,conditional integrity?!:)

i am not convinced you were seeking opinions on the violin based on your very first post on M.  it seems to me you have had a very strong opinion already.  

hey listen michael, your good samaritan work will probably save millions of lives on ebay.  i won't distract you further from your mission and please have the last word.

 

 

November 14, 2008 at 04:53 AM ·

Let me get this straight, Michael, you were concerned that you almost bought a fiddle for $900, and that fiddle that was for sale on ebay for $900... was not worth $8,000? Even though no one was trying to sell it for $8,000? 

 

November 13, 2008 at 06:57 AM ·

It is probably a fair bet that a luthier who makes his own instruments will probably not receive any deliveries of white instruments. Instead he or she will probably receive deliveries of tone woods. So, if you really feel an urge to find out, befriend the delivery man.

November 15, 2008 at 05:36 PM ·

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November 13, 2008 at 02:47 PM ·

laurie,  michael was looking at a 900 dollar violin and the seller apparently also sells violins priced at 8000 dollars or something.  michael's reasoning is that based on price, he can understand that the 8000 is handmade but questions that  a 900 dollar violin is too inexpensive to be handmade.  whether that logic holds water is not even of concern, but he speculates that the maker might have imported unfinished violins, specifically from china, to finish them here and sell them as his own violins, a practice that is not unheard of in the industry.  

because michael could not figure out how anyone can afford to sell a handmade violin at 900 dollars, he brought the issue to the court of public opinion where, based on questionable (and unquestionable ones since michael cannot "out" others at the moment) communications and speculations, not verifiable facts,  the seller is essentially subjected to a one sided trial.  internet  freedom of speech  makes it easy for people to be the ebayer, investigator, prosecutor and judge all in one.  (on that, my kids were showing me a site where teachers get rated by students and i  wonder if a teacher is demanding with homework,  have mercy!)

i am not interested to know or in a position to find out what the seller is about.  i think there are many shades of grey between black and white and opinions and hunches are not necessarily facts.  bring your violin and we will meet up in nyc is not a great way to resolve an issue where darn it you do and darn it you don't.  imo, "wild speculations and conspiracy theories" about the seller being a  person of fraud and his violins being made in china,  in the name of public service,  is a disservice perhaps.  there are wrong ways to do the right thing.

unfortunately for michael and many others, i say how i feel online and in real life and never tried to be mr nice. i have no problem confronting issues that are unjust. 

but, if laurie one day sets up a voting for mr popularity, i may consider switching gears real fast! :)

November 13, 2008 at 04:33 PM ·

I rest my case..........

November 15, 2008 at 05:37 PM ·

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November 13, 2008 at 08:45 PM ·

I'm in the process of buying a new violin and happen to email Gammuto about his violins. This thread is making me confuse about his violins. Just gonna wait till this settles down before taking his name off my list. : (

November 14, 2008 at 04:52 AM ·

Michael, if your other alias is Mike D30...it looks like Mr. Gammuto would like you to contact him.

Check out his auctions on ebay. 

http://cgi.ebay.com/BEAUTIFUL-ITALIAN-AMERICAN-VIOLIN-ADVANCED-STUDENT

http://cgi.ebay.com/FINE-ITALIAN-AMERICAN-VIOLIN-2004-USED-SOUND-CLIP

November 13, 2008 at 10:24 PM ·

I was rather disheartened at the dislike shown towards this maker.  First of all, one thing: Don't believe things from this so-called "maestronet".  Anyone can post there, and it may be someone who knows nothing about violin who says that his Mr. Gammuto's violin's are bad.

 

What disheartens me the most is the fact that people are basing their sole opinion of him off of rumors.  I believe what started this topic was the fact that someone was confused about Mr. Gammuto's violins, and he had heard some things about him that he wanted clarified.  I read lots of the slander here on v.com and maestronet, and no one seemed to have valid evidence.

I believe Mr. Gammuto, because I have no reason not to.  I think people should do the same-not base their comments on rumors.

If Mr. Gammuto is proven to not handmake his violins-well, then I will change my point of view.  Until then, I think we should all cool it and wait for someone to actually try one of his instruments.  Plus, let's not all get mad at each other. 

Just my 2 cents; if someone wants to correct me and get mad at me by all means go ahead.

November 13, 2008 at 10:37 PM ·

In response to Joy's query, I own one of Mr. Gammuto's violins. I've also been watching this thread, as well as the one on MaestroNet, with a certain level of interest. Personally, I've been very happy with my purchase. I bought it via Ebay, for an amount substantially below the Buy It Now price.

That said, I don't have a lot of experience with $6500 violins (Mr. Gammuto's valuation in the auction), so I don't have a lot to compare it to. It's certainly higher quality than my previous instrument, which was a $2000 violin of Romanian make. It's more powerful than my previous instrument, with better response and projection. It's also one of the Master-class models, though, and not one of the student violins that people seem to be focusing on in this controversy.

The violin appears to be well-constructed (again, coming from someone who doesn't have much experience with this sort of thing -- I doubt I could identify a Chinese instrument without seeing a maker's label saying that's where it was from...). Fully undercut scroll, slightly fluted f-holes, lined and blocked and the like. Smooth finish.

Just my two cents, if it helps in any way.

November 13, 2008 at 11:01 PM ·

Wow. I find it kind of sad that it's taken two teenagers (Brian, and myself) to comment on this to tell you guys to shut up until you have proof...

Lets all just keep our mouths shut until a professional goes to his shop and plays/examines his violins. I think very few people here know Mr. Gammuto as a person and luthier.

I can only imagine how alienated he must feel...

November 13, 2008 at 11:07 PM ·

Paul, I completely agree with you.  Mr. Gammuto must feel absolutely horrible.  We have been going on about this topic with no respect towards his feelings.

I am looking forward to a review of his instruments by a professional who has played them.

Mr. Gammuto, if you read this, I would like to profusely apologize for some of the slander that has gone through in this topic.  I would feel so horrible that people would say these things.  I think many people owe you an apology as well.

November 15, 2008 at 05:38 PM ·

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November 13, 2008 at 11:35 PM ·

Mrs. Laydbak, I appreciate your comment; you are absolutely right.  I am young, and I have not been scammed.  However, I still stand by my point.

Getting up and stating your concerns and suspicions is completely different from slander.  I believe there has been slander here.  People are throwing their dignity out the window and throwing all their accusations at this man because they think he's a hoax. Is it possible to ask questions without accusing?  I think so.

However, I do see your point, and I apologize for my posting.  Thanks for your insight.

November 13, 2008 at 11:36 PM ·

Thanks Joy, your post was much kinder and more educational than what I was going to post.

November 14, 2008 at 12:14 AM ·

Joy, the two gentlemen that you refer to are young.  But they are gentlemen.  You are right to want to know as much about an investment that you possibly can and I commend you on your choice of research topics. I am guessing that from my perspective, you may be good deal younger than I because I think you miss the whole point here.  This has been an unsubstantiated witch hunt with no thought to how much damage this thread may have caused to a person none of you know personally.  Bad stuff Joy.  I might direct all of your attention to a very long post made by another Gammuto owner.  This person seems to have a very good perspective on what makes the difference between Chinese vs others.  While I could not expect any expert to tell me the exact maker of my fiddle, I have the opinion of two luthiers and that opinion is that the violin is bench made and is of high quality.  I think as the list of satisfied owners pops up, we can put an end to this.  Best Regards gf

Woooooops!!  Sorry Joy, I missed part of your post.  You do get it 100% 

 

 

November 14, 2008 at 12:23 AM ·

Joy, I like your idea of sending in an undercover sleuth, but would they feel free to post any negative impressions after Mr. Gammuto has stated that he's consulted an attorney who will "bring this to a speedy, just conclusion"?

George, who were the luthiers who said the violin was bench-made and of high quality?

Since a positive opinion wouldn't put them at risk for slander or disparagement, it should be OK to say who they are.

November 14, 2008 at 12:37 AM ·

I sympathize greatly with Mr. Gammuto and his situation. I know we have personally disagreed on certain things in the past, and I admit I was in the wrong to assume certain things of him and his violins that I did. I was ignorant of real facts at that time. I realized the errors of assumption I committed, was rightfully corrected and learned a great lesson from him as well as from other members here.

I have heard similar incidents about other luthiers, and know the damage it can do to a persons business, and especially the person themselves. I know of no sound defense I can offer, as I have never played one of his fiddles. I can only offer words of encouragement . His defense can only come from the violins themselves he creates, and I hope that those who own his work will step up to the plate and give their testimony each and every opportunity they may find. Word of mouth, and personal experience will shout louder, and convince others of the truth, than empty unfounded rumors. It may just be a matter of time to repair the damage that has possibly been done. The publicity may or may not prove beneficial, but in some cases, I have witnessed that negative publicity can sometimes turn into positive publicity out of the public's sheer inquisitivness.

November 15, 2008 at 05:39 PM ·

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November 14, 2008 at 01:18 AM ·

Jerold, WOW, that's a post similar to what I might make after being contacted by Mr. Gammuto's attorney!

November 14, 2008 at 01:12 AM ·

David, with all due respect,  I cannot give up that information.  Your a entreprenuer, you know I cannot. But more than that, please I 'm asking you to stop attempting to bait me.

November 14, 2008 at 01:18 AM ·

Michael:  I quote, if you had any idea it woud blow up like this.........You are right, you just didn't have any idea.  Maybe that will help your public relations learning curve.

November 15, 2008 at 05:40 PM ·

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November 14, 2008 at 01:40 AM ·

George, as an "entrepreneur" (your description), I truly have no clue why you wouldn't be willing to share the names of luthiers who have made positive comments regarding Mr. Gammuto's work, presumably comments in support of your position.

 

November 14, 2008 at 01:32 AM ·

well, I too am VERY thru with this thread.  Gammuto has one negative.  None other.  I've read them all just to be sure.  The other point,  Gammuto does not sell his fiddles fro $8,000.

November 14, 2008 at 01:40 AM ·

David, I had a guy who reported to me for many years.  He was technically brilliant cement chemist.  Awards from ACI national and the like.  Replacing him would have been a tremendous inconvienience and bless his heart he knew it.  We remain great friends to this day.  Unfortunately he did not have a lot of respect for the untechnical, like sales and marketing people. So he woud in a very casual and polite way, try to set them up so he could shoot holes in there responses.  I had to take him aside and advise him that that kind of behavior was not condusive to the team culture that we wanted to have.  I am wondering if there is a little of that in you??  Just wondering  Ciao 

 

 

November 14, 2008 at 01:49 AM ·

Can we please just let this one die until actual proof is introduced and not just internet rumors. You guys just go back and forth over and over to attack eachother. And it's pointless. enjoyed Mr. Gammuto's advice and found him to be a kind person not deserving of this. So let's stop. If you guys just want to attack eachother- send them in private messages or continue this on that maestronet crap....

I believe that after everything you guys have done, Mr. Gammuto may never post again...

Mr. Gammuto, If your reading this, could you kind of explain what's going on? Even if it's in a private message to me? I will not share it with the rest of the discussion.

But I truly believe you've all missed a major point, We've yet to hear from Giovanni Gammuto. We've only been told stories by supposed customers and prospective customers.....So I agree with Brian, without both sides of the true story, this is only slander. I think we should all look at how this started- Through Mr. Manfio's comment. It was sort of a rude choice of words and he provided a link to this b.s.  

I think this is a perfect example of how it takes one person to ruin it all. But please let it be known that this is not an attack on Mr. Manfio in anyway. But a simple fact.

November 14, 2008 at 02:07 AM ·

From David Burgess
Posted on November 14, 2008 at 01:18 AM

Jerold, WOW, that's a post similar to what I might make after being contacted by Mr. Gammuto's attorney!

-----------------

I hope you did not read into my post, what was not there. The post is what it is, and I would never presume to hope to attempt to ruin Mr. Gammuto's or anyone elses reputation for any reason whatsoever. Should the attorney contact me, which is highly unlikely, there would be no conclusive evidence to go on. No proof or motive, at that. I have to say, I did expect to see a post of your nature after I posted my views on the matter, it is common in situations such as this. Let's not turn this situation into a "who-dunnit" free for all.

Jerald Franklin Archer

 

November 14, 2008 at 05:27 AM ·

George, you could be right about me not being a "team culture" guy.

If by "team culture", you mean going with the status quo; herd mentality; turning a blind eye when the boss says too; going any way the wind blows; chasing the almighty dollar; bowing to threats, then I may not be a team culture guy.

On the other hand, there might be merit in supporting inquiries which could conceivably lead to higher integrity in the violin business. Could that be another way of working as a team, only teaming up with different players (the violinists)?

Sorry if, like the fellow in your metaphor, I don't embrace everything to do with sales and marketing. If sales and marketing didn't have the easy potential to get a bit dirty, there wouldn't have been much to discuss in this and two related threads.

Your problem employee? Sounds like someone I could easily admire. ;-)

November 14, 2008 at 02:59 AM ·

Indeed,this thread serves as an exposition of some of the corruption tactics involved in the violin business.There are more than a few "makers" who lay hands upon the instrument for the first time only after the construction and completion of the instrument by others.This is a fact of the violin business,which has a narrowing effect upon those who have embraced it.

November 14, 2008 at 03:26 AM ·

November 14, 2008 at 03:11 AM ·

Paul, actually you and I may be at fault here.  Don't be rude.......these people are not pointless. I just had a sort of "epiphany".  I realize that we are both young and have much to learn in these situations.  You and I posted before just off of our gut feeligns-which were brought on by some unkind posts.  We both don't really know much about what is going on.  I think that actually these older, more experienced people have more of a point to prove than we do-how about WE back out of this.......

November 14, 2008 at 04:04 AM ·

I agree... I'm not going to post again on the matter. You're very smart Brian!

Btw, If we both make it in this crazy music world, I would love to work on a project with you when we're adults.. If life ever leads us there!

P.S. I deleted the last rude comment I posted. Sorry to anyone who read it.

November 15, 2008 at 05:40 PM ·

Message removed by editor

November 14, 2008 at 04:29 AM ·

Well...to keep kicking a dead horse...I would like to hear from Mr. G. concerning the changes to his business from 38 years in antique furniture restoration to 39 years as a violin maker (current webpage).  According to the web archives, that transition occured in 2006. 

These are facts in black and white.  A simple search of web archives will pull up Mr. G's web pages going back to 2003.  

Mr Gammuto, you have found success selling your violins on eBay.  Most of your customers are very satisfied.  So...why not clear the air?  Do you make your violins by hand,  yourself?  Do you at any time buy blanks and do the finish and set up and label these instruments as your own?  Are you a violinist?

Inquiring minds want to know.

November 15, 2008 at 05:41 PM ·

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November 14, 2008 at 05:50 AM ·

Gee, wow.

A luthier sells a bunch of violins - he might be a fraud!

He sells at multiple price points - he might be a fraud!

He once made... other stuff with wood - he might be a fraud!

He sells on eBay - he might be a fraud!

He sells $900 violins that might not be worth more than (gasp!) $900 - he might be a fraud!

He was attacked by an anonymous poster on a website - he might be a fraud!

Really, this thread is devolving to the argumentative level of a Monty Python sketch. I don't blame anyone who's staying away from it.

The economy is tanking; orchestras are going under; communities are cutting arts from their schools. Surely, y'all can find greater outrages in the arts world to rail against than the fact that some guy hasn't met a few folks' "purity test" for what a violin maker ought to be doing and selling.

That's my $.02. 

November 14, 2008 at 07:37 AM ·

the whole lutherie business (or any kind of business) is very interesting to say the least.... i'm not going to comment on anything regarding the actual topic but i'm going to speak on experience...

for thsoe who don't know me i'm a guitarist. I know this one fairly well known luthier personally.. he is a not a bad person per se... but he's lazy, he doesn't answer phone calls, emails, and the instruments he's building are not that great (in fact some of them have faulty designs).

This luthier has a fancy website, and his friend really hyped up his guitars on internet forums to that point that many people were buying his guitars, many of them weren't that good (not easy to play, design flaws, etc...) ... unlike maestronet or violinist.com, the unsatsified customers didn't really complain on the guitar forums.. they instead tried to sell the guitars ASAP and hand off the bad insturment to an unsuspecting soul...

at one point, one person did try to post a negative review, the luthier's friends ganged up on him and gave him the whole typical luthier spiel VERY similar to what george wrote : "he's a luthier, blabla be careful what you say, don't ruin a luthier's reputation, i've personally played his instruments, etc..."

now before i go on , this is not a criticism towards anyone ,neither george nor mister gammuto... it is strictly an observation...as i was following this thread, i just thought of my story right away...

anyway, this luthier of mine also faced a lawsuit because he refused to issue a refund on damaged guitar that he sold...

he continues to sell instruments but his reputation is slowly dying... the hype over him is dying down...

and the hyper started on the internet forums, with his fancy website , etc...

that's how a lot of businesses work, hype hype hype and hype...

i have another friend who started a music school recently... he got a lot of hype on his school.. radio appearances... the school website is very facny and claims to have some of the best musicians as teachers in this school.. (and it's true , they are some of thh best in town)...

impressive isn't it?  well despite all the radio plugs, the fancy website, the school is barely surviving ,.... most classes (about 70 %) are cancelled because registration is very weak...

but hey the website is very neat!!!

hype hype hype and hype!!!!!

i just wanted to share these stories... again , i am taking absolutely no sides here but it just brought back all these memories

November 15, 2008 at 05:42 PM ·

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November 14, 2008 at 08:31 AM ·

Frauds are people who try to pass off cheap factory fiddles as Strads and charge $800,000 for them. Con artists actually make money from these transactions. If someone buys a $2,000-$6,000-range fiddle and is happy with it, then there you have it. This is not a high-echelon price point. About 15 years ago I bought a decent modern violin at a deep discount, for $2,400, and one trusted mentor's reaction was, "You wanted a lower price? What, did you want the guy to GIVE it to you?"

The two people who have posted on V.com and who actually own Gammuto's violins are happy, even with all this weird hype.

If you've never seen one of these violins in your life, I don't see any legitimacy to your comments or to the rather tortured conspiracy theories.

November 15, 2008 at 05:43 PM ·

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November 14, 2008 at 10:08 AM ·

"If you've never seen one of these violins in your life, I don't see any legitimacy to your comments or to the rather tortured conspiracy theories."

I disagree.  Questions were raised.  Answers have not been presented yet.  I still don't understand why we can't ask questions!  I haven't claimed anything and have not come to an absolute conclusion about this situation nor have I conjured up any "tortured conspiracy theories" (nor have most of the posters in this thread).

Laurie, you have to admit that there's something fishy about the history of jgammuto.com (the key word being fishy) as well as other factors in this predicament.  That's all people are saying...and to me, it seems that most of the community is waiting for a response or statement by Mr. Gammuto before forming an opinion (at least, I am!  I would love to hear his side of the story, because that's only fair).

Once again, I have not come to a conclusion about this situation, because I do not know both sides of the story.  If I have no right or legitimacy in pointing these things out, then I don't know what the point of Vcom is anymore.

November 14, 2008 at 12:20 PM ·

I know that perhaps I have no business posting on this thread because I am not a luthier, a professional violin player. I do not claim to know anything about makers of violins, how much they are worth etc.

I am a parent of a violin player who wishes to get her daughter's violin upgraded in the near future.

This post is confusing to the consumer and makes me feel that I shouldn't trust ANY luthier.

On so many different levels, this thread is just wrong.

November 14, 2008 at 01:35 PM ·

patrick, if you ask someone a bunch of  questions and that person does not answer you, for whatever reason, does that level of disclosure make the person a fraud by default?  in your first post, you call it "suspicious".  of what, if you do not mind fully disclosing your reasoning? 

similarly, joy, you have listed a bunch of red flags...

1)  His return policy is not listed on ebay or website.   (not long ago on ebay i let go of several vintage cars in my collection and i did not state a return policy but did provide anything i know of that can be helpful to the buyers.  red flag?)


2)  The issue of the former furniture business. (assuming that the former biz is real which you youself do not know for sure i take,  does one focus preclude people from taking up other interest at the same time and yet not disclosing it in public?  further, if someone actually states that he has learned both  violin craft  and furniture biz  to start , does that lend to legitimacy be default?)

 

3)  He has feedback for 200 violin sales on ebay in less than 3yrs, an average of 67/yr.  ( you do not know other people's  work arrangement or efficiency or habit yourself, do you?   you did not keep track that out of those "200 violin sales",  the number of  resale of previously made violins vs claimed self made, did you?)

 

4)  His overreaction to anyone bringing up these questions.  (overreaction?   it seems the whole world is talking except him, or is this my misinterpretation? :)
 

5)  The fact that no one came forward that they have been to his shop  (that suggests what? that those visitors became dead?  are we  too leading or simply misleading here?)


6)  The negative feedback on ebay is really not good vs just being slow shipping or bad communication  (ok, i guess this one can be interpreted in many ways and i will accept your personal reaction.  100% will be better, but the ratio of good vs bad feedback speaks for itself)


7)  The price is way too low compared to other instruments of the stated class (not knowing your background or expertise, i am not sure about your reference point.  would you have gone further to argue that the price is actually way too high if the violins are not what they are supposed to be? )

again, i want to make clear my intention here.  i have no interest about the maker.  i don't  care if he is what some of you have suggested.  i do care, however, how someone in the public eye is treated.  even a murderer, after a conviction, has certain rights.  if, to people like michael, my opinions and feelings constitute "twisting" and "strange enjoyment", so be it.  "moral high ground?"  haha, not easy to achieve from where he is at.  i would hate to climb to the top of empire state building to plead: me didn't say this,,,me said that.

while i am at it, i do want to formally apologize to george for the mistaken identity initially, and calling him,,,curious george:). 

oh, one more thing,,,it is indeed my strange enjoyment to see that people clearly pointing a finger on fraud and yet end each posting with a disclosure that, oh, i did not exactly say fraud, ok???!!!!

too funny.    have the cake and just say you did not eat it:)

ps. for the teenagers, this thread serves a good purpose in a perverted way, to allow you a peek into the real world where no matter who you are, what you do, how well you do, there will be slimy stuff going around you.  just because the wagon is there and moving, think twice before jumping on it.

November 14, 2008 at 02:52 PM ·

Al writes:

 5)  The fact that no one came forward that they have been to his shop  (that suggests what? that those visitors became dead?  are we  too leading or simply misleading here?)

When Mr. G started posting on this board I took notice since I thought I was familiar with all of the shops in our area. I google-mapped his address (no photos available, though) and picked the brain of my husband, whose practice happens to have offices a few blocks away from Mr. G's shop, but my husband can't remember seeing any violin shops on that street. 

We sometimes forget that only a certain amount of information is available, or reliable, on our alternate universe, the internet. The rest is smoke and mirrors. For example, anyone can go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and trace the evolution of Mr. G's website. Anyone can google the happy customers in his "Kind Words" section and wonder if they do exist, or even question the identities of his Dickensian-named supporters and detractors (George Fillerup, cement company executive; Joy Laydback, the soprano-turned-violinist.)

The internet is a great tool for journalists and sleuths, but it is no substitute for going out into the real world. I teach essay writing at a university where students are very savvy internet users. For at least one major assignment I require them to get out of their comfortable chairs and hit the pavement for real-life investigative reporting, face-to-face interviews. 

So anyway, as soon as I can I'll drive over to Norristown and check out Mr. G's shop. So if I suddenly "become dead", you'll know whodunnit. 

November 14, 2008 at 03:21 PM ·

e, thanks for that post and your point. 

hear me out.  if i list a physical address and sell, say, flowers online and if someone swings by the physical address and does not see warehouses full of flowers, is that necessarily suspicious or fraudulent?

i do not want to mix my feelings toward a person or his life style or work style with facts that can actually mean anything.   that is the crux of my posting on this thread, that if we accuse others that they do not provide all the facts that we want,  then we may need to get our own facts straight before we throw stones.   incompetent prosecutors, those who take short cuts to justify the means, are just as bad in that regard.

e, you are going to live a long time to enjoy your kid's success:)   a better way to go for you is in a big concert hall listening to her play, in your 90s:)

 

November 14, 2008 at 03:26 PM ·

Al writes,

 hear me out.  if i list a physical address and sell, say, flowers online and if someone swings by the physical address and does not see warehouses full of flowers, is that necessarily suspicious or fraudulent?

Hmm, so you're saying that it could be a sort of home-office/mailing address, not a physical shop. Fair enough. When my oldest daughter was looking at colleges we accidentally Mapquested ourselves to the mailing address of the admissions department of Princeton University which was in a kind of boutique office complex miles from where we'd meant to go. I am happy to report that there really is a Princeton University, despite what appeared to be evidence to the contrary. 

By the way, Al, where are those flowers I ordered from you? ;-)

November 14, 2008 at 03:41 PM ·

alright, e, i fess up about my refurbished flowers and  dew drop fresh violins:)

November 14, 2008 at 04:19 PM ·

In Mr. Gammuto's own words...."If you live anywhere near Philadelphia, I invite you to stop in, have a look around, and play some instruments. - John".

By that statement, there is a shop and he has violins on hand. 

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=14214

November 14, 2008 at 04:26 PM ·

"there is a shop and he has violins on hand. "  i don't think that  necessarily contradicts the conversation between me and e with my analogy and my original point on that.  until someone checks it out by physically going there,  denying/affirming its existence in your own mind is up to you.  i will just say that it is not cool in my book to wonder aloud.  some others apparently  think it is pretty cool.

if i am to be judged,,,i would prefer  it based on facts and not perception, or the third consin of perception.  and the third consin's pregnant gf.

November 14, 2008 at 04:17 PM ·

LOL LOL LOL David, I WAS right about you.  And no, that is NOT what I meant about team culture.  I'm sure you are a pretty good guy, once you stop looking down your nose.

November 14, 2008 at 04:23 PM ·

Joy, did you notice that not all the feedback on Gammuto came from buyers???  Many are from Luthier suppliers.  Very positive feedback.  Oops,  Just another observation.....

November 14, 2008 at 04:55 PM ·

I'm wondering about my flowers too, Al. ;-)

I work out of my home, but any musician knocking on my door would be welcome to see a large inventory of raw wood, complete tooling for making instruments from start to finish, work in progress, and probably lots of shavings on the floor. I can also demonstrate any skill or process involved in making a violin.

Just throwing out some tips for anyone who wants to pay a visit to the shop in question.

 

A couple of observations and questions:

It’s been mentioned that these violins are inexpensive. Perhaps, at a low price, the process behind them shouldn’t matter?

If a product is inexpensive, does that mean that a prospective purchaser should forfeit an interest in knowing if it’s as represented?

I hope not. If I purchase a $50 fuel filter for my car, and it says AC Delco on the package, I’d like to know that it’s not a forgery. Yes, forgery is a problem in the auto parts business, and yes, there are differences between forged and genuine parts.

I’m easy though. Just be straight with me about whether the part is genuine or not so I can make an informed decision. If I can save some money, the non-original part might be fine for certain applications. I’d like it to be my decision though, and not one that someone else has attempted to make for me by misrepresenting the part.

In other words, I can relate to those here who would like to know more, and have felt frustrated in my own attempts to get more detailed, Gammuto-affirming information from those here who have claimed to have it.

Beyond that, not sure what to make of it all. A fascinating discussion though.

 

Edit:

Yes George, you may be right about me. We all make value judgments, and as a preacher's kid, mine may be more conservative than some other peoples.

Your choice of prizes: I can either send you a free recalibrated hygrometer, or if we ever meet, the drinks are on me. :-)

 

November 14, 2008 at 05:03 PM ·

Hey  Mr. E. Smith.....good post.  I hope you go to Norristown, maybe even  call Gammuto and arrange a tour of his shop.  I would believe you.  But since human nature and this thread would suggest,  You could hit people in the head with facts and would not matter one bit.  Once someone thinks thay have arrived at the truth,  then that is.  In their world that is......

On the subject of George.......The cement company is Lehigh Cement, Allentown PA headquarters just moved to Texas.  I'm a proud retiree.  Owned by Heidelberg Cement who is the largest building materials manufacturer in the world.  Check it out in Allentown, they all know me.   Call the CEO, he is still in Allentown,  he knows me.  You probably won't get through, but his exec assistant knows me.  I spent a lot of time there.  You can do a goole of my name, there is only one George Fillerup to my knowledge,  you will find references to my occupation and professional affiliations.  I'm not hiding from anybody and am very secure physically and otherwise in my own skin.  I'm also in the phone book.  I live on a very layed back place in Cali called Redondo Beach.  The ocean is just across the street.  I even named where I went to High School and where I did my violining.  All right up front. 

Laurie, you were right on with your last post, thank you.  I love Brioni suits and attire, I purchased my first  on a business trip through Italy.  I know Brioni better than my wife, (just joking)  Of course, I paid full retail.  That was a tough check to write, because I was much younger and just really starting to move along in my company.  Sometime ago when I was pushed kicking and screaming technology,  I discovered E-Bay.  Now I find Brioni stuff all the time for about 20% of what it would go for if it were new and hanging in Barneys.  Do I know if I got screwed?  You bet I would. I have been screwed, but only once.  So the odds are in my favor and in my wallet.  I can see by your experience, you can relate to this aside.

To the parent  who wants to upgrade.  This thread is sure not going to help you at all.  The best thing you can do is probably purchase from a reputable dealer in your area or thru major outlets like JS or Shar.  You will paying a big markup,  but you will have piece of mind.  Unil ;you reel comfortable navigating and smelling out the bad guys on e-bay, you are better

On the subject of violins,  again I think Laure is right on.  6k to 8k is really on the low end for quality fiddles (not trying to offend here)  We don't start talking top tire until we are way past 50k. and even then there are fakes.  Now could I do that?? yes.  Would I? Hell no.  I like BMW's better.  Priorities are priorities are priorities.  See ya......time to run....(literally)  

 

 

November 14, 2008 at 09:32 PM ·

Gammuto Violins

Unlike most of the people posting comments here,  I know Mr. Gammuto personally. I can tell you that he certainly does not deserve the kind of treatment he is getting in this forum. My relationship with him started when he learned that I had large supply of old growth  Italian Spruce, Bosnian Maple, and setup accessories to sell. He would literally spend hours searching my storage area for wood that was attractive to him, stack a genrerous pile in the corner and say, "How much is this going to set me back?"   Things haven't changed much over the years, he still wants the best he can get his hands on. The only thing different now is that I let him go ino the shed by himself, load the wood into his car, and tell me how many pieces of what he took. I trust him completely. I have visited his shop, know how he works, and how many hours in a day he devotes to the craft. I will say this about the man, if he likes you, you have a devoted friend for life. If you give him a reason to mistrust you, he won't give you a second glance. That is all I have to say, take it for what it is worth.


 

November 14, 2008 at 05:13 PM ·

david,  the flowers,,,are you sure those black tire marks are really totally black, with no hues of rose red and yellow susan yellow?  :)

i can understand how the level of biz ethics bothers people of your calibre.  as if  life is not complicated enough, you have to fend off arrows from all angles.  i suggest you install a lie detector  for the VSA judging.  anyone who fails the question on single maker authenticity should do some hard labor: sent to your driveway to polish off  tire marks.  indeed, a few or more than a few bad apples can make the sauce taste oh so yucky. 

i know your stand so it is senseless to discuss the obvious, if you know what i mean.

i do want to bring up the issue of  ebay.  any successful biz on and off ebay require  a high level of commitment to customer satisfaction, possibly more so on ebay because of the pressure from the feedback column.   2 things ebay buyers find attractive, imo, are the variety and competitive pricing with the low starting bid auctions.   what is clear or should be made more clear i guess, is that there are no good ways to verify quality or authenticity other than words and pics.   the only person to stop me from taking bait from potential misrepresentation is myself.

a buyer has to decide, hmm, should i pay david a visit to personally check things out or should i get a bargain on ebay, putting faith in the collective conscience of the internet? 

it is really their choice, a choice not without consequences.   still, given the circumstances, it is easier to modify our own behavior than that of others.    you bust one today, david, 10 more will pop up tomorrow.

November 14, 2008 at 06:29 PM ·

I am not a luthier, and do not wish to get into this nastiness in any way.  I simply want to post and say that, in the midst of all this ugliness, Mr. Gammuto still went ahead and shipped out the instrument that he gave me to give to a deserving student.  He included with it an offer to do repairs for free for as long as he is living. It is a very nice looking instrument with a powerful sound.  I look forward to seeing my students' face when I give it to him later today. 

Thank you, Mr. Gammuto.  The ugliness here will not detract in any way from the gift that my student will recieve.  The gift of the violin in his hands will produce in the same way that it would have before all of this. We are grateful.

Is does seem to me that there is a more high-class and professional way to handle this, if you are a person who has doubts.  This way has left me sorely disillusioned and having lost respect for many very 'respectable' professionals. 

I won't post here again. 

November 14, 2008 at 07:10 PM ·

To Dottie.  What a shame this whole matter had to come to your attention.  Thank you so much for posting.  The lack of class on the part of some of the posters is just terrible.  I don't think I have ever seen  too many things like it. It seems that most have entirely discarded what Mr. Gammuto has done for your student.  

 

 

November 14, 2008 at 07:18 PM ·

David, I have three of the first item. One of them is in the new Musafia case my Gammuto rests in.  But the second offer is excellent!! Martini please, Bootles, stired, very cold, touch of Italian vermouth.  Cheers.

November 14, 2008 at 07:20 PM ·

Yikes!

Sure you wouldn't rather have the hygrometer?  ;-)

November 15, 2008 at 05:44 PM ·

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November 15, 2008 at 05:45 PM ·

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November 14, 2008 at 08:49 PM ·

joy,   is it possible that his first violin was not made on your time zero day?  

patrick, that is fair, or shall i say, clearer and fairer.  however, i suspect that david's view is not best described as unfortunate and frustrating

david burgess is david burgess.  we are not david burgess:)

November 14, 2008 at 08:43 PM ·

Am I missing the "nastiness" and "ugliness"?  Where is it?...don't make me read all these posts...

November 14, 2008 at 08:47 PM ·

Fascinating thread, absolutely mind-boggling!   E. Smith - please let us know what you discover...

There's a TV movie to be written here.

November 14, 2008 at 09:06 PM ·

Joy,  I can see you are in to stat in a big way.  Maybe you could do a regression analysis on this subject...lol (joke)  Look a little closer at the feed back.  Mr Gammuto sells a violin polish also.  It is pretty good stuff.  I have some and it makes my lil ole fiddle shine like the devil.  Count how many feed backs there are on his polish.  In some cases it is not possible to determine whether the feed back is for da polish or da fiddle.  Now if you have the time to do that, you are either retired like me, or bored stiff, with plenty of time on your hands. One thing you can take to the bank.  "Don't believe anything you hear and very little of what you see"  I had a mentor that passed that on years ago.  I thought he was being a little bit cynical.......I've been passing that on now for about 15 years.  Don't think for one second I don;t check things out.  I do.  And I keep most of it to myself and come to my own conclusions.  Experts offer opinions,  luthiers, like the ones that saw my Gammuto offered opinions.  Lawyers will offer opinions.  They are just that.  Opinions.  Nothing becomes fact or precident until it winds up in court and the court makes it so.  Even then precident can be overturned.  Now most of the stuff heresounds like the bible told me so stuff. Really? And who wrote the bible?  No disrespect to the true believers......... 

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