Another eBay question, but not for cheap violins

November 3, 2010 at 02:49 PM ·

I see a very beautiful violin on eBay, link here

I'm aware enough to ignore the flying color words they use to describe. But I especially notice this instrument because I've know of this seller/maker for awhile, and usually their violins/viola from 500$ to bottom.

This month they list many above 600$. And the one in the link is 1$ less than 2K.

What makes me even more skeptical is: no super size image as they've always done with their products.

They say good bridge but no picture to see the bridge clearly, and as far as I can tell the bridge is bending.

No information about who made it. They list on other instrument that MAster Song made this and that himself, or with his apprentices...Not on this one.

They claim it has very beautiful top, yet nowhere to see the scroll.

No sound sample. If I pay that sum, I deserve to listen to it before buying.

I've sent all these question to seller, and no feedbacks yet.

I admit it does look more beautiful than an average violin I usually see. But I can't help to ask myself those question. And with that money, a Zhu workshop instrument is more affordable and reliable even though it's not made by Mr Zhu. Is my point valid here? (assuming I buy them both from internet).

Am I over skeptical or paranoid?

Replies (34)

November 3, 2010 at 03:19 PM ·

I think its just your common sense kicking in...

November 3, 2010 at 03:36 PM ·

I've been dealing with quite a few violins that looked strikingly similar, if not, coming out from the same factory. Selling for around $230 in my country, they're pretty decent beginner violin.

November 3, 2010 at 03:44 PM ·

 Phuong you did not scroll down far enough, it shows plenty of pictures about the violin including the scroll. Very seldom is a sound sample given on the Chinese violins sold on eBay. I personally think the violin is overpriced compared to the usual price of below $600 as you mentioned. This violin is priced at $1999 and it looks like their usual violins with perhaps a bit more mature sound and therefor they gave it four stars. I would stay away from any violin above $1000 which I can not inspect myself. Below that I will take a chance but not at that price.

The choice is yours.


November 3, 2010 at 03:52 PM ·

@Dion: The seller added the pictures of scroll after I posted this post, and it have just appear recently, wanted to edit my post but you're here already.

The seller also said no sound sample available. I know it's not worth the time to make one for cheap violins,but this one is 2K violin, and the primary business of the seller is via Internet so I think it's fair to spend a little effot on that.

November 3, 2010 at 06:33 PM ·

There are other 7/8 violins on ebay for a better price and have a sound sample. Just as an example check out item

Nice to be able to hear any instrument first what ever the price.

November 3, 2010 at 11:50 PM ·

Phuong, that violin doesn't look that beautifull to me. Scroll is bulky, the rims of the plates are bulky as well, F holes are a bit difficult to see re shading but to me look poorly done ; don't like the distribution of the colours of the varnish etc. That doesn't tell you anything about the sound but you wonder if they can't get the shape right can they get the sound right?

November 4, 2010 at 12:08 AM ·

I agree; the walls of the pegbox are way too thick (meaning extra weight up there with an affect on the body mode frequencies), the pegs are really too thick (for this day and age, when makers should know the future difficulties this leads to), and the student- type tailpiece with metel fine tuners is added weight and clue as to the intended inexperienced user.


November 6, 2010 at 04:29 PM ·

That is no $2,000 violin. Photos alone may not be enough to go by for some people, but in my eyes, in this particular case, photos are plenty. That violin you're looking at still looks too cheap - hard to describe why, but other posters here can explain it better.

If you're going to look to eBay for pretty looking Chinese fiddles than I'd look no further than old-violin-house. I bought a "Red Mendelssohn" violin from them and it's easily 10 times the violin than that ugly thing from lankuishang. It cost me a whopping $300 to boot. Sure it shows signs of being a student violin, no false pretenses there; but it's at least worth every penny of the price.


November 6, 2010 at 05:42 PM ·

I've purchased from that seller in the past, and although I was happy with the violin, I would not spend $2000 on a violin. Mine was not in that price range, however the reason I would not spend $2000 on a violin is not because of this.

What competitions have the won, or honors have they received? Is this instrument made by a master, or by the same craftsman that made a $350. violin, but the final sound was enough to warrant a better price? How do the violins endure after 20, or even 10 years of playing?

More and better information is necessary to warrant that price. Failing that, the ability for the purchaser to return the instrument (within a reasonable period)  if they are not satisfied.

November 6, 2010 at 06:33 PM ·

The bridge seems to lean in the wrong direction. The right angle should be on the tailpiece side.

And I couldn't decide if the instrument is yellow, brownish or red. Looks like autumn leaves.

November 8, 2010 at 12:58 AM ·

Thanks all for you feedbacks! Guess I should stick with the plan saving for a Zhu workshop violin!

November 8, 2010 at 04:39 AM ·

That cheepo satin varnish is an issue too. Anyone with thoughts about Ebay's Yitamusic? Their listings go to great lengths to prove they know the right way to build a violin.

November 8, 2010 at 11:27 AM ·

 I have a little experience with lankuishang and his violins. I bought a 1/8 violin for my 5 years old doughter. Surprisingly good sounding violin for that size. But varnish is quite thick and ugly. I spent not more than 80€ and am quite happy.

But definitely I would not spend 2000 bucks for one of their violins.

Edit: I would not spend 2000 USD for any violin I could not try first.

November 12, 2010 at 03:41 AM ·

I've purchased a few lower cost violins from lankuishang on ebay-- they are simple looking, very inexpensive but consistently good sounding instruments after a careful set up and better strings.   If you can get past the cheap appearance, they are players violins that  sound better than some other well-respected expensive Chinese vendors on ebay. I would be comfortable playing them in classical recitals.

November 19, 2010 at 06:46 PM ·

 as I just 'downsized' to a 7/8 violin and just bought a 'beautiful' and 'expensive-ish' 7/8, I was searching for a 'cheap and cheerful' 7/8 to have in the cupboard as an 'emergency' violin to use in the very rare occasion my nice violin is at the luthier on on those occasions I don't want to take my 'expensive' violin to certain places.

Having seen the link provided here by Cris I have just ordered the 7/8 in that link.....

so long that it plays in all positions, I'll be happy as I will only ever use it on rare occasions, my usual 7/8 is very very nice and I don't need/wish to play anything else on a regular basis, but I have always had a 'back up violin' and feel 'strange' not to have one.

November 19, 2010 at 06:57 PM ·

@Jo: keep us posted on your new eBay 7/8 :)

Wish I can spare something as decent as that. I've just downsized too, and gotta buy this one off eBay, too to use while waiting for my good 3/4 (if the seller takes my humble offer). 

Don't know when my eBay get here,but with 150$ include the instrument, case, 3 Aubert bridges (bought for my friends, 1 for me only) shipping to Vietnam and my re-use 4/4 bow it should not hurt me as much as what I paid for my first 7/8 commission from a Chinese workshop!!!

Wish me luck!


November 19, 2010 at 07:13 PM ·

 Phuong, are you downsizing from a 7/8 to a 3/4?

is the link you provided the 3/4 you bought as a 'will do' until you buy the one you 'really want'?

yes will let you know what the 7/8 I bought off ebay is like although like I said I will be quite happy so long that 'it plays' hahaha (and if the sound-clip in the ad was THE violin then it does) as my current violin is beautiful :)

November 19, 2010 at 07:23 PM ·

@jo: yes. That's the will do. and I don't think I'm going to pay any pennies for it setup at luthier here. I tried the so-called best one here and he didn't even want to know what I want in the sound. It must be a will do.

I missed a very lovely copy of someone I forgot on eBay too. The lady insisted not dealing with with me.

I'm offering to someone else to buy his son's used 3/4, but I really can't afford his asking, so I rudely offered half of that. He must be mad at my email. Mean while, my teacher is not so fond of the sound sample nor look of it, but I really want that violin.

I started off with a superb bad teacher, and an ugly 4/4.

Then down to a 7/8 "specially" made for me, and an almost blind teacher.

Both thing didn't work out. So I'm with my little better teacher and 7/8 In the end the 7/8 doesn't work for me too. 4th finger problem and all other technique obstacle.

Now 3/4. And I've spent a small fortune on all that already while I see no progress on my playing.

Better stop ranting lol. Live and learn. A 3/4 defintely works out or I will move down to 1/2 next haha.

November 19, 2010 at 07:36 PM ·

 hahaha Phuong, I started with a real bad teacher too, I'm with a GREAT teacher now since almost a year and a half ago, downsizing to a 7/8 was my decision, I can play on a 4/4 but the 7/8 is just the 'icing on the cake', on the 4/4 life was just a struggle all the time especially between 2nd and 3rd finger and when playing 3rds, often would end up a tiny touch flat, always struggling and often a tad flat in first position with a low 2nd finger and a high 3rd finger, after 3 years of struggling like that I tried a 7/8 and the change was 'magical' I was not struggling anymore!.  I started learning violin at age 38, I am now 41, maybe when you start late like this your joints just do not 'give' enough as when you start as a little child, if my joints would give just another millimetre I'd be much more comfortable and always in tune but they won't give, they haven't in nearly 4 years, so I have switched to a 7/8 and it's bliss now! :)

My teacher does not seem to mind I have changed hehehe

November 22, 2010 at 07:47 AM ·

Well, I have bad luck. My eBay violin turns out not as expected from listing. Ouch, that's a 75$ + shipping pain :(

November 22, 2010 at 01:05 PM ·

 Phuong, you mean they sent you what was not in the photo? sorry :(

never had anything like that happening to me, is it more trouble than it's worth to officially dispute it as I know  you can...

November 22, 2010 at 07:24 PM ·

 Open a case inmediately in eBay. You are covered by the buyers protection policy. I have never had such a thing like this with this seller.

November 23, 2010 at 10:46 AM ·

I've modified my post above to avoid a bad reputation by my false statement. I've found signs prove that it's the same one. My apologize for a false alarm.

Generally the pictures were misleading due to lighting. You expect a brown-ish, red-ish violin but the actually color is the superb-dark brown/chocolate. But it is nowhere close to perfect condition. The body is fine, if you don't mind the glues randomly appear here and there, along with something like acne. sorry I can't find a word for them.

The scroll is a nightmare, really. Very poorly made peg box, it's as rough as the surface of F1 moto race. on one side, it looks like there was a crak and it was glued back clumsily. yes, glue is all over around it. The nut is rough, too. I'll check with my teacher if it needs something to be done to smooth it out because I only try to tune it a little to see it things work. Can't know long term affect on string. i've experienced string breakage with my other 7/8 so i'm paranoid (can't afford a 5$ at least snap a day).

The peg is a real problem. I CANNOT push them all the way as they should be. And the D-peg is almost impossible to move. I don't know if the peg for a 3/4 is different from a 4/4, I merely think if they're different then they just put the wrong peg size to those peg holes. Will consult my teacher on that too.

The end button looks like it's been removed from some old one to put there.

The fine tuner on E-string is touching and leaving mark on the top plate and I don't know how to lift it up. Need teacher help, too.

I don't mention other fitting such as bridge, strings... as i didn't expect much anyway.

The sound is surprising loud for it size. Not sure about tone yet because I can't turn the peg to tune it. Will update later,

The violin came with a case and a bow which I think worth nothing. I swear they're a pair of most ugliest bow and case I've seen, even in the market of full cheap stuffs in my country :). This is just a remark, not a complain.

So all in all, I got what I paid for. And even I expected it's a cheap one, I didn't expect it's that bad according to the listing. But still, it's better than some cheap one I've seen here, if we can ignore the scroll fault. However, the not moving/functioning pegs are not forgivable.

I've spent months looking at my commissioned 7/8, even though I was not 100%  happy with it, but yeah, it's almost perfect in the look :) I haven't found one which look better on it on the market here, in the same price range and worth same tonal value. Sadly it's no point liking it when I can't play it.

I can't open a case anyway, because eBay rules ask me to ship it back to the seller. I paid 55$ to ship it from the States to my country + some tax. Can't and don't want to afford that much to send it back to get my 75$ back. Lesson is learned. Some people may have lucks on eBay. Some don't. And in my case, I don't think the seller is 100% guilty or not guilty.

I'm going to see my teacher this week. I bet his jaws would drop off if he sees this lol. He doesn't like my 7/8, but he admit it's very good looking and it's tone is improving. He won't understand why I bought this one. Well, me neither haha.

Happy eBay!


November 23, 2010 at 11:17 AM ·

 Hi Phuong, got your e-mail.

I have bought three violins from this maker. Two were 1/8 violins one for my doughter and the other one for a friend. The other one was a 1/4 for my doughter. Did not spend more than 100 bucks for any of them. One of the tailpieces of the 1/8 with the finetuners integrated was useless. He reinboursed me 10 USD for the tailpiece as it was more expensive to send me a new one. Violins sounded quite good for their size, specially one of the 1/8 units. Varnish was ugly but my doughter soon covered the violin with her Hello Kitty stickers, so who cares for the varnish of a the violin that belongs to a 4 yeras old girl?

From what I have read in several places violins from this maker are ALL more or less the same quality. The average price of this violins should be (for a 4/4) no more than 300 USD. In my absolute personal opinion is that sometimes he lists a violin for am extremely high price amd if someone buys....great!.

Do you think you violin is wirth the price you have paid?. If you don't, simply return the violin. It is better to lose the shipping charges than keeping a violin that doesn't worth the money you paid. Take those shipping charges as the price for the lesson.

Regards from the sunny Spain.

November 23, 2010 at 11:58 AM ·

Oh crap, we're not talking about the same one Nicolas.

I suppose you're referring to langkusiang

I'm talking about this link where I bought mine from

Mine is from ASA violin in NC. Too bad when I was in the States I did not pursuit my violin hobby or I should have had a nice violin at reasonable cost compares to what I've spent and less headache :)

November 24, 2010 at 07:02 AM ·

 Hi Phuong, yeah must agree on your bad luck on the violin.

nevertheless if you're keen of getting a new violin look for yitamusic or oldviolinshop. I prefer dealing with oldviolinshop because the dealer JP is awesome and very friendly to communicate they even custom stuffs for you so he's a very hones buyer.

Anyways, have fun learning :) cheers.



November 24, 2010 at 10:27 AM ·

The bastards. 

December 3, 2010 at 01:13 PM ·

Phuong, the first one was an ugly crap, overly thick plates and scroll and ugly vanish/color etc.. Yitamusic is more seriously I guess. Or the 7/8 of violin-sound-studio looks much better.

By the way, I think Zhu's remain the better choice for you.

December 3, 2010 at 05:33 PM ·

ha, so after a while i finally have the courage to put up pictures on here. i took them right after I open the violin out of the box, but just so reluctanly upload them.

Here is the link I bought it from

I got the exact violin, just not in the condition as describe. Scroll: nothing can be done, I know.

But the nut, it appears not to be glued as good as other violin, wonder it would be broken someday?

And the other spot is the glue, it has a few on its body so I didn't bother take pic of them all.






December 3, 2010 at 05:55 PM ·

I am utterly mystified why you waste your time and money on this complete crap.

December 3, 2010 at 06:07 PM ·

well me neither, now lol.

But at the time i desperately need a 3/4 and I couldn't afford much money for anything better, by that time. Look at the right side, i did not know it was crap.

Not everybody is in the "AFFLUENT" group of reader.

December 3, 2010 at 08:41 PM ·

I don't mean to make it a matter of money only. When I bought a 1/2 size, I bought from a person directly, for $250, and got a very good sounding, excellent fiddle that was properly set-up and had been maintained well. The problem isn't money per se, but getting into deals that are far below average in quality vs cost.

December 4, 2010 at 03:46 AM ·

Pont taken. but sometimes we have to gamble in hoe we might get what we can't find in where we live.

Just wondering would it last until I can get a better one with my humble budget :)

December 4, 2010 at 03:28 PM ·


no worries when you decide to change to a full size violin then u can shop online with the more reliable sellers like yitamusic of even old violin shop :D



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