A chinese unicorn on ebay?

May 15, 2014 at 05:34 AM · I've just purchased a 'road' violin. Something I can kick around, sound good and look good doing it.


It's a del Gesu Cannon copy and I'd like to see if anyone here has experience with this shop. Du-Shi violins out of china.

I'll be posting a review in the coming weeks as I break it in.

Replies (103)

May 15, 2014 at 08:22 AM · You just joined violinist.com to tell us you overpayed for a Chinese violin you haven't even received yet, do you work for the company???

May 15, 2014 at 10:31 AM · Why such harsh judgement, Lyndon?

He is obviously a newbie to v.com and probably a newbie to violin, maybe overjoyed with his purchase AND ASKING a question if anyone has experience, positive or negative, with the seller, Du-Shi shop.

It might have been better if he asked about the seller before the purchase, for L 350 he may have bought a decent beginner instrument. He promised his own review of the instrument later so people will know.

May 15, 2014 at 11:36 AM · The picture shows uniform grain on the top, lovely varnish, nice flaming of the maple, and higher end accessories.

If they put the same care into the setup (bridge cut, sound post location, nut height, peg fit) and top plate contour, it should play just fine.

Overall, the Chinese violin industry has a good reputation for mid to high level violins. People hear horror stories about the $60 eBay specials and write-off the entire market.

May 15, 2014 at 04:26 PM · I understand your frustration, Lyndon.

Why would someone pay $1500 for an antique German workshop violin full of repaired cracks, etc., when they could spend half that, or much less for a brandy new Chinese workshop violin?

To the OP:

I have a viola I purchased from them (I got it for $175), rated as "very nice" from my instructor. The price you paid may have been a bit steep, relatively speaking to what their instruments usually go for on auction. But the workmanship was good, and the sound was pleasant. Hope you scored a good one as well!

May 15, 2014 at 06:35 PM · I've purchased at least 20 violins from this vendor for my student violin program. The all play very well, were well set-up when they came, needed new strings of course because the Chinese strings are not very good. I've had no problems with any of them, now about three years old.

I appreciate that anyone can have whatever opinion they choose to express her on this forum but I especially don't like the automatic rant that comes from one particular member about Chinese violins. It reminds me a lot of other automatic responses that occur in our culture which are based, mostly, upon outright ignorance.

The original post asked for any experience that any of us had with a particular brand of violin. Posts which don't relate to the question of the original post should be kept for another day, in my opinion.

May 15, 2014 at 08:12 PM · I assumed there was some sort of commercial connection to the company and it appears I was right.

May 15, 2014 at 09:18 PM · @Lyndon,

What is it about OP's post that makes you think he is connected with the vendor? The post doesn't appear self serving to me -- just someone who is excited about a violin he just purchased.

May 15, 2014 at 09:21 PM · BTW, That's birds eye back is stunning.

Birds eye maple

May 15, 2014 at 10:57 PM · Wouldn't that be some sort of veneer perhaps, Smiley?

Surely birdseye this nice wouldn't be wasted on a 'cheapie'.

May 15, 2014 at 11:58 PM · Lyndon,

What in the original post makes you think there is a commercial connection? He is only asking if anyone has experience with violins from this source.

May 16, 2014 at 02:43 AM · I guess I confused you, Richard, with the OP, anyway these threads are pretty predictable; these violins all sound like 10 times what they cost until they come into my shop where they still sound like crxp!!

May 16, 2014 at 04:15 AM · Lyndon,

I'm surprised that you make such a broad generalization. Like everything in the world there are ranges of quality and this applies to Chinese violins. I have found that the ones from the referenced shop make very good student violins. I have a student who won a violin competition on her violin and I played one for an entire season with the local symphony just to prove to myself that these are good instruments. Both of us have received numerous compliments on both the violin's sounds and on our playing.

My guess is that you may not be proficient enough as a violinist to see the value of these instruments for the market they serve. I also suspect that had you been alive in the early 1900's that you would have the same generalizations and uninformed comments you so often share about the violins made in the factories of Germany and France, which were then and continue to be excellent violins for their prices and markets.

Not all of us can play on an expensive European violin by a famous maker but it is sure nice when a student wants an excellent instrument at a reasonable price, that there are Chinese violins out there. I would think that as a violin repairman you would welcome anything that encouraged new players to take up the instrument and cost is certainly a factor when considering learning to play.

May 16, 2014 at 04:22 AM · I'm just glad I've got my ears and not yours, I do hear a lot more bad violins it would seem than you, but that's the price I pay to enjoy the good ones.....

May 16, 2014 at 01:52 PM · Someone else with commercial interests always seems to post in these Chinese vioin threads...

Just saying...

May 16, 2014 at 05:31 PM · No commercial interest here. Just an appreciation for low-cost, excellent violins that make my no-cost to low income kids violin program a possibility. If the same instruments were made anywhere else at the same cost, I'd be buying them there, as well.

May 16, 2014 at 07:11 PM · Millie: While Smiley may know something I don't know...here's my understanding:

Since violins are relatively small, using laminates (plywood, veneered wood, etc.) is rarely done - and when done = very inexpensive violins. Plywood violins also tend to not play very well - perhaps due the cross grains of wood layers glued together (or perhaps because there hasn't been a need or incentive to look into the process further.

Bird's Eye Maple is also very knotty wood - which might have an adverse impact on sound.

But...because it's rare - and decorative (and therefore expensive) - it's in higher demand for ornamental purposes - such as jewellery boxes, etc. It may also not have as much (if any?) acoustical disadvantage for flat backed instruments such as guitars.

Now...cellos and basses esp., are more often made from plywoods because it's harder to find such big sheets of suitable solid wood available - and then to produce affordable instruments from these rarer large sheets of tonewood. But - because the Bird's Eye Maple is more expensive...you wouldn't use it for such a large instrument because there's really no advantage.

In short - there are no advantages to using more expensive wood 'veneers' to produce what most often would be cheaper instruments. However, there are always exceptions! I think there's a Strad made of BEM...dunno what it sounds like though...

May 16, 2014 at 07:45 PM · Chinese violins get inexpensive Birdseye wood. I truly doubt it's veneer.

You will see that the ribs and neck/scroll are also made of birdseye. You couldn't veneer the neck/scroll.

May 16, 2014 at 08:01 PM · I saw a Vigato made of birds eye; it was incredible. I asked Bill Weaver about it and he said they are the same price and sound about the same. Just like normal maple, the sound varies from one instrument to the other, but birds eye in general is neither better nor worse than regular maple from a sound perspective. I believe some makers charge a slight premium for birds eye just because it is harder to come by.

May 16, 2014 at 08:10 PM · Wow. I'm going to cut to the chase.

This was an innocent thread that exemplifies my distaste for playing in major symphonies and the attitude that surrounds them. I'm not going to name names, but it seems like there are members of this thread that need to maybe, grow up, leaRN SOME MANNERS? Some of you are complete jerks who have nothing but blackness and hatred to spit on great forums like this... Go do that on Reddit, not here.

I am in fact not a newbie to playing violin. I have been playing for 20 years and am a student of the UNT College of Music currently in the studio of Julia Bushkova (Moscow Conservatory)and Daeyon Hong (Julliard).

I needed a backup- this one looked great and they haggled with me quite a bit on price as I was QUITE FAMILIAR *ahem* with the issues surrounding the quality of chinese violins.

Dear sweet lord is this violin great.

I almost don't want to say anything about this violin because you stupid pretentious jerks who think they're SO MUCH BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE are just going to tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about. But for the rest of you, I will give you the review I promised.

Seriously, I'm pretty pissed off and don't wanna stay a member here... Stupid.


The Unicorn

They asked $1,412 I paid a little less than $600 with shipping. The violin arrived on time with unfitted bridge and soundpost. Included bow (decent) and case (CHEAP CASE)

The Varnish: Impressive

Gorgeous, still had some oil weeping but hasn't returned in 24 hrs. The look of this fiddle is something that I'm quite proud to share.

The Setup: Well Done

The Luthier I took it to have it setup didn't have to do anything to the bridge or to the nut, said they were quite well done. The Bridge isn't an Aubert or anything of the like, but it's quite nice and plays well. I may change it later. The action plays VERY well and I've noticed works very well with my intonation pattern set in my muscle memory.

Fittings: Decent

This violin came with solid ebony furniture with brass accents. The tailpiece afterlength did not need adjusting. Very nice looking as you can see.

Playability: 8/10

SERIOUSLY RESPONSIVE - Sautille' LEAPS from the bow. High positions sing well and thick tone from upper G string

Tone: 8/10

This violin is still waking up, though even in the few MINUTES in the Luthier shop, the tone began to open. The Luther was rather impressed. Has the definitive del Gesu sound. The growl and punch- and aggressive violin for SURE

Weight: 7/10

This violin is much lighter than my Donald Neilsen Strad Model though not as light as what I think a del Gesu' model should be. Don't get me wrong, this violin is quite light and easy to play.

Overall: GREAT BUY

This may not end up being a solo violin, but as it stands now I would MOST SURELY bring it to symphony rehearsal. I've been playing a ton of Mozart on it and beating it to heck and it LOVES IT!! IT ONLY OPENS MORE AS I BEAT IT UP!!

I'm so tremendously happy with this fiddle. This thing is quite well made and I just can't keep my hands off of it. I'm putting in 3hrs a night from sheer PLEASURE.


And with that, I say to you morons who pass judgement before knowing anything...

Bless your ignorant hearts.

May 16, 2014 at 08:15 PM · Also this-


May 16, 2014 at 08:55 PM · @Rick,

I'm glad you like your new violin. For low cost student grade instruments, Chinese are hard to beat. Chinese have highly skilled laborers and as was already pointed out, they work real cheap, but that is changing... perhaps the topic of another thread.

Regarding some postings in this thread, I also agree, a bit more tact surely wouldn't hurt. But, it would be unfortunate if your opinion of this board is tarnished by the posts of one or two individuals. Overall, this is a tremendous forum with lots of knowledgeable and helpful people.

May 16, 2014 at 09:13 PM · I have a $450 violin I purchased from Old Violin House, and it is awesome.

I have purchased a few from them at the $200 level that are not quite the same excellence, but are certainly very good student level without any hesitation.

May 16, 2014 at 10:30 PM · Hello Rick: Excellent presentation of your $600.00 Chinese violin. Can we hear it on youtube? Do you think it might be a computer controlled automated machine produced violin? Charles

May 16, 2014 at 10:50 PM · Here is my theory:

Chinese master makers, having studied abroad in Italy, Germany, Spain ect. (Scott Cao) are returning to China and themselves teaching apprentices of their own in China. This, I believe, was the situation with my violin. But, this was built by a senior student.

This violin is really really really really nice. There is SOMETHING in this violin, it drips of weeks of attentive process.

As far as an automated copy, I'm not sure. There are certain discrepancies in the shape, if you look closely. The scroll is very nice but exhibits a very 'human' touch.

I will work up the nerve to make a video in the coming few days, I'm still working on breaking it in and opening up the violin. I'll do some G string work and try to showcase some Baroque, classical and Romantic excerpts.

Don't get me wrong, this is no Vieuxtemps.. But holy moly caca this thing is well done.

May 17, 2014 at 04:07 AM · I too have bought violins from Old Violin House in China : one of them is superb. My teacher raves over it and cannot believe the low price I paid !

May 17, 2014 at 09:57 AM · Sorry but under $1000 cheap violins are not to my taste whether they are Chinese or 100 year old German or French, and people that go on and on about how great they sound, sound, frankly, deluded.....

May 17, 2014 at 12:33 PM · So, if they charged more (over $1000), they would sound better?

May 17, 2014 at 01:54 PM ·

May 17, 2014 at 01:58 PM · I suggest you save your money and get a decent violin whether its new Chinese or Antique, buying a cheap violin on ebay and TALKING about how great it is just talk, some of us poor people have to listen to them.

At my shop you start to get into really good sounding violins around the $1500 point, everything less seems more of a compromise, at a more expensive shop this point might be about $2500-$3000, if all you want is a cheap violin and don't care about the sound by all means pay less, but don't try to tell me you got the cheap violin and it sounds incredible, because it only sounds incredible to your ears.....

May 17, 2014 at 02:09 PM · Hmm. Now I'm wondering if I fall under the heading:

"you stupid pretentious jerks"

...regardless...if you're going to compare quality (even of new to old) to have to (at the very least) compare apples to apples...

Not every new Chinese violin is a Lada. Not every antique German violin is a Porsche.

May 17, 2014 at 02:15 PM · p.s. I am glad you like your violin and it's working for you.

Ultimately...that's what it's all about...

May 17, 2014 at 10:18 PM · @Lyndon- Maybe if I paid the original $1,400 it would sound better.. Per your OBVIOUSLY LOGICAL reasoning...

I think that you're one of those guys who trolls boards and bullys people into buying from you. You want to talk about commercial interest?

Maybe stop talking about your shop? Maybe stop telling people how much better your violins are after they've made their own decision?

Or maybe that's really all you have going for yourself in life, and it's all you have to talk about.. Because you're clearly not making friends here. I hope you stub your toe.


For the rest of ye:

I'm not sure I know how to properly break in a new violin... I'm just playing the garbage out of it in all positions and dynamics.. Is there something more? Some sort of better method? It's coming along nicely and I want to make sure I'm doing all I can.

May 17, 2014 at 10:54 PM · If you want to accelerate the break in process, you can use one of these:


May 17, 2014 at 10:58 PM · If you want Lyndon to agree with you, you need one of these:

Click here

May 17, 2014 at 11:55 PM · Lyndon, Lyndon, Lyndon. I saw some of your other posts; is it correct to assume that you correlate money spent with value received? Ideally, sure. But the world is not ideal.

To all luthiers: it is possible that someone will buy a beat-up Chinese violin at a garage sale for $75 and get a great sounding violin, just as it is possible to go to your shop, spend $10,000, and get something that just happens to be worse, even though the Chinese instrument was made without care and by inexperienced workers, and the other violin was made by a professional who has spent their whole life creating great violins. It's just life. Sometimes, hard work doesn't grant success. It's a sad fact of life.

I've been playing cello for years, and my cello is a $600 old factory made German. It sounded better than a $9000 just-a-few-years old cello I blind tested against it, and played easier too. More projection, richer, etc. It was just better.

More money does not equal more quality. Should it? Not necessarily - it'd keep already disadvantaged people (who could possibly become great violinists) from getting anything with which they could reach their true musical potential.

Honestly, take a look at some of the old Italian masters; some of their work is kinda sloppy, tbh. But it's still so highly valued.

Just my thoughts.

May 18, 2014 at 03:44 AM · Finding Rick's messages unnecessarily aggressive. Lay off with the sneering rage, it's just a bloody violin that you're happy with.

May 18, 2014 at 04:04 AM · Yes, everybody please calm down !

About ten years ago I bought an amazing $200 Chinese violin. I forget the name but it was a new brand that my luthier had just brought into his shop for beginner students. After fitting Dominants strings we were astonished at the sound so he quickly ordered some more. But none of the others ever sounded anywhere near as good as that one I had. Why ? Who knows ? Sometimes, everything just comes together...even on a production line.

NOTE : I do not have this violin anymore :(

May 18, 2014 at 09:42 PM · Rick,

What you are doing is fine. The "break-in" effect is neither clearly defined nor constant from one instrument to another. I would not bother with the Tone Rite. In my experience some fiddles will mature just fine if just kept tuned but some time is required.

As for the chance factor: A year or so ago I set up two 3/4 fiddles for rental (not my shop) which were purchased together and looked identical. One turned out to be the best sounding standard 3/4 I've ever encountered and the other was unquestionably the worst.

May 18, 2014 at 10:08 PM · It was aggressive, but on the other hand, I think people placate Lyndon too much.

I wish people who consistently can't behave on here would be removed.

May 19, 2014 at 12:12 AM · Agreed with Mr. Holland. If you are proven to like talking down to people (even on the basis of "telling it how it is", which will probably be the "argument"), you shouldn't even been given the right to post here anymore. The aggressive remark would have probably been avoided if Rick had not been treated like an ignorant fool who can't know better-and that's the way many of these regrettable posts come across.

(I am not saying that it was the appropriate remark to make, but there was certainly lots of incitation and nasty arrogance involved-to the point I would never recommend people to make business with this individual. No offense intended, but there are many great makers and/or violin restorers who wouldn't demean themselves by belittling random people on the internet for not sharing their personal views and/or opinions.)

My apologies for my honest words-I sincerely hope I didn't hurt anyone's feelings unnecessarily.

May 19, 2014 at 04:01 AM · I wish some of my detractors would be forced to live and work in a Chinese factory, before waxing so eloquent about how great their products are; same goes for Nike and Adidas products, just to be fair.....

May 19, 2014 at 06:20 AM · Your flaming of Chinese violins is for the cause of justice then?

How, exactly does that work?

The last time I purchased from Old Violin House, I recieved a letter thanking me for my support of their workshops.

If you're upset because the workers make $0.25 an hour, or whatever the alleged case may be. How can they ever possibly make more than that if nobody does business with them?

Especially if nobody does business with them in a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that they are simply violins made in China? And not based on the merit of their sound or workmanship.

Have you listened to Rick's violin? No, you have not. Do you have any reason to doubt Rick's veracity? I don't see what he would have to gain by lying about it.

It seems to me that more and more Vcom members have actually tried some of the more reputable Chinese vendors and have been often times pleased with their purchases.

What's wrong with that?

Do you run a background check on the workshops that made the antiques you buy and sell? Were the violins that were made 100 years ago all made with highly paid labor with full health benefits, two weeks vacation and a 401k plan?

If not, I suggest you reflect upon the type of manufacturing ethos that went into the "blood violins" that you yourself may be peddling, made from the sweat of the brow of some poor working slob in a turn of the century sweatshop. Or is there a statute of limitations on this type of thing, and as long as you weren't the one buying directly from the low paying workshop you are no longer culpable in the questionable morality of this type of transaction?

Just something to ponder.

May 19, 2014 at 11:08 AM · Seraphim, you're definetely one of the ones I'm sending to work in China!!!

May 19, 2014 at 11:31 AM · They are making some really awesome violins in China. We wouldn't want Seraphim there to mess things up :-)

May 19, 2014 at 11:44 AM · I actually just got back from a week's business trip to Japan. Does that count?


If they had me working in a Chinese sweat shop, they'd realize I wasnt worthy of crafting cut rate violins.

They'd have to put me on the line making violas instead...

May 19, 2014 at 01:24 PM · Hey! Watch what you say about violas...I have a big one and I know how to use it!

May 19, 2014 at 05:50 PM · Are viola makers as low on the totem pole as viola players? I wonder how modern Chinese violas compare to old German ones. Lyndon, any thoughts on that?

P.S. If someone starts a rant about how great their Chinese viola is, that might push Lyndon over the edge.

May 20, 2014 at 01:51 AM · They make cellos in China too....

May 20, 2014 at 03:13 AM · They have lots of good food in China too, too bad you won't be able to afford it working at the violin factory!!!

May 20, 2014 at 07:27 PM · Lyndon,

You are finally making sense. Well, at least half of what you said makes sense -- the part about the good food :-)

May 21, 2014 at 11:43 PM · And you actually believed that, I don't think any of the cheaper Chinese violins are actually made by one person, more like one village, It takes a village.

I have no trouble believing that this French trained individual works for the factory, probably in some sort of supervisory role, but making the whole violin, no......

May 22, 2014 at 01:32 AM · It seems extremely distasteful to call into the question the truthfulness of an entire country based on what appears to be personal motivation.

I know of several Chinese companies that claim to be 100% hand made and at least one that claims its three top levels are “100% hand made by one maker from the beginning till the end”.

I cannot verify these claims, but I would under no circumstances call into question their truthfulness based on the country of origin. Some would say that is discrimination at its worse.

Now I do have a German made Knilling from the late 80s that states on its label that it is “Hand Made” and I have been told by several people, who should know, that that statement is not true.

So German or Chinese “hand made”, could be true, might not be. But I would not question the companies claims based solely on the location of the workshop.

May 22, 2014 at 02:50 AM · I don't know that it is necessarily better for a single person to make a violin. I would think that people can specialize in a certain thing and be really good at it; for example, one person that specializes in scrolls, another that does the perfling, and another that does the bass bar. Why would a violin made by a single person be better than one that is made by multiple specialists?

May 22, 2014 at 03:03 AM · No problem, you can apply my statement to violins made in Germany or Romania, or just about anywhere, its all lies, some people believe them, hand made is a bit of an oxymoron applied to modern anything.....

May 22, 2014 at 06:29 PM · I think some people on this forum like attention, regardless of how it makes others feel and will say almost anything to get that attention. I would suggest that we politely ignore those comments and respond with constructive information to the questions asked in the original posts. The shared knowledge of forum members is wonderful and should not be discouraged by attention seeking, off the wall comments.

May 22, 2014 at 07:06 PM · I recently had a correspondence with Du-Shi and he said that they are going to be switching over to European tonewoods in the near future for their instruments.

May 23, 2014 at 05:32 PM · Lyndon: iphones are made in China. Are they that bad? ;-)

May 23, 2014 at 10:12 PM · I'm actually the one recommending going to a violin shop and comparing both new and antique violins in your price range, all of you yahoos are recommending buying, sight unseen, some piece of ebay ????? because your opinion is so "superior" they know better than the one buying the violin what they like, who's the ones being unreasonable here?????

May 23, 2014 at 10:25 PM · "...your ears are so superior they know better than the one buying the violin what they like, who's the ones being unreasonable here????? "

By your own words:

We have, in this very thread, a person who bought a violin (sight unseen...or rather...sound unheard?), told us how great it is after he had received it, and YOU were the one jumping in and saying how unreliable Chinese violins are, even though YOU had not heard this very violin itself.

The one being unreasonable is up for the jury to decide.

Your Honor, I rest my case.

May 23, 2014 at 11:12 PM · What's totally unreasonable is taking the OP's opinion of a violin he's just bought, he's payed a bunch of money so its kind of a self fulfilling prophecy that he thinks it sounds great, he hasn't compared it to comparably priced violins, and we're supposed to take his word that its a great deal and sounds great, problem is we or anyone else doesn't have his ears, and probably won't share his opinion, like I said the way to select a violin is compare in your price range, since you can't do that on ebay I recommend a violin shop, outrageous advice, isn't it!!

May 23, 2014 at 11:21 PM · So, the OP can't even rely on his own opinion to judge the sound quality? Especially if he only spent $600 on it?

Is that really what you just said?

Oh my...

He needs to go to a violin store to have an opinin given to him? Or that his opinion would be more valid if he had spent $1500 or more at a shop?

It seems it isn't the OPs first violin ever.

EDIT: as mentioned above- I purchased a viola from this same EBay shop. I thought it sounded pretty good. As a second opinion, I brought it to my teacher, who has a couple of conservatory degrees and they confirmed that it was indeed a quality sounding instrument, and beautiful as well.

I have recieved similar confirmations of my other EBay purchases. Some obviously are better than others, but no duds so far.

May 23, 2014 at 11:46 PM · So why are all the recommended Chinese violins that come into my shop complete duds compared to similarly priced antiques at my prices, is that some kind of fluke, so you're saying your ears should be listened to and mine ignored. Actually all of our ears should be ignored and the customer should use their own ears to make up there own mind, and they can't do that without comparing violins, and they can't do that buying one violin on ebay. I would think this is pretty easy stuff to understand but some of our posters don't believe in letting the customer have a choice, they want to make the customers choice for them, how reasonable is that???

May 24, 2014 at 12:27 AM · What shop did these dud Chinese violins come from that you've had washing ashore at your shop?

Du-Shi? Old Violin House? Yitamusic? Eastman strings? Snow? Jay Haide?

I agree with your idea about trying out violins. The thing is: to try out a Du-Shi violin you have to order a Du-Shi violin. The OP did, and he decided he liked it. These Chinese violin vendors all have a money back guarantee. You will be out the shipping costs, but such is life..

May 24, 2014 at 03:40 AM · Many dud violins (Chinese and otherwise) tend to end up in music shops as second hand instruments. Good Chinese violins stay with their owners.

May 24, 2014 at 04:08 AM · Du-Shi? Old Violin House? Yitamusic? Eastman strings? Snow? Jay Haide?

Get your mind out of the gutter and lets recommend some decent violins for a change, at the lower end maybe EH Roth, H Th Heberlein for good factory violins, quite a few good French factory violins, though I know less about them, you're all squabbling over the bottom of the barrel, which rotten apple tastes the best, when your whole experience is rotten apples, as less rotten one tastes incredible!!!

May 24, 2014 at 11:24 AM · Agree with J Cadd.


Your posts are not necessarily wrong, they are just so offensive that it alienates most people. No offense, but if you care about your business, you should really work on your people skills.

May 24, 2014 at 12:20 PM · Depends on what clientele he's looking for?

Perhaps the customer enjoys coming in the shop, sharing a few derogatory stories about "those cheap Chinese violins". And then, with an air of superiority properly established, they can then move on to pawing over some musty old fiddles with repaired cracks, reset necks, sunken bellies, and other such signs of these being "real" violins.

Here's an EBay violin in EH Roth style:


Does that count?


May 24, 2014 at 04:11 PM · Smiley -

I completely agree with you on your comment about Lyndon's lack of "people skills". For me personally, I find the abrasive style (and this has been going on for a very long time) to be a complete turnoff. The more comical part about it is the fact that Lyndon bashes violins acquired on eBay yet when I look at Lyndon's Member Profile, it clearly states the following:

"...At first I was having trouble connecting with musicians, and I started selling on ebay....."

Sounds like the pot is calling the kettle black.

May 25, 2014 at 06:18 AM · > So why are all the recommended Chinese violins

>that come into my shop complete duds compared

> to similarly priced antiques at my prices

Because no one with a decent Chinese instrument bothers bringing them into your shop in the first place?

The usually bring them for maintenance to the shops they purchased them from, where the luthier(s) who did the actual setup on the instrument is able to provide service. I've seen quality Chinese instruments in the hands of students from the shops of John and David Morey, Roger Foster, Michael and Rena Weisshaar and Son, Thomas Metzler...and these are not small, fly-by-night operations, but reputable establishments with skilled makers on site who have been around for decades and work with everyone from beginners to teachers to players in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and so forth.

Having taught in the Southern California area for nearly twenty years and seeing thousands of students through private instruction, K-12 school programs, and work with various youth orchestras, I can appreciate the increase in the quality of student instruments in the $500-$1500 price range because of makers from China. In the online ordering scene, Shar Music's entry level offerings under $350 have been incredibly helpful for our outreach programs in underprivileged areas, providing a level of quality for beginner instruments that didn't even exist twenty years ago.

Then again, I could be wrong, maybe my sample size of a few thousand violins a year is too small to make such a sweeping evaluation on.

May 25, 2014 at 10:54 AM · The whole reason the shops you mention sell cheap Chinese violins instead of better quality antiques in that price range is because their labour rates are so high, $100-150/hr, which prices their restored antiques so high they cannot compete with the select Chinese instruments they market. My labour rates are about 1/4 of those shops so I can restore and market a quality antique for less than the cost of a similar quality Chinese violin marketed by these stores and others.

Also all of the stores you mention have shop overhead and often employee payroll to pay, I work out of my house and my overhead is mostly only supplies and new instrument purchases.

I can buy an instrument for $300, do a $500 restoration and $100 in supplies, and sell it for as little as $1000 and still make money, at a big LA shop the same violin would have to sell for $2500 or more, and may just not be worth that compared to a new $2500 Chinese violin, whereas compared to a new $1000 Chinese violin, it is quite competitive.

May 25, 2014 at 11:32 AM · We're almost there...


"My labour rates are about 1/4 of those shops ..."

Is the quality if your work of 1/4 lower quality? I doubt it. I bet you do the very best work you can.

The Chinese workshops have labor rates that are a 1/4 (or less) of what you charge. That's how they can get away with crafting a violin and selling it, brandy new for $600 or much less.

Do you think that perhaps they too put care into their work? That they are interested in getting a good reputation for the quality of instrument they craft?

That's exactly how it works.You yourself are a microcosm of how the Chinese violin shop model works, EBay and all...

May 25, 2014 at 01:49 PM · actually if a Chinese violin sold for 1/16th of a really good modern one it would sell for about $2000, some decent Chinese violins sell for $2000, not for $300, that's cutting way too many corners......

May 25, 2014 at 03:07 PM · Yes, I have played some really nice Chinese instruments in the $1500-$3000 price range, but below that, you have to wonder a little about the quality of the materials.

Not that the OP purchased one of these, but I have heard some horror stories about some of the really low end instruments (below $500). For example, rather than ebony for the fingerboard, they use painted maple or other wood. After a few months of play, the black paint starts to rub off -- not to mention the fingerboard will never last. I have also heard of violins with plastic pegs and tail pieces.

If buying Chinese (or any violin for that matter), I would stick with instruments that are $1500 and up. Maybe even $1000, but that might be pushing it if you are expecting to get anything that will last.

May 25, 2014 at 03:10 PM · I'm curious to know if anyone who owns one of these sub $500 instruments. How long have you had it? Did it develop any problems?

In recent years, I have learned that the saying "you get what you pay for" holds a lot of truth. When shopping for things (anything, tools, household stuff, whatever), I tend to go for higher priced stuff because I usually end up being happier with my purchase and returning a lot less stuff.

May 25, 2014 at 04:11 PM · I have a $450 Chinese violin I purchased a year and a half ago. It was made in the workshop of Yang Wei, who won an award for tone (viola) in the 2006 VSA. This violin wasn't hand crafted by Yang Wei himself, of course, but it bears a label with his signature. My local violin shop, Johnson Strings recently had a Yang Wei violin for sale for $6500. Obviously not apples to apples, but just giving you an idea of what's available.

You can go to Old Violin Shop and buy a Yang Wei workshop violin for yourself. They have some available right now.

I've purchased 12 violins from OVH, some for as little as $155, always ebony fingerboards, fittings, fully lined and blocked construction. Nothing cut rate about the workmanship. The horror stories about painted fingerboards are not applicable across the board. I'm sure they are out there, but I haven't seen any at OVH, Yitamusic, or Du-Shi from anything that I have purchased. Not hearsay, but what my actual experience has been.

My teacher rates my YW violins (I bought a second one as well..) as very very good. Sure, not a $10,000 replacement, but equal to something around $2-3,000.

The $150-250 models I have purchased were rated as very good student level violins.

May 25, 2014 at 04:36 PM · Smiley,

I have purchased around 40 Chinese violins for my students to use and none of them have been over $200 which included shipping. Once received I changed strings and made sure that sound post and bridge were set well, polished and lubed pegs for smooth operation and adjusted string height at bridge and nut, if required. Each of the instruments was made with good quality spruce and maple and ebony for the soundboards. All of the instruments have been in daily use for the past three years and I have had 0 problems with any of them. I have purchased from the shops mentioned above in someone else's post. The quality of the sound is excellent and two students have soloed on their instruments and I used one for an entire year in the symphony that I play in.

I'm quite sure that I would not be able to provide a no-cost violin program in my community if I did not have access to low-cost instruments. (Thank you again for the donation several years ago of your student violin) I see the Chinese as providing the same kind and quality of instruments for students that the Germans and French provided in the late 1800's-early 1900's.

I'm all about giving every young persons a chance to play an instrument. I believe as musicians we are better people in society. Without my musical experiences I would lacking something huge in my life. I wish that the other person on this discussion would see the big picture here.

May 25, 2014 at 05:01 PM · "I see the Chinese as providing the same kind and quality of instruments for students that the Germans and French provided in the late 1800's-early 1900's."

which is basically mostly all garbage, I like antiques but most 100 year old violins are crap, and the Chinese seem obsessed with copying something even crapier, circa 1950s machine made German factory garbage....

May 25, 2014 at 05:23 PM · Lyndon, what I really admire is that your agurments are unfettered from inhibitions such as logic or reason. It's a refreshing style you have, bold and free!

A few posts ago you were recommending turn of the century factory violins:

"... lets recommend some decent violins for a change, at the lower end maybe EH Roth, H Th Heberlein for good factory violins, quite a few good French factory violins..."

And now that idea has seemingly soured for you, and thus you discard it out of hand and strike forth upon a new angle, that those violins are actually junk!


May 25, 2014 at 05:28 PM · Richard and Seraphim,

Thanks for the replies. I suppose these "super cheap" instruments are better than one might expect.

I can also see Lyndon's point although I do not agree with the delivery of his message. He is working in the lower end instrument market and the Chinese are providing a compelling product that is hard to compete against. Competition can be tough. And when your livelihood depends on it, things get personal (Translation: the Chinese are eating his lunch).

Lyndon, perhaps you should consider the motto, "If you can't beat them, join them." Like it or not, the Chinese are filling a need. And programs like Richard's, that depend on those really inexpensive instruments, are keeping classical music alive. His students are your future customers. Embrace your enemy. You will be a better and happier person for it.

May 25, 2014 at 05:53 PM · Stradivarious made in Germany Is usually a very cheap violin, But Seraphim you must be a little dull if you think EH Roth and H Th Heberlein are anything but top of the line production violins for 100 years ago(they're worth up to $10,000 today). 90% of the violins made 100 years ago are not good enough for my shop, I collect the better grade ones I can get my hands on, One of the problems with Chinese violins is the makers still don't really know what they are doing, very few of the factory workers play violin or even listen to violin music, compared to Germany 100 years ago, so they're basically working in a vacuum, they don't have any really quality violins to copy, so they copy the worst thing possible, mechanized German factory work, they get the appearance down pat, they look just like cheap German factory violins, and maybe the sound is OK if cheap german factory violin sound is what your into,

May 25, 2014 at 06:21 PM · Lyndon,

I just looked at your posting of violins that you have repaired and I don't see anything that would not have been considered student factory instruments from 100 or so years ago. I noticed that many had poorly repaired cracks front and back, poor neck replacement splices, lot of sound post patches and varnish repairs, again not well executed. I did not see anything of any real value and certainly not anything that I would want to own and have to have maintained to keep in playable condition. I'm not comparing any of your violins to any Chinese violins by the way. If you want to buy and sell in the poor condition European violin from the past that is fine and I wish you luck. I would not want to deal with you, based upon your remarks and opinions of this Forum but other may be ok with your personality.

The point of the OP's question was specific to a certain Chinese dealer and I think we, who have first hand knowledge about this dealer, have responded. I suggest you start a new post about the merits of Chinese violins and the violins you sell and then you can rant all you want. We can respond to your rants with opinions about your market merchandise, its cost and whether or not any of us would want to spend our money in your shop on your violins.

May 25, 2014 at 06:24 PM · I'm actually doing quite well carving a niche market of antiques only, when ALL my competitors are selling Chinese junk, I'll have you know that these Chinese violins you see selling for $1500 at a store or $750 on ebay are being bought from the factory for $100-200 tops, the only people getting rich off Chinese violins are the middle men and retailers. The workers that make the things don't get much of anything, If that's the kind of BS business you want to support, I don't want to have anything to do it.

For instance take a product like Shar, the factory sells them by the hundreds(hand made by so and so) for maybe $50, the Chinese wholesaler sells them to Shar for $150, Shar has to redo the basic set up because it was never done right in the first place(what else wasn't done right, the wood the carving) And before you know it Shar's selling it for $500.

A few years back my boss told me, if you order a pallet load of chinese cheap violins from China, with a bow and case, the price was $19 each.

What you need to get out of your head is the notion of quality attached to these products, Chinese minimum wage(largely ignored) is $1/hr!! so if it was just based on price, a Chinese factory violin should sell for about 1/20th of a factory German violin, and an actual hand made by one maker Chinese violin(if such a thing exists) for much more.

A better grade German factory violin is still being made by EH Roth for about $4500, so an equivalent Chinese one should sell for $225, Except it doesn't, anything remotely near the quality of a EH Roth would sell for $1500 or more, but the production costs are around $100, that's $1400 markup and profit made not by the makers but by businessman in the business of buying low and selling high.

Maybe now you can understand why I find many of these Chinese violin reviews to sound way to much like payed advertising, convincing suckers to buy $100 violins for $1500. At least in the antique market, violins have antique value which for quality violins continues to go up each year, If you search for used Chinese violins on ebay that are selling you'll see people lucky to get 1/4 of what they payed for them, so not much of an investment, more like buying an expensive car, the price has no where to go but down.....

May 25, 2014 at 06:28 PM · Richard your an idiot, those are violins I have had in my shop, mostly repairs not done by me, including some quite expensive violins like an unrestored Cremonese violin the buyer, a world reknowned expert, though was a Storioni, if you think my violins represent a cross section of cheap junk I suggest you stay the hell out of the violin appraisal business because you don't know a thing your talking about.

And while about half of the violins I picture documented are around 100 years old, there are many that are much older, obviously you didn't look at all the pictures, and don't know the difference between cheap factory violins, and better grade cottage and production instruments.

heres the link so readers can make up their own mind

link to photobucket archive of many violins I have restored

For instance on page 5, you're calling a violin by Georg Gemunder, expertly appraised, in many people's mind the greatest American violin maker, a cheap German factory piece of... there goes you credibilty

Also the second violin on page one, a 100 year old violin, but presumably Milan Italy, not Germany, those wedges in the fingerboard your talking about are historical baroque set up violins, something I specialize in.

And yes I do occasionally sell violins with soundpost patches, what I don't do is sell violin with soundpost cracks without soundpost patches, the way ebay sellers like Pahdah Hound do all the time.

May 25, 2014 at 06:34 PM · Lyndon

How about posting some of your violins for sale. By the way, if the repairs on your photo page were made by you, then I will definitely stay away. Actually, I would never trust an expensive, old violin to be repaired by someone like you anyway.

Looking forward to pics of your Antiques by Lyndon super duper violins.

May 25, 2014 at 06:48 PM · The two violins on page 1 are for sale, and the violin on the top of page three, all the rest have sold already,

Also if you go to my link posted above there are more pictures; click on the categories near the top left of the page, April 31 violins, First violin, nikon pics, the one headed Swedish violin is still for sale

These pics in the other categories are actuall quite recent.

May 25, 2014 at 07:00 PM · Lyndon,

Can you post to this forum along with repairs made and prices you are asking. I don't really see anything that I would pay much for. If the Roth is one of the violins for sale, it doesn't look like any Roth worth $10,000 to me.

Caution, before you go too far with this you might want to rethink your position. I'm suspecting you are going to get blasted for selling low value, poorly repaired, 100 year old German violins for top dollar.

May 25, 2014 at 07:04 PM · perhaps you should visit my shop, you're not that far away, the Roth sold for $1400, it was 1972 no where near as good as a 20s Roth but still a very reasonable price, and a happy customer, on ebay nonetheless, for which I feel great shame......

The gemunder sold for $3000, the luthier redid the cracks to make them "disappear" and now its selling for $16000 I think.

this thread or this forum is not for me to sell violins, but I do have to defend myself against vicious untruthful attacks.

Anyway anyone that knows me and has visited my shop knows that my prices are very reasonable, usually around 1/2 of retail.

May 25, 2014 at 07:20 PM · Lyndon,

As I stated early on on this post, you like to make absurd, insensitive remarks based upon no real knowledge about things you know nothing about in order to get attention. It's obvious to me that what you sell is not any better that the Chinese violins you are running down and many times more expensive. When someone asks a specific question about a specific dealer they are looking for specific good and bad information. That's all they are looking for. You launch into a diatribe about Chinese violins in general and include the full gamut of VSO's with painted fingerboards, no purfling, poor quality wood, etc. up to Chinese violins costing thousands and lump them all together. I could do the same for what you are selling. You have found a market that works for you and you are always welcome to suggest that your market might be a better choice but your broad swipe comments are not appreciated by anyone.

May 25, 2014 at 07:24 PM · So what are your qualifications, Dick, to be trying to ruin my reputation as a luthier, like I say in my ads I do good work on student and intermediate level antique violins, the luthiers that charge $150/hr wouldn't be able to sell these violins at any reasonable price because they cost so much to repair, so I'm making available instruments that you can't buy anywhere else, you don't like them, go somewhere else, no point in visiting me, you obviously wouldn't know a good, violin if you saw one.

By the way appearances can be very deceiving, you really have no idea what a violin is going to sound like just by looking at it,

May 25, 2014 at 07:32 PM · Lyndon,

Enough of this. I need to go clean the P traps under the sink.

May 25, 2014 at 07:39 PM · So that's your qualifications?????

May 25, 2014 at 07:45 PM · Oh now that I look back I see your "qualifications"; you've purchased tons of really cheap Chinese violins and sold them to your students, at a Profit???? So basically you're a Chinese violin dealer on about the same scale as I am an antique violin dealer, no wonder you want to trash antiques!!

May 25, 2014 at 08:02 PM · Actually, Lyndon,

I provide the violins at no charge to my 35 low income students. I also give them free lessons, books and maintain their instruments at no charge. Yes I'm a really big fan of Chinese violins from certain dealers because I can buy 10 or more for the same price that I would pay for one of your 1970's Roth violins that has a real value of a few (very few) hundred dollars. I'm sure that you are convincing your customers that they are worth $1500 because you compare them to Roths from the 1920-30 which are very different animals. These low cost violins from China allow me to provide something to my community that I feel is important.

May 25, 2014 at 08:13 PM · you're so ignorant, the 1700 EH Roth model still sells brand new for $4500, a 1972 in very good condition like mine was has a retail value of $3000 or more, and is still better quality than the new ones, ask any violin dealer, The Chinese violins you buy are valued by the amount of sweat that poured out of the poor Chinese citizens that were forced to make them

May 25, 2014 at 08:27 PM · I should add that its admirable what you are doing for those kids, and it would be harder to find suitable antiques in you cheap price range, though I see them all the time on ebay, set up german production violins for $100-300. The problem is when your students mature they're obviously going to want better violins if their interest continues, that's where you get into the price range I am mostly selling $500-2000, while I do not sell Chinese violins I recommend anyone to compare and make up there OWN mind, not take some violin teachers word for it, most of my customers are people upgrading from cheaper violins, and most of them are looking for antiques, not new, I know there is a huge market for new Chinese violins, that won't disappear till the Chinese hourly wage is equal to ours. Funny I'm one of the few people in this area selling antiques in this price range, and you comments are aimed at putting me and the few others like me out of business, which may seem funny to you, but pretty soon there will be no affordable restorers to fix your Chinese crap violins and you'll have to ship them back to China just to get a set of pegs replaced or a soundpost fit, something to think about, but my guess is you're a bite the hand that feeds you kinda guy!!!

May 25, 2014 at 08:30 PM · Lyndon,

Keep digging.

May 25, 2014 at 08:34 PM · I hope one can expect a similar level of brow beating when visiting your shop?

P.S.-This thread was so awesome, it went to 102 posts! A new record?

September 27, 2016 at 05:13 PM · Anyone want the review now? Lol

September 27, 2016 at 05:16 PM · Sure! :)

September 27, 2016 at 05:36 PM · Let's hear it!

September 27, 2016 at 05:38 PM · Not another bl**dy Chinese violin thread. I wonder how much the makers were paid for their labours?

Cheers Carlo

September 27, 2016 at 05:40 PM · That'll cost you $0.03, Carlo!

September 27, 2016 at 05:43 PM · I'll happily pay $0.05 ;-)

Cheers Carlo

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