Contemporary Violin Lookout?

September 4, 2014 at 03:03 AM · Looking at previous posts, soundwise and moneywise, it would be more optimal to buy a contemporary violin.

Well... old violins tend to be in awful state and repair costs are cannot be overlooked. With age, the sound get deeper but I don't know. Wood degrades. And what people say is old italian violins at entry price/20k-30k sound less than english violins and ridiculous price from "italian brand name" and I would rather go for a contemporary.

I have heard of couple contemp violin luthiers and I am not so sure if it is some kind of hype.

Zygmuntowicz violin is well known.

I also heard Needham is amazing.

Do their instruments live up to their reputation?

How are Zygmuntowicz and Needham violins?

My budget for violin alone is 40000 dollars.

I don't think I can afford a Zyg but Needham is in my eyesight.

If you have other modern makers who you think is better, please don't hesitate.

Replies

September 4, 2014 at 04:15 AM · From "this side of the pond" it's not possible to compare the work of the two makers you mention, but I gather that if you did want a new Zyg you would have a long, long wait.

You might find it interesting to read Smiley Hsu's blog.

http://www.violinist.com/blog/smileyh1/

After lengthy trials he settled on a Laura Vigato violin, and in doing so saved himself a lot of bucks.

September 4, 2014 at 04:17 AM · I appreciate your reply.

I will definitely look at vigato violins.

September 4, 2014 at 04:22 AM · Norma, I think Weaver's violin shop imports Vigato violins - they are a long way from California but this firm do send violins to other dealerships for trial purposes, I understand.

September 4, 2014 at 04:42 AM · I have my heart set on Needham.

I am just going to have to try it first then purchase it.

September 4, 2014 at 04:43 AM · To David Beck

I will have to go through a trial then decide.

September 4, 2014 at 04:44 AM · If you go through a trial I hope they don't find you guilty!! (wink).

September 4, 2014 at 04:49 AM · To Peter Charles

Haha I hope violin will exceed my expectation.

It is a big jump.

I am using a 2000 dollar german unknown brand.

Now I am willing to go for 40000 dollars on my second violin.

September 4, 2014 at 05:29 AM · Keep in mind that your taste in tone may lend itself to a certain violin type. I'd advise not getting your heart set on a maker, but on the violin. Trying an instrument out objectively is extremely important for your long-term enjoyment. Even subconsciously being determined to like somebody's instrument because of their reputation can skew your perception of the instrument. Good makers consistently put out good violins, but even so, each instrument is different, and every player is different. A good maker should offer a generous trial period so that you have time to make up your mind without any pressure.

On a semi related note - Every once in awhile, I get this back-to-earth realization: Violin prices are simply ridiculous. 20k for a wooden box with strings is a bit much, yes? 60k even more out-of-this-world. I understand all the reasons, but sometimes it just floors me to think about it.

September 4, 2014 at 05:53 AM · "..If you go through a trial I hope they don't find you guilty!! "

There's a LOT of dodgy hearsay evidence around the violin market. Judge Judy would rule much of it inadmissable.

Main thing is to follow Aaron W's advice and don't let yourself be rushed. What you buy has to suit YOU; however don't ignore advice from any teachers or experts you happen to know - just take everything, including dealership sales-talk, with a HUGE pinch of salt.

I have enjoyed satisfactory retail-therapy buying "new" from Cremona makers (Daniele Tonarelli and GuidoTrotta). Peter Charles has a "second hand" Riccardo Bergonzi, who also works in Cremona. But taste is personal.

September 4, 2014 at 06:24 AM · David and Aaron are right, very good advice.

I'm very happy with my Ricardo Bergonzi which is about 19 years old now (still a teenager!). But it would not suit everyone, especially inexperienced players and some amateurs. Once I got used to it however, I discovered it has a lot of potential, and being a good fiddle it has helped me grow as a player.

Even with the wrong strings on it (as I have at present) it keeps me on my toes and as long as one works in the right sort of way it pays lots of dividends!

But buying a fiddle is a minefield even for an experienced professional, and for some it is even more so unless you have good advice and help from someone with your interests at heart.

September 4, 2014 at 06:53 AM · To Aaron Wildman

you are completely on point. I should go through a lengthy trial and try the instrument

But I mean....violin isn't just a box.. there are so many techniques and theories and centuries of know-hows, secret recipes involved to make such a complex 'wooden box'

I would gladly shell out 20k, If I like the sound of course. :)

To Jose Belmonte

Thank you for your opinion. I will certainly look up Coquoz violins.

To Peter Charles

my violin teacher will help me choose, not ultimately, but I will heed her words.

In the end, I will have to be satisfied.

September 4, 2014 at 07:08 AM · Norma - as mentioned above, different makers generate violins that can suit different purposes. I found that out for myself looking for a violin that could project over an orchestra. A wonderful sound in a small or even large room could turn to squeak or pale when faced with the competition of all those sounds. I did find one (half your budget) and am still in love with it about a year later.

So what is your primary goal with the violin? I guess the main options are orchestra, chamber, solo-recital and solo-orchestra. Its also imperative that you love the sound (and feel of course) in the practise studio - since that's where you are going to spend 99% of the partnership!

September 4, 2014 at 08:50 AM · Correct me if I'm wrong, Elise, but isn't your recently-acquired nearly-new violin an Alceste Bulfari ??

The number of talented and highly-trained makers world-wide is HUGE. The vast majority who have survived more than a few years will be able to boast, and quite legitimately, of having sold to someone with respectable professional credentials in the fiddle world. The more you ask, Norma, the more "names" will be dropped and the more confusing will become your search.

So, best of luck, and take care !!

September 4, 2014 at 09:03 AM · " I found that out for myself looking for a violin that could project over an orchestra."

Elise - is this to project over an amateur orchestra or a professional one? Some difference!

It's often more the players ability to project than the instrument. A Strad can't project even with a top player if the conductor lets the orchestra rip out without some finnesse. I heard this recently at a Prom here in London where the rather poor ochestra was not helping the excellent soloist at all, and the conductor was in cloud cuckoo land (As usual).

September 4, 2014 at 09:47 AM · "Elise - is this to project over an amateur orchestra or a professional one?"

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

ROFL

ghasp....

thanks for the thought, but really I shouldn't have been soloing even with an amateur community orchestra

I'm going to guess that its probably harder to project over the amateur one, what with all the note confusion going on ;) But I could still compare violins for the (limited, but at least fixed) skill set for this particular violinist. And there was a big difference. Each time I brought a different violin to rehearsal I asked the orchestra what they thought - and their impression was the same as the one I got from a recorder. Some of the instruments simply were not up to it - but the Bulfari just simply soared - and everyone in the orchestra agreed.

You may remember I had a topic earlier on detecting a projecting violin (in a violin shop). Here it is:

How to recognize a 'projecting' violin?

The general consensus seemed to be that the only way to really test was to do so in the concert situation - and that worked for me.

But now we're side-tracking the subject... sorry...

September 4, 2014 at 10:18 AM · You're right--it's a huge jump from what you have to what you want.

If you haven't already (I couldn't tell from your posts), go to many shops and try LOTS of violins. Borrow a couple for a week and try them in as many different venues as you can.

You say your heart is set on Needham, but not why...have you played violins by that maker? or are you going by what others have played that you like?

You may find the violin of your heart for much less than your projected price if you look around--which means you could start looking for that equally (if not more) important piece of equipment--the BOW.

Best success to you.

September 4, 2014 at 11:38 AM · If you can make it to the Violin Society of America Competition/Convention in Indianapolis around the middle of this month, you'll have a chance to play hundreds of instruments from all over the world, and see how they did in the competition at the same time.

These competitions are about the biggest gathering of contemporary instrument and bows in the world.

More information available at:

http://www.vsa.to/conventions-competitions

September 4, 2014 at 12:18 PM · An American professional violinist, Raphael Klayman, posts on violinist.com. He too has enjoyed retail therapy with new fiddles, and right now is selling some :-

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=24449

I am surprised he has yet to join this discussion.

BTW I emailed someone photos of my first Trotta violin (cost me a lot less than local makers here in Manchester, UK) who remarked that it looked like a David Burgess instrument.

Believe me, that's VERY high praise indeed.

September 4, 2014 at 01:00 PM · There was a zyg for sale on here a while ago, you might search for that. As I recall the asking price was rather eye-popping.

Elise I agree about amateur orchestras vs professional. My local community orchestra is preparing the Mozart 3 for a talented young, local soloist, and as we are rehearsing I find myself asking, shouldn't we be learning how to play this really quietly? The boy plays well but he's not Vengerov.

September 4, 2014 at 01:29 PM · The Exhibition of Contemporary Cremona Violins (and violas and cellos) at Ifshin Violins in El Cerrito, California is running for only 2 more days (closing on September 6). Seventy two (72) makers are represented.

It is a chance to try a number of newly made Italian violins. Unfortunately there are no Riccardo Bergonzi instruments in the exhibit this year, but I recall trying a nice viola and cello by Edgar Russ, I did not spot a violin by him, but his viola was remarkable - like a cello under the chin. All the instruments are for sale with a discount from their "list" prices.

The display is touring the world and this year's stop at Ifshin's is its only location in the United States.

Andy

September 4, 2014 at 02:02 PM · Norma, based on your profile, it looks like you've been playing for a couple of years?

If so, you might want to wait to buy an expensive violin because your taste will probably evolve as you continue.

September 4, 2014 at 02:16 PM · A painting is just oil and pigment smeared on part of a boat sail, but you can buy a Monet or Dogs Playing Pool to hang in your living room.

September 4, 2014 at 02:32 PM · I'm sure a professional orchestra can play considerably louder than an amateur one, but the professional should be able to play with a consideration for any soloist, whereas an amateur orchestra may have more problems.

September 4, 2014 at 02:49 PM · I agree with Andrew Holland's advice - up to a point.

Writing as a violinistic oldster I'd suggest that the fact that your taste will refine itself over many years is no excuse to delay experiencing different fiddles. Get going on that learning experience right away !

A life-changing experience for me was being allowed to try a really fine old Italian violin after I'd been learning just one year. The sound under the ear was "connected" with the sound of the same violin being played as I sat listening at the back of the hall ....

September 4, 2014 at 05:10 PM · Why not try a David Burgess violin?

September 4, 2014 at 05:50 PM · "Norma, based on your profile, it looks like you've been playing for a couple of years?

If so, you might want to wait to buy an expensive violin because your taste will probably evolve as you continue."

Why? It sounds as if money is not an issue. If that is the case, go ham. Besides, I'd bet that there is at least a couple year waiting time for a top maker. If money could be an issue, then I agree that caution should be exercised.

September 4, 2014 at 06:30 PM · Randy wrote:

"Why not try a David Burgess violin?"

___________________

Who the heck is Burgess? And now I reckon you'll be expecting me to send you a free toaster or somethin'. ;-)

September 5, 2014 at 12:35 AM · If you check out Needham, I'd be curious to know the cost and whether there is a waiting list. When I contacted Howard Needham a few years ago, he had a 2-3 year wait, but I think I read last year that his waiting list has dried up.

September 5, 2014 at 11:24 AM · https://www.zaretandsonsviolins.com/violins/choosing-a-violin

https://www.zaretandsonsviolins.com/how-to-judge-if-a-violin-has-a-good-tone

Spend some time trying out as many violins as you can and delay purchase until you are really able to judge if a violin has a good tone. This means that you can grade an instrument based on each and every of 12 attributes in Zaret's great article, plus to seek the quality of timbre you are looking for.

You are a developing violinist and most likely still unconsciously searching for your internal concept of sound. Without it, there is nothing to match your instrument with and compare against.

Buying a violin is a very personal experience.

It takes time to find your violin and sometimes a lot of luck. It is a learning experience and often amounts to trial and error.

Commissioning a violin... you need to be ready for this process. It may seam as a safe option, but this too is time consuming and with unknown outcome. Depending on the demand and wait time, you may wait at least one year and then spend next few years before your instrument settles. In other words, you will hear the "seed" of sound right away, but the real "personality" of a new violin will be known after 3-5 years. Keep in mind that you will need to see the maker occasionally, so buy locally, or not far from home.

Lastly, many people leave the bow out of equation.... forgetting how important it is for our sound production. It is also extremely important to match your violin and bow and this process can take time.

Good luck!

September 5, 2014 at 01:39 PM · "Depending on the demand and wait time, you may wait at least one year and then spend next few years before your instrument settles. In other words, you will hear the "seed" of sound right away, but the real "personality" of a new violin will be known after 3-5 years. Keep in mind that you will need to see the maker occasionally, so buy locally, or not far from home."

_________________________________

I disagree with these things a bit. While some violins can take quite a while to settle in, some can be quite stable when they leave the maker's hands, as long as the varnish has dried to a point where it is very stable, and they have been strung up for a month or so. Some makers use finishing materials which continue to undergo major changes for many years, and that's one area where a buyer can get into trouble with the sound changing.

Also, there are good instrument technicians in most major cities, and many of these specialists are actually better at setup and maintenance and repairs than many makers are, so proximity to the maker usually doesn't need to be much of a concern. That's how people get their Strads etc. serviced, so it's probably good enough for contemporary fiddles in most cases.

September 5, 2014 at 01:48 PM · Try a Tetsuo Matsuda. I'm in love with mine.

September 6, 2014 at 10:12 AM · Who the heck is Burgess? And now I reckon you'll be expecting me to send you a free toaster or somethin'. ;-)

:):):):):):):)

September 6, 2014 at 11:47 AM · You can also overthink it all.

If you want a new violin and have the means to pay for it...get the new violin.

If you have a maker in mind...get one from that maker.

Will there be issues? Maybe. Probably. But what doesn't come with issues? And odds are...most of the issues that come with your new violin will be minor and easily resolved.

September 6, 2014 at 01:28 PM · I definitely recommend a violin by Howard Needham. He is a superb maker. I have seen several of his violins and I think they belong to the best made in the US.

September 6, 2014 at 03:09 PM · Isn't this the point in the answers that everyone starts to recommend whatever violin they play (plus 5 more to look at), thereby totally confusing the original poster?

September 6, 2014 at 03:58 PM · Lots of information on the link below regarding past violin-making competition winners (scroll down the page a little ways).

http://www.vsa.to/past-conventions-competitions

September 6, 2014 at 04:15 PM · "Isn't this the point in the answers that everyone starts to recommend whatever violin they play (plus 5 more to look at), thereby totally confusing the original poster?"

I think everyone is just a little anxious that the original poster is going to make a major violin investment without even trying it (or one by the same maker) out.

But on the other hand, if you think that all violins by great makers will have at least a level of excellence and you wish to make a purchase that will best hold its value - or even be a good investment in the long run - perhaps this is the best strategy.

On the third hand (what can I say, I'm a funny looking lady), there is the niggling thought that the reason to buy from one of these makers is simply because it would be impressive to have one - for status. But you know, hundreds of violinists have done that before (think Strad).

And now I really have run out of hands...

September 6, 2014 at 04:47 PM · Norma, if you commission a violin, why not ask for an agreement from the maker that you get all your money back right away, if the completed instrument doesn't meet your expectations? The worst they can do is refuse.

September 6, 2014 at 05:49 PM · Heed those wise words of David Burgess !

No violin or bow maker from whom I have "commissioned" has EVER insisted I MUST purchase the result - it's always been a case of "subject to trial".

Maybe I struck lucky - but, strange to relate. I've never been let down. Every egg a bird, every ball a coconut.

By contrast, I've returned quite a few trial violins to dealerships.

September 6, 2014 at 06:12 PM · David - maybe that explains why many violins end up in dealerships ;) ;)

September 6, 2014 at 08:55 PM · "I think everyone is just a little anxious that the original poster is going to make a major violin investment without even trying it (or one by the same maker) out."

Um, no. I can't say that I am...

September 7, 2014 at 05:33 AM · "David - maybe that explains why many violins end up in dealerships.."

Unfair to blame ME, Ee, for the huge stocks of hard-to-sell stuff dealerships boast nowadays ! I only take back merchandise taken out on trial from them in the first place ;)

Visit an established maker and usually he/she will have nothing to show you, or at least nothing available for immediate sale to YOU, everything produced being immediately "spoken for".

Time was that I remember UK dealerships being in the same boat. Only the early bird could catch the worms; anything decent would sell pdq - A seller's market.

For the present situation blame (a) economic stagnation and (b) the sad fact that dealerships are victims of a sorry situation because they can so esily become the dumping ground for those instruments that didn't turn out too well, maybe tampered with by misguided repairers, that they so often feel obliged to take in as PX deals ...;);)

September 7, 2014 at 06:14 AM · This is very true David, and I see that dealerships have the same instruments on their lists year in year out. When the odd one is sold it is probably replaced with another which in turn will sit there for years. I saw and played the same fiddles that e had seen in london, and was not impressed. They are mostly still for sale after about 3 years.

I also know of a fine maker who made one very beautiful looking fiddle which unfortunately had dreadful sound. people got it out (some even tried to have it tweaked) to no avail. It was a bummer from a maker who was normally consistently good on the sound of his fiddles.

September 7, 2014 at 02:57 PM · "(b) the sad fact that dealerships are victims of a sorry situation because they can so esily become the dumping ground for those instruments that didn't turn out too well, maybe tampered with by misguided repairers, that they so often feel obliged to take in as PX deals ...;);)"

I'm not sure many dealers would agree with that. Dealers I've dealt with are very careful to accept only those violins they feel will sell--no one stays in business for long with unsold stock. Even consignment stock costs $$ to ship out and insure.

Due to the internet and instant communication, people shopping for violins have become the same type of consumers as for other goods: insanely picky, and terrified of making the wrong choice. Which leads them to compare endlessly, sure that the "perfect" violin is just around the corner at another shop or with another maker. And at today's prices, I suppose they are acting quite rationally...

September 10, 2014 at 02:46 AM · You're probably going to have to try multiple instruments by a maker to have any sense of what that maker's output is typically like. There's a lot of variance from instrument to instrument, for most makers. And you have to take into account the age of the instrument as well, and what the maker's approach was at the time it was made.

A luthier once explained to a non-musician friend of mine that choosing an instrument or bow is akin to choosing a lover. It's really a matter of individual taste, with every instrument its own distinct entity.

September 10, 2014 at 05:50 AM · In that case, running a violin shop, I must be literally surrounded by lovers!!

September 10, 2014 at 06:45 AM · "...choosing an instrument or bow is akin to choosing a lover. "

Speed-dating can be risky, IMHO. ;)

September 10, 2014 at 06:46 AM · ... unrequited lovers Lyndon. The angst must be unbearable... and then just as soon as one is happy, its gone!

September 11, 2014 at 01:36 PM · Ms Butterfly posted "... I am mulling over..."

You say tomato ....

I am reminded of Victoria MULLOVA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktoria_Mullova

Is Ms. Mullova decisive ??

December 21, 2014 at 11:29 AM · BTW, "David Beck" is not a pseudonym.

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