Violins, Clavichords, and my new website

January 12, 2016 at 07:24 PM · I'm a clavichord maker, (baroque keyboard instruments) but am currently retired from the trade, due to sub standard wages for my painstaking efforts. I have a second love, the violin, and have apprenticed and worked part time in the violin business for well on 18 years. While most shops are focusing on new Chinese instruments, I have been almost exclusively selling true antiques, over 100 years old.

Now of course that's not saying that much as some very cheap mass produced violins where coming out of Southern Germany 100-150 years ago, but even so, the better ones can hold their own quite well tonally against new Chinese imports in the same price point, that is at least if you don't overprice the antiques.

I am eternally grateful to for providing me with a web page in the old directory(now hidden, but still visible via google)for my limited advertising endeavors, but have decided to ramp it up a bit with a professional preformatted website that I built myself with limited computer knowledge and no HTML skills etc.

Its costing me only $20 a month for the first year, and about $30 a month after that.

Anyway if you want to see pictures and professional you tube recordings of beautiful clavichords I have built, and pictures of some fine violins I have worked on and a whole lot about me, my philosophy, and how I run a small violin business out of my house, check out this new website and let me know what you think.

PS I don't do internet sales, I'm strictly a local business, so for 98% of you this is not advertising, just informational!!

Replies (25)

January 12, 2016 at 08:34 PM · Best of luck to you!

FYI: you can get a free website at Weebly (drag and drop setup), and register a domain with them for $50 a year.

January 12, 2016 at 11:14 PM · Hi Lyndon, just looked at your new website and think it is very nice. It is unfortunate that there is not a bigger market for clavichords so that you could be a profitable builder in your calling. I think that it is too bad that Lurch from the Addams Family could not have made the clavichord more popular and start a revival.

January 13, 2016 at 08:37 AM · Surely Lurch played the harpsichord?

January 13, 2016 at 08:42 AM · Seraphim, I'm no expert on website hosting but I checked out one of the free sites and their privacy policy was terrible, basically it was we'll mine your information for advertisers and spam your email and telephone etc. So I went with an established site that offers 24/7 tech support and believe me it took about 7 calls to tech to figure out how the system to build the website worked, plus I payed extra for getting my website noticed and picked up by search engines, don't know how well that works, but I need visibility.

January 13, 2016 at 10:30 AM · Beautiful and very moving, Lyndon. All my best wishes. If I would have been from the area I would probably have bought my violin from you. Best, -Jean.

January 13, 2016 at 10:35 AM · Thank you, Jean.

January 13, 2016 at 12:42 PM · I had occasion to investigate the current value of a harpsichord made by John Challis, one of the best 20th Century makers. The estimates that I got from two different experts were within "experimental error" of the original (ca. 1960) purchase price. So I believe Lyndon when she says it's hard to make a living building clavichords.

I own a late-19th-century German violin. One of the things that I kind of object to is the notion that any violin made in Germany during this period must necessarily be a mass-produced workshop instrument. Were there no individual "bench" violin-makers there and then?

January 13, 2016 at 01:20 PM · No, of course there were high end hand made instruments in late 19th Century Germany, even some high end production instruments like Heberlein. Also mass production didn't mean factory assembly line like modern Chinese, they were still made by hand; just not only one set of hands, one person might carve the neck, one person make the rib garland, another the top and back, another to assemble and varnish etc.

PS John Challis may have been a top maker in the 60s, but by today's standards of authentic copies he's hardly up to date with what is being made today. A two manual large harpsichord from a good maker today is about $50,000, I think.

January 13, 2016 at 03:06 PM · Yes, the Challis instrument that I was researching was not "authentic" by any means. In fact, it was his first "experimental" instrument made with an aluminum frame. But it's still a pretty nice harpsichord even if it's single-manual and not "large". I would have thought it would fetch more than $2000.

The German violin that I have says "Herman Jaas" inside and "1895". In my searches I have found only one other instrument on the market by that maker. So I don't know if it's a workshop instrument with a fake label or whether this was an individual maker of the time. It's a pretty nice sounding violin either way, but if it's a workshop instrument I probably paid too much for it.

And your web site looks very nice. I don't fault you for paying a little extra so that you can push up your own HTML. Those Weebly sites always seem kind of cookie-cutter to me.

January 13, 2016 at 03:36 PM · Yes I think a Challis should be worth closer to $5000 than $2000. For information on your violin I would contact the top expert I know on German violins, Jacob Saunders in Austria, google jacob saunders violin should pull up his website and contact info, have some pictures you can email, because he doesn't like to talk about labels without seeing the instrument.

for the Challis you might try contacting Harpsichord Clearing House in Boston, they can value and sell it for you if you want.

January 13, 2016 at 10:41 PM · I talked to Howard at the Harpsichord Clearing House, they said they'd be happy to list it for you, but that Challis' are no easy to sell. I mentioned $5000 and he thought that was not unreasonable if it was in good condition, if it needs restringing or lots of maintenance that would have to come out of the price. Give them a call if you're still trying to sell it, I can recommend them, they were my agents when I built clavichords, and they did me well finding customers, of course there is a commission, about 25%.

January 13, 2016 at 10:45 PM · Lyndon, do you also advertise in the local Craigslist, etc?

Since you do only local sales, it may be a good way to let nearby folks know you're out there.

January 13, 2016 at 11:08 PM · I'm not selling a harpsichord. Ten years ago I became interested in one owned by someone known to me. But thanks for your help anyway. The referral to the expert on German violins will likely be quite useful.

January 14, 2016 at 12:19 AM · Seraphim, I placed an ad on craigslist and didn't get a single call, I'm not impressed by their sales potential or what they have for sale, every time I look on craigslist its either junk or way overpriced for me, so I gave up looking.

January 15, 2016 at 03:17 AM · Any constructive criticisms on my website? I'm totally new to this website making thing, and can make changes to the website at any time, anything you think I could do better??

January 15, 2016 at 05:21 PM · I would recommend not having the pictures from inside your home right under the heading "restoration philosophy." In fact I do not find those pictures too appealing or relevant. They're poorly composed snapshots that don't convey the mindset of the meticulous artisan. There are violins (and a printer and some other stuff) on a set of shelves that don't look like they were made by someone who makes clavichords, more violins lined up on a sofa, and in the middle, a Wurlitzer organ. I would rather see a picture of your workbench, or one of some luthiers' tools hanging on a pegboard, or a violin with clamps all over it, etc., or some violins shelved in a manner that clearly conveys the great care you will undoubtedly take of your client's grandfather's violin. This would give me a stronger indication that you run a serious restoration business even though it is run out of your home.

January 15, 2016 at 08:23 PM · Unfortunately the workshop is a complete disaster area, and would hardly help inspire confidence, and no its not a Wurlitzer organ, but a fine antique reed organ with pump pedals by the Adler organ company in Louisville Kentucky.

Sorry but that's what my living room looks like, can't get more honest than that.

January 15, 2016 at 08:26 PM · UPDATE, I've added a new page, FOR SALE, on the tool bar, with pictures and detailed description for my three best instruments, and listings and prices of quite a few others. I am also adding a page of my abstract art, as I used to be an artist, but thats not up and running till I load the pictures and text.

January 15, 2016 at 09:13 PM · I'm going to try to take some more professional pictures of the Living room, as per the workshop, you'll have to visit my shop to see that, can't give away all the goodies!!

January 21, 2016 at 10:25 AM · Well I think I'm 99% finished with my website, as Paul suggested I've taken better pictures inside the shop, I've added a For Sale Page with detailed pics of my three best violins, and prices listed for Cheaper ones, I've also added an Art page with 7 of my abstract paintings, I've also added lightly coloured backgrounds and moved a few things around, Comments????Link:

Taylor's Fine Violins

January 21, 2016 at 10:25 AM ·

January 21, 2016 at 07:05 PM · I like your site much better now.

As far as your paintings, I can see the influences you cited. As you surely know, there's so much ground already covered in the whole abstract expressionism movement (and frankly a lot of nonsense too) that formulating an original concept is pretty hard, but with your Forest pieces you really seem to be onto something. I like those the best.

January 22, 2016 at 12:27 AM · Hi Lyndon, I also like your redesigned website much better, and it seems very professional. I like looking at Violins for sale even though I am satisfied with my instrument. I also like looking at pictures of bows for sale and reading their description. Hint hint.

January 22, 2016 at 09:23 AM · thank you so much for the positive responses, Its taken a lot of work and I finally feel like I am finished, just a few minor edits today, and some glitches in the site to work out. Paul, the forest pieces are highly representative of the type of symmetrical art I was doing in the 80s, As I said the 1999 acrylic series had to be different as water is less controllable than turpentine.

Also the painting Samsara has suffered a lot of wear damage with pieces of the paint missing and showing white underneath; small blotches and folds in the canvas. It looked much much better when first painted, the problem was I never stretched the canvas on a frame and it got folded up bent and abused! Its also bigger than the picture by about a foot on the sides and bottom, hidden by furniture, computa desk etc, its behind my computer. That's a reed organ in the bottom right corner.

Jeff I am horribly embarrassed to admit that I am not a bow specialist, I never properly learned to hair bows, my bosses always did that, as a result I have not tried to invest heavily in bows as I am much less of an expert on bows than I am with violins. Right now I only have student bows for the $1000 violin and under crowd, and one decent French?? demo bow, not for sale.

February 5, 2016 at 06:23 AM · Just an update, I've added two more paintings to the MY ART page, for 9 in total, and on the CLAVICHORDS page I've added 3 recordings on youtube of my playing, both historical clavichord and Improvised music on an electric clavichord I converted from an acoustic instrument I built.

Also on the ABOUT ME page I've added a picture of one of the electric guitars I built, and one the coffee tables I built when trying my hand at modern furniture.

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