THE BEST VIOLIN MAKER THAT YOU HAVE KNOWN SO FAR

May 21, 2016 at 03:51 AM · Hi,

I am looking for a new violin. I would like to hear some of your recommendation from your experience by giving me some of the names of the violin makers/manufacturers that you have known so far.

Thank you,

Van

Replies (26)

May 21, 2016 at 04:31 AM · Start by checking the archive, there is a wealth of information. Do searches with various combinations of key words eg 'luthier' 'maker' 'contemporary' 'purchase' 'buy' 'price' etc. You will need at least 2-3 hours for this.

Then if you need more information post a more specific question, ie what price range, level/purpose, new/old etc.

May 21, 2016 at 02:34 PM · Isabelle Wilbaux, Montreal

Itzel Avila, Toronto

John Newton, Toronto

All Canadian, eh?

Nothing personal, but it appears that new members do not provide their location and basic information. Yes, we all cherish our privacy, but if you want help, at least show some trust in this community. In this particular case, it does not make sense to even consider Canadian makers, unless you live on the continent or are so affluent that can afford to travel for violin.

May 21, 2016 at 04:46 PM · Incidentally, if you consider Itzel Avelia, I can personally contact her for you. :)

May 22, 2016 at 01:28 AM · I agree re the advisability of stating one's location. But without implying any put down at all of any other maker whosoever, I'm going to personally recommend one particular maker in Cremona, Italy who regularly ships his violins world-wide. It is Vittorio Villa. I have 2 first class violins of his. Vittorio's violins are also to be found in the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Shanghai Quartet. You can look him up and find his website. You can also find a blog that I wrote about my Villa violins, "A Tale of Two Fiddles" in my website, http://rkviolin.com

I am not an official representative for Vittorio, but I have a very good collegial relationship with him and if I introduce you to him it can help put you higher on the queue. I won't quote his prices because that is always subject to change and that's best coming from him. But you'll see that for a maker of his stature, they are remarkably low.

May 22, 2016 at 09:50 AM · I have not played any David Burgess violin (yet) but David Burgess certainly is a famed make who is also very active on v.com.

One way to obtain a list of good makers is to look up the medal winners of past VSA competitions as well as the names of the judges, many of whom still make.

May 22, 2016 at 10:09 AM · I've heard some very good beautiful instruments by Michael Fischer, Silverlake, near LA California. We even did a blind comparison between a genuine long pattern Strad and one of his Strad models. His did sound better, it had a similar antique sound, not like most new violins, but the Strad was somewhat compromised, missing over 80% of its original varnish, and coated with many coats of French polish which gave it a hard edge to the sound missing from Michael's fine instrument.

Michael builds quite prolifically and he doesn't participate in the competitions so he actually has several instruments for sale at a given time so that you don't have to be on a long waiting list and can know exactly what you are getting when you buy, he is not cheap, though.

He has done some incredible copies of Maggini violas, in fact all his instruments are copies of instruments he has had in his shop, I believe.

http://mfischerviolins.com/

Michael and I share a strong interest in original baroque set up violins, He has a fine baroque set up violin he made on display in his shop.

May 22, 2016 at 11:21 AM · "THE BEST VIOLIN MAKER THAT YOU HAVE KNOWN SO FAR"

If you mean PERSONALLY most of our fiddlers on violinist.com will have a very short list indeed as many players use instruments made by dead men.

I knew the English maker Wilfred Saunders. He allowed me to pay by instalments for my first professional violin; I played the instrument for an audition for the Hallé Orchestra and was successful. This man taught me a great deal about violin construction when I visited his workshop. He became one of the "protagonists" of the UK Newark violin-making school. I met Guido Trotta, who works in Cremona at an exhibition at the RNCM in Manchester, UK, in 1992 and now own 3 of his violins and a viola. Personal interaction between player and maker can lead to satisfaction. I bought one violin from Daniele Tonarelli in 2003 when on a visit to Cremona, but though we conversed I had no "input" regarding the construction of the violin, which is very nice, and I still have it. I have also met Laura Vigato and Paul Ayres and very much liked the violins they allowed me to try, but alas I felt that I had enough violins already and anyway didn't have money to spare at the time.

Sadly, Giuseppe Lucci, who made another fiddle of mine was already deceased at the time of purchase. For nearly 20 years I played a J.B.Vuilaume violin and though I'm VERY old now he too was already dead and buried well before I acquired the instrument.

May 22, 2016 at 11:47 AM · Wilfred's son Jacob Saunders is a good friend of mine (I have free long distance to Austria where he lives) and a source of much valuable information on violins I send him pictures of, great guy. He's also a talented maker, although I have never heard one of his violins.

Jacob and I share a love of and appreciation for German instruments, and Jacob is one of the world's top experts on German and Austrian violins.

May 22, 2016 at 01:03 PM · Julie Reed organizes yearly violin exhibitions in New York with outstanding contemporary makers. You can see the credentials and sample instrument of each maker at http://www.reedyeboahviolins.com/

May 22, 2016 at 01:41 PM · When it comes to antiques, almost all the best sounding instruments I have had come through my shop have been anonymous, most without labels. Often the best bargains in the antique world are unlabeled or even obviously fake labeled instruments. Compared to an anonymous violin, you pay up to 100% more for the exact same quality of violin with a label and pedigree, something to think about.

May 22, 2016 at 02:01 PM · I'm very lucky to have two fine violins, one a Rocca ex-Campoli and the other by a Scottish maker, James Duncan but both makers are long dead. In violas, however, I have two very beautiful instruments, one by Michael Darnton of Chicago and another by Sarah Beaton of the UK. I've had quite a few over the years but these two violas are better than any of my earlier ones.

May 22, 2016 at 03:22 PM · I have really enjoyed working with Anton Krutz and the KC strings shop. They have shop instruments as well as ones made by him personally. He has instruments in major orchestras around the world. I was extremely happy with the instrument and price. I purchased mine a few years ago. I tried out many of his ranging from ones made in late 90s to just made that year. I decided on one from 1999.

May 22, 2016 at 07:37 PM · "I have not played any David Burgess violin (yet) but David Burgess certainly is a famed make who is also very active on v.com.

One way to obtain a list of good makers is to look up the medal winners of past VSA competitions as well as the names of the judges, many of whom still make."

___________________________

Thanks for the mention, Kevin. I'm probably not the best candidate for someone who places high priority on getting an instrument in less than three to four years, since instrument commission requests are coming in at a much higher rate than I can make instruments.

I continue to try to purchase used instruments I have made (as long as I find that they've been really well cared for), in an attempt to improve that picture.

I'll agree that competition outcomes can be a highly valuable resource. While many prospective instrument purchasers may only try something like 5 to 50 instruments before making a decision, a Violin Society of America Competition uses professional peers (both playing and making) to evaluate more like 400 contemporary instruments from 14 countries in each recent competition. Sure, tastes vary, and not every maker has entered, but it wouldn't seem like a bad place to start, if one is considering incorporating contemporary instruments into the mix.

I'll also agree with Dexter, that Julie Reed's annual exhibition offers a great opportunity to try and compare a lot of contemporary instruments from varied sources, at the same time and in the same place.

May 23, 2016 at 03:18 AM · Re Julie Reed's exhibition I've attended 3 of them and oddly enough also wrote a blog on my website http://rkviolin.com about one that I attended, called "A Violin Double Header"

May 23, 2016 at 04:35 AM · Jan Pawlikowski makes very fine violins, violas, and cellos.

May 23, 2016 at 08:47 PM · I have been in love with my Douglas Cox violin for some time now. He makes beautifully crafted instruments and is a wonderful person to work with. He even does school visits to the conservatories in Boston a few times per year to check in on his instruments and players.

http://www.coxviolins.com/index.html

May 24, 2016 at 10:07 PM · LOL

May 25, 2016 at 03:41 AM · I once tried to contact Stradivari - and he never even got back to me. I heard he has a long waiting list...

May 25, 2016 at 11:12 AM · There are usually several used ones available on the market though. ;-)

May 25, 2016 at 11:43 AM · Who wants a used, hand-me-down Strad? I want him to custom-make one for me. But the last time I was in Cremona I got very confused: I went to the street where the Amati shop was and they had a sign "best violins in Europe". So far, so good. But I thought I'd do a bit of comparison shopping and went down the street a little to find the Stradivari shop. They had a sign "best violins in Cremona". Hmmm...Then I went down the street a bit further and found the Guarneri shop. They had a sign "best violins on this street"! What was a customer to do? I ended up ordering a nice vso from Sears&Roebuck!

May 25, 2016 at 12:26 PM · Sears&Roebuck sign: best VSOs on the block.

May 25, 2016 at 02:36 PM · Hi im based in the UK,I have a derek trotter violin custom made from peckham.

It comes with an old English vinyl finish,

Case.

Beautiful sound...

May 25, 2016 at 03:55 PM · I bet Antonio is really pissed!!

May 25, 2016 at 04:21 PM · Joe Guarneri is probably pissed, too -- barely got a mention -- & already drunk as a skunk.

May 25, 2016 at 04:48 PM · "I ended up ordering a nice vso from Sears&Roebuck!"

Lowendall (originally named Löwenthal) fiddles appeared in Sears catalogues, I believe ....will Raphael be getting one ?

Maybe more makers should change their names. Deed poll is a possibility. There's a maker working in the UK who has been called either Lorenzo Frassino Guado (Cremona) or Laurence Ashford.

Not known to me personally, I'm afraid.

May 25, 2016 at 05:47 PM · Phillip - hmmm... First you say I was funny - which I was trying to be. Then you seemed to take me seriously! Or were you actually being subtly funny, yourself and it just went over my head? Certainly everyone else (I hope) realized that I was completely joking around. The business about the signs in the shop windows was someone else's joke that I - um, borrowed.

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