Apologies in advance for the long post (my first - I just joined!).
The other day, I had a long conversation with the owner a local violin shop that has me questioning everything I thought I knew about string instruments.
I called the store - which I believe is a respected one that has been around for a long time - and spoke at length with the owner. I told her that I was looking for a cello (I play violin, but recently have been thinking of getting back into cello) and that I was looking for something in the $5-7K range, similar to my Jay Haide violin. Boy did I get an earful.
After telling me that she doesn't deal much in cellos and trying to convince me that I really want a viola instead, she told me that she absolutely refuses to deal in any Chinese instruments. In the past I've dismissed such thinking as narrow-minded. But she told me a couple of things that gave me pause:
First, she said that my Haide is worth about $100 (I paid $2,400!), because the Chinese wood used to make it is fast-growing and therefore must be baked and/or chemically treated. The instruments made of this wood, especially larger ones like cellos and basses, are likely to "fail" down the line (whatever that means).
Second, the dealers charge "ridiculously inflated" prices for Chinese instruments because of a widespread system of teacher/dealer kickbacks. I had heard of this practice, but (naively?) assumed that only a few bad apples were actually engaged in it. She says there are only two other shops within 100 miles of NYC NOT doing it.
So what I'm wondering is: what is the expected lifespan of a Chinese-wood violin? Is European wood the only way to go? I went into my purchase believing that there was a difference between the "VSOs" and higher-end Chinese instruments. According to this shop owner, the only difference is marketing/pricing/scamming.
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