Recommendation of a violin maker in Europe

August 1, 2016 at 12:13 PM · I'm looking for notable violin makers in Europe, better in Italy and Germany. I want to commission a violin that can be with me for my entire life. I'm interested in Guarneri model violin especially Canon. May I ask some recommendation from you?


August 1, 2016 at 12:35 PM · There are many very good makers in Italy (in Cremona) Ricardo Bergonzi being just one. But instruments vary a lot, even from the same maker.

August 1, 2016 at 12:48 PM · I agree with Peter Charles. Many, many well-trained makers, world-wide, and every maker's work varies with different models and woods being used to suit the varied demands of clientele.

However, If your budget is generous, I have noticed that an English dealership, Tim Toft, has on offer a very good-looking violin by Gaibisso, obviously inspired by the Paganini "Il Cannone". The body-length is a little longer than the Guarneri original and of course the violin looks NEWER ! I think the price for this 1941 instrument is not a lot more than you might need to pay for a newly-commissioned violin by a top American maker.

Disclaimer - I have no connection with the Tim Toft dealership other than looking at their website from time to time. Once had a bow on trial but didn't buy it !!

You might care to look at a thread started by Kevin Zhang (any relation ??) who has searched for new violins in Italy recently and in doing so seems to have developed an interest in dealing. He has brought many new violins back from Italy to the USA, including one from a favourite maker of mine, Guido Trotta.

August 1, 2016 at 02:52 PM · You could see some violin dealers there, many of them work with good contemporary makers.

I would like to say something about "a violin that can be with me for my entire life". This is a good idea but may not work. Our taste may change with time (it happens even with food) and future developments in your technique may require a new violin too. Even top soloists change instruments and are always willing to give a look on a new one!

August 1, 2016 at 03:03 PM · I agree with Peter Charles, of all the violins, violas, and cellos I have tried at 3 of the traveling Cremona shows in the US, Bergonzi's have been best (and most expensive - cellos running about $30,000). But there are fine violins being made all over the world.

August 1, 2016 at 11:37 PM · Dear everybody, thank you very much for your comments. My budget is quite enough even though I'm not a professional violinist. I have no relation with Kevin Zhang, we just got the same family name and maybe we come from the same family five hundred years ago. Does somebody know Roberto Regazzi?

August 2, 2016 at 03:18 AM · Not this Robert Regazzi ? but RobertO who IS active in the violin-making world. Whether he actually makes his instruments or gets others to do the work I don't know.

I do remember that he was recommended to me once by the English dealer Sean Bishop. You might try contacting S.B. for information :-

Regazzi has a website :

I see he was a pupil of Otello Bignami - once I heard a professional player performing on a Bignami violin and i was IMPRESSED !!

BTW the Riccardo Bergonzi violin Peter Charles has is a Guarneri model, and I think you can still see it on the website of London Violins.

August 2, 2016 at 10:27 AM · Has anybody said to themselves "5,4,3,2,1", waiting for me to weigh in? ;-)

Yes, I'm going to highly recommend once again, Vittorio Villa, of Cremona, Italy. I'm not going to say that he's the best. There IS no best. As already mentioned, no 2 violins of the same maker will be identical. And every player has a different taste and playing style. But Vittorio has been very consistent in turning out violins of very high quality in terms of tonal and visual beauty and very sound construction.

Violins of his are to be found in the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Shang Hai Quartet - and in the collection of "yours, truly". For my own experiences of Vittorio and his violins, go to my website, go to my "Blog" section and read the 2 blogs (plus, of course, anything else you want to read or listen to), "My Pilgrimage to Cremona" and "A Tale of Two Fiddles".

You can see his site and contact him here:

Mention my name. I'm not his representative but over time I have become his friend. It's always better not to have to make a 'cold call'. He's also known for his relatively low prices and his fairly fast delivery time, considering how busy he is.

August 2, 2016 at 10:31 AM · I played on one of the Villa violins (can't remember which one of the brothers) here (in London) at an exhibition of Cremonese violins about 3 years or so back. Brand new - lovely sound and great to play. But try them all if possible, and you will probably find a gem.

August 2, 2016 at 03:18 PM · The Villa at that exhibition in London was Marcello.

August 4, 2016 at 06:49 AM · Suddenly it hit me ! The most obviously well-qualified maker of reproductions of the Paganini "Il Cannone" Guarneri violin is the Genoa-based Alberto Giordano, who is assistant curator of the original instrument.

I think buyers have a choice. "Original thicknesses" are generous to the point that a new violin so constructed would be "hard work" for many years and I have been given to understand that Giordano will sometimes reduce these to make his reproductions more easily playable.

August 4, 2016 at 07:21 AM · Dear David, thank you very much for your comment. I'm not a professional violinist and I don't think I can handle a real canon with that thickness of wood. To my eyes, Guarneri model is more beautiful than Strad. And of course, to my ears, I really like Guarneri more. That is the reason why I want to buy Guarneri model violin. I want to buy a new violin because I'm still young and I have a lot of time to play it^_^.

August 4, 2016 at 10:32 AM · One of my Ed Maday violins is a copy of "the Cannon". As an experiment, he copied the original thicknesses, yet the violin is fairly light since every piece of wood has a different density. It sounds really good. When Vittorio Villa makes a del Gesu model he usually bases it on the "Lord Wilton".

August 4, 2016 at 12:45 PM · MY 1993 "Guarneri del Gesù" model violin was based on the 1742 "Heifetz/David" original - I presented the maker, Guido Trotta, with a life-size poster from the Strad magazine and asked for "something like that, but with a one-piece back".

I still own and treasure this violin which I used a lot when touring with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, using it in foreign venues such as the Vienna Musikverein and the NYC Avery Fisher Hall.

August 4, 2016 at 08:38 PM · Dear Jack,

If you are looking for a new "Cannon", you might consider Alexander Schütz in Linz / Austria. Just recently he made two of them which seem to behave extraordinary well right from the workbench, one of them is sold already, the second one was still available a few days ago when he left for his summer holidays, so it should still be there when he'll return in September :-)

He has a multilingual homepage ( ) and as he worked several years in UK and US communication will not be an issue.

Cheers, Harald

August 5, 2016 at 03:40 AM · We would certainly suggest that you consider to purchase an instrument from one of the "elite violin makers" to protect your investment. Instruments by well known makers have a real resale value while it will be very difficult to sell an instrument made by a less known maker later, should you wish to switch instruments one day. And we are talking about price ranges of 15,000 - 20,000 for a good contemporary instrument.

You might want to take a look at this shortlist of contemporary elite violin makers:

Good luck

August 5, 2016 at 09:28 AM · I am surprised. It seems that it's still possible to buy NEW copies of the 2001 Ruggiero Ricci CD-plus-book entitled "The Legacy of Cremona" on which I gather the "Il Cannone" model violin made by Alberto Giordano is featured. I have seen this Ricci issue offered on ebay !!

August 7, 2016 at 08:08 PM · Sheena Laurie in Scotland. A little under the radar but that will help keep the cost down. She made me a superb Rogeri copy. She shares a shop with Bill Kelday, one of the best guitar builders out there today. Tom

August 8, 2016 at 12:09 AM · If you are thinking beyond Germany and Italy then there is Wojciech Topa in Zakopane, Poland. He is the maker of my violin. You see them once in a while offered by dealers in the eastern US for around $12000.

I don't think Tom's pegs are gear pegs. They look more like the style of jujube pegs that you see on Ming-Jiang Zhu instruments.

August 8, 2016 at 01:01 AM · The profile pic is from the 1704 Betts Strad.

August 8, 2016 at 02:36 AM · The Betts Strad has Chinese pegs??????????

August 8, 2016 at 03:23 AM · "Since the UK left the union......".

Though the result of our UK referendum was in favour of quitting the E.U., it will take a long time to negotiate the exit. Some suggest 2020. For now it's business as usual.

August 8, 2016 at 04:36 AM · ......"Notice, that till now nobody mentioned any country outside the E.U., including, Scotland, Ireland, Britain, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, and Denmark. Though I'm not sure, if that latter is a member, or not. I think it is a member......"

Scotland, Ireland, Britain(Scotland is still part of Britain), Sweden and Denmark are all present members of the EU.

August 8, 2016 at 07:13 AM · Name-bro ??

Easy to find a Kevin Zhang; actually there seem to be 2 of them. Use the search-box but here's the thread I posted before. Paste it into google.

Kevin "Weidong" Zhang is an engineer, sent to Europe by his company, who wanted to buy a violin in Italy. In the process he tested many European violins, eventually buying in Italy from Laura Vigato and Marcello Villa. Later, bitten by a desire to deal in new Italian violins he more recently went back to Italy and bought several more and followed this up by placing some orders for next year.

August 8, 2016 at 08:37 AM · Hi Krisztian, Ireland is part of the Eurozone…but even for the none euro zone EU members such as UK, Denmark or Sweden this makes no difference as far as taxes, customs or postal deliveries are concerned, so I wouldn’t worry about that in the slightest :-)

August 8, 2016 at 09:17 AM · "Jack, with all respects, as said, a Guarneri is a wild instrument and has to be played softly, compared to a fine strad. I think I like it better too ;-)"

Huh? Since when? On the contrary, most del Gesu (I assume you meant this most famous member of the Guarneri dynasty) players, dealers, connoisseurs, etc. have noted that while every instrument is unique, generally speaking, you can dig in more with a del Gesu and pull out all the sound you want from its deep core. Most have said that a Strad tends to be more fussy and you have to pull the sound out more with a horizntal, sweeping approach and cater to it more. Do Heifetz, Ricci, Stern, Rosand, Zukerman, Oliveira, Myers, etc. - all del Gesu players - sound like they are treading on eggshells? Does Ehnnes, when demonstrating del Gesus along with Strads on the DVD, "Homage" sound like he's playing more softly on the del Gesus? Do you think Paganini and Ysaye did? There was a reason why Paganini named his del Gesu "Ill Cannone" - the Cannon.

Of course, with any instrument, and especially a fine one, you need skill and finesse. You can't just be an elephant in a china shop. BTW, I've tried 3 authentic del Gesus and about 8-10 Strads, along with Amatis, Guadagninis, etc. so I do have some personal experience in these matters. Years ago at the Library of Congress, I held the "Betts" Strad in my hands, but was not allowed to play on it. At the same session I tried the Kreisler del Gesu. (Each bequeathed instrument had different rules about a visitor playing on it.)

Again, they are all individual instruments. A couple of years ago, for the first time I had an opportunity to try a Strad and a del Gesu back-to-back. This was at the Mondo Musica exhibition held in New York, at the Florian Leonard booth. I don't know if those fiddles had names ( such as the 'ex this' or the 'Prince that') but I had a lot of fun playing on them. Now in the particular case of that del Gesu, conventional wisdom did not seem to hold: that del Gesu didn't seem to like much of a vertical attack and responded better to the kind of more horizontal sweep usually associated with a Strad. And the Strad - an early long period one - seemed to fit me a bit more easily. But the Kreisler del Gesu I mentioned earlier needed an accent on the start of every note to get it to go. I remember saying to the curator: "this is quite a violin but it's not easy to play". He said "You're actually doing very well. Isaac Stern was here recently and he couldn't play it at all!" If someone wanted to approach that del Gesu softly, he might as well soap up his bow.

August 8, 2016 at 12:12 PM · Neil Értz who posted above is ANOTHER fine maker; and judging from his website one who would be well-qualified to make a convincing "Cannone" Guarneri copy.

The longer this thread becomes the longer becomes the list of makers who could very well make the OP a very fine violin indeed. Jack's search becomes like that party game when you have to pin the tail on the donkey when blindfolded.He's not looking for a needle in a haystack but a needle in a pile of, er, needles.

There are makers in the UK who have obtained higher classifications in the Cremona "Triennale" exhibitions than the locals. So why think in terms of Germany & Italy only ??

Personally, along with violinist.commies Smiley Hsu (Laura Vigato) and Elise Stanley (Alceste Bulfari), I have managed to find sounds in Italian-made fiddles that appealed to me without breaking the bank. Along with a fiddle by Lucci (Dead !) I own instruments by a Guido Trotta and Daniele Tonarelli (both alive). The Tonarelli violin was found on offer at the shop of the Consorzio Antonio Stradivari in Cremona - this is one way to try before you buy - there were about a dozen on offer there at the time and members of that makers' club take turns in displaying their stuff, I gather.

August 9, 2016 at 04:35 AM · Ok, Raphael, could You please come up with a few more maker that you like?

August 9, 2016 at 04:43 AM · Hi Neil, I think the referendum idea passed out in April. :)

August 9, 2016 at 05:08 AM · Thank you very much for your comments. I am now playing a violin made by Collin-Mezzin workshop which my best friend's grandfather bought from France some year around 1940s. Her violin is following a Guarneri model and it has a rich sound which I like the most. It is easy to play but not easy to handle well, I must pay attention to the way I play. I believe Raphael tells the fact that Guarneri model violin is hard to play, look at the name list of the greatest masters who can create wonderful sound with Guarneri.

It doesn't matter where is the maker, I mean better in Europe.

To my research, I found Mr. Roberto Regazzi from Italy, Ulrich Hinsberger from Germany and got a recommendation from Ning Feng, 1st price of Paganini competition, violin maker Ragnar Hayn from Germany.

My tendency is Mr. Roberto Regazzi. But I still want to get some reccomedation from you before I make my final decision.

August 9, 2016 at 08:18 PM · Yes, such responses could happen on various fiddles. There are sensible generalizations but you never can be sure in advance about a particular instrument.

Did you want me to come up with other names of contemporary European makers? There is a high standard everywhere today but I was focusing on who I could recommend personally and why, from my own experience and ownership, as well as the ownership of others.

August 9, 2016 at 10:34 PM · well I think the key is to identify the good violins, but the bad ones too, without getting crazy :)

August 10, 2016 at 04:36 AM · It seems that Roberto Regazzi likes to make Guarneri models but judging from this old thread it looks as if one disadvantage might be the 5-year waiting list.

August 12, 2016 at 03:53 AM · Dear Krisztian, have you played his violin before? In your mind, the sound isn't stable, right? But I'm curious why so many violinist play or have his violin? Roberto is the most famous violin maker I can find now...

August 12, 2016 at 04:08 AM · Dear David, now the waiting list is three years. But I have never played one of his violins before and I want to know whether his violin worth buying.

August 12, 2016 at 09:14 AM · Berlin area has a few fine makers, I got mine from

August 15, 2016 at 03:26 PM · I wrote " I am surprised. It seems that it's still possible to buy NEW copies of the 2001 Ruggiero Ricci CD-plus-book entitled "The Legacy of Cremona" on which I gather the "Il Cannone" model violin made by Alberto Giordano is featured.".

I've now managed to buy a new copy of this which includes recordings of not only a violin by Alberto Giordano but another by Regazzi. However, I'm intrigued. Although together with Ricci's essay there's an introduction by Roger Hargrave and biographical info about the makers, together with images of the violins used, there's no indication of dates of manufacture of each violin, so one doesn't know whether the instruments are "played in", brand new, or anything else.

I tried using the email form on the Roger Hargrave website but the message wouldn't send, giving me back a VERY long German word .. polite, I hope.

Anyone know anything about this interesting issue ?? However, David Burgess must be pi**ed - he's not represented.

January 17, 2017 at 05:44 PM · Hi Jack, let us know - have you been lucky?

January 17, 2017 at 06:38 PM · Maurizio Tadioli makes a very nice Cannone copy...

January 18, 2017 at 12:10 AM · If Germany is still in the orbit, Martin Schleske does some very fine work.

Just a little bit out of the way in Prague, Jan Spidlen is a good representative of his family's tradition.

January 18, 2017 at 04:34 PM · Regarding German makers:

Can recommend Michael Koeberling :

He would be much more affordable than Schleske or Spindlen ( or Greiner or Hargrave ) Yet his violins and violas are great.

Had a violin of his that did everything you want a good violin to do and has a beautiful full sound. Now have a viola of his that sounds fantastic.

Elmar Olivieira has/had 3 of his violins and performed on some.

January 18, 2017 at 04:40 PM · Hendrik, do you know about what Koeberling's price range is for violins?

January 18, 2017 at 04:56 PM · Hi Zhang,

Not in Europe but I recommend a young and very talent brazilian luthier, Marcos Schmitz:

Nowdays I saw a recent Guarneri made by him. Excellent sound.

January 18, 2017 at 06:24 PM · Peter I don't know, it's been a while.

I think around 14k euro for violas.

Best to e-mail him: info at violin-cello dot com

He is very approachable.

February 6, 2017 at 02:54 AM · Dear everyone, thank you very much for your comments and happy Chinese new year! Finally I commissioned a violin from Bologna violin maker Roberto Regazzi at the end of last year, quite expensive, but I still pick up my courage, hope I made the right choice^_^

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