Should I buy a new violin from Corilon or take a trip to Germany and Italy

December 23, 2016 at 06:57 PM · I currently play on a $500 European made violin and a $300 bow. This instrument is better than the cheap chinese VSO that I once had. However, I do not feel fully contented with the tonal richness and quality of my violin. I am infatuated with the timbre of fine instruments. I have plans to trade this one or purchase an expensive violin in the future. Is it worth it to order one from Corilon or take a vacation to Germany or Italy when the time comes and make a purchase there? I don't feel satisfied with the ones at Shar and Southwest Strings and intend to purchase an old/antique instrument. I hope there are no downsides to this.

Any other suggestions would also be deeply appreciated

Replies (37)

December 23, 2016 at 07:14 PM · I think you're just as likely to find a good violin at a good store in America as in Germany or Italy, problem is do you have a week to take it home and try it out, or have to make a rush decision while you're at a store (not recommended).

Corilion seems a bit overpriced to me considering you can't hear them upfront, what's their return policy??

December 23, 2016 at 07:23 PM · The website says that they have a 30 day return policy. The site also has an audio sample for each instrument.

December 23, 2016 at 07:40 PM · That doesn't tell you much, and says nothing about the playability which is very important to a performer. Where are you located, in India?? If so you may as well give Corilion a try IF you can afford the shipping both ways.

December 23, 2016 at 07:43 PM · if you are in America, by all means go to some shops, not Shar.

December 28, 2016 at 11:20 PM · A friend ordered a violin from Corilon based on the audio recording. But when the instrument arrived, she found it very difficult to play, and it had impossibly stiff tuning pegs. It cost her more to ship it back (using the cheapest method she could find) than the shipping charges she paid to have it sent to her. Find a good violin shop and try the instruments out in person.

December 29, 2016 at 01:17 AM · 'I am infatuated with the timbre of fine instruments.'

Much of that tone comes from the fine musicians who play them. Owning a Strad will not make you sound like Itzhak Perlman.

December 29, 2016 at 04:02 PM · Visiting Germany , Italy, France or anywhere else and trying lots of violins would be an educational experience but probably a confusing one. Buying an instrument from a shop catalogue or an on-line auction site is hugely risky.

Where in the price-range is the demarcation line beyond which you are guaranteed a "fine instrument" ?? A question it's impossible to answer.

The best tactic for an inexperienced buyer is to keep on trying violins - haunt a few fiddle shops and be a tire-kicker for a while until your needs become clearer. So one needs to cultivate a friendly dealer and a wide circle of fiddle-playing buddies.

I went to Cremona once, 2003, and bought a violin after a very short trial - it was on display in the shop of the Cremona Consorzio Antonio Stradivari, where there were about 12 new violins on display, all of which I tried. But a quick determination such as this without future regrets was made possible because I had nearly 40 years experience "under my belt".

December 29, 2016 at 05:54 PM · I went to Cremona in 2008 and stayed with a violinmaker, but I've never got chance to meet him or try his violins during my weekend stay. Last October I went to Rome for three weeks and met a violinmaker who promised several times (in-person and via email) me to bring in one of his violins to his shop to let me try, it never happened. I also emailed a well-known violinmaker hoping to try some his violins when I was in Italy, but I got the answer that he sell his violins through American and Canadian violin dealers. I love traveling in Europe but I find violin shopping in a foreign country can be tricky. Not only that you'd have limited time to try, also you don't have enough places (concert hall, studio, etc) to try and not enough second opinions you can get. Also, I'm not sure what kind of warranty you can get.

December 29, 2016 at 10:14 PM · Yixi, if your should ever visit good old Austria and like to try some violins, leave me a message. Although, 3 luthiers in person (directly selling their products in their own shops and not via dealers), access to at least one - maybe two - great concert hall(s) and two smaller locations fit for chamber music, a few churches (including a huge cathedral) is all I can promise in my small city. My luthier btw promises life-long warranty on his own instruments (and he's rather young and in healthy condition), including a surrender clause if you should be dissatisfied with your instrument after a while. (As far as I understood David Burgess, this isn't uncommon in the US either.) And since I'm a real smart-ass I'm always willing to help with a second or eventually even third opinion :-)

December 30, 2016 at 02:13 AM · OK Lyndon, I'm sure I will be sorry but I'll bite. Why not Shar? I have ordered from them and had good luck.

December 30, 2016 at 02:39 AM · Because the OP wants an antique violin, I don't believe Shar specializes in antiques.

December 30, 2016 at 02:48 AM · I think the best advice I've received here was to never commit to anything without trying it out in person and listening to someone else playing it. However, I suspect that however you shop for a new violin, you'll probably do that.

Shopping for an instrument seems like a very personal quest, and however a person does it, I would say that the important thing is to look around lots, play many violins, and don't settle until you find something that fits you well & that you love. After finding a violin that I love and that excites me every time I pick it up to play, I will never settle for less if and when I shop for another.

December 30, 2016 at 03:23 AM · Lyndon, you are right. I missed that in the OP's post.

December 30, 2016 at 07:03 AM · Odd, those experiences by Yixi Zhang in 2008 and later. I have found those guys eager to meet prospective clients and demonstrate their stuff. The maker of the violin I bought in 2003 didn't know me but trusted me to pay on returning to the UK and threw in a free case. I suppose a prior purchase from another Cremona maker probably had given me street cred.

However, I hardly think Cremona is a good place to go to in search of an old/antique violin. A dealership anywhere else will be better IMHO.

December 30, 2016 at 11:49 AM · I just visited the Shar website to verify that they do sell a wide range of antique violins such as one by George Gemunder as well as the less inexpensive Markies which I think is what Lyndon is referring to.They also have a large collection by the top new makers such as Micheal Darnton and Dan Noon.

December 30, 2016 at 05:14 PM · Yeah, David. My 2008 Cremona trip was coincide with the violin maker competition so I guess it's understandable that they didn't have time for me during that weekend. The violinmaker in Rome is a very interesting case. His studio is in the middle of the Rome, very close to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. So my husband and I walked by often during our three-week stay in Rome last October. The violinmaker told us during our initial visit at his shop that his violin was on loan but will bring back to let me try. We exchanged emails, but for days I didn't hear from him. We thought he might not have enough violins to show me so we didn't want to press. Interestingly enough, one day we walked pass his shop and didn't even look into it, the violinmaker ran out to catch us and reassured us that his violin was on its way. He was eager and very friendly, but the violin never materialized.

December 30, 2016 at 10:29 PM · The only antique violins I see on the Shar website are in the over $10,000 price range and seem to be very overpriced. For instance an anon Bohemian violin for over $10,000, I'm not making this up.

December 30, 2016 at 10:52 PM · So I would repeat my assertion, Shar music does not look like a good place buy an antique violin.

December 31, 2016 at 12:39 AM · Jeff, is that the Gemunder that was stolen in Tottenham from my father some 50 to 65 years ago? I vaguely remember that I didn't really like the tone that much, but then I also felt that about an Enrico Rocca I heard being played (by someone whose other violin was a Strad - plus one or two others).

December 31, 2016 at 12:54 AM · Some ownership issues, when it comes to valuable antique instruments, can get a little complicated or litigious.

December 31, 2016 at 06:36 AM · "His studio is in the middle of the Rome, very close to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore".

This reads as if that could be Rodolfo Marchini, who was the assistant and later successor to Giuseppe Lucci. Incidentally, my 2003 Cremona visit coincided with a "Triennale" contest, (no trouble then finding violins for sale, or "disponibile" as they say), and since these events take place every 3 years, as per the name, was Yixi having trouble with another exhibition, Baveno, Bagnacavallo ? The next Cremona "Triennale" shows after 2003 were in 2006 & 2009 - violinist.commie Davide Sora had some success in these, I think.

Incidentally, MY visit to the Shar website revealed that John Dalley, an ex-member of the famed Guarneri String Quartet, took up BOWMAKING in later life.

I don't know where in Italy you need to go to try'n'buy an old/antique violin. Plenty of opportunity in the USA, UK, France, Germany etc.etc.

December 31, 2016 at 08:03 AM · David, sorry it actually wasn't a competition, but called Mondomusica international violin exhibition, or something like that, took place in late September and early October at Cremona Exhibition Centre.

The luthier in Rome we met isn't Marchini.

December 31, 2016 at 08:22 AM · Ah, yes. Mondomusica. An annual event, I think. The makers need to be present at their exhibition stands (unlike the "Triennales" where all the instruments go anonymously into one big room without labels). That might explain why it was tricky meeting a maker privately and in person. Buttering up International dealers with deep pockets would be a priority, I'd imagine.

However, no matter how clever these Italian guys are you can't ask one of them to make you an old/antique violin, 50 years ago, say.

December 31, 2016 at 04:33 PM · Well, I don't think I necessarily need an Italian violin. There are a lot of good makers all around the world. After some search, I ended up with a Guadagnini copy made by a Polish maker, Wojciech Topa. I'm very happy with it.

December 31, 2016 at 07:01 PM · Unless Polish violin-makers have time-machines, I strongly suspect that Yixi's Wojciech Topa violin was NEW when she bought it - sadly, Gautam Ramasubramanian wants an old/antique instrument.

December 31, 2016 at 07:25 PM · What's sad about wanting an antique instrument, I think its your attitude that's sad!!

December 31, 2016 at 09:28 PM · I took it that David just meant suggesting a new violin doesn't meet the OP's parameters for advice because he's looking for an older violin.

I don't think he was making a negative statement about old violins.

December 31, 2016 at 11:15 PM · Then why use the term "sadly", whats sadly about buying an antique??

January 1, 2017 at 12:11 AM · @David, yes, Topa is a new violin that I've recently bought and love. Yes, this may not help the OP but who knows, he may change his mind down the road, as I did. I had and still have an old violin, but it's finicky and doesn't do all that I want it to do. I've outgrown it, so to speak. I've been an old violin fan in the past, but over the years, enough evidence has convinced me that a good violin is a good violin, old or new. And it's a plus if we can support the craftsmen, whether one buys an old or new one.

@Nuuska, it's very kind of you. Buying a violin is pretty stressful experience and I'm glad that I don't have to go through it again in the foreseeable future. I love the Topa I bought a couple of months ago.

January 1, 2017 at 04:25 AM · It is my belief that fine/old instruments, if setup properly, have a huge range of color and dynamics since the wood and varnish had more time to age and mature, thereby creating the vibrance and warmth which new violins can't reach. A new instrument may sound equally good as an old one, however an old violin has a lot of history and glamour to it and has been played and passed on for ages. I really believe that when a violin has been played for a long time, the tone of the instrument gets better and better. You wouldn't deny that an old wine, if prepared properly, would taste much better than a new one. Notwithstanding, once you have played on any violin(old or new) it tends to sound more like you even when someone else plays it. It takes time for the violin to open up to you. This responsibility lies solely in your hands.

January 1, 2017 at 05:04 AM · I would have to agree with you, however "sadly" most of our posters disagree, nowadays, and prefer modern. Different taste for different folks, I guess.

January 1, 2017 at 06:07 AM · " What's sad about wanting an antique instrument, I think its your attitude that's sad!!"

" I took it that David just meant suggesting a new violin doesn't meet the OP's parameters for advice because he's looking for an older violin."

What was sad was that the well-meaning Yixi went off topic. She can recommend a new Topa violin all she wants, but that's no use to the OP who wants an old/antique one. Lyndon wilfully misrepresented my comment. Gautam clearly knows what he's looking for, and gives good reasons why.

On the subject of "new versus old", even the ancient lute-players such as Thomas Mace declared that if a new instrument is good, when it's older it will be even better.

I don't wannabe sad. Happy New Year.

January 1, 2017 at 06:31 AM · I have to agree with Lyndon on one thing... He's commented in the past about people coming out of the woodwork to espouse their new Chinese violin as sounding as good as an actual Strad. I've seen a few silly comments like that here as well. Who knows, they very well could be people working for a Chinese manufacture drumming up business.

But I disagree that being willing to consider a new violin, loving a new violin, or buying a new violin is that same thing as 'preferring new over old'. I think most serious people would prefer a violin that fits and suits their needs, whether it be old or new.

I think Lyndon is making a huge assumption about what others prefer. Not to mention if there's any obvious distain shown in this forum, it's his distain for new violins.

January 1, 2017 at 12:59 PM · "Lyndon wilfully misrepresented my comment."

He does that a lot. It's almost as if he wants to turn every discussion into a debate about 'old versus new' so he can exclaim that only age makes a violin sound good. I'd almost suspect that he sells old violins or something. ;)

A couple of facts on the subject:

1) While age does often help a violin sound better than it once did, it is NOT the only factor in determining a violin's overall sound. It is quite possible to take two violins, one old and one new, play test them both and find that the new violin sounds better than the old violin. That's because not all violins are created equal, and age is only one factor. A mediocre sounding violin isn't going to start playing like a Strad simply because it's aged a hundred years.

2) Every single violin ever made was once new. Good thing people back in the 1600's showed respect for their new violins.

The bottom line is watch out for anyone who makes blanket generalizations about 'old vs new' or 'Asian vs European'. They probably have a reason to misrepresent the facts.

Let's see if my words get twisted around by someone. "Sadly", some people seem to make a habit of it.

January 1, 2017 at 08:34 PM · FYI Leif this is a thread about someone that wants to purchase an old violin, I'm hardly off topic, don't know if I can speak for you, though.

March 13, 2017 at 09:00 PM · Hi,

thanks for bringing up our name when it comes to the purchase of a "new" old violin.

I'm to hear that someone had tuning difficulties with one of our instruments. Our luthiers work over each instrument thoroughly and in most cases, a new set of pegs is fitted and installed. As the new peg material absorbs peg soap readily it is recommended to apply peg soap regularly for a proper fit (especially new boxwood pegs need several rounds of peg soap application until they run smoothly). We should perhaps add a note to our shipments in the future.

Usually our customers contact us if they have any problems. If we would have had the chance to speak to your friend, Alisande, we would have been able to give her plenty of tips on how to solve the problem of stiff new pegs.

Regarding the comment saying we would offer our instruments "overpriced" I guess this view is rather subjective. I can only say from many years of experience in the trade and dfrom customer feedback that our prices are quite reasonabe compared to other dealers and local violin shops.

We have many customers from the US and I guess our instruments are generally appreciated. Thank you!

Please feel free to contact us directly if you have any questions of if you would like to get some tips about stiff or slipping pegs.

Kind regards


March 13, 2017 at 09:10 PM · Alisande, would you have a chance to let us know which violin your friend ordered so that we can take a look into it?

Knowing the last name of your friend or the violin inventory number would help.


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