Violins at Shar

June 17, 2005 at 03:37 AM · I currently have a Karl Joesph Schnider Soloist violin I bought last summer from Shar. To start with the violin was too bright, but my teacher thought it might open up and sound warmer after I played it for a while. A year later, its still as bright. I put Olive strings on it, which helped alot, but they're very expensive to buy twice a year. My biggest concern is that it goes out of tune, constantly. It started this winter where every 20 or 30 minutes it would go out. Now its every 5 or 6 minutes. I've tryed changing strings, using peg compounds, the works. The weirdest thing is that my A string goes sharp, not flat.

So this Weds. I am going up to Shar.

Should I: Have the people at Shar try to fix it, or trade it in and buy a new one?

Does anyone have any recommedations on violins for 2000-2800? I was looking at five.

Sofia Grande Violin

sofia Master Art

Collecter's Series Carlo Bergonzi Violin

Collector's Series Tommaso B. Violin

Collector's Series J.B. guadagnini

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Replies (19)

June 17, 2005 at 04:16 PM · Am I going blind? I can't see anything on this post?

Now when I submitted something I can see the previous posts.


June 17, 2005 at 05:13 PM · The luthiers where I live aren't very good. My friend bought a 10,000 violin from one and it sounded like a rental!SHar is better than the luthiers.

Any more comments?

June 17, 2005 at 05:24 PM · How long is the warranty?

June 17, 2005 at 05:29 PM · Whose warrenty are you talking about? the luthers or Shar's.

My friend returned her violin and got some of her money back.

Shar's warrenty is 30 days for a full refund,so I'll take it to my teacher to look at. they also have a 100% trade in policy, so my new violin won't cost as much.

June 17, 2005 at 05:42 PM · Even if the warranty is over, some merchants will make good on an item with a defect that was present during the warranty but took longer to show symptoms.

June 17, 2005 at 06:00 PM · You can also contact violin shops and have them ship violins out for you to try out. That is what I did. I got to try out about a dozen violins in my own home, and I found one that I absolutely love from Ifshin Violins in Berkeley.

June 17, 2005 at 10:29 PM · At Shar what violins generally, are better, THe collector's Series or Sofia?

June 18, 2005 at 05:18 AM · Try the Sofias. Nice instruments.

June 18, 2005 at 02:57 PM · Seeing that you purchased your current instrument from Shar and, given their trade-in policies, I agree that continuing to deal with them is probably a good place to start.

I'm a bit concerned about your violin always going out of tune. I realize this is why you're wanting to trade it in but suspect some repair might be necessary to fix that. Shar would probably discount the trade-in value because of their cost of repair.

One anenue to persue is having the violin looked at by a luthier to determine what the cause of the problem is and quote a cost of repair. Given that information, you'll be able to determine whether what Shar offers as trade-in is reasonable or whether to get it repaired privately beforehand.

Regardless... I haven't tried all of the violins you mentioned but have tried Sofia Amadeus (a step below the Grande) and Sofia Master Art violins. Each violin is made individually, by different people and different materials so each violin will sound different. You'll have to try each one and see which feels and sounds most comforatable to you. I settled on the Sofia Master Art (by Vesko Apostolov) which is a bright instrument with a clean, clear sound and decent amount of volume. After having had it for four years, I've put on Vision strings this winter and am very impressed with the combination of the violin and strings -- excellent performance in upper registers. Sound in 5th position and beyond is excellent (IMHO). The violin has matured in the time I've had it and think that when I first bought it, Visions would have been a poor choice -- too bright. Originally and after sets-ups by my luthier and a variety of brands of strings, the C# wolf on the G string was quite strong, almost impractical to play. The Visions (nearly) eliminated that problem, much to my surprise and pleasure.

Probably my chief complaint of the Sofia I have is -- it could use more tone colors and have a somewhat more complex sound. But that's my particular instrument. What's hanging in Shar today will likely be different.

June 19, 2005 at 05:44 PM · Have any of you tried the collector's series instruments, they are made in Germany, and I was wondering if they were any good.

Also how do the cheaper 3 Sofia models compare to the $3600 one?


June 20, 2005 at 02:52 AM · Hello Danielle,

I live right near Ann Arbor, and there are, in fact, some good luthiers around, but they are pretty expensive! It all depends on how much $$ you want to spend. Take Curtin and Alf -they are split up now, but their violins start really high, but I've heard they are worth it.

I did a LOT of research before I got mine, and ended up getting a really nice violin because I didn't compromise on sound.

We ended up getting mine through the mail. You can basically try out violins anywhere in the US if you are willing to pay like 12 bucks for shipping (some places pay for delivery, and if you decide not to buy it, you ship it back).

I did try out a lot of Shar violins, and my very frank opinion, is that their violins are overpriced. They are great people, but I don't think the value is that great for what you get.

You could also try instrument auctions. I also went to some in Boston: Skinner, and Tarisio and tried SO many violins. The downside to auctions is that you have to decide that DAY whether or not to buy a violin, so it is best to either bring a person with a lot of experience, or go elsewhere. The perspective that auctions give is very good though: you get to try an $80,000 dollar one right next to a piece of junk and hopefully you'll find something that you like in between. :)

Good luck,


June 20, 2005 at 12:03 PM · The expense is my problem. I've looked at the luthiers around Ann Arbor but they all want way more than I can spend.

June 20, 2005 at 10:40 PM · i wouldn't buy instruments over internet. just too much to deal with if you don't like the instrument.

June 21, 2005 at 05:29 PM · While you may very well end up buying another instrument from Shar, I would certainly suggest going around to different shops to get a feel for the sort of violin you want. Most reputable shops will allow you to take the violin on trial (perhaps with a deposit of some kind) for a week or two... and when you find one that you can't bear to bring back, then you need to figure out how to buy it. :)

June 22, 2005 at 03:03 AM · Danielle:

I'm not sure what particular model you're referring to when you say "$3,600" one -- are you referring to the Guarneri and Guadagnini models? And by the "three cheaper ones" the Amadeus, Grande and Master Art? I'll assume so...

I haven't tried any Sofia model more expensive than the Master Art and only compared the Amadeus and Master Art. The Master Art was more powerful, fuller and somewhat smoother than the Amadeus I tried. I'll repeat myself however -- each violin will be different, even individual Master Art's will have different sounds, tone and performance. You'd have to try each to find out if it's what you're looking for. But a general rule I think will be that, between various models of the Sofia's, the more expensive ones will _often_ be more powerful with more colors. I'm not sure if one would be paying a "collector's" premium for the Guarneri, etc. models -- ie. paying extra because they're based on specific Strads and del Gesu's rather than just more quality and better sound...

As someone else suggested, playing some violins locally (if you can) will help in your shopping. It takes a while to figure out what sounds a person likes and dislikes for the long term. Playing as many violins as you can is a good opportunity to educate yourself so you'd recognize the one you like when you play it. Unfortunately, it can take a long time to sort out one's preferences and to trust what you're hearing.

Hope that helps.


June 23, 2005 at 02:27 AM · hey Danielle,

I was actually just at Shar today looking at getting myself a new violin. I wanted a step up from my old Fischer master art, so I decided to try some in about the same price range as you. (between 2 and 3 thousand.)

I tried mostly all of the collector's series and sophias that they had.

I ended up taking two home, a Collector's series, "Balestrieri," (model CS74, which costs $2850) and a Sophia Guarneri home as well, but that may be a little over your price range.(I'm guessing that's the $3600 you were talking about also, but I found the lower level sophias sounded comparable as well- again as most people have said, the individual instruments are all very different)

Overall, the collector's series seemed much higher quality for a lesser price, and I found them to be more expressive and finer sounding. The sofias were more powerful and robust, just depends on the type of sound you want. I didnt find that you paid a premium for the "collector" part and they're very high quality overall.

I would really reccomend calling and setting up an appointment (they pretty much require one for instruments over $1,000) and they'll pull out around six instruments for you, and you can always try more. instruments are really all different, so just try everything in your price range and you'll be sure to find at least one that really stands out. good luck with whatever you do.

June 24, 2005 at 01:25 AM · Danielle, I am also looking to upgrade from an Otto Ernst Fischer Master Art and will be trialing a Sofia Grande and the "Il Cannone" Collector's Series model. Sofia's are made in Bulgaria and so are the Il Cannone and Emiliani copies, so if you are willing to try a Sofia you might consider trying these Bulgarian Collectors Series models as well. I'll be interested to hear your impressions.

July 23, 2005 at 08:55 AM · What Shar sells for $2000, costs only $700 in China. For $2000, you could have the very best from a famous maker here. Search the web and see the quality for yourself: you can even buy direct via the web. If anyone wants to see photos of my instrument, as proof of build quality (not for sale), let me know.

(I am not an agent, nor a reseller, nor exporter, nor luthier. Only a shrewd buyer, and wish-I-could-be-a-better-player) Thanks for reading my 2 bits.

July 23, 2005 at 05:26 PM · Ron do you have any tips on finding quality Chinese instruments online?

Also, I think that it is a big mistake to go "I'm buying my violin from Shar" While you might have a trade-in deal, this shouldn't keep you from shopping around if you're going to spend "2000+" on an instrument. I also love the violin I bought at Ifshin's (the really close to me, so they basically are the local luthiers here :), but Their prices have risien and the quality of service and the fittings that comes with the instruments had declined when I last went. Of course, that doesn't mean that their bad, I might have been unlucky, or maybe I'm just mad because they tried to sell a near $1000 violin with plastic fittings...

You know there are a LOT of threads like this so I'd also look at the "gettting a new violin" and "first violin" threads here.

Anyway I'd definately look at more than Shar, just to get an idea of what's out there.

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