Violin Purchase question

December 12, 2005 at 06:32 AM · Hi everyone,

I know this is a recurring topic on this forum, but any advice would be greatly appreciated since I'm a bit at a loss here.

I'm looking to replace my violin with a new one. Im considering a contemporary maker. Are there any in the price-range of 3000-5000 dollars?

John B.

Replies (77)

December 12, 2005 at 10:53 AM · I found a wonderful violin from the workshop of William Harris Lee in Chicago in that price range. They shipped several vioins to me and I chose one and have been happy with it ever since. I have owned it since it was new in 1996 and the sound continues to develop and even though it was only $5500, I have played it next to famous label vioins costing a lot more (well, other than a Strad...)and still walked away happy with my violin. The specific maker of my violin was Jacek Mastal.

December 14, 2005 at 01:55 AM · I know the snow violins are nice, but I'm not sure what the prices are on all of those. I tried some lower priced ones and was quite surprised. However, I ended up going with a $4000-$4500 instrument made by a lady in Italy. Her name is Lisa Conradi. It is an AWESOME violin! I absolutely love it. I know that she only makes them once every few years, but don't put out the possiblity of finding one made by a maker that's not so well-known. I found it through the local violin shop and I think they had ordered it directly from her...

Have fun shopping! And I hope you find what you want.


December 14, 2005 at 03:56 AM · The last I heard (about a year ago) the top-of-the-line Snow violins were between 2.5k and 3k...but just moments ago I was unable to find that model anywhere would be a shame if it is no longer available.

December 15, 2005 at 06:53 PM · There are some high quality handmade Chinese violins available and go for about $3500. Workmanship on the ones I have seen is excellent as well as the wood and compare very favorably with instruments selling for 3 times the price by American makers. Don't go for an antiqued version. They are more expensive and don't sound any better than the straight varnished models. is one place that sells them in the US.

December 15, 2005 at 07:53 PM · I second the Chinese models. There are also Chinese violins that are given to other people like at Eastman strings who do some stuff and put their name on it. It's still cheaper and they're very good for the money.

December 15, 2005 at 08:43 PM · I guess it is a good time to start learning Chienese, since many factory jobs are being lost to them, most everything you buy these days is made there etc....

Oh, and their bows are made of illegally smuggled pernambuco (from Brasil) as well. So if you are in support of that, do as your consience tells you.

December 15, 2005 at 10:49 PM · Humm Ok so which would be better when going to buy a violin. Getting it from a shop or buying it off of the net? I have been looking at the Kennedy Violins web sight. From the pictures that are whoen the violins look decant and in my opinion seem reasonibaly priced if you are normaly straped for cash. But after reading through this thread I'm now wondering which is best, to get them from a shop and try them in person and all of that or to buy them off of the internet?

December 15, 2005 at 11:19 PM · Try it in a shop that will also sell fake Rollex and the pirate copies of Humoresque, They Shall Have Music and the Heifetz Masterclasses (though they may be in chinese :)

December 16, 2005 at 02:24 AM · Whether we like it or not, the Chinese are able at this point to make very fine, handmade instruments at prices much lower prices than contemporary American makers. A number of years back this was not the case. However, the violin making school in Beijing is turning out many fine makers. Some may not be on the artistic level of the best of contemporary makers, but they are getting real close.

December 16, 2005 at 03:00 AM · But a fake ROLLEX is still a fake, and a pirated DVD copy is still contraband :)

It is a question of personal ethics which you choose to support. :)

December 16, 2005 at 03:44 AM · Rolexes are the overpriced bright candy apple red Cremona violins of the horological world... it baffles me as to why people like them.

The thing with fakes is, unlike with jewelry, sometimes you're getting quite a good product. There's some sort of gypsy crime outfit making fantastic fakes of good bows. If you manage to buy the bow at a price more suitable for the pedigree, you're still getting a great piece of work.

December 16, 2005 at 05:00 AM · The point also might be made that the Chinese are copying Stradivarius and Guarnerius very well the same as our contemporary Americans, but just not charging as much, since labor costs are significantly lower there. I'm afraid this is a fact we have to live with, just as the the commercial recording industry went from LA and NY, then to England (because it was cheaper), now to Eastern Europe (cheaper still). Next it will go to the next competent, cheaper market.

December 16, 2005 at 07:23 AM · If you don't like China (I never did,) Heinrich Gill or Deustch violins are great for that price range...they have a great sound and are good to learn and experiment with, are just advanced enough to be handled with extreme caution, but give you room to move up when you're ready.

December 16, 2005 at 02:56 PM · If you're open to the possibility, for 5k you can get a Luis & Clark

carbon fiber instrument...just a wild thought...

December 16, 2005 at 05:11 PM · Pieter, the point is that there is tons of contraband going on in many different industries in that region. As well as slave trade etc.

In our industry it is smuggled pernambuco, CD & DVD 's (pirate copying etc).

Many of the instruments are mass productions (streamlined).

In other industries several big brands and makers have sued for illegal contraband products and won law suits against those who have violated agreements.

There were similar stories in Sartory's days, he was forced to come to the US and find the culprit who was spreading counterfeit bows, he sued and won.

So to think wow I got myself a $5 copy of ________, in the longrun doesn't really give you that much. In the end, it still costs $5 by being a counterfeit _______________.

But like I said, do as your consience dictates:)

December 16, 2005 at 05:29 PM · The Chinese can manufacture items cheaper due to their currency being artificially depressed. They also have large subsidies for companies that are exporting goods, so this facilitates the companies getting their product to the market cheaper then anyone else.

This does not necessarily mean quality is taking a hit as evidenced by really high quality computer parts and cases that are being pumped out of china. But as with anything, some companies just produce junk, and as always, caveat emptor.

December 16, 2005 at 05:59 PM · Many Chinese violins, like mine, sound just as good or almost as good or in some cases better than many American or other violins and much much cheaper. I think if we're talking about integrity I should mention how much integrity there is in charging $15-20,000 for a totally whatever instrument which one can get the same quality for 5 or so.

Like Marcus said however, there is a lot of junk so definitely try any violin before you buy it.

December 16, 2005 at 06:17 PM · I think you can get a reasonable factory violin from China, but it certainly should not cost $3000-$5000. You should only be paying maybe $500-$800 for the best factory violin. A workshop apprentice violin, maybe $1200-$1600. At $3000-$5000 you're looking at master-made Chinese violins of the award winning makers. It is the currency differential. This is not saying that the violins are not good. It is just equivalence factory to factory, workshop to workshop, master to master, China has a huge price advantage.

At $3500 you can get an American made apprentice/workshop violin from Scott Cao in Campbell. The people making them are trained by Scott and live in the USA. But the same apprentice violin from China would be $1600.

December 16, 2005 at 08:36 PM · For some of you younger people, under 20, here is a thought:

If let's say more & more jobs are being exported over there, that will mean that your mom &/or dad could lose a job in the next couple of years. And so on & on & on. And if that trend continues, it won't matter what fiddle you are playing, because the paying public will be too busy staying alive let alone come and pay big bucks to hear your concerts. So unless you raise money to put on your shows and offer them for free, by the time you are ready to market yourselves, you may think twice about what it is you set out to do in your life. But for now, enjoy "Free Market Communism"!

December 16, 2005 at 09:01 PM · Gennady, classical music is likely to see it's greatest commercial success within the comming 20 years.

2 words:

Baby Boomers.

December 16, 2005 at 09:21 PM · "If let's say more & more jobs are being exported over there, that will mean that your mom &/or dad could lose a job in the next couple of years"

Gloom and Doom.

As usual, the US will have to "reinvent" itself. We've been through this sort of wholesale change many times before...In the late 19th century, U.S. shipbuilding was obsoleted by English shipbuilding. The U.S. regained a large and important piece of the market in the 1930's through 1960's but has lost it since to the Japanese & Koreans. Today, U.S. shipbuilding thrives in various smaller markets--offshore rigs, supply boats, etc, not bulk carriers and containerships.

We may lose many jobs, but we'll make more of them.

Remember, Chinese domestic consumpyion is still very small--they depend on is a tangled web we weave.

But I agree with Gennady's sense of outrage at the political aspects...and that by trading with them, we are giving away many good things to a political adversary.

December 17, 2005 at 05:43 AM · Patrick,

The issue is very political and not so much anything else. I think it is difficult to agree on a point of view being that we are living in different countries etc.

Just as you stated that you have experienced a level of racism living in Australia, we in the US have our own concerns.

So politics will be politics wherever you are. :)

ps: I hope you understand my political concerns & frustrations. They are as valid as yours (on your issue).


Thanks "Bill" for your input :)

June 4, 2007 at 08:05 PM · Try that way you spend 3500 or 4000 us$ in the violin and travel to Buenos Aires for relaxing a week with the other 1000...

It doesn't matter where the instrument was made but how it sounds after all.

I am sure there are quality new instruments all around the globe. Chinese are well known as master wood workers... I remember there is a Strad magazine issue on chinese lutherie.

Now, I am not an expert but I think the instrument as an investment is a complete different matter and diverse considerations should be in mind. Best, Javier.

June 4, 2007 at 10:55 PM · Gennady--

Your points are all well taken. I won't even consider the Pernambuco question, it's simply against the law!

As for the violin question--I seem to remember reading about Vuillaume when I was a kid, baking wood, baking fiddles and engaging in all sorts of chicanery to sell his fiddles. Today his fiddles are renowned for themselves not as counterfeited or copied anything else. But you are right--all politics is local!

June 4, 2007 at 11:52 PM · Gennady, do you have any concrete proof to support your claims about smuggled pernambuco?

BTW, how can I be ABSOLUTELY certain that a particular bow (Chinese or otherwise) doesn't use any smuggled pernambuco?

June 5, 2007 at 12:34 AM · My violin could've been made by chopping up the Tree of Life for all I care as long as it sounds good.

Violinists love their art usually, and they want to play on an instrument that makes music a pleasure. If they can't afford to buy an expensive American violin, of course they'll want to go for Chinese violins. Ethics can be damned to most as long as they enjoy it.

June 5, 2007 at 04:39 AM · Wow, a two year old thread revived...........amazing!


Most of the literature on Vuillaume by Doring, Millant, the new Sylvette Milliot definitive iconography on Vuillaume, & including the higly publicized Vuillaume exhibit in Paris & Mirecourt in 1998, shed much light on his real genius as a maker, inventor, a businessman and a true Renaissance Man.

Towards the end of 19th century (after Vuillaume's death), one negative article that was written about Vuillaume, was a ploy by some of the English firms like Chanot (in London) and others who tried to descredit Vuillaume's accomplishments, and tried to paint him in different colors. This article unfortunately made its way into other articles and so on and so on. That article, which was published in the STRAD in March 1895 issue, was a malicious smear campaign by the British firms.

Vuillaume never made instruments to deceive the clients. There are copies of his fliers showing that he was advertising selling copies of the famous Cremonese instruments for sums that were printed on the ad.

No deception ever was present as far as that is concerned (no chicanery whatsoever to sell his fiddles).

Unlike the Voller Brothers........

Vuillaume had the most prominent virtuosos of the time as his clients including Paganini, Alard (who was also his son-in-law),Dancla and a great many others. Many bought some of the famous Cremonese fiddles from him and then would buy Vuillaumes copies as well. David Laurie (the "David Fulton" of 19th century) did that as well as Jules Garcin (well known virtuoso).

June 5, 2007 at 05:19 AM · I have travelled the world, and tried hand-made modern Chinese, American, German, Czech, Cremonese violins, ranging in price from $5k to $100k.

I can say in all honesty I have tried more than a few of the top Chinese violins, and there is no way I would pay the prices noted. The Chinese are certainly trying very hard, but they are newcomers, and IMHO are still learning. I fail to see why people rate them, except for student quality. You will not find a Chinese violin in any orchestra in China, and this says something to me. I haven't found them in any other orchestra either.

Many Cremona luthiers make excellent violins, but they carry a premium price. If I could afford the price, I would have bought a Cremona. But, I haven't found anything worthy of concert quality for less than $10k. Ms K Abhuel's violins are truly excellent, and she has some fame in that some pretty famous players have bought her violins. For Cremona, hers are a true steal.

The best violin I found for the price is the one I bought last year from Ed Dietrich. Ed is a former orchestra player and simply knows what its all about. His sell for the price you need. How good are they? Recently, a "pro" from Europe played mine, and concluded it sounded equal to his old Cremona-made violin, and IMHO mine was more powerful. I have compared my violin (side by side) to other moderns costing up to $20k, and it sounds and plays better. It is sweet, smooth on all strings, yet powerful. I use Dom's, and the Dom E sounds sweet on my violin, the others are smooth and rich. I'll be introducing mine to some rather high society pros this year, and I expect it will continue to raise eyebrows.

Ed may well be the undiscovered diamond of this century. Ed is not a marketer and attends no shows, no competitions - so he is virtually unknown. He is unassuming, and does not advertise endorsements. His website is plain, pure vanilla. He builds them for the love of it, not the money - and only 1 or 2 per year. The woods are top quality. Each is made completely by hand, each is different, each bears little imperfections, and so no 2 are equal.

So far, every accomplished player to play my violin has been reluctant to put it down.

If pedigree is what you want, then by all means buy a violin from a marketer, or a contest winner, or such like, and pay the price. But for those who want a genuine concert sound, and who know an unpolished diamond when they see one, I recommend Ed to you.

I will not say the names of the other makers I have tried, for I wish not to denegrate anybody. So, don't ask me.

best wishes,

June 5, 2007 at 02:37 PM · Ed's violins are nice-looking. According to his webpage, his violins sell for $3000 to $8000 CDN (roughly $3k to $8k USD with the weak dollar these days.) If his $8k violins do sound incredible and can compete with $15k-$20k violins from reputable makers, I might be tempted to fly there to try out a bunch of them even if I'm not in the market for a new violin.

June 5, 2007 at 03:20 PM · Ron, the last time I was in China was 2 years ago and tried a few violins (in the area of Shanghai Conservatory of Music) but didn't find anything I liked. I always wondered if I went to the right places. Where would you recommend for me to try the next time I'm visiting Shanghai again? I'm not in the market for a new violin but will definitely want to check it out when I'm in the right area. Thanks Ron.

June 5, 2007 at 03:57 PM · Mr Cheung:

No need to fly out. Ed will ship to you for a 2 week trial. You send back if you don't like. Much cheaper than airfare. Ed is 100% honest. I am curious to know why you would think to pick up a bunch?

June 5, 2007 at 04:00 PM · YiXi:

I know well the shops and owners in the the neighbourhood of the conservatory. The violins are all factory ones, and not altogether impressive. Not far away though, is a luthier for hand made violins. His are going for $3000. What is your budget?

If you need one lower in price, I can ask my daughter's prof for a personal favour to find and select one for you. It will have very good sound, but do not expect a true concert sound. Email me when you are closer to deciding your trip (

If you can afford more, choose one from Ed.

June 5, 2007 at 04:13 PM · PS. please be sure to tell Ed I sent you.

June 5, 2007 at 05:10 PM · Ron, I'm not picking up a bunch. I just want to compare the different violins Ed sells since he made so many different models. After all, where he is located seems not very far from a nice place for a vacation.

June 5, 2007 at 06:19 PM · Kevin: got it.

Ed is in Letbridge, which is on the great plains. North is Calgary, which is THE place to be in July for "Stampede". From Calgary, 2 hrs west by car puts you into the world famous National and Provincial parks with their breathtaking alpine environments. The Banff School of Fine Arts is world renowned, and Banff is a place you will regret to leave (not cheap, but lovely). BTW, the former director of BSFA owned and played one of Ed's violins. Ed will tell you about it, if you ask - the director was a true virtuoso. Hope you make the trip some day. Summers in the mountains and on the prairies are fabulous (but winters are dreadful).

best wishes.

June 5, 2007 at 11:49 PM · hi all,

what about cello makers? any undiscovered gems?

June 7, 2007 at 06:44 PM · If your looking for a fine Cello Björn Stoll [DB & Cello] and Jörg Wunderlich [violin & Cello] are German Luthiers you might want to check out the web site. Don't know thier prices but very impressive work.

June 9, 2007 at 12:07 AM · I disagree about getting a Chinese violin. I mean they are great and all. But their tone is just so dull. One of my violins is Chinese made, even if it sounds good it still does not compare to other violins. A good contemporary violin is a Picconoti( I don't remember the spelling) But when I tried that violin I was like unbelievable not only is the craftsmanship outstanding but the tone quality and the feel was wonderful. These violins range from I think, I have not checked but around $5,000-$30,000. He really is a remarkable violin maker.

June 13, 2007 at 12:07 PM · Very interesting topic,

My handmade violins are even below this price range(3 000 -5 000).There are a lot of contemporary violin makers who sell cheaper instruments with an excellent quality.The price is not everything ,the passion of the luthier is more important.

June 13, 2007 at 12:30 PM · I totally agree with Petko...

Passion in the art should be the driving force behind the making of a violin...

June 13, 2007 at 05:03 PM · Passion is certainly a factor, but unfortunately for many, passion alone does not manifest skill. I select violins based on sound, which requires skill more than motivation.

This is likely a debate without end. I do note that a concert souunding violin is not cheap, no matter where it is made, and that even a small improvement in sound carries a large increase in price. We simply cannot avoid supply and demand. Certainly, I look forward to seeing more violins from luthiers in eastern Europe.

June 13, 2007 at 08:26 PM · I am looking at violins as well, with a budget of 5000-8000. I took a look at Ed Dietrich after reading this and called him just now. I mentioned that I heard about him from you Ron. I was at work, and he talked quite a bit, so I recommend not calling if you need to go soon because he will definitely hold you up =)

After asking me a bit about what I was working on, what I was playing... he recommended me a 8000CAD violin. I will probably keep in touch with him and try it out. 8000 seems to be a bit high for a random violin on the internet. I will probably try it and see how it is.

June 13, 2007 at 10:12 PM · You can never be too picky when choosing a violin. It's most likely going to be with you for a pretty long time!

June 13, 2007 at 11:51 PM · You can try also to look at the eastern-european (ex-USSR) market: there is one in Ukraine I was recently responding about - S.Melnyk (look down at the discussions page). I have no idea about the current prices for his violins, but am guessing it can be not too much higher then what your budget is now.

Also since there was such a rise in mass-productions from China, Korea, Japan etc, the value of second-hand european instruments categorised as "VINTAGE" dropped significantly (at least in Australia). For example, good german Manufactured copy of Strad, Maggini,etc was priced $2500-3500AUS in 1996, but now only $1500-2500, or even as low as $800 for a similar quality instruments.

I personally am trying to be very careful with paying for an instrument that is less then 75 years old: there are certain processes regarding wood aging under constant stress of vibrations caused by sound, so as result of such the new instrument over the years can gradually "open-up", or "close", depending on the craftsmenship, wood selection, climat, frequency of use, etc...

The end of unpredictable changes within the wood structure comes ad the age of instrument @ 90-95, but the tendencies of final sound establishment become evident when violin comes closer to 75 years old.

Also remember to check if the violin was properly "grownded": there must be a special wood treatment done before the actual polish is applied onto the instrument, otherwise the polish gets absorbed by the wood, pores get blocked and the wood loses it's sensitivity and capacity to produce desirable vibrations.

Hope it helps, but go and talk to professional woodwork restorers in reputable art-gallery or museum: it can be really facinating experience!

June 14, 2007 at 02:56 AM · meh, I specialize in electrics... If that is what you need go to and get a viper... Best electric violin decition (for live preformances I mean) you will ever make.

You hear about people not wanting to use shoulder rests because they limit movement, thus hindering sound quality. Imagine what you can do when abolishing both shoulder AND chin rests!

June 14, 2007 at 04:42 AM · Look at Chinese violins which are in this price range. They are made by individual makers and quite good at this price.

June 14, 2007 at 05:55 AM · I’m an armature but I apparently completely lucked out when I bought myself a lovely violin all on my own. But I don’t know if I’ll be so lucky with a bow. I wonder if the following will work to counter the psycho-acoustics if I were to shop a bow on my own:

Before I visit my luthier (he also sells a few nice bows), I’ll ask him to put a 10 bows between values of $2-5k (the range I will pay) on the table but under the cover. I’ll then cover my eyes and play one by one without knowing the brand, the look and the price and rate my preference 0-10. My luthier will be marking them down on each bow. I know this is not a double-blind test but should be good enough. Would do you guys think?

June 14, 2007 at 06:25 AM · Greetings,

that`s the way I choose bows. I don`t bother with writing a ranking. I simply place them in order. Never have too many bows on the table because some are rejected out of hand. Usually end up with thre eor four bows on the table and keep swithcing between them. When I have two I wnat I ask to take them home. If I can`t. I don`t buy them. Don@t usually have a problem with this. One reason dealers are helpful with me, I have noticed is the absolute respetc I handle the bows with when I use them. Taht is, I bring a silk cloth and wipe each one down after I trry it. I am also often mopre respectful in bith the place sand ways I put down bows and instruments comapre dot some shop asistants.



June 14, 2007 at 02:58 PM · Gennady --

I don't want to sound obstinate or oppositional but how is an accurate copy from a chinese workshop less honest than a copy that was done by Vuillaume. Neither is passing the fiddle off as the original and in fact like Vuillaume the Chinese workshop copies may in 50 or 75 years grow into something quite nice.


June 14, 2007 at 04:52 PM · Re fakes.

Well, just as the world has seen fake Rembrandts sold for genuine, I suppose we can expect to see a fake bow sold as genuine.

The Chinese do copy other bows with great precision. On one occasion, I have been hard pressed to discern a real Tubbs from a copy, as the seller was not Chinese and assured me both bows were genuine. But one bow played markedly different, which the seller explained by a difference in price: yet the copy was not cheap either.

I suspected a fake, so I began my search of fake bows. After a year, I found what may be the source: a bow maker in China. I do not accuse the maker of intention to sell a copy of a Tubbs as a real one: but nonetheless the copy found its way as such into the market place. Perhaps this is what is meant by a fake bow and other products.

I do not think the Chinese should be smeared with a broad brush, and accused of deliberately defrauding people. Thus far in China, all the sellers I have encountered have informed me their product is a copy of some famous item. Virtually all the violins are sold as Strad copies (after all, the shape of the violin is what makes the violin, inter alia) and this applies to bows.

The issue boils down to honesty and caveat emptor, case by case. On the one hand, a Chinese bow is a genuine bow (real in all physical respects), On the other hand, when something is sold as genuine when it is not truly, it becomes a fake. I hope V-com can work to help expose fakes and alert all concerned.

June 14, 2007 at 11:09 PM · Your right there are many other places that make copies. Some say it's the real thing and some don't . China is not the only one doing this. But it is where about a quarter to a half of our modern day copied violins come from.

June 15, 2007 at 12:28 AM · Allow me to say this another way.

A Chinese-made violin that is sold as a "Strad copy made in China" is not a fake.

A Strad copy that is sold a "real Strad" is a fake.

In the violin trade, the seller is most often not the manufacturer. So we must be careful where we place fault.

I think we must be careful not to accuse Chinese craftsmen. If the Chinese are successful in honestly selling "made in China" violins, to the extent of supplying 1/2 of the world's market supply, then we should give them credit for what is truly a phenomenal accomplishment.

June 15, 2007 at 03:48 AM · I'm not saying they all do this though. Only some call it the real thing, while some say it's just a copy.

June 15, 2007 at 12:27 PM · This China discussion thing has been pretty pointless.

You go to China to buy a decent violin, nothing over 3000 or 4000 USD. You will get a good bargain, since nothing elsewhere will be even worth it. China is a great place to go for a beginner who's looking for a violin. I can say that when I was little I played on a 500USD Chinese violin that definitely compares to 1000-2000USD violins here.

Regarding fakes, noone in their right mind is going to China to buy a strad. You are the idiot if you think you're getting a bargain in China for top quality violins, and it's your own fault if you think you're getting a great deal on a famous item. Also, in terms of "name brand" items, it has become a global marketplace, so prices are more or less similar everywhere in the world.

You go to China to get a good violin, not a great one. For 95% of the violin population, that is more than enough. For those 5% that need concert violins, you can still find an outstanding violin in China, but the shops don't compare to US ones.

June 15, 2007 at 10:36 PM · Your right, some really good violins come out from there, I know I have a Chinese made violin, it is a really good sounding violin.

June 18, 2007 at 11:27 AM · According to me doesn’t mater what nationality is the violin maker. More important is his experience and feeling of the trade. What is the difference between an excellent made Italian, German or Chinese violin? The difference is only in the origin and maybe in the price. Everywhere there are good and bad instruments.

August 5, 2007 at 12:13 PM · I actually bought a viola for my son from William Harris Lee. It is now worth over 20K. It is a beautiful and excellent instrument. The sound is incredible and his instructors are so impressed that they believe the value will only go up. This shop is excellent to work with. Mr. Lee personally built ours since we were referred by former buyers. I was

August 5, 2007 at 05:07 PM · For me (and obviously my shop), I sell a great many Chinese instruments from the general factory/rental range up to instruments hand made by top Chinese makers that can still retail for under/around 2K. A US hand made instrument even from a recent school graduate may retail from 4-5K and not have anywhere near the quality workmanship. I also sell many old German instruments from the 1890's that have been re-graduated and been set up properly and these get a great sound, are reasonably priced (between 1.5 and 3K) and don't let these old instruments go to waste. Chinese instruments keep getting better and better every year and since Spruce and Maple DO grow in China, once they got the idea of curing the wood, their instruments have had a much better sound.

Now, on the other hand as Gennady stated above, Pernmbuco does NOT grow in China and I refuse to sell Chinese produced bows made with Pernambuco since the wood was illegally smuggled out of Brasil and the bows look good but tend to warp quickly do to using recently cut wood, so wasting a precious resource as well as circumventing the laws of Brasil. I do sell Carbon Fiber bows from China, just not any using Pernambuco. We all have our own conciences', this way works for me.

August 7, 2007 at 09:23 PM · I know someone in Montana who makes violins in your price range and they do sound and play well. He does it strictly for fun and makes practically no money at it.

I also make violins in your price range in Montana. I may be raising my price soon. It is necessary to live frugally if one wants to make and sell violins as a profession at these low prices.


August 20, 2007 at 11:29 AM · Dear John ,

The violins I handcraft are within this price range.For me will be a pleasure to answer to all your questions.

October 31, 2007 at 01:34 AM · I think Eastern Europe is making great violins for the under $4,000 range because labor costs are lower in Eastern Europe than pricey areas like Italy, yet still made in the shop of a certified master maker. The better violins (several maker names) from master makers in Sofia, Bulgaria (several makers) and Luby, Czech Republic (such as Josef Holpuch) come to mind as violins that might appreciate in value over time because of the craftsmanship and developed markets for their names, making liquidity easier. Other makers in Bulgaria and Hungary are making fine violins, too, although I wonder about the liquidity of lesser-known makers. Of course, there are garbage violins from any part of the world, too, in the under $300 range.

The wildcard is China, which is getting better and better at making violins for cheap. Plus, the Euro has appreciated so much against the dollar that I wonder if Eastern Europe violins usually priced at $3,000 will be selling for $5,000 in the US.

Personally, I would never buy a chinese violin over $2,000 because I don't feel confident about what they will sound like in three years. Good violins are suppose to get better with age but some violins of unknown origin actually get dull. It's called the "new instrument syndrome." Where did the wood come from? Who is the maker? How loud does it project? Does it have the potential to be coaxed?

November 1, 2007 at 03:14 AM · Also, the varnish used to make a violin is very important. The sound quality of a violin changes dramatically from the white (no varnish) to varnished. Varnish that is too thick will muffle the vibrations too much. Different varnished react differently with the wood. Some master luthiers guard their varish recipes.

Different varnishes age differently, too. Some varnishes can harden over the decades and worsen the sound of the violin. How will Chinese violins age?

November 1, 2007 at 08:37 AM · I highly recommend William Walls in Tampa, FL. It's the most beautiful instrument ever, and is my pride and joy. The craftmanship is absolutely gorgeous. He is still making them to this day, but mine was made in 1949, not that it matters the year, and has a gorgeous one-piece back. Check out this maker some time. He is phenomenal. This was and is my vehicle to this day. We make beautiful music together! Good luck in your search.

November 1, 2007 at 11:00 PM · Luis and Clark violas are really nice. I use thir viola as my practice viola really really nice tone for the price

So i assume that their violins would be too

November 1, 2007 at 11:18 PM · Tell us more about the Luis and Clark violins/violas. Aren't those made of carbon fiber! To me that seems shocking, yet I am open-minded and would like to hear your experience.

How much do they cost?

November 2, 2007 at 12:40 AM · Prices are as follow: Violin -- $4,900 American

Viola -- $5,200 American

The Instruments come in any color you want.


November 2, 2007 at 12:40 AM · Prices are as follow: Violin -- $4,900 American

Viola -- $5,200 American

The Instruments come in any color you want.

EVERYTHING IS CARBON FIBER, and I mean every thing, the soundpost, the bassbar, the fingerboard, the chinrest, the tailpeice, the pegs, everything.

The instrument has no texture.

November 2, 2007 at 12:40 AM · Prices are as follow: Violin -- $4,900 American

Viola -- $5,200 American

The Instruments come in any color you want.

EVERYTHING IS CARBON FIBER, and I mean every thing, the soundpost, the bassbar, the fingerboard, the chinrest, the tailpeice, the pegs, everything.

The instrument has no texture.

November 2, 2007 at 12:40 AM · Prices are as follow: Violin -- $4,900 American

Viola -- $5,200 American

The Instruments come in any color you want.

EVERYTHING IS CARBON FIBER, and I mean every thing, the soundpost, the bassbar, the fingerboard, the chinrest, the tailpeice, the pegs, everything.

The instrument has no texture.

November 26, 2007 at 11:14 AM · T Carlsen - you are right. At the moment the standard of life in Easter Europe is one of the lowest in all the European Union. We have still cheaper raw materials (tone woods) and the wages are also very low. For that reason we can allow to sell our instruments at lower prices. Not for very long.

In Bulgaria the cradle of the violin making is in the town of Kazanlak in the Rose Valley. Many people compare it with the Italian Cremona .There are more than thirty violin makers here. Unfortunately they do not have good advertisement.

You are absolutely right about the” new instrument syndrome”. I have seen many beautiful instruments which did not want to play in the same way after some years. Every good violin maker knows how to guarantee the long and progressing life of his instruments.

November 30, 2007 at 02:44 PM · Hi Gennady

I just saw your rather old comment (I don't get to everyday.....its slow in the shop today so......) about JB Vuillaume and stating his honesty.......

I certainly agree he was a genius at making and his violins are first rate but he was not always above board when it came to dealing!

I have seen a viola made by A.Gagliano with a scroll by J.Lott sold by Vuillaume as the only del Gesu viola ever made!!!! I believe that Vuillaume had Lott make the scroll and change the f holes to match (they new each other). I have seen the original letters to the customer and bill of sale(very expensive too) Vuillaume knew this was not a Del Gesu!..........if anyone wants to buy the viola I have it!!



November 30, 2007 at 09:43 PM · I think Gennady is long gone from this site Sean...

December 2, 2007 at 06:18 AM ·

December 2, 2007 at 03:53 PM · For about 3k you can find a Putsantali, which is a violin made by the Putsantali brothers in Cremona. I do not remember which shop they work out of, and there are hundreds there. Just ask around, someone will know. I have one, which I use as a back up instrument, but really for 3k it is about as good as I have seen. Hope it helps.

December 3, 2007 at 03:44 AM · I believe Gennady can be found on or most recently on as well as

December 12, 2010 at 01:59 PM ·

Hi John,

Snow makes a model JHS Simona, it's a beautiful instrument and is around 3500.00. At least in south jersey?

December 19, 2010 at 04:43 PM ·

Hi John,

I'm a violin maker in London and the violins I make are priced at £3,000. They are entirely handmade, using the best materials and fittings. I have one in stock at the moment. If you're interested get in touch. My website is

Best wishes,


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