Buying Directly from Dealer in Germany

January 24, 2018, 9:40 AM · Hi everyone! Quick question on your opinion of buying direct from the dealer. In my current search for a new violin I am leaning towards this Klaus Heffler 703 that I currently have on trial from David Kerr in Portland.

If you read my previous post on picking a new violin you might remember that David Kerr’s set out about 8 violins and told me they were all under 3k (though none had the price on them). When I narrowed it down to this one and asked the exact price they responded with “Oh, we must have made a mistake, that one is actually $4200, and I really shouldn’t do this but I’ll give it to you for $3500”.

Because I found that somewhat fishy I have been looking into the price of the Klaus Heffler 703 elsewhere but can’t really find one. I went to the Klaus Heffler website (which is in German) and I asked them if the 703 is the same as one of their website models but perhaps with a different name. They responded with this:

“As we wouldn´t like to come into a rivalry with our own dealers, our dealers have numbers on their models (like #500 #600 #702 #703 #705 #706), we use names (like Ideale, Allegro, La Primavera)
You are searching for this instrument:

The la Passione is the same violin as the # 703.
Shipping costs to U.S. are always 30€ ( up to 31 kg ) and take 5-9 days from Germany to the US.”

So 2.220,00 € = 2751.13 US dollars

Which means if I went through them directly I would be saving $750

My question is this, do you think this would be worth it, or that it is risky since the violin may not sound the same?

I realize that every instrument is different even if it is the same model, and I don’t know if Kerr’s sets them up differently than Klaus Heffler etc. On the Heffler website it says they put Evah Pirazzi strings and a Guarani chin rest which the one from Kerrs has, it appears it may have a different bridge though.

I do like the sound of this one, and would like to save the $750 but would just want it to be very close to the same violin.

Thanks in advance for all the advice!

Replies (8)

January 24, 2018, 10:02 AM · you wont get the same violin, it might be better but probably worse.
Edited: January 24, 2018, 12:53 PM · Here is another adult learner from Portland. Over the 8.5+ years doing business with David Kerr (I am also familiar with Geesman and Schuback), I find them to be honest. I have also tried violins out of my price range (I don't remember if it was due to my request or their mistake), but I found it educational - it made me realize what I might be missing (or not) if I stick within my price range.

If you like the violin, my suggestion is buy it from Kerr, even if their markup is understandably high, as two violins are never the same (I have tried quite a few Klaus Hefflers myself; did not pay attention to the model number though). Buying a violin online is a huge gamble (I have done that with violins that cost a couple hundred dollars. I would never do that with a violin that costs thousands). In addition, Kerr's shop is very picky about setup (And they do a great job), so most likely they have re-done the setup when they received the violin from the importer/manufacturer. If you buy directly from Germany and were not satisfied with the setup, you would have to shell out at least a few hundred more to get the setup right. Last but not least, by buying locally, you build relationships with a local luthier, which is invaluable should you run into issues down the road (They really stand behind the products they sell. They have fixed my violin and bow issues free-of-charge several times), and you keep the money in the community.

January 24, 2018, 10:59 AM · Crystal:

Shouldn't you be paying 2,190€ less the VAT (which is about 19%) + shipping? If that's correct, the price of your violin should be around 1,773€.

Also, I know you didn't ask for it, but because I am very experienced in dealing with shipping violins and accessories from Germany, so I want to offer you some advice to save you some heartaches.

It sounds like they will be using the regular DHL Paket, which is just Deutsche post air parcel. But they do take good care of the shipment process, so it should arrive safely. There might be delays at the custom in New York, so it is probably better if you order the violin with a violin case, so that it can provide a little more insulation against the cold, but I guarantee you that when you receive the violin, you will need to take it to a luthier to get it adjusted due to the extreme weather during transport.

And I would probably ask them about extra cost for DHL Paket Premium, which offers insurance up to 500€ (I think DHL Paket offers no insurance) AND less transit time, and it will probably costs you an extra $30€ or so for the shipping. But I think it is worth it, in case something DOES happen in transport.

And yes, every violin is different, and it will be a risk for you. You have to decide what is more important to you, the cost or the convenience of a local shop. On the other hand, have you tried negotiating the price with the local shop?

January 24, 2018, 11:23 AM · Since you understand that "that every instrument is different even if it is the same model," then why would you risk buying a different instrument of the same model? Are you going to send it back if you don't like it?

If you really love the Klaus Heffler 703 you're playing, then you should talk with the shop about buying it. Express your concerns about feeling mislead. Maybe they'll come down a bit more. Maybe you could put $3000 down and pay off the rest over time. Consider that getting the $4200 violin you're playing for $3500 is a really good deal that maybe you should not pass up!

Finally, it is really valuable in the long run to have a local luthier that knows you and your violin. It is worth buying locally to support them. Violins need maintenance.

Disclosure: I am not a luthier, dealer, or a customer of David Kerr. I live on the East Coast.

Edited: January 24, 2018, 11:39 AM · Lyndon- you are probably right.

Joyce- I have tried to keep it local and have spent a lot of time working with Schuback recently who I would prefer to work with, but I have just not liked any of his violins in this price range as much. I also checked out Geeseman's and was really considering one of his but ended up eliminating it. I have only been to Kerrs once but there was something about him (and not just the above my budget violin thing) that rubbed me the wrong way, totally different feel than the other two. I guess It's good to hear that others have had a better experience.

Y Cheng- Thank you for sharing your experience shipping violins from Europe. I didn't even think about not having to pay the VAT. That makes the price more appealing, but everything else you have pointed out makes me want to avoid taking this risk. If I do finally decide to purchase this one I may try to see if Kerr can go any lower...

George- I agree that buying from a local luthier is preferrable, I may try and talk to them about the price once more.

Ultimately this violin has to go through one more comparison as the Ming 909 and another one from fiddlershop are arriving tomorrow before I make my final decision.

Thanks for the input!

January 24, 2018, 7:06 PM · As far as I know if you do not pay the German VAT, you must pay in the US for the import. I don't know the exact regulations though. Also you have to pay customs in the us I believe?
Other than that, the German shop looks trustworthy. They also offer a 30 day money back.
Not sure though if I would recommend spending that much money on a violin you never held in your hand...
I am fine with buying antique violins online if they are identifiable or student violins up to 1000,- Euro at the max. Over that you really want to go to a local shop. You can get a good range of instruments for over 1000,- and it is much easier to compare violins beside each other than with time in between. Also online you have to pay all the securities beforehand.
January 24, 2018, 7:34 PM · I agree with all the above. You haven't tried enough Heffler violins to know that, in general, you like that model. For all you know, the one you like could be the result of a thorough casting made by David Kerr of that model.

Your saving is less than you think: At customs you will have to pay tariffs (I think it is 3,2%) and VAT of your state. You might be saving 500$. If that is the margin of the shop, I don't think that it's abusive and it is worth to pay that extra for the guarantee that you get what you like and that any problem ahead will be dealt by "your luthier". Imagine that during transit to USA the soundpost falls. Who are you going to take it to? How much will it cost?
I think it is worthy to have a B&M shop in which you have a good relationship and get good service to help your profession/passion.
Confirm with David Kerr which services are included, try to get maybe a payment by installments that leaves both of you satisfied, and get the violin you tried and which charmed you.

January 26, 2018, 6:18 AM · For not much more than the $750, you can fly to Germany and audition the violin yourself. Kind of like buying a car on the European Delivery Program - you don't save any money, but you get a free vacation out of it. Bonus - there's more than one violin maker in Markneukirchen or Mittenwald, so you can try out a variety of instruments. And try out some Schweinhaxe und Weißbier while you're there, too.

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