Frank Lee violins, Shanghai

March 31, 2018, 12:08 AM · A few months ago I went down to a 'big box' music store when I visited the city. They've got about 30 violins up to CAD$2000 on the wall. I played them all and one stood out as an incredible instrument, made by Frank Lee in 2014. Anyone know about him or have experience with his instruments? It came back from a loan and I'm buying it this week, can't wait!

Replies (6)

Edited: March 31, 2018, 1:58 AM · Well... who cares? If really stands out from all you played yet and is beautifully made, then $2000 should be fine no matter who made it?
But I do understand your interest in the maker, and be it only out of curiosity and not about reselling value.

Using Google engine, you get results, for example :

It does not sound as if you're overpaying

March 31, 2018, 11:34 AM · I purchased a Frank Lee violin from Old Violin House back in 2014, and paid $200 delivered. I’ve always been rather pleased with the instruments I’ve purchased from OVH.
March 31, 2018, 1:03 PM · $200?! Well... Sounds like as if they came in different quality and price categories?! On the internet I've seen them up to $5000 and even a bit above!
Edited: March 31, 2018, 1:57 PM · Trevor, I'm from Shanghai and I bought violin from Shanghai too but I've never heard of Frank Lee's violins, but this doesn't mean anything and I tell you why.

For CAD$2000, if it is a fair market value, it should sound decent or even amazing to the ears of a beginner or intermediate player, depending on how one's previous experience with playing and choosing a violin. To judge a violin well requires years of experience of playing or violin-making so that one can tell you about a violin's pliability and tone production under one's ear as well as in distance. You may be blown away by the sound of this Lee violin now, but if you bring it to your home, let your teacher or professionally trained violinists try it for you, you might have different opinion about your initial assessment. Most importantly, more advanced players will be able to tell you pros and cons of this violin that you might not be able to assess at this point.

There are a lot of decent student violins at this price range on the market. In big cities such as Shanghai, don't expect you'll get good deals in violin shopping. In fact, decent violins often are more expensive there. Always make sure, before paying it, you've got a chance to bring the instrument home for trial and ask some professional players to assess and play it for you before purchase. Good dealers should allow this and anyone doesn't allow trial, walk away.

March 31, 2018, 2:28 PM · I absolutely agree with Yixi - never buy without a trial period, two weeks at least, I'd say... Falling in love with an instrument immediately is a very good fundament for a long relationship, but it isn't a bad thing to allow yourself cooling down a little bit and see what happens if you play it different environments. Had a funny experience with a quite promising viola (at first glance) that finally did not end up in my shelf... And it didn't even have to get second or third opinions back then.
April 4, 2018, 8:33 AM · Thanks guys. I'm very confident in my assessment of the instrument, it is wonderful. I don't need another violin, was not planning on buying one, but after playing it I could not resist.

My interest is just out of curiosity. Although there is a bit of info on google, it is pretty sparse. Resale is always a bonus, and from the playing/sound quality of the instrument, I'm sure I'd have no problems selling it if some unforeseen circumstance motivated me to do so.

I'm in Canada, in case it was not clear, not China. But I understand Frank Lee's workshop is in Shanghai.

Maybe I'll post pics once it arrives.


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