Carl Becker Sr violins

May 7, 2018, 10:24 AM · I am currently trying out a violin made by Carl Becker Sr (1925) and it is honestly one of the best violins I have ever played on. The tone, power and colors it is able to produce is just fantastic. I read somewhere that he is considered the " greatest violin maker in the history of American violin making" and some compared his violins to that of Stradivarius. Does anyone know of any soloist playing violins made by him? How does his violins compare to some of the best living violin makers today (David Burgess, Frank Ravatin, Curtin and Alf, Sam Zygmuntowicz, Peter Greiner etc..). Any more information about this maker would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Replies (11)

Edited: May 7, 2018, 2:10 PM · Carl Becker Sr. (Carl G Becker) made terrific violins. Today you'll generally find them to be priced comparably to other high-quality antiques. The last one I looked at was over $120k, I think.

That means that his violins are going to be somewhere around 50% more than a Zyg (~$85k), and around 4x to 6x most higher-quality contemporary makers. Only you can decide if the price difference is worth it to you. (And the plus of not having to wait for a commission to be built, and the uncertainty of how a commission would turn out.)

May 7, 2018, 3:00 PM · Rightly well known for outstanding cellos as well.
Edited: May 7, 2018, 5:41 PM · Carl Becker Sr has a fantastic reputation, and the few violins I have been able to try by him are fantastic. As you stated, a wide range of power and tonal colors.

I play a David Burgess violin that I am quite ecstatic with. Exceptional power (but still a fine ppp), responsive, a wide range of tonal colors, and beauty of appearance. I can't imagine a better instrument for me.

I tried briefly a Frank Ravitin violin once and found it to be good. It didn't strike me quite as positively as some of the other violins we're discussing.

I have a colleague that has a Joseph Curtin violin that I get to hear with relative frequency. I find it to be a great instrument, great tonal complexities and dynamic range.

I used to play frequently with someone who played a Zygmuntowicz. It was obviously a good violin, but it was not to my liking tonally and didn't appear to have the power I expected.

I have not played a Greiner violin.

All these things being considered, you have to compare specific violins. Even a great maker might make a violin that is not what you need for how you play.

Good luck in your hunt!

May 7, 2018, 6:27 PM · Thanks everyone for providing me with more information and the comparison between other makers. Would you guys also happen to know if any notable soloist play on a Carl Becker Sr violin? I hear a lot of great and wonderful things about this maker but I am not able to find a whole lot about who plays and performs on his violins. Would be great to get a YouTube link or a recording of a violinist playing on one of his violins
May 7, 2018, 7:28 PM · Why do you care what soloists play a given maker's work? Especially if you're not a soloist yourself?

By the way, did you ever buy the Ricardo Bergonzi? (Back in this thread: LINK)

Edited: May 7, 2018, 11:18 PM · Lydia, why would I not care? Why should a question like this be only reserved for soloist? The question was obviously important enough for me to ask.

No I did not get Bergonzi. It was a good violin but I did not pull the trigger to buy it.

May 8, 2018, 5:53 AM · You did not answer the question of why, I note. :-)
May 8, 2018, 7:04 AM · "Why do you care what soloists play a given maker's work? Especially if you're not a soloist yourself?"

C'mon Lydia, lots of people are interested in what soloists play what violins. I've always asked them if given a chance.

Once, I overheard Peter Zazofsky telling someone he was playing a Bergonzi. A while later, I said to him "that sounds like a Bergonzi." He was impressed with my expertise...

May 8, 2018, 7:38 AM · Oh, I'm always curious what soloists are using, too.
Edited: May 8, 2018, 8:03 AM · I've had many soloists over the years come by the shop and play violins, as well as been with other makers and dealers who took instruments to have soloists play.

Funny thing about players at that level, is that regardless of what they are playing, they sound just like themselves.

I don't know of any major soloists who have Becker Sr instruments, but I do know quite a few of them have instruments that are by the above named modern makers, but they spend most of their time in the case or are loaned out to students.

May 9, 2018, 10:01 AM · OP -- Did you make a decision on the Becker?

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