Fake Chinese strings on Amazon and Ebay
Those of you that think the good prices for strings on Amazon (and ebay) are a real bargains may be in for a surprise. Amazon is flooded with counterfeit merchandise products and does next to nothing to stop it. Its well known that the Chinese counterfeit most of the big name German strings, people think that Amazon is safe when in fact the only safe source is a reputable violin shop. This article doesn't cover violin strings but it shows in detail how counterfeits come to be sold on Amazon, and how little there is you can do about it other than not patronizing Amazon.
Where I live, Vietnam but extensive to other Asian countries, the reputable shops sell you the fakes in your face. I don't think there's a real Dominant, or Vision, or Evah around.
Not many takers so far.
Is it easy to tell the difference between counterfeit strings and the original?
By cursory inspection, possibly "no". By forensic examination, which means dissecting the string and analysing each and every component, and looking carefully at the packaging, a strong "yes"; but you'd probably be working in a government sponsored lab.
Often the colours are off on the wrappings, the packaging is subtly different, usually less detailed. I had a customer come in with what looked like fake Dominants he had bought at the Guitar Shop.
I get my strings from Shar. One thing is for sure, Lyndon, we live in very Orwellian world. Very little is real or true any more. It's very depressing.
Chinese merchants are very good at copying things and leaving R and D expenses for others (illegal or not).
They are copies, but only the packaging. I usually get strings from Shar or Johnson Strings, but I happened to add a set to my Amazon cart once. I knew as soon as I pulled the from the package something was wrong. They were supposed to be a well-known synthetic, but they were really bad quality steel strings with no synthetic content whatsoever. A close comparison of the packaging revealed some inconsistencies.
I purchased strings from Amazon once. When I put them on my violin, the e string broke before I could get near in tune. The rest were good but had to be replaced in about a month. I started buying at a local violin shop. Since the owners retired, I buy at Star or Fiddlerman.
I have been ordering my strings from Concord Musical Supplies for years (by telephone in the pre-internet days, now through the web. Their prices are good, mostly better than Amazon's. My luthier once recommended them to me ,about the third time he did not have the strings I wanted. He didn't like stocking strings and then they aged on him and he couldn't sell them with a good conscience. I used to always order Pirastro Oliv from them and I am sure I always got the true article. Now I am ordering Passione because the tuning is at least much more stable than with Olive. It is a compromise: Olives still sound better.
"copying things and leaving R and D expenses for others"
In the UK my plug goes to The String Zone. Good range, competitive prices, free postage, quick delivery.
I agree, The String Zone is pretty good and rock-solid reliable, but my only gripe is that they currently stock only one brand of plain gut.
The String Zone are the people I'm referring to near Heathrow airport - Egham if you prefer. Bridgewood and Neitzert were recommended, but they seemed so expensive to me that I deleted my link to them, but I can believe they satisfy gut specialists. Guivier have an associated string and accessory shop, but my violist friend doesn't like them.