Scott Cao Artistic Series Thoughts?

Edited: March 3, 2019, 10:03 PM · Hi, the shop where I got my current violin from sells Scott Cao Artistic Series violins and I was wondering what some of you think about that line if anybody's played them. Are they good quality instruments? I'm particularly interested in the 850's. They have Ex-David, Cannon, and Kreisler models for around $1500. I plan on trying each of them out soon, but I would still like other's opinions on this line as I might not know what to look or listen for.

It would be great if I end up liking one of these because this is the only shop in town that will give me full value trade in for my current student violin since I bought it there.

Thanks for your replies.

Replies (4)

March 3, 2019, 10:16 PM · I've heard good things from others but have never personally played one.

The most important opinion will be your own after you try them. What's your shops policy on repairs/set-up/trade in?

Trade in value seems good if they're willing to go full value when you move up - but with instruments like this a good bridge and sound post adjustment can make a rather large difference. There is usually nothing wrong with the 'box' itself, but the setup can be lacking.

It'll all come down to if you like it or not. Some people will hate them just because they're from China, but you can safely ignore that particular criticism unless you have an ethical issue with Chinese products.

March 3, 2019, 10:33 PM · Never played them, but unless the violin you have is a big problem (hurts you or impedes your playing) I would still save that money for any other vintage workshop instrument you mentioned earlier-be them French or German in origin. Sometimes workshops don't want to fix the more affordable instruments because of their low value vs repair/setup cost, which is why maybe the dealer is offering you the Scott Cao violins as an alternative. Be sure, however, that those Scott Cao instruments are *well set up*.

If they let you apply the full amount of your Scott Cao to another instrument later on, then no harm done-if you like the tone and playability. Though this may not be the case at all. Ask abour their policy when you can.

Some will disagree, but I would not buy many cheap violins, but save for a better one. A $1,500 instrument is not guaranteed to be $1,100 better than a $400 violin. It could possibly not be even better, even though unlikely. No point in having 2-3 violins in which two of them may be near unplayable, unless you have another specific purpose for them.

Whatever you get, make sure it's perfectly setup. For this, as you are rather new to violin, you may need outside help, because the dealer will want to sell the instrument whether it fits you or not (unless it's one of those less common dealers that are perfectly honest with their customers, even when it will prevent a sale.)

Apologies to dealers in this forum-I know many of you are honest professionals, but I have seen much unfortunate "sales pushing", and inexperienced violinists thinking they are getting much better than they are. Many thanks for your fairness towards your customers.

Sorry for not knowing more about the Scott Cao. I have heard mixed stories about them, but have never played one (have tried another brand whose name I utterly forgot-was loud, but a bit unconvincing.)

Best of Luck.

March 4, 2019, 4:26 AM · I've had decent experiences with students using Scott Cao violins.

It's kind of risky to buy a reasonably expensive violin - new or used - without being more experienced or having a teacher to give you an opinion. With only a few weeks' experience, it's hard for you to know what you want out of an instrument.

Edited: March 4, 2019, 6:34 AM · I played a few Scott Cao violins in the late 1990s. I would say that if you like this instrument and have any doubts about purchasing it get a more experienced violinist (perhaps a teacher) to try it.

About 20 years ago I was asked to find a violin some family members wanted to give their son (a violist) as a HS graduation present. I visited 5 violin shops in the San Francisco Bay area (not including SF itself) from Berkeley to San Jose and tried about 30 violins in the parent's price range, which at the time was $1,400 for violin, bow and case. I selected a 1925 French violin from one shop, A Guarneri model from Scott Cao's shop and a Czech violin from a third shop - all in the price range - all different, but all perfectly acceptable - certainly good enough. I settled on the Scott Cao as being the most likely to improve. Over the years I played some duets with the young man and even played that violin myself. Still OK!

I also had played a Scott Cao violin that he had made himself - GOOD FIDDLE! That experience led me to consider visiting his shop in my search. That was back in the days when his personally made instruments were selling for just under $10,000.

Try some 750s too. Play as many different instruments as you can. And try different bows with them.

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