Shout-out to Corilon Violins

March 15, 2019, 2:27 PM · Just wanted to give a little shout-out to Corilon violins. I've been watching them for a while now but hadn't taken the leap and encouraged any students to actually buy from them because the thought of buying online without trying the instrument first sketched me out.

Realizing that they accept returns eased my hesitance.

Anyways, my student got the violin and honestly, it's fantastic. Great sound, really good condition, high quality set-up and I do believe that the same violin would have costed close between 2.5k-3k in a typical violin shop, but it cost them about 1200 through Corilon.

I'm genuinely impressed, and students who want to buy violins that are about $1000 and above I'll probably be sending to them from now on.

Anyways, I highly recommend getting over any fears about ordering a violin online without playing it first, because it turned out pretty dang well in this instance.

Replies (37)

March 15, 2019, 2:34 PM · Corilon's prices are actually pretty high IMHO
March 15, 2019, 3:08 PM · So these instruments travel from Germany to Northern California, and I take it they have to be set up anew after arrival?
March 15, 2019, 5:53 PM · Was the sound sample somewhat accurate?? I figure that's the best way to get any indication of the violin's sound.
Edited: March 15, 2019, 6:35 PM · They come set up and packed well, usually everything is fine.
Lyndon, I had the same concerns like Erik and didn't buy there for myself, and since my luthier is a dear friend... but I could test several violins from them because a friend ordered four (!) violins for a check-out (although shipping was only via 300km) some time ago, between 1,5 and 3,5k, and I'd say that for what you get for your money, the prices are definitely fair. And you can be absolutely sure you'll get no crap from them anyways - I'm sure they're offered far more instruments than they accept. They know their stuff and are earning a good reputation.

If I was in the search for a good german or french workshop violin <5k, I'd definitely visit there (it's not so far for me) since this is something our local luthiers don't really have much on stock but rather cover this price segment with new german and romanian workshop instruments. It wouldn't be the only option I had in mind, but I'd definitely consider it.

Edited: March 15, 2019, 6:42 PM · Lyndon, they're much lower than the prices in a typical violin shop, based on my experience with those. I have noticed that you tend to remark on other shops' prices quite often, but are you basing those remarks just in comparison to your own prices, or are you comparing them to *typical* prices? Because even if your prices are substantially lower than the norm, it's sort of irrelevant to anyone unless they live near you. Yes, one could fly out to try your violins, but that's typically reserved for much more expensive instruments.

Herman, I believe that is correct, although the student had already tuned the violin upon showing it to me so I don't know if she also put the bridge on. It's my impression that they keep the strings on during shipping.

Thierno, the sound sample was technically accurate, but the sound in real life was substantially better than I expected based on the recording. Of course, this isn't surprising, because their recordings are done in a pretty dead acoustic. So although the samples are accurate in terms of basic balance and tone, they must be taken with a grain of salt. But that's a heck of a lot better than nothing. I had also gotten the impression that the violin might be a bit hard to play because in the recording it sounded slightly like the player was struggling, but that ended out not being the case at all.

Edited: March 15, 2019, 7:02 PM · Erik, they ship their instruments strung up and with bridge in position. My luthier does the same with his instruments (for which he asks €23k). And just recently Luis Manfio told me how he uses to protect his wonderful violas when shipping them totally set up. Laying down bridge and soundpost seems to be highly overrated, and maybe reserved to those who are missing the know-how.
Edited: March 15, 2019, 8:28 PM · Corilon started out with pretty good prices, but lately, judging from their named, labeled violins, they're not really any cheaper than all but the most expensive shops, they do sell cheap German violins in the under $2000 range, but most of these are unlabeled, or fake Strad label etc. I'm not saying that they are a bad place to buy a violin, but the idea that their offerings are instantly worth twice what you pay for them seems rather farfetched.

Also the picture quality they use on both ebay and their website is sub standard, they could do much better.

March 15, 2019, 9:16 PM · Erik, although I understand your delight with their service, your post to me sounds like advertising.
March 15, 2019, 10:31 PM · I don't think it's advertising to post an enthusiastically positive experience.

It's only advertising if you're being paid or otherwise compensated.

March 15, 2019, 10:41 PM · Rocky, is there a way I could have worded it differently to make it sound less like an advertisement? If I had said "by the way, Corilon didn't pay me for this" wouldn't it have sounded even more suspect?

Also, Lyndon, I didn't mean to imply that the violin was suddenly "worth twice as much." I'm saying that the retail value, which doesn't represent true worth, but rather includes overhead for running the business, would be somewhere close to double.

Also, in these price ranges, I'm far more concerned about sound than physical beauty or namesake, so I highly prefer that they went through the effort to record the sound rather than the effort to make them look beautiful, as most shops would do.

Edited: March 16, 2019, 3:24 AM · Still, putting a box with one or more string instruments on an aeroplane means they'll be in very low tempeartures and air pressure for some time. Why do we constantly hear stories about violinists arguing with check-in folks at the airport? Because they want to keep their instruments with them in coach.
BTW I have nothing against Corilon, I like looking at their website, but I would never buy a fiddle or a bow that I haven't played in person before the transaction.
March 16, 2019, 8:54 AM · I, for one, am glad that Erik took the time to post his experience with Corilon, because choosing a violin can be one of the most stressful choices and this gave some insight into a respectable dealer. A positive review is not advertisement in the least bit. Thank you for your response as well, Erik.
March 16, 2019, 9:26 AM · If we are to believe in google reviews, this shop fares pretty well.
Edited: March 17, 2019, 8:27 AM · Herman, sure you're right, but for a healthy instrument these changes in temperature are no problem, it's no more like taking it from your living room to a church in winter. At least I've never had any liquids coming back frozen in my luggage. And the changing air pressure isn't a problem I've ever heard of - canned bush eventually can unseal in high altitudes, which is why certain canned goods with intensive individual aroma (like surströmmings) are banned from airplanes. But thanks to the f-holes, pressure equalization is usually guaranteed in stringed instruments.
The reason why we do not want to transport our instruments any other way than as cabin luggage is the way how luggage in general and musical instruments in special were treated by the ground staff. There are enough stories around in the www to frighten us to dead. Anyways, 99,9% of the risk of damage can be avoided by proper packing, which includes pretty much more than putting it into a suspension case. You have to secure the bridge and tailpiece, and pack the suspension case into a box big enough to allow a serious amount of bubble wrap all around the case. An effort we usually wouldn't fancy for a short trip to grampas birthday, and too exhausting for a touring musician.

As far as I know Corilon is willing to send you even three or four violins at once for trial, as long as you pay the transport insurance. At least within the European Union. I don't know about the import regulations that could make that practice impossible to somewhere else.

March 17, 2019, 8:24 AM · And of course, don't ship at full tension.
March 17, 2019, 8:33 AM · Didn't think of that Lyndon, thanks. Not sure if necessary, but tuning down a semitone or even a whole step is something I routinely do when traveling, or when I have to store one of my instruments for a while.

You think that's good practice or unnecessary overdoing?

March 17, 2019, 8:43 AM · Anytime you're flying the changes in air pressure run the risk of raising the pitch, I believe, lowering the pitch a tone should be alright, but for air cargo I would lower the pitch considerably more, so there is much less added tension on the instrument with the instrument potentially under more stress.
March 17, 2019, 8:46 AM · Not quite sure what is here to discuss. If you have an opinion and want to share your positive impression about a product or a vendor, use blog instead. I still think this borders with free advertising. I love my violin case, but would never open a discussion bragging about the maker, who often contributes to this site.
March 17, 2019, 10:25 AM · " I highly recommend getting over any fears about ordering a violin online without playing it first, because it turned out pretty dang well in this instance."

There is this to discuss: How much can you deduce about the store and its violins from a sample size of one? A real point here, if any, would be that their return policy is great, and therefore the worry about online shopping is mitigated, but that's something which has to be tried for real, for example by annoying them returning instruments you don't like several times, before we could conclude that it's real and better than other advertised return policies.

March 17, 2019, 11:11 AM · Yeah, how can you possibly make conclusions about the quality of a companies instrument offerings when you've only tried one???
March 17, 2019, 12:56 PM · Although I see your point, Rocky, I'm also aware that this thread would quickly disappear into the abyss if people weren't engaging with it.

The point of forums is to *discuss* things, and clearly at least a few here wanted to discuss it. That's why it's floating around at the top of the feed. I suppose you could just ignore the post and instead go comment about which strings to buy or something. And yet, here you are, keeping the thread alive.

I don't feel this is a typical "I had a good experience with a shop" post because the business isn't a typical model. I was encouraged by my experience, so I wanted to share that in case others may have wanted to try it, if they had previously been nervous about the whole idea.

I don't care whether Corilon does well or not; the reason I posted my experience was for the benefit of anyone here that might benefit from such a business. Yes, plenty of businesses will ship you a violin, but very few allow you to hear the instruments first.

Edited: March 17, 2019, 2:04 PM · I have often drooled over their violin offerings. I do like the fact that their prices are not ambiguous and are clearly stated. It seems much more transparent than somewhere between, say, a $10K -20K price range.
I am glad Erik has had a positive experience with them.
Edited: March 17, 2019, 3:18 PM · I strongly disagree with Rocky here. This is a discussion forum, and blogs on tend to be where content goes to die, unless it's surfaced to the top by Laurie (and often not even then).

I've posted quite a bit in the past about my good and bad experiences with various things, including violin shops. So have others. It usually leads to an interesting discussion, as it has in this particular case.

As I noted earlier, "advertising" is when someone is compensated for their good review. A more grey area might be when someone is given something free in exchange for a review. In this case, though, there's no grey area. Erik is just posting about a personal experience, which happens to be highly positive. Enthused customers are how businesses grow organically, and it's useful to hear about both great and lousy experiences.

If Rocky wants to open a post discussing how pleased he is with a case, I'd love to hear about it. I've posted about my previous Musafia commissioning experience, for instance. (Which reminds me that I need to email them because the A-440 tuner in the case, which I love, stopped working...)

Edited: March 18, 2019, 2:50 PM · If this 'shout-out' comes from an account created just yesterday it would have been a lot more dubious.

But Erik is a regular contributor on (together with Mary, Lydia, etc). Most v.commers know his identity and can look for him on the web. In my thinking, this makes the shout-out itself incredibly more reliable, to the extent of being totally different, as the risks are a lot higher to the endorser when his identity is known.

I think amateurs (myself included) would greatly benefit from posts like this, and there is no reason not to appreciate.

March 18, 2019, 10:42 AM · I also don't agree with Rocky that a good product review constitutes advertising - that's extremely unreasonable.
Edited: March 19, 2019, 9:02 AM · Here's a typical example of not at all discounted pricing at Corilon, a mid 1800s Hopf branded 3/4 violin (not a genuine Hopf family instrument, but a mass produced one). For $1200, no returns accepted?????? WIth repair to the pegbox they don't show in the pictures, in fact hardly any pictures at all compared to most sellers on ebay.

How about this one, no label and we have to believe their appraisal $6,250 very expensive.

well actually their fine print says 30 day returns, but their ebay category says no returns accepted, what gives??

Edited: March 19, 2019, 9:14 AM · Here's a Mittenwald violin theyre calling Klotz school, which is blanket term for anything made in 1700s Mittenwald. something like $25,000 higher than full retail IMHO

Edited: March 19, 2019, 9:16 AM · The one thing I seldom see at ebay is a sound demo of the violin. This and the posted prices are a big one for me. I'm not saying they would be my first choice. Ebay certainly figures into it as do other sources. Corilon looks to be a very favorable place to shop. I looked them up awhile back and was impressed by the sound demos, even if they don't let you hear all of the character.

Lydon I periodically go to your site as well. Many of your recent offerings are in those upper ranges for a beginner/intermediate and have sold. I'm sure you've researched it.You know where you need to be. It's probably reasonable for that buyer.

Edited: March 19, 2019, 9:41 AM · I haven't updated the instruments on my website for some time, the three pictured with detailed descriptions were my most expensive offerings at the time and have all sold. My most expensive violins currently are a c. 1925 Ernst Heinrich Roth and a 1784 Joseph Wagner for $4000 most of my instruments are in the $700-1500 range, I currently have 62 instruments ready for sale, fully set up.
March 19, 2019, 9:47 AM · This is great! I'm throwing a shout out for you here. That's a good range for an intermediate if it's set up and plays well.
I'm not in the market for a new instrument presently but I'm always on the lookout. I'm pretty sure I'm not playing my last violin.

Do you offer a return/tryout policy?

March 19, 2019, 10:03 AM · "worth 2500 but bought for 1000, saved 1500", and this is from an entity that I assume has a goal to make a profit (or at least maintain a healthy business). "An object is worth what someone is willing to pay", is another expression. It isn't 100% accurate, but given simple facts I would lean toward assuming its correct here. Why would a business generally sell something for 60% off?
If I'm correct, we are all talking about someone buying a 1000.00 violin.
Edited: March 19, 2019, 10:09 AM · I'm primarily a local violin shop in an area with few shops, 60 miles east of Los Angeles, where there are many shops. I haven't done ebay sales in a long time, very disappointed in the kind of prices it generated. I haven't been doing online sales, but if some one where to want to try an instrument in a given price range I could pick the best I have to offer, send pictures and offer a full return as long as people pay up front and cover shipping both ways. I would recommend that we use paypal, as it offers some level of buyer protection.
Edited: March 19, 2019, 10:37 AM · As small business with low overhead, if I were to price my violins just as high as the top end big shops, I wouldn't get any sales, they would buy from my competitors. Overpricing your violins will put you out of business much quicker than underpricing them, and since, as I said, I have lower overhead I can afford to offer instruments at a more modest markup, my labour rate is cheaper and I can price instruments up to 50% cheaper than the same instrument might sell at a big, established shop, like in Los Angeles.
March 19, 2019, 12:40 PM · Thanks Lyndon for that info. I'm not about to fly to Los Angeles any time soon so far as I know which makes the distance ideas look a lot better.

I'm the same way with ebay. I was big into them some years back, then their prices started going up and their procedures got more complicated.The seller always needs to pay to list no matter what. Then there's the whole packing, wrapping shipping thing. I have been stood up by buyers, bid on expensive things, won the bid and been told the seller no longer wants to sell it. I have sold antiques for good prices and the buyer still isn't happy.Sadly some people buy things to use and after they use it they return it expecting their money back. Being in business isn't all it's cracked up to be. Violins look to be a tough market on the lower end.

March 19, 2019, 3:45 PM · Lyndon, I agree with pretty much everything you're saying about Corilon.

I also find it not entirely honest to say one has to be paid for something to be an advertisement. People have in the past been reprimanded on this site for pushing their own business, haven't they (which I believe includes you). And the violin makers/dealers that allegedly do that aren't paid for these comments they make.

Erik is a regular poster, but I had an uncomfortable feeling when I read what he wrote. But I agree, that being a regular poster somehow gives one more right to do this.

March 19, 2019, 4:49 PM · I think Erik referred specifically to Corilon's lowest-end antique violins ($1200 range). I totally agree that their pricing is quite reasonable in that specific range, given their years, origin and repair/set-up. And the specific quality of the one Erik bought and played.

Also I think I will check out Lyndon's shop if I had a chance.

March 20, 2019, 12:34 AM · I will admit that in writing the review, it sounded like an advertisement, but it's just so rare that I'm actually pleased with anything these days. Disappointment in either a product or service is just my norm, so when something turns out well I'm pretty ecstatic about it. Unfortunately, genuine excitement comes across as fake or phoney when put in text form.

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