Buying strings on Amazon

April 5, 2019, 12:12 PM · Well, it finally happened. I got counterfeit strings. I usually make sure the seller I buy from is reputable, and this seller had 4.7 stars out of thousands of orders, but I still got fake strings. I noticed they sounded bad, particularly the g string. The sound was so bad and the strings changed pitch too easily with any pressure with the bow, so I decided to get a set from Shar. Sure enough, the new set made it sound like I was playing on a completely different instrument. That’s the last time I will ever buy strings on Amazon.

Replies (25)

April 5, 2019, 12:19 PM · I had previously tried to warn people about this, Amazon has no problem selling counterfeit products, and they don't even stop the sellers when its pointed out to them, too much fake money to be made.
April 5, 2019, 12:27 PM · Unfortunately, Lyndon, though the strings may have been fake, the money was real.

My question is: Besides the sound, how do you know they were counterfeit? For example, does Pirastro offer a service whereby you can send them your strings and they can check them for you? (Obviously they would not be able to return them to you then.)

April 5, 2019, 3:16 PM · The main thing that made me suspect they were fakes and not just bad strings was that the packaging was about 3 shades lighter than the real packaging (Evah Pirazzi strings, the fake ones were almost lime green packaging, the real ones are dark green).
April 5, 2019, 4:16 PM · the fakes usually don't get the colours exactly the same.
April 5, 2019, 4:24 PM · I got a set of laughably terrible fake strings on Amazon once. I usually do not do this, but I was ordering some things and my mouse got the best of me.

They were supposed to be Dominants, but I could tell as soon as I pulled them out of the slightly-wrong-sized envelopes they were not. They were super thin and bendy, and from the loop around the ball I could tell they were cheap steel strings.

For my own entertainment, I put them on one of my cheap violins I used to use for outdoor gigs. Spinning them up to pitch, they were incredibly tense. Though I didn't care about snapping the neck on this particular fiddle, the possibility that it might happen did occur to me.

Of course, they were awful.

April 5, 2019, 4:26 PM · I'm a naturally born bargain hunter but I stick with the bigger shops with a good reputation and just wait till I see strings on sale that I want to buy. I rarely try the new and improved brands anymore unless they are on sale and reasonably priced and I do not necessarily equate a higher price with higher quality.
Edited: April 5, 2019, 6:04 PM · A very reliable source for people who need to buy strings or other violin-related products on-line is the long-established They are quick with their mailing and are generally less expensive than retail sources.
April 7, 2019, 9:52 AM · Trevor.
I second that
Their prices are as good as anywhere
They have a good stock
Free delivery is virtually overnight
I've used them for years, and would recommend them to everybody (and do).
April 7, 2019, 10:36 AM · The silly thing about Amazon is that many people now assume that it is the cheapest market place, so they don't bother to look elsewhere. It is not the case.

In the rare occasions I've gone into a Walmart, I've seen the same thing: they tout themselves as having the lowest prices, but if you really start looking at the prices, it's not always true. They just want us to assume that, and count on our laziness to keep us coming back.

But regardless, I strongly urge everyone to shop at Amazon. My Amazon stock holdings have risen about 30% since the beginning of the year.

Thank you!

April 7, 2019, 10:51 AM · well I strongly urge everyone not to shop at Walmart or Amazon, they're killing local businesses and the only ones that benefit are their owners and shareholders
April 7, 2019, 11:05 AM · Welcome to the internet age. Why support local businesses when you can have counterfeit strings delivered right to your door overnight?

I bought a Lisa E on Amazon once, along with something else I can't remember. It was pretty pricey for an E string. Now I just go to the guitar shop down the road for Es. Much, much cheaper.

April 7, 2019, 2:31 PM · I've ordered strings from Amazon, but only specific brands I want, from known dealers at the "Amazon Marketplace," and only if the prices (with tax and shipping) are lower than directly from the dealers.
Edited: April 9, 2019, 6:18 AM · Thanks for sharing the story. Now I will be more aware.

I do buy books on Amazons. It has such a big collection that it is hard to beat. Some of the books published in US is not always available in the more "local" music store in EU. Last time I saw an old article on on the Wohlfahrt etude edited by Rachel Barton Pine. The only place I found it was on Amazon (apart from ordering from US). Ironically, it was from an Amazon seller that is a music store up north.

Personally I don't mind if Amazon drives out local business that are not competitive. I just hope they actually pay tax just like the local business they are replacing.

April 9, 2019, 4:02 AM · If you don't believe that Amazon driving out local businesses is a problem, you are part of the problem.
Edited: April 9, 2019, 5:04 AM · Something else to consider is WHO is actually shipping - the 3rd party business or Amazon. I ordered "The Violin Lesson" from a music store in Seattle who is on the Amazon Marketplace. I couldn't find their direct information (Amazon doesn't make that easy), so while I hesitated when I saw that "fulfilled by Amazon" label, I finally pulled the trigger.

The book arrived in poor condition even though new. Torn/dirty cover, and there were other problems because someone at the Amazon warehouse just dropped this large and heavy paperback book into a flimsy envelope much too large for it. Certainly not the condition a $60 book, or any book, should arrive in.

I was finally able to reach the actual store directly, they gave me a partial refund (I provided pictures) as I decided it wasn't worth the hassle to return it as it would still be shipped by Amazon, and the store gave me their direct website for future purchases.

Moral of the story? If you shop on the A. Marketplace, "fulfilled by Amazon" is not a good thing. I've had a similar experience every time I've gone this route. It's NEVER happened with "normal" Amazon purchases over the years. They come from the same warehouses, it really appears to be a two-tier shipping policy. May not be official, but there is something there.

I will use Amazon for certain things, but far less than 5 years ago. It's better to patronize smaller businesses and reputable factory authorized dealers. If this means I need to pay a little more and plan purchases then so be it.

April 9, 2019, 9:09 AM · I've bought enough specialized items at cheaper prices from Amazon to know to buy from other reputable dealers instead of Amazon.
April 9, 2019, 10:48 AM · I attempted to buy strings at a brick and mortar store recently because I needed a set of strings fast. They didn't have anything in stock I wanted. Their selection was very basic. I had no choice but to buy them because I needed strings the following day.
They said they could order my preference and I could pick them up. Why wouldn't I just buy online? In addition, their price was much higher than I would have paid online. This is why I tend to shop online unless it's an emergency. I'm willing to pay a little more for the convenience of dropping in to buy them and support my local business man. To be fair, they aren't a strings only music store. Still I thought they would have had more strings in stock.They only had two brands in a store that covers a fairly populated local area. This was the second time I've been there and they didn't have something and offered to order it.
If my local store doesn't have it, having them order it for me makes no sense at all.
All of this makes online shopping much more attractive to me , occasional sour deals aside.
April 9, 2019, 11:20 AM · About those neighborhood stores: It was the local violin shop (where I got my bow haired and my violin maintained) who directed me to Concord Music Supplies (back then one ordered over the phone, now it is internet). I have had good experiences with them for many years now.

Why did the luthier not sell me strings? He had hardly any strings in the store, said it selling strings made no money for him because he could not possibly stock a sufficient choice and didn't want strings to get old waiting for a customer.

Edited: April 9, 2019, 12:13 PM · There is a lovely music store in my area where I shop. Unless I am needing something overnight (very rare), I just call the store and ask them to order it for me. I say what I want. They look it up online, figure out who the distributor is, calculate me a price, and estimate a date of arrival in the store. All that takes maybe 5 minutes. The price is usually about 5%-10% higher than internet pricing. That's fine with me. If it's a lot higher, then I might consider ordering online. The store is about 10 minutes from home. I like going there. The owner is kind of a weird guy who is interesting to talk to -- I hope he thinks the same of me. My violin teacher's wife gives piano lessons at that store too.

Once I bought a Yamaha synthesizer. The store proprietor apologized that he could not get me a good price because he's not an official Yamaha dealer. The difference was around $100 (20%). So I drove about 30 miles to another local store (in Roanoke) and ordered it there. That gave me an excuse to have lunch in Roanoke and drop in on my luthier. This is how small-town people think.

Here is something I see that is colossally stupid. A guitarist will go into a bricks-and-mortar store and try four or five effects pedals ("stomp boxes"). Once they decide which one they like, they say they're going to "think about it" and then they go home buy it online to save $10. I just want to ask them, if the local store goes out of business, then where the hell are you going to try stuff next time?

I'm always amazed by the efficiency of the little store. Need Suzuki books? A trombone mouthpiece? Right-angle instrument cables? A volume pedal? They've got it. Oops ... they didn't have a line level (keyboard-specific) volume pedal so the clerk ordered it for me. It was $119. Internet price was $116. He said it would be in by Friday. That's fine -- I can take it to my gig. (My jazz combo is doing a reception in a side-venue right before the Turtle Island Quartet takes the main stage.)

April 9, 2019, 12:54 PM · Wait till there are no local luthiers and you have to send your violin to Amazon for repairs, then the shit will really hit the fan.
Edited: April 12, 2019, 8:56 AM · Lyndon, I must say I admire your stolid, Stoic, stupefyingly simplistic stance on aberrations such as Amazon. Let me modify Paul's small town scenario. The town in which my university is located has no luthier; the nearest is one and a half hours away, making for a three hour round trip. The town itself has a grocery store and, thank God, one of those evil corporate Starbucks.

Let's see, no strings at the grocery store. "Mr. Barista, I would like a coffee, a scone, and a set of Obligato strings."

"What do you mean you are out of my favorite scone and do not sell strings?"

"Order them on Amazon? Never! Why would I do that when I can drive for three hours and pay twice as much! If you're out of cinnamon scones, blueberry is fine."

April 12, 2019, 2:57 PM · So you don't mind if you get counterfeit strings from Amazon??
April 12, 2019, 3:33 PM · Lyndon, I get paid to evaluate lazy and stupid arguments all day; I have no desire to do it here for free. Look back over your posts: your argument was not, "counterfeit strings are bad," but "Amazon as a corporation crushing the dreams of little businesses is bad."
April 12, 2019, 3:39 PM · What Albrecht mentions is the same reason I can't get my strings at my luthier's shop. She only stocks a limited selection of several popular string brands, because there isn't much money to be made on strings and only a handful of brands will sell enough to justify keeping them in stock. She's told me that she does take note of what strings are on instruments that come in for maintenance, and will add a brand if it looks like there are a decent number of customers using it.

Fortunately, for the stuff I can't get in person, there's Shar, Southwest Strings, Quinn Violins, and other reputable sellers. No need to ever go to Amazon.

April 12, 2019, 6:38 PM · I've always done well ordering strings from Audubon Strings via their website, though when driving through Branford CT (and New Haven before they moved to Branford) I still like to drop in in person. Order online and she gets the strings to me in 5 - 8 business days by mail.

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