Low-cost baroque violin?

June 28, 2019, 6:09 PM · Thinking about getting a new "toy". Any suggestions on where to get a decent low-cost baroque violin? There are some very cheap chinese options on ebay, but it seems to me they are merely modern violins with a maple fingerboard. I wanna make sure I get something is actually true to the baroque specifications (neck angle, bass bar, etc). Has anyone heard of the violins by Veritas, Heritage, Lu-Mi baroque violins? Or have any other suggestions?

Replies (19)

June 28, 2019, 10:53 PM · Quantify low cost.
Edited: June 29, 2019, 12:06 AM · Jay Haide has a good reputation. But I'd urge you to ask yourself real hard, "I need this because....?" Just because the latest issue of Strings has an article about baroque instruments to pique your interest, that's not a good enough reason, I think. They have an article about electric violins too. That doesn't necessarily mean that you need one of those either.
Edited: June 29, 2019, 12:01 AM · If there is a local baroque orchestra in your area, you might be able to connect with someone who knows a source. Early music festivals also sometimes have "marketplaces" where people who sell them have a booth. There is actually a range of authenticity in the style of these Baroque-style instruments. Some luthiers take modern instruments and simply set them up for Baroque (as far as I can tell). For example, taking off the chinrest, changing the tailpiece, and putting on gut strings. And don't forget the bow--I was just having a discussion about this with my teacher today and she pointed out that to play in the style of the Baroque composers, you really need a Baroque bow.

Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on this subject--this is simply what I learned when I went through your exercise. My goal was to join a local Baroque string orchestra. In the end, I decided it wasn't worth it so I never bought an instrument.

June 29, 2019, 6:46 AM · Local violin shops may well have a selection of baroque violins ready for you to try, and there may be cheap ones among them.
June 29, 2019, 8:00 AM · Occasionally I find early 1800s violins built to baroque specs and fix them up with wedged maple fingerboard and baroque tailpiece, baroque bridge and gut strings, often selling them for as little as $1000-1500, unfortunately I'm plum out of them right now.
June 29, 2019, 8:07 AM · Do not forget the quality of sound. Just because someone dressed violin to look like a baroque fiddle, does not mean that it will produce a solid sound. With poor sounding baroque violin, your barque affair will be a short one. I am not quite sure if you can save money on any violin, baroque or contemporary. This is an expensive hobby / profession.
June 29, 2019, 8:35 AM · I've had good success with the sound of early 1800s baroque type violins, its the new Chinese baroque knock offs I'd be worried about the sound.
June 29, 2019, 8:43 AM · A common example of the importance of the baroque-style bow in playing music of the period: in many modern editions of orchestral works before the mid-18th century, but expected to be played on modern set-ups with modern bows, you may see a diminuendo marked in for the final note of a slow movement, or your conductor might request it. This reminder wasn't necessary in the Baroque era because the baroque bow automatically provides the diminuendo as you approach the tip (unless you have reason to override it by applying pressure).

I think you could use this feature of the baroque bow as a simple (and unobtrusive!) test of whether a modern copy behaves in a baroque manner.

June 29, 2019, 9:50 AM · Lu-Mi might be a good choice unless you want to go for a real antique. They may be made in China, but they are made to the specificatins of Markku Luolajan-Mikkola - who is a Finnish baroque expert.

My solution was to find an old ca. 1800 Hopf in rather poor condition, but with original neck, and fixing that up.

June 29, 2019, 10:11 AM · Ca 1800 Hopf is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about, although they continued making baroque spec necks etc up to about 1840.
June 29, 2019, 10:17 AM · @duane
Under 3k, if that’s even possible.

I didn’t even know about this article. I’ve always been fascinated by early music and have done a lot of it, but but on modern set-up instruments with baroque bow. The baroque-dressed instruments are exactly what i’m trying to avoid. I already have a pretty decent baroque bow.

The problem is I’ve tried a few Lu-Mi gambas, and while the bass and tenor ones sound impressive, the treble sounds just miserable. I’m worried this will translate to the violins as well.

Please let me know whenever you have one of those!!!

Unfortunately not.

I’ve checked, and they don’t.

June 29, 2019, 10:30 AM · I have already paid for a new baroque-style violin from the Boulder Early Music Shop, which I'm waiting to be set up and shipped to me. I paid $2,500 plus $50 shipping. I have confidence it will be excellent based on it coming from the same Charlie Ogle Workshop in China where my bass viol was made last year. I had never even touched a viol before buying it, but after years of lovingly attending early music concerts I knew I wanted to learn it, and now 11 months (and 13 lessons) later, I take deep joy in having made that decision. This "cheap" viol ($3,000) will not make a bad sound no matter what unskilled things I do to it, and so I have confidence their baroque violin will also sound as beautiful as it looks in the pics they sent me. Meanwhile, I've been looking for a violin teacher who specializes in early music, someone who will teach me this different instrument (different geometry, no chin or shoulder rest, different style of playing, etc) because I made as much progress on bass viol in less than a year with a teacher than I've made on violin in 4+ years teaching myself.
Edited: June 29, 2019, 11:08 AM · Bruno, I see you already contacted my by facebook, we'll be in touch
June 29, 2019, 10:37 AM · Bruno, here is a link to a source of affordable early music instruments that I think are very high quality:


Here I paste excerpts from email correspondence I had with the shop that solidified my decision to buy their Deluxe-model Baroque Violin:

On Sun, 7 Apr 2019 at 17:57, Will Wilkin wrote:
Hello Friends at BEMS,

I am considering buying a Charlie Ogle Workshop Deluxe Model Baroque Violin, described thus on your website:

"Deluxe model Baroque Violin Hand crafted from the Charlie Ogle Workshop. Double purfling on the front and back, this instrument also has beautiful purfled ornaments on the back, fingerboard and tailpiece. Quite beautiful. Oblong case included. $2,500.00 COBV2"

I have a few questions about the instrument:

1) I've been reading on violins of the baroque and find there was quite a variety of styles and designs across Europe during the 150 years considered "baroque." Is your "baroque violin" modeled on any particular instrument, or a particular luthier's signature style, or a lutherie school of any certain time and place? What design principles do you use that make this instrument "baroque" and distinguish it from later violins?

2) If you have any in stock, could you please reply with a few pictures of your Deluxe Baroque Violin? (On that note, your website would be much better if you had pictures of your instruments next to their descriptions. Eventually I intend to come back with a similar set of questions about your Viola d'Amore and already I'd LOVE to see pics of that one too --to motivate me to manage money towards getting one!)

3) I'd very much prefer the fingerboard and tailpiece be of a light wood (Maple?) rather than ebony --do these 2 parts match and what wood is used?

4) Regarding set-up: I assume the violin would be without chin rest, without shoulder rest, without fine tuners on the tailpiece...and have gut strings?

5) My purchase timeframe is uncertain, contingent on selling a violin I have now that I have never warmed to. Do you normally have Deluxe Baroque Violins in stock or is it something you'd make upon receiving an order? If you only make them on order, what would be a typical lead time from order until shipping?

I ask you about this instrument because I have come to so love my Charlie Ogle Workshop bass viol! I am only an adult learner, not yet a real musician, but even so that bass viol will NOT make a bad sound! This gives me faith that I might be more happy with a violin from the same workshop than I am with the 1924 Chicago violin I now have. Not to mention that my interest is solidly in baroque (and earlier) music so your violin would likely suit me much better than the modern one I now have.

Best Regards, --Will.

Hi Will,

Good to hear from you. I'll go down the list of your questions.

1. The instrument is basically Cremonese, one part Stradivarius, one part Amati. The main difference between modern and baroque violins is the neck angle. Modern instruments have the neck set at a steeper angle, which allows the strings to have more tension, and hence louder. The necks on baroque violins also tend to be a little thicker, although this is more variable. The main thing is the neck angle.

2. For pictures, please see the attachment.

3. We do have maple tailpiece and fingerboard available. See picture.

4. Your assumptions are correct: Gut strings, no shoulder or chin rest, no fine tuners. If you look at pictures of violin players from the baroque, sometimes they have the instrument cradled on their forearm. The technique for baroque violin playing generally negates the necessity for a chin and shoulder rest.

5. The turnaround time should be a few weeks, provided we still have some in stock when you order. It mostly depends on how long our waitlist is, but getting a violin ready doesn't take much time in itself.

Let us know if you have any more questions.


Boulder Early Music Shop

June 29, 2019, 10:44 AM · Here is the pic of the Deluxe-model Baroque Violin I got via email from the Boulder Early Music Shop:


June 29, 2019, 10:54 AM · I'm just about done paying off my CC for last year's bass viol, and in about a year from now when I've paid off this about-to-be-shipped baroque violin, I intend to do it all over again with a Viola d'Amore, again from the Charlie Ogle Workshop via Boulder Early Music Shop. Here are the 2 pics they sent me when I emailed questions on that instrument:



Obviously it is in an incomplete stage of build, and will eventually have 14 tuning pegs. The 7 sympathetic strings will run under the fingerboard and through a slot in the nut to the pegbox. Their price is $2,600 plus shipping. My guess is there will be a wait as they don't seem to make many of them.

Edited: June 29, 2019, 11:07 AM · If you click on my name and then my website and go to the restorations page, I have 3 pics of my baroque violins. Also another on the home page at the top right.
June 29, 2019, 11:17 AM · After all that, might as well show the only finished instrument I have already in possession from that shop. This is me playing my "Bass Viola da Gamba, Richard Meares Deluxe model." They don't normally come with the carved head pegbox, rather usually a very nice scroll.


June 29, 2019, 2:24 PM · @Will
I have played a few gambas by Lu-Mi (chinese workshop supposedly one step above Charie Ogle). The bass one sounds awesome while the treble sounds terrible. This is probably the reason why i haven’t bought a Lu-Mi yet. Anyways, please let me know how your violin sounds when you get it

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