Snow Violin vs Gregory Sapp

July 15, 2019, 6:09 PM · I had an opportunity to go to my local violin shop this past weekend. While there, I tested quite a few violins in the $5k - $7k range. Many were older instruments and quite a few were newer, modern violins. One that I'm seriously considering upgrading to is a Snow violin made by Jack Hu in 2016. Although it has the Snow logo on it, it primarily features his name and it has his signature, which leads me to think it was made by him. It's got a beautiful, warm tone in the darker registers and just sings in the upper areas. Projection is quite nice as well.

I currently own a 7/8 violin by Gregory Sapp out of Chicago. It's a workshop violin, not one made by him. It's a newer violin as well, made in 2003. While I absolutely love the tone, it just doesn't project as well - I really have to work with it to get volume from it and it doesn't quite happen.

What are your thoughts on Snow violins? Is it worth upgrading from my Sapp violin? Very similar tone but the projection is the biggest difference.

Replies (4)

Edited: July 15, 2019, 7:06 PM · In that price range I would think you would want to shop around and consider both antiques, higher-end workshop instruments, and bench-made violins from less well-known makers in eastern Europe. $7000 is a little low even for fledgling makers in the US, but there might be some who are able to make violins at that price by using some Chinese-made parts such as scrolls, or if they do not depend on violin-making for their income.

Take home the most promising instruments for longer trials and evaluation by a trusted professional violinist (ideally your teacher).

You might ask the dealer whether (s)he thinks the Snow violin is entirely bench-made -- and whether he's willing to certify in writing that it is. At that price, I doubt it. My hunch is that what happens is the Chinese factories have a "best" line of workshop violins where they have their top craftsmen and use their best tone-woods, and once in a while they find one that seems unusually good, even if only accidentally, and the Master then spends some time adjusting those (not much else you can do without taking it apart) -- and then applies a signature indicating it got some level of special attention. What you have then is a violin that's about 2% bench-made.

July 15, 2019, 7:03 PM · Chinese violins in that price range are made in factories, not hand made by one person, even if one person signed them.
July 15, 2019, 10:10 PM · What do you need projection for?

How much further will your budget stretch? $7k is a weird awkward price range.

Edited: July 18, 2019, 7:48 AM · Personally, I would spend less on a new Chinese instrument or spend more on an older one that has been played in AND buy a better bow that matches your new instrument. That said, you can get a lot more projection with matched strings, rosin, and bow. i.e. I’m getting much better projection with Larsen Virtuoso and Warchal E with Salchow rosin and an octagonal braided carbon fiber bow than I did with other combinations on my 1894 Benzinger. I’m still working kn matching my newer backup Chinese instrument, but that keeps changing as it breaks in.
In the end, if you love it AND you play better with it, make it yours.

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