EBay violins

Edited: August 30, 2019, 1:06 AM · I saw a violin on EBay and decided to click "watch". 30 minutes before the end of the auction the price was only £111, so I made a few derisory bids, each beaten. I let it go at £126, as I wasn't in the mood to speculate, although the buyer may have got away with a bargain, but they may have bid £500, and I couldn't be bothered to chase that kind of wild goose.

The interesting thing is the same seller in Germany (P&P £25) basically has a hundred different violins for sale, no reserve on any of them, every single one with the same description and every single one with a different European maker's label inside and every make being represented by Tarisio auctions at a price of thousands.

The one I looked at was supposedly from a Sicilian maker in 1947. His 1930s violins sell for thousands, but I felt that the grain of the top was pretty coarse, one of the f-holes was badly cut, and so soon after the war the quality may have suffered. Oh, and the fingerboard was not well glued to the neck, and very little flaming anywhere.

I'm convinced these are all modern Chinese repros with fake labels, yet the seller has a 97.5% approval rating.

Really I want a viola, but I'm not sure if these are popular enough to make them as big a con.

Replies (16)

Edited: August 30, 2019, 11:10 AM · A 97.5 rating isn't that great. And eBay changed their rating system so that number only represents the last 12 months. I assume you're aware that China is the center of the counterfeit universe.

August 30, 2019, 1:56 AM · unless you're an expert on violins buying on ebay is just one great big rip off
August 30, 2019, 1:59 AM · Hey! Here are 20 Authentic, reproduction, Vintage, Rare violin labels! You can use these to put in your own violin to raise the value! Only $7.95! Limited quantity and maximum of 50 sets allowed per person, so buy now!


August 30, 2019, 2:28 AM · If it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true....
August 30, 2019, 5:41 AM · Pssst - wanna buy a battleship, I mean a big EHRoth viola? Really!
August 30, 2019, 12:50 PM · An eBay seller can post "no reserve" auctions without risk of letting the item go too cheap by having confederate shill bidders to drive the price up.
August 30, 2019, 1:28 PM · "An eBay seller can post "no reserve" auctions without risk of letting the item go too cheap by having confederate shill bidders to drive the price up."

Who then rate them...

August 30, 2019, 2:06 PM · Steve,

If you are serious, I have a 17"...Roth Viola.

August 30, 2019, 2:10 PM · The winning confederate shill bidder then rate them (what language am I talking here?). Once many years ago I was duped into buying an Italian-labelled violin that looked a lot more convincing on the screen than in the flesh. When I put the microscope on the seller's feedback it was clearly fake (all very similar in format and tone, saying how "trustworthy" he was) but to do him justice he did take the violin back and refund me.
August 30, 2019, 2:13 PM · Duane - mine is 16 5/8", dated 1980. It's pretty good but just a bit too big for me. Another online auction purchase although not from ebay!
August 30, 2019, 2:38 PM · It's a good idea for an eBay seller to post quality audio of a particular instrument so potential buyers can hear it being played - eliminate the pig in a poke factor, assuming they play well enough to be able to demonstrate an instrument's sound.

I sold a Chinese flugelhorn once and did just that. A lot of people dismiss anything Chinese as junk, without really having any experience with a given instrument. I'm guessing that had something to do with the fact that I got almost double what I paid for it. It so happens that inexpensive Chinese flugels can sound very good. The reason I sold it was because I got two just to compare them. They both played fine. I would play a gig with either of them. Nice sound, quick, buttery smooth valves but I didn't need two.

August 30, 2019, 3:00 PM · Who is the seller may I ask? I've bought and sold A LOT on ebay and over the last 15 years or so, found 2 really amazing gems. I think I may I now who are you talking about and can advise.
August 31, 2019, 3:15 AM · Since I've talked of cons and fakes, I'd rather not libel the seller by naming them. Anyway, they are in Germany, and that in itself, with the difficulty and cost of returning anything, means I'm not serious about buying anything. If I'd got a VSO for $150, I wouldn't have minded, but it was just a brief bit of curiosity. Dangerous to pursue it any further.
August 31, 2019, 4:31 AM · Duh! I only just realised that Duane and I are both trying to sell our big Roth violas. I won't be putting mine on ebay. Last time I tried to sell a fairly attractive old violin there (linked to a sound clip) I was somewhat disappointed with the winning bid, only for the winner to cancel the bargain claiming his bid was "a mistake".
Edited: August 31, 2019, 7:53 PM · Ebay fiddle sales are such a minefield, that even I fear to tread. Never bought a fiddle from Ebay.

Could have gotten some pretty good deals though on fakes attributed to me, had I been in the market for one. LOL

August 31, 2019, 8:34 PM · Lol I got my viola from eBay and I love it. It needed some restoration, but I bought it knowing that and wanting it.

I'm waiting on a violin to get back from the shop, and my luthier says I did a pretty good job. Both are late 19th century German, but he said they're decent. I got both for teaching; I bet they'll serve me nicely for what I paid for them!

I was sort of duped with a fake label on the violin, but it doesn't matter to me, I couldn't get anything better for the price.

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