Inexpensive Baroque Violins
There are plenty of cheap musical instrument shaped objects out there. This being said, there are functional student level violins that cost less than 1,500 usd. Baroque violins do not seem to be found for this price. There are the slightly more expensive lu mi, ifshin, and Charlie ogle instruments. Higher than these the prices jump to 8k and up.
I am writing to ask about less expensive violins that are advertised as baroque. Some of these are obviously not baroque at all, they simply have a shorter fingerboard, but come with a modern tailpiece and chinrest. They also all come with modern strings.
There are more expensive ones, that now cost approximately 900 usd, that look a bit more the part. They have more proper looking baroque tailpieces. However they appear to have a modern neck angle. Does anyone have one of these instruments? How do they sound and play? Do they have a baroque saddle? How about the radius of the fingerboard?
I surmise that the manufacturers of baroque violins are betting that their customers will all be individuals with "disposable income."
Baroque violins are made by smaller workshops, I imagine. And not necessarily by poor people in China like the vast majority of modern student violins. So, the maker may expect some liveable pay for their work.
Baroque instruments aren’t quite as plentiful because demand is not as great. There are some inexpensive ones that surface from time to time. At the shop we’ve repaired a few “transitional” instruments that we sold to early music departments at a couple universities.
Lyndon Taylor has some antique instruments with original necks in a very reasonable price range from time to time. These $900 instruments you're talking about seem to be from du-shi at ebay? They do look like a "mixed" style indeed, but for that price, I don't think you're can get anything better. For new instruments, I think the one that comes closer to your price range is Ogle. It might be worth contacting William at Olde World Violins, as he has some of these new workshop instruments, in a discounted pre-owned condition sometimes. That said, I must say I am pretty impressed with how my Jay Haide sounds in the concert hall, so it might be worth the higher investment.
Thank you for your replies. It is true that makers may assume that buyers have disposable income. However, most highly paid professional violinists need a modern violin. A baroque instrument is secondary. Thus modern high end baroque instruments tend to cost less than modern violins. Amateurs generally are not willing to spend all that much. Maybe that is why the instruments cap out around a few thousand dollars.
When one customer brought his $3500?? Jay Haide, the baroque antique violins I had for $1700 sounded much better, and he ended up buying one. I've never heard the really cheap Chinese ones, but I wouldn't expect much as they're not even proper baroque violin specs.
It is important to dispel myths, even if we just confirm them as fact. Thus, I was hoping for first hand accounts of the 900, or other inexpensive baroque violins. They do seem to sell, thus they are out there somewhere.
baroque dimensions were all over the place, but were not modern, which is what most of the cheap Chinese "baroque" instruments are. The Jay Haide is in the realm of historic dimensions, though.
If you are interested in a period violin by a well known maker of these instruments you can look at http://www.timothyjohnsonluthier.com/
Jay Haide is probably your best entry model.
As I said I have 200 yr old baroque set up violins that sound much better than Jay Haide for half the price, how is Jay Haide the better option??
@bruce, yes it is possible to obtain instruments from established luthiers such as Warren Ellison and Douglas Cox. They are not inexpensive, as they are professional instruments. They do not make the baroque violin more accessible to students.
A smaller number of Baroque spec violins continued to be made till about 1850, these early 1800s violins are not especially valuable but can be very effective historical baroque instruments, every bit if not more historical than modern baroque models. These instruments have shorter baroque necks where the neck continues into the body instead of having a top block like a modern violin, the neck is set at a lower angle requiring a wedged baroque style fingerboard to get the proper bridge height, a lot of them still have the original baroque saddle which is flush with the top instead of extending higher like the modern violin. Finishing with a quality baroque bridge and quality gut strings can give a much more rewarding baroque sound than more expensive modern baroque instruments. If you look at my website I show pictures of a couple of these instruments.
I do want to thank everyone for their responses. However, I want to make clear that the purpose in starting this thread was to gather factual information on inexpensive baroque violins, in particular the types that show up on eBay. Peoples experience playing them, etc.
A violin in baroque setup is not required for first steps in the exploration of baroque music in the baroque idiom. Dorian is right about the bow being primary (although high holds on modern bows get favorable mention occasionally for first explorations). I would add that because not all violins respond equally to gut strings, the next change to make will depend on the instruments available.
Thank you for the reply.
Were I in your shoes and this was worth the time and effort, I would start tracking down pro baroque players and university teachers to ask. You will find that early music people are a kindly lot on the whole.
I think you may be misinterpreting the situation. I have a baroque violin. I am interested in information on inexpensive baroque violins.
Professional players often teach on the side and thereby will have experience with the instruments of student players. I am aware that you tried to constrain this thread to a specific question, and that has turned out to be a case of trying to herd cats. I empathize, although in my experience that often happens, even when the full context of a question is given.
I assume he was thinking with his students in mind??
I do appreciate the advice and it is good for beginners.
As to the question of neck angle, the Pollens article states that the baroque setup typically came within a degree or two of the modern setup. The neck was nailed to the ribs without the top and back, so measuring projection wasn’t part of the process until much later, as setup was being done. Because of this, the fingerboard wedge would be designed to adjust the projection to the right height. So the angle of the neck to the body might not have been identical, but the overall projection would be. Modern fingerboards don’t have the wedge underneath, and we now adjust projection by altering the neck mortise.
Ben Ruth wrote a fun article for The Strad years ago on a speculative reconstruction of Brescian making methods in which he demonstrated a very simple method for controlling the future projection of the neck + fingerboard during a baroque neck set.
Michael, I have just seen this post and it looks like you haven't gotten the information you were looking for.
Thank you very much for the reply. It is always good to hear people with first hand experience. Do you happen to know if the fingerboard radius is the same as a modern violin, or if the neck has a modern angle?
Comparing it to my modern viola, I would say the fingerboard curvature is slightly flatter. The tailpiece, of course, is quite flat. The neck angle looks to be somewhat of a compromise: it meets the instrument at a bit of an angle, but not as steeply as on my modern viola. The arching on the baroque viola's belly is quite high, which complicates comparing the two. The fingerboard is shimmed, but not as steeply as I have seen on other baroque instruments. The baroque fingerboard runs much closer to parallel to the top, and the bridge is lower. Again, the high arching factors in.
Thank you so much for the additional information. It sounds like an instrument worth trying.
I love the baroque style violin I bought new from the Boulder Early Music shop a year ago, made by the Charlie Ogle workshop in China. But I am not an expert judge (or player) of violins.
Michael, at that price range I'd be inclined to find a suitable modern set-up instrument which will string well with gut strings, and get a good bow. You can convert the fiddle later (which is what I did) or look for one already set up as baroque when you have more money. No point getting an authentic instrument which is a bad violin... (I've done that too, nice wall hanging).
There comes a point where if you're not willing to pay for a decent instrument, maybe you're just better off finding another hobby??
I appreciate the feedback Bram, but I am not sure that I agree. It does sound like a good idea, to get a good instrument and then to have work done on it. However, an instrument that is good in a modern setup may not be as good in baroque set up. String tension is different and that effects his the plates respond.
It might help if Michael clarifies his purpose for getting $900 Baroque violins from a Chinese workshop via eBay.