Soloist violin, contemporary maker, 30.000€ range

Edited: May 14, 2021, 4:01 AM · I'm a violin student on a soloist track, looking for a good student concert violin from a contemporary luthier. So sound quality and projection over a large orchestra and to the back of the audience are really important to me.
The price range would be up to about 30.000 € (roughly $36.000), a little over would be fine as well. I'm based in Munich, Germany (so travelling to most European countries would be possible). I'm not in a big rush, so longer waiting times wouldn't be too much of an issue.
Any recommendations? Thank you in advance for your input!

Replies (80)

Edited: May 14, 2021, 7:53 AM · Martin Schleske is not too far from you. Jan Spidlen is in Prague. Supposedly, there are some good makers in London and the UK.

Otherwise, I know lots of American makers, but that might not be the easiest way to go for you right now.

Don't forget a good bow! After a certain point of diminishing returns on the violin, the improvement possible by upgrading there is quite stunning.

If you already have your bow, there are only a handful of makers your budget will exclude. In this country, Joseph Curtin is above that. Howard Needham or Tom Croen, not necessarily. And so on. I think Schleske is still more like €25k, but I don't know for sure.

May 14, 2021, 8:33 AM · You may want to visit David Bagué in Barcelona. I understand he's on a waiting list.
May 14, 2021, 9:52 AM · I believe Philip Ihle (UK) is still in that price range? I imagine he's got a waiting list, though.
Edited: May 14, 2021, 11:25 AM · Hello, in my opinion the best makers in your price range here in Europe are Christian Bayon (Lisbon/Amsterdam) and Stephan Von Baehr(Paris), with a substantial price difference between both of them. The list of soloists and great players playing on their instruments is very large. The other makers that were mentioned are very good too but - in my experience after trying many examples of all of them- Bayon and Von Baehr are better. Then there is Greiner, more expensive but maybe not so consistent. Some examples sound great and some just ok. There are many things to consider when buying a good instrument, some are objective and some not, but all these names are "famous" for a reason and always a good departing point to start your search. And it's also worthit to check the past winners of the Cremona triennale, Mittenwald or Wieniavsky violin making competitions. Their prices are lower than your budget and their instruments are wonderful too. Nicolas Bonet, Charles Coquet,Davide Sora, Piotr Pielascek, Gonzalo Bayolo, just to name a few. Good luck and enjoy the purchase process!
May 14, 2021, 11:35 AM ·

This link is from the Wieniavsky violin making competition which finished just yesterday. Here you can listen to the 10 finalist violins being playing in a soloist context, and two of the names I said before are here as well.

May 14, 2021, 1:34 PM · Lot's of good names here, some I didn't even know.
I would add Hermann Janzen to the list. There are other posts here you can refer to his name.
May 14, 2021, 2:28 PM · William Castle in the UK should be in your price range. He makes some fantastic instruments.

Have you had a good look in what Corilon Violins have to offer?

May 14, 2021, 3:06 PM · Make sure to go to the Klanggestalten if possible; I think that most of the luthiers there sit comfortably in the middle of your price range around 20k (they did so a couple of years ago, anyway) and even if you do not find what you're looking for you'll get a chance to compare a large number of very consistent and therefore representative violins in your price range. This year there will be many German luthiers as well as a couple of guests from the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK, according to their website. I've been there back when I was searching, and though I ended up with an antique, after all, it was an extremely valuable experience and helped me shape an idea of what I was looking for in a violin and how my violin compares to similarly priced alternatives. The next Klanggestalten is scheduled for early July in Dresden, but I don't know how they'll compromise on its structure due to the pandemic.
May 14, 2021, 3:22 PM · Janzen’s violins sound lovely, but I believe he is based in British Columbia, not Europe.
Edited: May 14, 2021, 3:43 PM · Not far from you in Austria you might want to contact Alexander Schütz in Linz. Comfortably within your budget, and since he's more into building perfect instruments rather than into marketing and competitions, you will not have to face a years long waiting list.

Witrud Fauler in Altmünster (near Gmunden) is also worth a consideration. She has a very good reputation and I know about several high achievers who are building their career with one of her instruments, although I have to admit that I don't know her instruments in person.

From Munich, it hardly takes a day trip to check them out. And traveling across the border will soon be possible without major restrictions again...

May 14, 2021, 3:52 PM · I'm curious, is that staggering the difference for a soloist from an instrument that is worth 5/10k to 30k? I ask because I will never become one :D I mean does the instrument become a limiting factor once you reach certain skill level? Do they judge you based on your violin sound that much?
Edited: May 14, 2021, 4:38 PM · Price doesn't always correlate to quality, especially in new instruments, where you are mostly paying for the maker's time and materials, not pedigree or imagined excellence.

Of course, if it is priced too high for its perceived quality, it won't sell. On the other hand, if it is priced below a certain level, it won't get made. But something already made can have a much lower--or higher--price depending on how buyers feel about it. That's why you have Strads at one end and $500 Hopf copies on the other.

Looking further at prices, a new instrument selling for $5-10k is either coming from a low-wage country or is made in a factory that has figured out how to wring cost from manufacturing. Neither of which makes the violin terrible, but each lowers the probability that it will be excellent.

Edited: May 14, 2021, 4:40 PM · Damian, same here... ;-)

They say sound is 90% the player, and the rest is a share between violin and bow. But from a certain level, the instrument will definitely be a limiting factor.

Even if learning, things will be much more "easier" with a good, responsive instrument, but it does have its drawbacks. You can compare it with driving a family van vs a Ferrari. The Ferrari will speed up immediately through the touch of a toetip, but will be much more unforgiving to incompetence or sloppiness. So, most beginners will soon feel frustrated by a race car and prefer the family van.

Another topic are sound characteristics. If you're playing in an ensemble, you want to blend in. As a soloist, you need to stand out. Therefore, a "soloistic" violin needs a bit different tonal qualities, which are harder to achieve by the maker without sounding shrill and scratchy.

Whether 30, 40, 60k for a bench made instrument are worth the reward is a matter of market mechanisms. But yes, somewhere around 20k for a new instrument, the real fun starts. You will find instruments for 10 or 12k which meet the same standards, but usually not from an established maker. Either its a young and hot maker, or a Sunday model by someone with less consistent output.

Another option for lots of bang for your buck is going 20th century instruments by deceased makers who built the hot stuff of their time, but soon faded in public memory simply because they weren't Italian. Jozef Kantuscher is one prominent example, and there are many others.

Edited: May 15, 2021, 2:04 AM · It's an uncertain world, particularly for aspiring musicians, but one thing you can be pretty sure of is that a "student" violin bought new from a good maker will almost certainly be worth a lot less when you come to sell it. That's why very few secondhand ones come on the market. You may find you're stuck with it for longer than you'd like.
Edited: May 15, 2021, 3:04 AM · I believe when Jakob (the TO) us talking about a "good student concert violin", it's because he isn't familiar with the "classifications" used in this forum.

For up to 36k+ he's most certainly looking into the top level market and an instrument with the potential to last for a lifetime - at least until offered that priceless Italian antique on loan. He mentioned that he isn't in a hurry, so be sure he's already playing a very good instrument. He's based in Munich, central Europe, where musicians from most parts of the world would feel like little kids in the candy store. Nothing like "student level" from Shar.

Edited: May 15, 2021, 7:42 AM · When considering a contemporary instrument, I think one of the most valuable resources a musician has is the violin making competitions, provided that it is one of the competitions which draws a large number of contestants from all over the world, and will be judged by both a team of high-level professional musicians, and a team consisting of acclaimed violin experts who have already earned the admiration of their instrument-making and instrument-expertise peers. I'd consider this sort of evaluation to enhance the probability of an instrument maintaining or increasing in value, and to be a lot more reliable than personal anecdotes.

Having served as a judge in many of the competitions, I consider the Violin Society of America Competitions to be at the top of the heap. I see the Cremona Competition as being pretty good too, but having two major issues:
One is that as far as I know, they don't use the same judge more than once. Sadly, this means that they won't use an internationally acclaimed expert like Charles Beare more than once, which necessitates filling in the gaps with lesser people.
The other issue is the stipulation that the first-place instrument must be sold to the competition organization, for a price which is a lot lower than many successful makers charge, so this acts as a disincentive for the best makers to enter, lest they suffer the financial misfortune of winning.

A potential downside of the Violin Society of America Competitions is that after having won a certain number of times, a maker can no longer enter, so one may need to go pretty far back in the competition results to find mention of some really good makers.

May 15, 2021, 7:23 AM · Not that anyone at the VSA are listening, but it seems they could have a separate "masters" competition
for medal winners that are no longer allowed to apply.......
May 15, 2021, 9:18 AM · David,
I was able to reach the best of all possible worlds with Cremona. A maker had a fiddle that he wouldn't show me b/c it was being entered, and had to be pristine. If it was no good, I wouldn't want to see it. If it was too good, of course, I wouldn't be able to see it. Luckily, he got second. :)
May 15, 2021, 10:03 AM · Stephen, winning second place in the Cremona Competition is a good strategy, if a maker can figure out a way to pull it off. If they win first place, they don't get their fiddle back. If they win second place, they do. LOL
May 15, 2021, 11:04 AM · David, as usual it is enevitable to agree with your wise and experienced words. Just let us keep in mind that there are also plenty of top makers wo do not enter competitions at all, for various reasons.

As a former frequent winner and later judge of the VSA - could you estimate the percentage of European makers taking part, and how many of these aren't rather new in the business and trying to build their reputation? I think if I was a maker in Europe and would get my instruments sold for 20-30k fresh off the bench, I wouldn't bother with something like that on a regular basis. In general I think Europeans are not thinking that competitive and superlative.

May 15, 2021, 11:08 AM · I agree with David that the VSA competition is a good way to identify premium makers. Responding to Damian's question, I own a violin that cost less than $10,000 but today is probably worth about $14,000. If I were shopping for a contemporary violin at $36,000, I would expect significant rather than incremental improvement over my present violin. Better projection, better balance, more colors, and easier to play.
Edited: May 15, 2021, 3:21 PM · Nuuska, I agree that it may be risky for a maker with an already-established reputation, whether via marketing acumen, or being really good, to enter a violin-making competition. What will people think if they don't win?

Yet, some established and really good makers have been willing to take that risk, somewhat depending on their assessment of the expertise of the judges involved, which are usually published prior to the competition. Why waste your time and risk your currency, if the judges know a lot less than the competitor?
Some makers try to make a big deal of their wins in various sorts of Podunk competitions, but the makers whose work I most admire do not.

In response to your other question, the most recent Violin Society of America Competition involved over 400 instruments and bows, with competitors from 14 nations, off the top of my head.

May 15, 2021, 1:57 PM · Jose, do you mind telling us who of the two charges less? I'm guessing that Christian Bayon charges more?
Edited: May 15, 2021, 3:20 PM · David, it's probably risky, but even more important it's a huge effort. Shipping the instrument, traveling there, investing time and money... What for if you've got a waiting list for two years...

I'm not questioning that you will not achieve a top result at the VSA (or any other reputable competition) just by luck or accident, and such achievements are a reluable mark of excelence. But - and I can only talk about my geographic region - it's not a necessity at all, and most of the top makers will not be found at these events. Traditions and mentality will differ somewhere else... Good advice will therefore differ, depending on where in the world the potential client is in the market...

Another point that was mentioned is the potential loss of resale value of a new instrument, if one might want to part with it again. This is one more advantage of buying in your geographic region from a living maker: you'll always have the opportunity for a trade-in, or it will be relatively easy for him to sell it for you on consignation with minor loss, if any.

Edited: May 15, 2021, 4:21 PM · Yes, entering an international violin making competition can be a huge effort. When I was judging in Russia, fiddles continued to come in every day (mostly from customs and security delays, I was told), so we had to rejudge things every day.

At the VSA Competitions, a competitor can sign up for one-on-one time with one or more of the judges, and every convention attendee can personally look at, handle, and play every instrument entered. So part of the value of entering a competition is the value of the feedback, if a maker hasn't decided that they already know everything there is to know.

I don't know of any top makers who have the attitude that they already know everything they need to know. Instead, I think that mostly comes from "posers", whose greatest skill-set is scamming people.
Some of this goes on in every walk of life, and every profession. One needs a good BS meter, to make it through life without getting seriously burned, multiple times.

May 15, 2021, 5:45 PM · David, well said - again. Feedback is a necessity in every craft, and if you could not get it during your training and career, the VSA sounds like a good opportunity. Especially as long as the judges are liberal enough to appreciate a tad of personal style. But I don't know anything about these things, except that it's only top qualified people sitting there.
May 16, 2021, 10:49 AM · My concern for the OP is that at $36,000 he might already be starting to see a significant contribution from "investment value." I guess I don't have a very solid basis for thinking that, but there it is.
May 16, 2021, 2:32 PM · Thank you very much to everyone for your suggestions so far! Very kind and helpful!
Edited: May 16, 2021, 4:27 PM · Jakob, I wish you good luck and all the best on your quest. If you should consider the mentioned daytrip across the south eastern border, drop me a line. Eventually I could organize some things to your advantage, including a fine wooden bonus, coffee and a warm meal. Vcom-members are always welcome, but happen to be a rare species around here...

Another way of finding "your" violin remained unmentioned: the big reputable dealers. Marcel Richters in Vienna is well within your reach. And London (J&A Beare, Sean Bishop, and others) is always worth a trip anyway. Hard to believe you won´t find there what you´re looking for, in case you don´t find a living maker in your region whose instruments you really appreciate.

If you are interested in a name nearby Munich who sells for very far below your mentioned price range, feel free to drop me a PM. He´s relatively new in the market and I think he had a hard time getting started during the last year. There´s nothing for you to loose, except a trip of 100km. Due to the pandemic with closed borders I wasn´t able to drive there myself yet, therefore your opinion would be of special interest!

May 17, 2021, 12:32 AM · Another vote for William Castle. I have one of his fantastic violas. And I have tried a couple of his violins too. They are great instruments. The late David Angle of the Maggini Quartet had one of his violins and said that he couldn't use it in the quartet (where he played a Maggini) - it would overpower the rest. He used it for solo work.
May 17, 2021, 12:51 PM · There are certainly a good number of fine makers to choose from at that price level. I'll cast my vote for Andranik Gaybaryan to be included on the list - he's a Russian-born maker out of Boston, MA with several high-profile players using his fiddles. I don't know if you can find one over there...
Edited: May 17, 2021, 4:35 PM · Jakob, I'm afraid you're looking more nearby? - He's based in Munich, Germany, but it has become an international business.
On the other hand, I'd really like to tackle a bunch of American violins... But first have to get in shape!
Edited: May 17, 2021, 5:08 PM · Some Americans have guns, so tackling alone may not suffice. ;-)
May 17, 2021, 5:37 PM · Nuuska, not necessarily. As you say, violin making is an international business. All other things being equal, a European maker might be slightly more convenient in terms of maintenance and check-ups. But as I understand it, these are slightly less frequent with contemporary violins than with antique instruments. And as long as I can find a really great instrument within my price range, I'm not too bothered about where it's from.
I'm generally open to a maker slightly further away. I have a few smaller concerts planned in the US for 2022 (assuming that travel restrictions are lifted), mainly on the East Coast, so an American maker is not completely out of the question. I've heard good things about several of them from fellow students and colleagues over here. As I can't travel internationally due to quarantine restrictions at the moment, I'm starting my search in Europe. But I'll have to wait and see where it takes me. :-)
May 17, 2021, 5:39 PM · Give us all a shout when you know where you'll be next year. You will doubtless get many recommendations.
Edited: May 18, 2021, 3:32 AM · On May 14 jose m g. belmonte said:
"And it's also worthit to check the past winners of the Cremona triennale, Mittenwald or Wieniavsky violin making competitions. Their prices are lower than your budget and their instruments are wonderful too. Nicolas Bonet, Charles Coquet,Davide Sora, Piotr Pielascek, Gonzalo Bayolo, just to name a few."

Hi Jose,
thanks for mentioning my name, but...
are you sure that the names you mentioned are below the budget indicated by Jakob? For at least one of those, I'm sure that's not the case.;-)
So it could very well be the same for others as well. Where does your pricing information come from?

Edited: May 18, 2021, 4:06 AM · On May 15 David Burgess said about Cremona Triennale competition:

"The other issue is the stipulation that the first-place instrument must be sold to the competition organization, for a price which is a lot lower than many successful makers charge, so this acts as a disincentive for the best makers to enter, lest they suffer the financial misfortune of winning.
Winning second place in the Cremona Competition is a good strategy, if a maker can figure out a way to pull it off. If they win first place, they don't get their fiddle back. If they win second place, they do. LOL

Hi David,
the low price "purchase award" is a real problem, which leads many luthiers to stop participating in this competition. But I also think that in lutherie competitions we should leave space for young luthiers who need to gain visibility, luthiers who are now expert and with a consolidated waiting list should avoid participating in order not to "steal" opportunities from young people who struggle to emerge in this highly competitive and crowded world. I never understood the persistence of some luthiers to participate (I call them competition professionals) especially in Cremona where the winner instruments will then be left to "sleep" in a museum window, transforming it into a little Messiah who will never see a developed musical life. In my opinion this is the worst aspect of the Cremona Triennale, musealize instruments that can have a maximum of two years of life (according to the competition regulations) but that most of the time are just finished, thus rewarding only the potential but without knowing if they will pass the test of time in the current use of a player.

PS : Coming second or third without running the risk of receiving the first prize is an art in itself, I would have a lot to teach about it :-) :-) ;-)

May 18, 2021, 6:07 AM · Good thoughts, Davide.

(Davide is a full-time professional Cremonese maker.)

Edited: May 18, 2021, 3:42 PM · Hmm... European Union ~450 millions, the USA ~330 millions. Anyone has the numbers of active violin makers? A question nev came into my mind yet...

Many of the European countries are rich in full time makers, but since the numbers are shared between dozens of nations, the concentration of "big names" may not appear that obvious. In the metropolitan areas dealers / mainly dealing and maintaining luthiers may dominate, while most "makers" I personally know (mostly in Central Europe, from northern Italy to Germany / Belgium / the Netherlands) prefer to live and work in more remote places and do some dealing on the side, but mainly have their own instruments for the "high end" market segment. Dealing with valuable antiques is a somehow different trade, demanding for a different infrastructure and different kind of "visibility". I may be wrong, but from my personal perception Munich isn't very representative for the whole picture. But there may be a huge bias be involved from my side.

Edited: May 21, 2021, 10:25 AM · To Kiki:
Christian Bayon charges less than S.Von Baehr. Around 25000 € for Bayon and 36000€ for V.B.
To Davide: Yes, if we consider the price range or the O.P. around 30000€, I can confirm that Coquet, Bonet, Bayolo and Pielascek charge considerablely less for their violins, and my information comes from them. Sorry if I made it sound as if you were included as well. :)
Edited: May 21, 2021, 11:58 AM · Concerning current rates (as these are probably changing quite often):
Stephan von Baehr is now charging considerably more than 36.000€. Considerably more! I'm not sure if I can put the exact amount here in the forum, but it's well, well beyond that price point. :-)
To jose m g. belamonte: thank you again for your suggestions.
Edited: May 21, 2021, 2:54 PM · Hi Jakob, I believe it!. Just checked my emails and saw that price two years ago was 38k, not 36, sorry. Great looking and sounding instruments though..
Forgot to mention Gábor Draskoczy's instruments as well. Great maker -also competition winner- based in London and I think around your price range. Good luck with your search!
Edited: May 22, 2021, 3:03 AM · Hi Jakob! I came across a violin from Dominik Wlk. It seems he’s the assistant of Peter Greiner in London. The violin looked and sounded incredible!! I found his instagram @djwlk_violins . I don’t know his price, but maybe you can find out more. Good luck with your quest!
May 23, 2021, 5:21 AM · Anyone got any experience with Andrew Finnigan & Pia Klaembt? Apparently Anne-Sophie Mutter has one of their instruments.
Or with Brian Lisus, Christian Pederson, Martin McClean or Peter Westerlund, Peter Erben, or Michael Koeberling which are all names I've heard mentioned in orchestra circles?
Edited: May 23, 2021, 8:30 AM · @Jasper: I do! I've met them at the Klanggestalten a couple of years ago and played two of their violins there, and took a third one home some months later, as I considered buying it. All three were wonderful instruments and, to me, some of the most interesting out of all those participating in the Klanggestalten, and Finnigan & Klaembt are among the kindest people I know in the business. Can't recommend them enough. A good friend of mine plays one of their violins, too, and it sounds lovely.
Edited: May 23, 2021, 7:53 AM · Some violins need 'breaking in' before they sound their best so how do you judge and compare new violins ?
May 23, 2021, 9:06 PM · I don't question the assumption that a violin might change within the first several months of its life, and perhaps beyond that. I do question the assumption that the change is necessarily positive. So, to a degree, when you purchase a newly-made violin, you are taking your chances. My guess is that "reputable" modern makers wouldn't be as "reputable" if their violins went bad after a couple of years.
May 24, 2021, 8:12 AM · In my experience, violins change the most in their first three months under string tension. This seems to happen whether they are played or not.

When I first string up a violin, I don't even bother playing it the first day, because at that point, things are changing so quickly, that it can be a completely different instrument the next day.

After about three months under string tension (along with the different length soundposts which can be required during that time, if a maker or dealer is attuned enough to notice the need), one can pretty reliably assess the instrument, and expect it to remain about the same for a long time.

In the context of longer time frames, I do believe that some of my instruments which have been heavily used for decades, have "mellowed" in sound. I don't consider this to be a positive, necessarily, but there are players who do.

May 24, 2021, 8:28 AM · How would you define this "mellowing" phenomenon with your heavily played instruments David? Is the wood drying further or perhaps the instrument is adjusting to its tension load?
May 24, 2021, 8:45 AM · In other cases, I have also seen volume 'pop' after some period of use, along with whatever mellowing goes on. Perhaps it is the player doing better in general, or just getting to know the instrument.

I also suspect there is a little settling in on the adjustment. If bridge and sound post have perfect locations, even a fraction of a millimeter off from that can be enough to produce imperfect results. The very act of vibrating the plates, and perhaps fiddling with the bridge a bit, may serve to drop the parts exactly where they should be.

This is a notorious problem with some old instruments-- Roman Totenberg supposedly spent a few years figuring out how to adjust his Strad back in the 30s (the one that was stolen and recently recovered).

Edited: May 24, 2021, 11:38 AM · Peter Carter asked:
"How would you define this "mellowing" phenomenon with your heavily played instruments David? Is the wood drying further or perhaps the instrument is adjusting to its tension load?"

Peter, I suspect that the change is due to some combination of prolonged vibration, and humidity cycling. I do suspect that humidity cycling has a lot more to do which it, than the trivial loads from the vibration of the strings.

Humidity variations can easily (and often do) produce loads sufficient to produce cracks. When I have fed vibration loads around ten times what a player can produce into violins (which scared the hell out of me), cracks have not resulted.

May 24, 2021, 9:38 AM · David, then you believe keeping humidity on constand levels would hinder an instruments aging process?
Edited: May 24, 2021, 9:52 AM · Nuuska you realize you are asking this question of a someone who is a leader in the area of humidity control for violinists!

David, several years ago I had the chance to compare my 2006 Topa to a 2011 and a 2013, when the latter instrument was quite new. My instrument was slightly mellow compared to the newer ones too. The newer ones were brighter, maybe even a bit "raw" although that term is a poor one because it carries connotations of bias as the instruments were new. It's possible that the maker changed how he made violins, too.

I was initially envious of the sound of the newer violins, but my luthier reminded me that I should be happy with the general overall power and projection of the instrument, with its balance across the strings, and with its ability to deliver a range of tonal colors. He explained that the "brightness" of the sound could be adjusted, somewhat if not wholesale, by nudging the sound post, or thinning the bridge slightly, or just by choosing brighter strings.

I was more envious of the fact that between 2006 and 2011, Topa stopped antiquing his instruments, and I would prefer one that is not antiqued. (Mine is rather heavily antiqued.)

If I wanted a brighter violin at the same price-point I would sell my Topa to someone who wanted a slightly mellower instrument, and I'd buy a freshly made instrument from someone like Jonathan Vacanti (Charlottesville), whose violins I played (and enjoyed) this past Saturday. Vacanti makes a gorgeous violin.

May 24, 2021, 10:00 AM · Paul, I'm aware of Davids achievements in this field, as well as of his merits as a contemporary violin maker. That's why I'm really curious about his insights on that topic.
Assuming mostly positive effects of aging, and humidity circulation being a crucial factor in the aging process, then controlled humidity changes within a certain range might work better at least for a contemporary instrument than controlled 50% RH.
May 24, 2021, 11:20 AM · Yes I agree that seems logical and I am also curious to learn David's thoughts on that.
Edited: May 24, 2021, 11:42 AM · I know one maker who has a chamber that simulates seasonal change-- humidity, mostly, but perhaps some temperature shifts also. You can put quite a few years' worth of wear on that way.

Not sure if it is used before or after varnishing the instrument.

Edited: May 24, 2021, 12:28 PM · Interesting. I only knew about UV cabinets. Although I'd expect it to be rather warm and dry in such a device. So using these on-off (as my luthier does as he never leaves it unattended) it may have a similar, maybe unintended side effect.

How many years of uncontrolled seasonal weather changes might it take until the wood is seasoned enough so it won't change anymore? Is using decades or even centuries old wood an equal substitute for aging a completed instrument?

I know all we can do is guessing since the experiment needed to explore this in depth is not practicable without a time machine, but I'm also curious about any educated guess - be it from a humidity control expert or anyone else in the craft.

May 24, 2021, 6:55 PM · There is an interesting quote in Eric Blot's book on Ferdinando Garimberti.

" and he successfully aged wood by subjecting it to long drying times and severe weather conditions".

I wonder what severe means?

May 24, 2021, 10:26 PM · Nowadays these controlled-environment chambers are used for all sorts of research into things like weathering of plastics, corrosion inhibitors, paints and coatings, etc. It's not a terribly sophisticated device.
May 25, 2021, 10:09 AM · I bought a brand new (made in August 2020) instrument in October 2020. I play about an hour a day and in winter the humidity in my apartment is extremely low so I have to keep the case humidified. The violin's sound has opened up wonderfully and I'm eager to see what the next couple of years brings. It seems to be improving so I hope that continues. I will take it to the luthier for a checkup at string changing time.
May 25, 2021, 11:32 AM · In my opinion, which I know runs counter to others' opinions here, it is pretty hard to deconvolute the "opening up" of the violin and the adaptation of the violinist to strengths and weaknesses that may be entirely static. If your luthier played your instrument last time it was with him/her and will play it again, (s)he might notice a difference, but even in this case it is hard to rule out various sources of bias. I'm not suggesting that "opening up" is bunk, I'm only suggesting that we should be skeptical about reaching conclusions that are not based on controlled experimentation.
May 25, 2021, 2:46 PM · Paul, What you say is true, though my teacher thinks the instrument itself has changed mostly because my progress is extremely slow. We joke about this. The instrument is changing faster than I do and I have to run to catch up. There is an obvious change in the sound of the Helmholtz frequency, which is similar to other changes so we think it's the instrument and not me. I wish it would be me!
May 25, 2021, 7:51 PM · Forgot to mention that the luthier that I deal with sells lots of new instruments in this price range and he told me that mine would change greatly over the first few months and more slowly after that. This has certainly seemed to be the case. Anyway, It's great for me and I probably won't ever need an upgrade unless I can get off the prednisone eventually and my brain gets back to "normal."
Edited: May 26, 2021, 10:27 AM · My preference would go toward a maker or dealer who sells you an already pretty well stabilized instrument, rather than trying to hand you a wild card, and defer the responsibility to you.
May 26, 2021, 4:05 PM · David, Yes, I would agree but there were only 7 instruments that fit my criteria and this one sounded best to me so I got it. It wasn't exactly potluck but close enough! I figured if it sounded good when it was brand new it was unlikely to become a tin violin like little kids used to get to play with. I'm glad that luthiers are on this web site I learn so much. I look at your little "picture" and wonder, were you playing baseball? Playing El Kabong? I'd sure be scared. Ha ha.
May 26, 2021, 8:40 PM · I was demonstrating the correct way to hold a viola. ;-)
May 26, 2021, 8:47 PM · Backhand? Really?
May 26, 2021, 9:23 PM · To answer the OP, in the USA, David Burgess of course, though he has a loooong wait list, and is probably above your price point; Michael Darnton, in Chicago; David Gusset, Oregon; Terry Borman, Arkansas; Grubaugh and Seifert, J. Michael G. Fisher, and the signature models (personal)by Scott Liu, all from California; Guy Rabut, Edward Maday (well liked by a denizen of this forum :-)) both in New Yawk; Joseph Curtin; etc. I like the advice of some previous poster: look at VSA past award winners, esp. hors de concours. In the EU, Peter Greiner, though maybe out of your price range? Roger Hargrave, though probably out of your price range; In Italy: Davide Sora (triple recommendation); Bruce Carlson; Marcello and his brother Vittorio Villa. Those are the outstanding ones I can think of at this time. Apologies to those I left out.
May 27, 2021, 2:40 PM · Professional violin for soloists, late 20th century
This contemporary violin offers professional musicians and soloists the rare opportunity to acquire a top-tier instrument at an extremely reasonable price. This powerful violin, probably made in 2003, is an exceptionally beautiful Stradivarius copy by maker who set individual accents combined with exquisite taste - and at the same time had extensive knowledge and experience in modelling a violin that features a sound that meets the highest demands. With a table made of fine quality spruce and beautiful, deeply flamed maple, this well-played instrument presents itself in immaculate, completely crack-free condition. The specialists in our workshop have carefully set up this rare occassion of an affordable violin with a professional tone and made it ready to play. Its powerful and radiant sound has sustain and is of a maturity that cannot be taken for granted in a violin only a few decades old. Its radiant overtones and its lucid clarity combined with appealing warm character create a musical personality of unmistakable individuality.
Tone warm, large, radiant, soloist
Length of back 35.5 cm
May 27, 2021, 3:26 PM · And so???
Edited: May 28, 2021, 5:09 AM · Paul Lee, it's not unusual for sellers to use glowing descriptions. Certainly, there are instruments which aren't very good which need to be sold too. But have you ever seen an ad which states:

"Rather ugly violin, unpleasant to look at. Weak sound, difficult to play. Sound reminiscent of cats fighting."

May 28, 2021, 1:27 PM · Hey, I have that violin!
May 28, 2021, 3:22 PM · Paul, would you part with it? Sounds as if it would go for a budget, and it cannot be THAT bad...? Otherwise the ad would categorize as VSO.
May 29, 2021, 2:02 PM · Kurt Widenhouse is supposed to be a very good maker. He's based in the US though and I'm not sure about his price range.
Edited: May 29, 2021, 3:56 PM · Michael Koberling is less than 100 km from Munich.
He is priced well below your budget, but I'm not sure why.

In Berlin you have
Unfortunately for Canada they moved to Germany a few years ago.

Gideon Baumblatt's work is outstanding, his violins can compete at the highest level.
Andrew Wan, Concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony owns a violin by Gideon Baumblatt.

Andrew has the highest praise for Gideon's violins.

June 5, 2021, 2:06 AM · This is really late but thank you Jose for the information.

I have always admired Christian's beautiful work.

I remember reading on his website that he auditions potential buyers. Maybe one day, but at this point, that sounds so...not the way for my little one.

June 5, 2021, 3:09 AM · @ David, you crack me up!! :-)
Edited: June 6, 2021, 1:15 AM ·
Hendrik Hak

Edited: May 29, 2021, 3:56 PM · Michael Koberling is less than 100 km from Munich.
He is priced well below your budget, but I'm not sure why.

Hello Hendrik, you pose an interesting and provocative question. I haven't seen any of Michael's instruments but he has a fine reputation and the photos I've seen are impressive. I might speculate and say that he feels he can sell all his instruments if he charges 16k while only being able to sell a couple if he Charges 30.
The market is full of smoke, mirrors, bluster etc but if I'd 30k to spend I might prefer to spend it on two masterpieces by world class makers than one violinwith an expensive slick marketing machine behind it. Insisting on 30k might really restrict one's options.

Edited: June 8, 2021, 2:51 PM · Didn't want to be provocative, but I do definitely think that Michael's instruments are comparable to much higher priced ones. I have played extensively on two of them, still own one, and know that Elmar Oliveira bought several. Michael started his training 36 years ago, first with his father, then at Mittenwald.

It would be interesting to do a " Fritz and Curtin" sound test on high priced modern versus high quality but lower priced modern instruments. The outcome might be just as surprising as the "Strad versus New" tests.

Edited: June 8, 2021, 6:16 PM · Henrik, your sample size is rather small. I have played thousands of violins, as have many others in various areas of my profession.

Some players will play almost anything, if they get payed enough, or get enough instruments for free. Yes, I have been solicited for such things.

This is not an opinion on Koberling, since I don't really know how he operates. More of a general warning.

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