Amorim vs Edgar Russ
Hello everyone! I am in the final process of selecting my dream violin, and I have decided to make quite a significant investment. I would like to commission a custom made instrument from Edgar Russ or from Luiz Amorim, but I would like to receive some opinions from other people that have played on their instruments. They both offer a 100% remboursement in case I don't like the final instrument, but of course I prefer not to even think about this option!
So... what is you experience with these makers? They are both in 30-40 kEUR range, and they both have a strong online and marketing presence, but I did not find any opinion on their instruments.
Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts :)
Is there a reason you’re only looking at these two makers? They’re both well known for producing good violins, but there aren’t the only ones especially in the price range it seems you’re looking at.
I am planning a trip tomorrow to Cremona, but the time is limited and the violins too many. I have tried a violin from Russ and was much superior than other violins from younger makers such as Anna Arietti. Tomorrow I will visit also Tonarelli and Bergonzi. Amorim is excluded because there is no violin that I can try, but I will try to compare Bergonzi, Tonarelli and Russ. I am not sure if I will manage also to try a Villa, depending on how long it will take. But all this makers are under 20kEur, so I wonder if I am losing time and should just go to Russ... Or if I should wait and organize a second trip when also violins from Amorim will be available. But is super difficult to find informations and distinguish the "social media hype" from the real value...
If I had the opportunity to visit Cremona I would not miss the shop of Riccardo Bergonzi. I have not had much experience with contemporary Italian violins, however I did visit three of the "traveling Cremona instrument shows" in years past when they were on exhibition at Ifshin violins and Bergonzi instruments (violins, violas and cellos)** were the only ones that impressed me and were the only ones I might have considered purchasing were I in the market, even though they were priced at the high end of the entire collection.
Most makers (and any worth their salt) offer a full refund on a commissioned instrument. It's not a unique thing to consider those particular makers. Simply don't buy from anyone who doesn't offer that policy.
I know that they always allow a refund if one is not happy, but I would prefer to avoid, even because their waiting list is quite long, and they often do not have instruments to try. I have been to Cremona some weeks ago and I tried some instruments from contemporary young makers at the 10-15 kEUR range but I was quite disappointed. I am asking about Russ and Amorim because they are the only ones in Cremona for which I found informations in this price range, but no opinions on their violins. I found a lot of opinion on Tonarelli and Bergonzi in this forum, and I am going to visit them, but I wonder if the different pricetag (30-40 for Amorim/Russ vs 10-20 for Bergonzi/Tonarelli) is justified or not... and, if the different price tag is justified, do you know other makers in Cremona in this pricetag?
When you get to the Bergonzi shop, ask for Carlo.
I tried one violin by Amorim, which was sent to me, and has been selected by the shop, based on a description what I was looking for. While it met the description tonally, I was not impressed with it at all. Given its price tag, I would have expected significantly more elegance in tone and easier response: While expecting a Mercedes, I got a Jeep.
Thank you for your opinion Stephan! Can you share the name of the maker you preferred (also in a private message if you prefer)?
@Stephan, the funny thing is that the comment in the original post about these makers having a slick web page and marketing presence really put me off. The best makers surely don't need that. My guess is that a good maker can create, what, 10 violins per year? Fifteen if they've got no life?
@Paul that's the point, how to know which makers are good without having to try all the 150 cremona's luthier :) I asked about these two because I know them from social media, I am now trying to understand if the hype is well founded or not, and if there are other makers (in Cremona for geographical reasons) worth to be considered.
I’ve heard good things about the Villa brothers. Mostly I’ve heard of Vittorio Villa. The late Emmanuel Borok (former concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony) had one made after his Brothers Amati and he was very satisfied with it. I had a chance to play it and it was a very good instrument for the money. It had a brighter and more laser focused sound which wasn’t what I was looking for but I could tell it was a high quality violin. I think they’re running for under 30k.
Paul - are they keeping Carlo in a box?
If you have your heart set on a Cremona violin, I second the the Villa brothers. Both of them are also accomplished violinists - you can find Marcello's videos of him playing his own instruments on YouTube. Being able to actually play the instrument is definitely a plus for a luthier.
I had a chance to try an Amorim violin a few months ago when one of the sons was touring our town. It was aesthetically near to perfection with special attention to details. Not a surprise as Amorim is a plastic artist, same as his wife whom helps also. The family has a very competent professional arrangement with sons on the making, on the business side, marketing, etc...
Maurizio Tadioli is also worth a look. His violins both look and sound beautiful...
@Giuseppe Alonci I 2nd Alexander Saldarriaga in stating you should check out Dereck and really think about having him build you one.
Well... some updates. I have tried other violins from Tonarelli and Bergonzi, unfortunately the Villa brothers didn't reply to my calls. I also tried several violins in Russ shop in the 10-20 kEUR range, and also two violins from Russ himself. I tried also several violins in Amorim shop between 10 and 20 kEUR, but no violin from Luiz were available.
I'm still looking for a violin that "resonates with the core personality and character of the player" (DCoons). I guess that means one that I like very much.
The country a maker works in, or was born in, doesn't mean much anymore, since so many of the better ones get their education and training (including post-graduate training) in the same places.
David, this is such a great advice, already said here in other occasions but it is worth saying it a million other times.
What it comes down to is: are you buying an instrument as a permanent play-partner or as one that you can trade in (possibly at a profit). An unknown and unconnected luthier may become famous but the odds are low whereas a violin from Cremona is always from Cremona and catches the eye of the buyer. Thus, its the usual question of 'providence' vs 'playability'.
providence vs. provenance
When I sell a viola the player buys a tool for making music. He is interested in a quick response, generous dynamic range, dark and focused sound, powerful C string, clarity, no wolves, and a viola that you can play up to the 7th position on the C and G strings. I never sold a viola as an investment. I sell them as tools.
The violin market is a bit like the art market, it is irrational. Van Gogh sold just two paintings, even if his brother was one of the most important art dealers in Paris. Gauguin came from Taiti to Paris with 60 paintings that were badly received. On the other hand, a contemporary artist sells cut sharks and cows for million of dollars.
Yes Neil, but what you have said about violins as an asset coud be said about cars too. A car is an asset, valuable, you need insurance, a safe place to keep it, documents. And for a professional driver, a car is a ... tool. In the very same way, a musical instrument is a tool for the player
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