Violin in the $5K or Less Range
I am looking to buy a violin in the $5K or under price range. I am not able to go to many luthiers and violin shops in person because I am immunocompromised. I’m hoping to narrow the field down with suggestions and advice, and then try a few in person or via shipping. I want something that is playable, but it doesn’t have to project for performance. Tone is most important, while age or nationality of the instrument are secondary. I prefer a richer, deeper, darker, fuller tone, perhaps a tall order in this price range. I had a Klotz when I was young, but its thin, bright tone wore on me as I got older. I’ve read about instruments like Jay Haide, but they sound like they might be on the brighter side, tone-wise. I live in western NC. I'd be most grateful for suggestions.
Jay Haide will probably not remind you of an elderly German, but they are one of the benchmarks for what is possible at around $2,500. Worth a look just to see what is there.
For $2500 I have EH Roths that will blow Jay Haide's away and older antiques for a warmer fuller tone, unfortunately I don't do mail order or internet sales, however the Jay Haide is basically the bench mark for Chinese crap, nothing more
When I was getting ready to buy a violin in about 2010, I tried a Jay Haide Balestrieri model that had a wonderful dark sound - much darker than their Guarneri model that I finally purchased. One of those might meet your requirements.
It is worth noting that Jay Haide is a large organization, and there are lots of different guys working away at their benches. A dealer with good access and a real selection process will have a definite advantage.
I would suggest that for a Jay-Haide instrument you contact the American founders and owners of the company, at Ifshin Violins in El Cerrito, CA.
I've heard the other theory on wood choice: that Chinese forests, whatever you think of the species growing there, are much more likely to have old growth. That would mean narrower, straighter grain, all else equal.
I agree with Andrew that you need to find a good shop with an extensive inventory that can provide you with the level of service and experience that you need in your individual situation.
Jay Haide l'Ancienne violins are reliably quite good and very attractive in your price range and circumstances.
I agree with the l'Ancienne model. I never owned one, but almost did way back when I was moving up from my garage sale fiddle. In retrospect, I should have chosen it as opposed to what I did chose. You might be able to find one that has been around a while and has "settled in" some. There are shops that will ship for trials all over the US and you could describe what your seeking. Usually you're just out the shipping cost if you don't buy. I too do not take exception to Lyndon's comment. Remember too, most likely what you choose will someday not satisfy anymore and you'll be on the hunt again, so make your best decision based on what the circumstances are now.
I recently tried several Jay Haide violins at Triangle Strings in Cary NC. I was helping a friend select an instrument in this price range. They have a good inventory and excellent set-up. I was pleasantly surprised by depth, resonance and response especially considering the price point. We went to several shops and tried dozens of fiddles. She ended up buying a Jay Haide and is very happy with it.
I appreciate all the input. The Klotz I mentioned was actually purchased at Ifshin before the internet, and they helped me sell it years later. Got my Jacques Poullot bow there too. Lots of valuable feedback about Jay Haide. I didn't have an opinion about Jay Haide one way or another, or Chinese violins in general, but mentioned them because I figured the name would come up in this price range. Appreciate the few other suggestions as well. Thank you for the Triangle Strings suggestion, John. I could probably travel as far as the Washington DC metro area, but if I could find something closer, that'd sure be optimal. It's challenging to buy a violin when you can't safely go inside buildings, so the more I know in advance, the more streamlined my selection is likely to be.
For what it's worth, I bought my Jay Haide from Johnson Strings. They sent me a couple at a time to try and gave me a return shipping label. Other large dealers will certainly have similar arrangements. Best of luck with your search.
Always good to consider the source, as not every specimen will be as good as the others. Ifshin, of course, is one of the partners. Yung Chin knows one of the insiders, and can get decent examples. But don't assume that the first you try is as good as it gets.
I haven’t had an opportunity to play any of the Haide or Roth workshop violins, but I got a chance to play an instrument by the Snow workshop not too long ago. I thought it was a good instrument.
Another vote for a better 1920's era EH Roth.
I own three violins by Wang Zhiguo. I own a number of other contemporary violins and have tried innumerable others at auction showings and at exhibitions of contemporary instruments in New York and Cremona. In my opinion, my Wang violins are concert quality instruments that would fit in very well in the above mentioned settings as well as also compare very favorably with many name older instruments both in tone and in workmanship. The last I looked- I bought my third one about a year ago - they were going for only about $2,000 or less! Prices are always subject to change but I doubt that these prices have changed too much.
The Jay Haide l'Ancienne violins are sold to violin shops without any of the setup done, so the final quality will vary quite a bit, depending on which shop is selling them. And most shops sell them for the same price.
Its a pity they don't have an online shop.
Johanna, some shops and people already have so much business, that seeking out more via online sales would probably be counterproductive.
Online is really a terrible option for buying a violin, you should only consider violins you can play and hear preferably among multiple options, an online shop is going to keep their best sounding violins for in house customers, and Jay Haides are just mass produced Chinese violins and there are going to be sub par and better sounding ones and you're not likely to get the best ones online IMHO
Lyndon, most old German violins were mass-produced too, and often at lower quality levels than contemporary Chinese in the same price range.
As we have gone through COVID, many shops will have strategies to deal with the OPs immunocompromised concerns-
better grade German production violins can sound much better than similarly priced new Chinese violind but if and only if they are priced competitively, many big shops overprice old German and French violin only to make their new Chinese violins sound like a good deal, if you price the German violins for half as much, as I do, the new Chinese violins are the ones that come up short.
Lyndon, I will leave "the proof in the pudding" of such claims up to you.
you're welcome yo visit my shop!!
I'm certainly no expert but what Lyndon says about shops marking up their antique violins to improve the apparent value of contemporary Chinese models rings true to me.
Good antique European violins cost more because they can't make them anymore. Hence, the supply is limited and shrinking.
Chinese violin are the product of mass production, that's why they are relatively cheap compared to European violin.
Antique German production violins were made in the millions, there is no shortage of them, what there might be a shortage of is qualified restorers with the patience to work on them
I did not say that there was a shortage; I said, "the supply is limited and shrinking," and I was speaking of good antique German and French violins.
I don't know the business well, but I am just wondering.
Rebecca, kindly re-read my post above. And I am not talking about a mass-produced violin. Wang studied at the Cremona school of violin making. If he were to enter and win a prize at a violin making competition and or got an endorsement from a famous player, his prices would go way up - the same violins, no better and no worse. That’s another market reality.
Addendum: at a gig recently I compared my favorite Wang Zhiguo with that of the concertmaster whose collection includes a Guadagnini, a Storioni, etc. That day he was using a Peter Greiner, considered to be one Europe’s best and most successful contemporary makers. My Wang compared very well. I’d say that the Greiner sounded sweeter and more transparent while my Wang had more core and brilliance. We probably each preferred our own after the brief exchange and that’s just fine. But just a little further context…
George, I was speaking of a well known LA dealer charging $4500 for a Stradivari made in Germany, something I might charge $500-1500 tops if it sounded great, and you speak of cheap low quality German violins, what about the cheap garbage coming out of China in the $50-$300 range, Chinese know how to make a violin look half decent, but I don't think they understand tone as well as the historical German makers
Lyndon, as you know, most violins coming out of pre-war Germany were made by piece-workers who did not know anything about how to make a good violin. They knew nothing about tone, and they did not care. They only made parts as fast as possible, and were paid a pittance for each piece they produced.
Your take on things is fundamentally wrong, German production violins are not worse than Chinese production violins, the main appeal of the Chinese is that they are new and have no scratches etc, the same highly trained individuals over saw german production in many cases and the head of the factory does no work whatsoever on the violins, the main difference is that half the german makers could play a violin, not true of the chinese, that's why they produce pretty boxes with no soul so to speak
Ficker is correct, lol!
Its a Johann Gottlob Ficker from Markneukirchen 1793 appraised by experts, not a French copy Grafted scroll modern set up, Rondo strings its on the 4 sale page of my website if you click on my name
very good! Thanks (sounds like a really good buy!)
I feel so sorry for the likes of David Nadien and Elmar Oliveira who lacked the wise counsel, sagacious advice and unbiased judgement of Lyndon when they so foolishly bought Chinese violins for themselves!
I respect both approaches, something unique with character, a history, and the old-wood sound I never hear in a modern instrument, or a more readily available Chinese instrument you can more easily audition and buy. My daughter is a cellist and we could never find old Markneukirchen or Mirecourt cellos for sale here, let alone something that sounded great and was reasonably priced.
Raphael, how much does the Chinese violinmaker pay you or discount to you for your recommendation.
Oh, I’d say I should be ready to purchase my genuine Strad any day at the rate I’m going!
Well this has devolved into an argument about nationality. Lumping instruments in this way is rather absurd.
For violins in this price range, any dedicated violin shop in one of North Carolina's significant cities (Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, etc.) should have reasonable inventory.