There are many misconceptions about todays Chinese made violins. We at Fiddlershop receive regular phone calls from customers asking if any of our violins are made in China. Hopefully I will be able to clear up some misconceptions.
China is producing approximately 80% of the worlds newly made violins. They are absolutely dominating the market! One obvious reason for this is that a violin can take between 300 to 400 hours for one person to build depending on the tools used and experience of the maker and the average hourly wage for Chinese workers is less than a tenth that of their average U.S. and European counterparts. Since they make so many violins, you are sure to find a lot of bad violins, also referred to by many as VSO, Violin Shaped Objects. These violins are made by hand at pennies on the hour using cheap wood and labor at mind-boggling costs. Keep in mind that they also make some of the best violins available anywhere. If you do some research, travel to some of their workshops, what you will see may blow your mind!
Two of the highest awarded violin-makers at the Violin Society of America today are Ming Jiang Zhu and Scott Cao; two Chinese violin makers. They have won more awards at the VSA than anyone else in the world. That just shows how far the Chinese makers have come in world of violin making. 20 years ago, we would not even consider buying our violins from China. Times have changed…
Most affordable violins you see in shops today are made in China even if labeled otherwise. They may be labeled with a German name such as Klaus Mueller, Franz Hoffman, Johannes Kohr, or perhaps an Italian or American sounding name, but still made in China and sometimes set-up elsewhere to justify the label. Shops try to hide the fact that they are Chinese because todays consumer isn’t fully informed on what that means and how great that can be.
We have personally tested violins in all price ranges and as hard as we search, we have yet to find a country that can produce comparable violins for the same price.
If I was going to buy a new violin for my own use today, I would buy a high quality Chinese made one. It’s the best bang for your buck!