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Which is Better
Compare a mid -level French to mid to high level German violin
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micjule
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August 6, 2012 - 12:11 am
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I understand in the world of violins quality, sound, playability, beauty are all subjective. However i presently have a late 1800's mid level German violin and am looking to purchase a mid level French violin.

    At the retail price the German violin is valued at about $1300 and the French is being sold for $2500.

     Here is the question, is a French violin worth more than a German simply because it is from France? As i said they are both graded about the same as for playing, I just wonder is it worth about double the price because of its country of origin?

any feedback would be appreciated. and if someone might be able to explain why a violin's value goes up simply by where it is made. I understand a certain master luthier would make a better instrument, than a less skilled one, but does the country have anything to do with the quality. In other words if a master German and a master French luthier both make an instrument using quality wood and techniques. Would the French be a better instrument simply because it is not German?

You need to learn from the past, imagine a future, and LIVE for today... Failure is only a guarantee, when you never try

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cdennyb
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although I am far from a professional appraiser I would simply start with a sound sample from each violin, analyze it (as I do for many memers here on the board) and see which has the most potential for projection, smoothness and sound quality and then try and justify the extra money if that's the way it turns out using technology for the deciding factor. Who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised to find the cheaper viiolin is actually a better quality sounding violin regardless of the pedigree following it.

I have 3 myself, 1- cheapo chinese, 1- 90 yr old German production violin and a newly built Kohr K500. The German one actually has a better sound trace and the K500 is a close second. Although the German has a street value now of only about $500 to $700, the Kohr would be considered a more expensive violin. Although the pedigree is traceable on the Kohr and not the German, I find the analysis tells the tail. I prefer the German one for classical sounds over any of the other 2.

The final choice would be for you to determine which you prefer in a blind sound test. That would be the one you'd always want regardless of the pricetag.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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gkeese
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August 6, 2012 - 2:10 am
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As cdennyb said... I am not a profession on the violin, but I do know cars. facepalm So I will put it this way.  You MAY be paying for the name/country of origin.

If I have a Honda Civic that can run the 1/4 Mile in 10 Seconds and a Ferrari that can make it in 12 is the Ferrari a better car?  If I am looking for speed then the Honda is better, but the Ferrari is still more expensive.  Like a violin, if the sound quality is the same then WHAT are you paying for?  The name.

If you want to own a Ferrari just because it is a Ferrari then get a Ferrari.  But if you want a car that is the best on the 1/4 Mile...then the Honda is for you.  Same thing...if you want a French Violin just because it is French, buy the French.  But if the German is better in sound and THAT is what you want...then German is the way to go.  More expensive and origin does not make it beter...just more expensinve.  drooling

 

Make sense? b-slap

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing that it is stupid." -Albert Einstein

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Oliver
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August 6, 2012 - 7:43 am
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Rumor and gossip are important parts of violin marketing strategy and  price.

I have tried out violins up to the $5000 to $7000 range and my conclusion is that really great sounding violins are probably much more expensive than that, BUT some cheaper violins might also sound good but usually not.

I think that what is good is what sounds good.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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micjule
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August 6, 2012 - 7:47 am
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thank you both
to my two advisors, I do understand that if sound is all I am looking for it is simply a matter of test A vs test B and may the better violin win. However the question I am asking is more of comparison of the two schools. Is Mozart better than Paganini, is Honda better than Chevy, is Picasso better than Rembrandt? If I am looking for a better all around instrument should I only look at French and never German or is this a case of buyer beware?

You need to learn from the past, imagine a future, and LIVE for today... Failure is only a guarantee, when you never try

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Picklefish
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August 6, 2012 - 9:19 am
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The value of the violin is subjective and objective to both the purchaser and the seller. I think if the violin was made in Cremona or some other famous place for Violins that might be one thing. The real value of a violin has to do with much more than that though. What wood is it made of? One piece back or two piece? Every aspect of the instrument has to be taken into account including its tone.

The other question is are you prejudiced in your mind about what constitutes quality? As has been mentioned before, some professional players are using the Kohr K series violins. Those arent necessarily very expensive. My Romanian violin only cost $2,000 when I bought it 5 years ago, doesnt necessarily make it a better violin. (doesnt even have the gypsy sound yet) us-4240 The shop owner, luthier at my string shop encouraged me to play several to see which one I like the sound of better. I didnt know where it was made until after I decided to purchase it. Im glad it wasnt made in China cause I didnt want to buy from there. He assured me he finds good instruments from China too.

So what is the better buy? Its the instrument that you find that sounds great and is in your budget, in this day and age of technology, cost alone or build location alone isnt gonna matter much. (unless you want braggin rights) IMO- pfish

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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micjule
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August 6, 2012 - 9:37 am
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Oliver what I think you are saying is if I want a good violin I need to look at violins that start in the $7000 range and cheaper violins may be good or not so good but will never compare to a fine violin, regardless of maker or country of origin.

I am simply comparing a Yugo to a Hundi, A Ferrari, Lambergani or even Cadillac is not even in the picture

You need to learn from the past, imagine a future, and LIVE for today... Failure is only a guarantee, when you never try

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micjule
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August 6, 2012 - 10:05 am
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picklefish
I understand you are saying sound is the deciding factor for you. However I own a Chinese CV9 that has a crisp sound, I also have an 1880 German factory knockoff that is better sounding than the Chinese. My question is does a French violin have a better reputation of quality, or does it simply have a better PR agent talking them up?

I know the price is higher but I am curious if the price difference matches the investment.

I am thinking of a good violin I can play and then hand down to my children. I am sure the Chinese violin will be given to the grand kids as a play toy, but as a family heirloom to pass to my kids would a French be better than as German, simply because of its place of origin.

You need to learn from the past, imagine a future, and LIVE for today... Failure is only a guarantee, when you never try

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Picklefish
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August 6, 2012 - 12:57 pm
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IMO- German violins have a better rep than French ones. I think Italians have the best thanks to the Cremonians?

I was referring to sound as another in the criteria to determine the quality of the instrument in question. I dont feel that the price is determined by anything other than what the seller needs to get compared to others who sell similar instruments not necessarily a comment on the quality. (although Id expect a thousand(s) dollar(s) instrument to be of considerable quality compared to the mass produced junk out there, but may not always be the case.)

As far as passing on a family heirloom, sounds like the German you have fits the bill. I too have a similar German factory built from the same timeframe, passed down from my great grandmother. I have posted pics of it here and there. My latest photo is of both of my violins purchased a hundred years apart. The older one has the bone nut. German on the Left, Romanian on the right. Incidentally the Romanian Violin says its handmade on the label inside. After a hundred years the German has a value slighly less than the newer Romanian one.

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"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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gkeese
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August 9, 2012 - 2:52 am
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picklefish said

Image Enlarger

I just had to say, "Beautiful Violins you have there!!!"  Wow... I love both of these.

 

As for the matter at hand.  Find a German violin and play it.  Find a French violin and play it.  But do it blind.  (So you do not know which is which.)  Play them both, see which one you like more and then be amazed!  You are comparing Ford Mustang to Chevy Camaro.  Both very nice cars, but which one is the one that really speaks to you...the Ford French or the Chevy German?  As for bragging right...  If you are going to be bragging (and sometimes bragging isn't a bad thing wink ) who are you bragging too?  A bunch of German lovers or French lovers.  I personally like German violins for the only reason that... I have german ancestory.  But if I was going to lay down some money on a violin... I would want to hear what is sounds like more than worry about where it came from.  If you have $20,000 to throw down on a nice sounding French violin because that is what you want...go for it.  More power to you.  But a $100 French may sound better than a $500 German and vise versa.  Just a matter of your opinion.  Good Luck in your pursuit!

violin-1267

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing that it is stupid." -Albert Einstein

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cdennyb
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August 10, 2012 - 11:07 am
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OK, here's a sample test for you.

Take a look at the pic and tell me which is the $100 Chinese Student violin, the $600 K500, and the $800 90 Yr Old German heirloom.

They all sound very good to say the least but I've spent literally hours and hours and hours testing, modifying, and analyzing the sound from each one and have spent tedious nites modifying the bridges, soundposts, and determining the correct string combo to make them perform (according to the sound analysis) their best.

If you have a hard time telling the difference without listening, then no one else will be able to either.

Buy the one that sounds the best according to your ability to play it. If FM took any of these violins and played it, I'm sure the value would go up exponentially. If I played them... you'd probably swear they were all Chinese Student violins!roflol

It's all about the ability of the player... a very good player can make even a cheap violin sound pretty dang good! ...but a beginner would never make even a Strad sound decent.

 

IMG_20120720_125254comp.jpgImage Enlarger

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"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Kevin M.
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August 10, 2012 - 12:27 pm
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German on the bottom Chinese in the middle and Korr on top.

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Fiddlerman
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August 10, 2012 - 4:47 pm
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I can definitely see the Kohr so that is not a problem.
I think I partially agree with Kevin though I seem to recall you posting a picture of your German fiddle and it having that greenish yellowish color to it. Also, a give away that you play more on the two violins that are further away from us (Top two), would be the tape. So I vote to switch the bottom two and say that the German is the one in the middle.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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cdennyb
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August 10, 2012 - 5:28 pm
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FM has some insider trading info on this one since he's already had the Kohr in his hot little hands... but the German is in the middle and Kohr on top.

See how difficult it is to determine even the age of a violin by just looking without prior knowledge of the instruments.

That was fun...1st-place

[oh, I do play the bottom one, sometimes outside when I try to get away from the tapes and get my finger position good on 'any' violin, not just on my favorite(s)... it's coming along nicely...]beg

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Fiddlerman
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August 10, 2012 - 11:52 pm
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Yeeeeeeee Haaaaaaaaaa

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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gkeese
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August 11, 2012 - 1:57 am
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Korh on top, German in the middle and China made on the bottom.  I recall the boxwood(?) fitting being customized on the Korh, and the Middle one looks like a better quality then the bottom.  If I am right I win a prize!!

 

me-b-slap-cdennyb

 

Not the prize I was looking for...-ouch!_

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing that it is stupid." -Albert Einstein

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Fiddlestix
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I would venture to say that if  "Heifetz or Paganini" were playing a $100.00 Chinese violin and you didn't know the cost of it and they offered it to you for $500.00, chances are the average person would buy it. I think just because of who was playing it and how they could make a cheap violin sound sweet.

  I maintain, it's only worth what someone's willing to pay for it.

        

 

                     hats_off

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ozmous
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for me, it's not actually on how it costs, for me, i believe, that it's about how you play it...why? have you seen a monkey play a stradivarius beautifully? most of it is about  the violinist....for me, i'm happy with my 40 quid violin, i can play paganini caprices on it........despite of it, having painted purfling, and it's not that old, i can deduce by it's wood, it had been created a year ago.....for me...i will take any violin....(but i'm very hopeful to have a new fiddle that will last as long as my life)

cheers! - ⁰ℨ

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cdennyb
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gkeese said
Korh on top, German in the middle and China made on the bottom.  I recall the boxwood(?) fitting being customized on the Korh, and the Middle one looks like a better quality then the bottom.  If I am right I win a prize!!

 

me-b-slap-cdennyb

 

Not the prize I was looking for...-ouch!_

Sorry Clint. FM beat you to it by almost 2 hours. Taking into consideration the time zone difference, the time of year, the phase of the moon and the alignment of the stars... you lose.moony-2173

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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micjule
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August 11, 2012 - 5:22 pm
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I appreciate the conversation it has been informative. Cdennyb I do appreciate the exercise you set up, since FM has already answered the question it is somewhat academic for me to offer mine. Although before i had looked at the other posts here is my answer i was going to give.

German in the middle, because of the peg box and mother of pearl inlaid peg. The Chinese at the bottom because of the peg and chin rest, along with the finish gives it a cheaper look...

I do admit the tape on German threw me for a minute. I thought why would you tape an heirloom, but i went with my gut and the fact that i have an 1880 German that has the same looking peg box with the black tar looking coating on it. I have to say it was an excellent point and do appreciate your input on the subject. Although you have unintentionally opened another topic of conversation.

To Tape or Not To Tape?

I am moving this question to a new topic.... 

lets continue the conversation over there....

thanks

You need to learn from the past, imagine a future, and LIVE for today... Failure is only a guarantee, when you never try

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