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Made in China
Three words that can cause a person to dread their purchase or be thrilled by it. The first questions the quality of the product, in this case a violin, while the second is happy that they were able to save some money. Are Chinese violins as bad as they say? Or are they just good instruments suffering from being associated with China? The answers to those questions depend on you and how you view the following information.
To find out more about Chinese violins, just continue to read our article. It gives you the information you need to make a good purchase decision.
Top Three Chinese violin brands review
The following review are of the brands that have their violins made in China. Whether they are handmade by craftsman or assembly line products overseen by craftsmen or just normal common workers is not known.
They are Chinese violins which may be a cut above the factory produced models that have earned their bad reputation.
#1. GVC Violins
This company makes about 6 different styles of violins. Each style is suited to a different purpose and each of the 6 styles come with multiple violin models that can be matched up to your level of expertise.
Each violin is supposed to go through a quality control review to make sure each one has the right tone, the right design and can be played with ease. The 6th category of violins is reserved for the replicas this company has made.
This company produces replica Stradivarius and Giuseppe Guarneri Del Gesu violins, recreating the varnish, appearance and sound of those great masterpieces. With all of their violin products, precise measurements are used to help each instrument produce the quality of sound you would expect from a high class instrument.
22 people are on the quality control staff going over the checklist each violin must meet before being shipped to its dealer.
#2. Franz Hoffman
This famous brand also has its violins made in China and they have decided to give each model a unique classical name in hopes of motivating their customers to higher levels of performance.
Those names include Amadeus.Prelude, Danube, Maestro and others that are associated with top quality classical sound. The good thing is that almost all models come in all 7 violin sizes so you can stick with the violin you like all the way to adult age.
Each violin is said to be crafted to produce the tones and sound quality you need to hear in order to make some of the world’s best music. Each bridge is supposed to be hand carved, and the finger boards are said to be planed making it easier to press the strings.
Then skilled musicians are supposed to check each instrument to make sure they meet industry standards. Also, they are priced to meet your budget.
This company may be the UK leader in stringed instruments and have a fine reputation. Their motivation is that they want to make sure every child plays the finest violin possible. The company makes 6 student models and 6 advanced models for those who have a little violin playing experience.
The company uses different tonewoods, spruce and maple to produce their violins as well as placing ebony fingerboards. Then each violin is supposed to be hand carved to produce the perfect pitch and tones you want.
Pirasto strings are included in your purchase of an advanced violin model. The fingerboards of the student models are what the company calls ebonized. All the violins are lightweight, easy to carry and come with their own protective carrying case.
The case is not the traditional hard body but more of a heavy cloth design. No matter which violin you choose from this company you have the Stentor reputation backing your purchase.
Does quality really matter
No matter what you do, and violin making is no exception, quality always matters. If you want people to buy your product and you want a good reputation, then you will make sure the products you produce are quality products.
For violins, it is not just the longevity that is the issue here. Violins, even cheap ones, can last a long time if you take care of yours. When it comes to violin playing, quality is the difference between continuing to play and master the violin or quitting and moving on to something else.
Bad sound, weak parts and other inferior sections of the violin do discourage young players and removes any motivation to lay the instrument. Bad parts do not produce masters of the instrument.
And you are not saving any money as you have to pay more for repairs and replacement parts than you would if you bought a quality violin.
How a Cheap Violin is Made and vital Issues
A cheap violin is made using assembly line techniques and cheap labor is used to mass produce the violins Also, each cheap violin is the product of several different hands handling the different parts whereas the a quality violin only has one hand crafting it.
As for vital issues, here is a short list of why you want to avoid a cheap violin:
- The violins are slapped together with no regard for sound, tone or longevity
- The fittings are plastic, do not fit and are of inferior quality and can break easily
- You pay a lot for repairs
- Sound quality is not very good
- The bow is often painted, missing hairs, warped and so on. It doesn’t work that well
- Violins have to be purchased in lots of 50 to 100
- The violins are produced under strict fast times deadlines
- Accessories are broken or worthless
- The violins are understained, have bad glue spots and other issues
- Cases are not solid nor able to withstand tears etc.
Are there some good Chinese violins?
In 2019, there were approx. 2,000,000 violins made and China made and exported over 1.5 million of that total. Yet, even though the Chinese violins are made cheaply and quickly, (it takes over 3 months to make a single quality violin), there are still some top Chinese violin craftsmen who make their violins the right way.
Most of these fine Chinese craftsmen left China to pursue their new craft and live in America or other countries. One even studied in Cremona the heart of Italian violin making. They all have unique stories but they all ended up in the same destination- making quality violins.
Their names are: Zheng Quan, Ming-Jiang Zhu, Lin Dian-Wei, David Lien, Chiao Chung-Hsing, Shu Sheng Kot, Feng Jiang and if you want to read a short biography about them just click here.
History of Violin Making in China
The start of the Chinese violin making industry came when Mao closed the Universities during the cultural revolution. Many of the students took up violin making as a replacement for the lack of studies.
This was not a hard change to make as violin making has not changed in over 300 years so a little research and the Chinese work ethic made it easy for those students to master the craft.
In Xiqiao , a once farming community, lies about 40 violin factories who can produce these instruments to sale at about $25 each. The violin industry grew as every Chinese industry has grown with the benefit of cheap labor.
In the 70s, China did send some of their people to study at the feet of the master violin craftsmen in order to improve the quality of their violin product.That attitude has continued to this day.
Violin market in China
There was a high demand for violins in China after the Cultural revolution took place. The market was sustaining the production of that instrument and everything looked good. Until the Cultural revolution was ended.
At that point the market collapsed and many of the violin factories went out of business. The country turned to exporting their violins and rebuilt their market by undercutting the prices of international violin makers.
Now the Chinese market for violin is good plus it dominates the international markets because of their low price. One factory alone accounts for about 25% of all Chinese violins made today. There are always Chinese violins for sale.
How to Buy a Chinese Violin?
If you are looking for a Chinese violin for sale, you may have bought one and not known it. These instruments are marketed in different countries through a variety of means and one of those means is by using different brand names. One factory can be exporting 20 to 30 different brand names to one country and they are all the same instrument made in their factory.
If you really want a Chinese violin, there are several ways to go about doing just that:
- Contact the original maker
- Look on eBay or other popular internet sites
- Go through a dealer
Part of the problem of going through the original maker or an online store is that you do not get to try the violin first. That means you may get a lemon that will have you spending more money for quality parts or a replacement violin
If you are looking for a Chinese violin for sale, they are almost everywhere as China dominates the violin producing industry. Finding a quality violin is what is going to be difficult.
Chinese violins: FAQs
#1. What is the price difference between a Chinese violin and a non Chinese violin?
Most factory made Chinese violins will cost on average between $100 to $200 but a masters level violin made by an international craftsman can cost you roughly $28,000.
#2. Are Chinese violins made by craftsmen?
Some are and there are talented ones out there but for the most part, Chinese violin makers oversee a factory where there are several rooms which focus only on one part of the violin. This means that a Chinese violin is made by several people and not one.
#3. How long does it take to make a violin?
The Italian craftsmen can take up to 3 months or more to make just 1 violin. In the Chinese factories they can be made the same day by different people. In one year China can export over 1 1/2 million violins while the Italian masters make about 7,000.
#4. Should I buy a cheap Chinese violin?
If you can afford not to then don’t. There are just too many issues that come with the cheaper violins that may have you wasting your money. There are a lot of good non Chinese made violins that are affordable and come without those issues.
#5. Should I rent or buy a Chinese violin?
In this case renting would be a lot better as you would not be responsible for the bad sound, inferior parts and other issues that would turn your child off of playing the violin.
Some final words If you can find one of the Chinese master craftsmen who individually make their violins, then buy one from them. If not, avoid the Chinese violins at all cost. There are better quality violins out there that will produce the right tones that motivate your child to continue playing