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Quiz time

Elizabeth Ward

Sorry no prizes because if you have read my last few posts the answer is blindingly obvious.

Here is a description from amazon.com of a violin costing (remember this is the USA price) $1298

Description 
Panel material: Italy 3A Spruce 
Dorsal plate material: Italy 3A Maple 
Tailpiece material: Ebony 
Violin size: 4/4 
1.Christina Violin originated in Italy since 1868, made by the Italian master violin maker based on top craftsmanship.European classic antique Stradivari violin is handcrafted from strictly selected materials. 
2.Christina violin uses the Italy spruce wood as the panel, which sound is more transparent than ordinary wood and resonate better, lighter and more resistant to deformation. 
3.Hand-polished headstock shines with the natural lustre and offers you a great texture , presenting your taste. 
4.Each violin is handmade, we can not ensure that each violin is exactly same with the picture, but we can ensure you 95% similarity. 
5.Paint of the violin has always been considered the oldest Italian secret, because after the glorious 17 and 18 century,the paint progress has been lost. Maybe only Christina who still applies the Italian family's secret of painting violin. Christina's violin not only has a beautiful outlook, but also ensuring you a fantastic sound. 

Question: where is the violin made?

Here is a cheaper one ($508) from the same seller.  The description is exactly the same apart from the first part which reads

Description 
Panel material: Spruce 
Dorsal plate material: Maple 
Tailpiece material: Ebony 
Violin size: 4/4 
1.Christina Violin originated in Italy in 1868, made by the Italian master violin maker based on top craftsmanship.European classic antique Stradivari violin is handcrafted from strictly selected materials. 
2.Christina violin uses the spruce wood as the panel, which sound is more transparent than ordinary wood and resonate better, lighter and more resistant to deformation. 


Question: where is the violin made?

And there is a still cheaper one (€200)  from the same seller, description exactly the same as above.

Question: where is the violin made?

Answer (freely admitted by the seller but only in answer to a question).  They are all made in China.

So, three points: 1. did anyone reading this seriously think that an Italian made violin would sell for €1298, let alone €200?  Seriously??  I hope not!  But clearly some buyers must think so.  Probably the same group of buyers who think that music instrument retail markups are 500%, or those who contact me regarding ebay listings that are already at cost and described as such, asking if I can lower the price still more.  Or perhaps like the potential customer (many years ago) who asked if this £60 violin I was advertising was a professional violin (for her six year old).  When I explained that you don't get professional quality violins for £60 (if I knew where to get them for that price I would have done so!) she said thank you, she would go to her local music shop then.  

2. What possible reason can the seller have for all the emphasis on Italian paint secrets and so on?  I won't answer that one, consider your own answer if you wish.

3. How long does it take to make a violin by hand?  Any guesses? Finding the answer is more difficult than you might think because there will be stages where for example the instrument is drying between coats of varnish and obviously you don't sit around watching the varnish dry, you do something else.  The makers themselves don't seem to know as far as I can work out.  But common sense alone should tell you that you are not going to buy the wood, get it all carved out by hand, pay the wages and the factory overheads, plus amazon fees which are huge, and still make a profit on a $200 violin, if you are paying even the minimum wage in Italy (€3 an hour, and violin making is hardly a minimum wage job is it?)



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