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2010 (but new) Master level European viola 16 inch one piece back

2010 (but new) Master level European viola 16 inch one piece back


This instrument will never be any cheaper unless the pound gains dramatically against the Euro.  It is already at cost to clear and is less than it was on sale for at the maker's shop.

I am sometimes asked what else I would recommend in the Gliga price bracket, and advanced players sometimes ask me where they go after Gliga without spending five figures on an instrument.  Let me suggest these.  The lowest priced ones start towards the top end of the Gliga price range.  Each one is individually made from start to finish by one person and I will not be holding any in stock apart from the lowest priced ones (had to sell the last one at a break even price, hundreds of pounds below what the maker had it at in his shop.  I can't make a living doing that!)

This maker, whose name I am not to reveal openly (though his name and signature are on the label of course, and the Master level instruments come with a certificate bearing his name along with photographs of the instrument) was one of the top makers in a very well known European workshop and then started making violins on his own alongside that before branching out completely on his own.  Well, not completely on his own, he also makes violins for two German makers who buy from him in the white.  Previously he made instruments in the white for an Italian maker whose instruments are well into five figures (as are all Western European makers, and Italy commands a significant premium).

Specifically, the differences between his instruments and the Gligas, which are the nearest you are likely to find readily available, are:

Wood aged longer

Instrument aged much longer (because Gliga are now making to order).  This particular one was made in 2010 but never sold.

Higher quality ebony used for the fingerboard and pegs

Better quality set up, in other words, set up as it would be done by an individual maker setting up his own instruments rather than a general set up done as standard on everything.  In short, the sort of set up that would be done by the sort of shop that would normally stock violins in this price range.

Louder and more resonant and with a good range of dynamics even in high positions, but with the same tone quality as the Gligas.  That said, these are not Chinese. They are made with a view to tone not mere volume.  If you want it loud, you either need to be looking at something Chinese or at something a lot older.  If you want it loud and with this sort of tone then you need to be raising your budget considerably and going to one of the expensive shops.

I am the only retailer this maker works with.  That is because other retailers he has worked with have tried to sell his instruments on for two to three times what he charges and he does not like that. 

The advantage of buying an instrument that has been made a couple of years ago is that any problems it may have as a brand new instrument have already shown themselves.  Humidity changes will have matured the wood and improved the sound.  All this without anyone having previously owned it.  It really is the way to do it but of course it can only be done when the maker has a build up of stock and that means either a little known maker or a maker large enough to hold instruments in stock for a couple of years before selling them (and of course that increases the price).  

OK now this particular instrument: only this one is in stock, it comes with the certificate shown.  The strings are supposed to be Dominants but I am far from convinced about the A string and can't readily identify it.  If you are seriously in the market for an instrument in this price range you are probably going to end up experimenting with strings at some point anyway so at the moment my plan is to sell it as it is, but if that puts you off, let me know - I am not going to forfeit a sale for the sake of a set of strings.

Here it is with the strings as they are (sorry the microphone is buzzing badly, but you will get a good idea of the tone):

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