Violin/Is it the price

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Question
I am looking to this piano for a middle school player so it can be played until HS.

Brilliant Hand Crafted by Kelin Zhang - 4/4 Full Size Violin - Kelin Violins Plano TX - KV588 2005

Please help.

Answer
Hi

My Zhang is a professional violin maker whose instruments, that are actually made by him, probably sell in excess of $7500 and since he is an award wining maker, I expect they sell for well over $10,000. Although I have never seen one, I know where he received his training and am sure they are quality professional grade instruments.  However, I am sure he sells other instruments as well through his shop as he also rents instruments. I have seen a Craig's list ad for this model violin and I would bet my reputation that Mr. Zhang did not make this instrument.  It is either a Chinese made violin or made somewhere else and varnished by Mr. Zhang. If this is the ad that you are looking at, the violin probably is worth the $990 being asked. The $3000 "new" value is a bit of a stretch in my opinion.

Because I am at a huge disadvantage because I can't see the instrument in hand, I can't be absolutely sure, but I have been in this business a long time and I know of no violin makers with his training that would sell or value an instrument of their own work for under $3000. Professional luthiers also don't make "models" with model numbers, that is a commercially made product distinction. If it was made strictly by him, he would simply sign his name to it with a serial number and that number would not be a 10,000+ number, a violin maker simply can't make that many violins in their lifetime, maybe 2000 violins if they do nothing but make violins for 75 years.

If it is the one I saw on line, the violin may need some repairs. It appears to have some open edges down near the bottom and these need to be service before it is played as not doing so could cause some serious structural damage. As far as it being suitable for a few years, if it is repaired and is otherwise in good shape and it sounds the way the student and teacher would like, I am sure it will last.  I certainly wouldn't purchase it without being able to play it and have it approved by the teacher.  As no two violins of the same brand/model, or even by the same individual maker, will sound the same, just knowing that information is not really of any use.  Any violin needs to be played and tried out before purchasing and as the student improves, it is even more important that they partake in the process.

I would suggest that you go to a violin shop where you can look at and play instruments and compare several side by side. When you get an instrument from a store you also get an instrument that is ready to go, a warranty, a trade in ability and a place to go for adjustments and repairs. Violin shops also allow instruments to go out on approval for a week so that it can be tried at home and shown to the teacher before a decision is made.  

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David Lashof

Expertise

I can answer questions on violin, viola, cello and bass making, repair and maintenance as well as supply general violin value ranges and information on instrument makers’ assuming the instrument's as labeled. I don't give values for modern makers as many of these modern makers are yet unknown to me. I can only give you feedback based on what information you give me, and no authority on the instrument can know every maker's work that ever lived. I have access to many books on makers and auction prices on over 25,000 makers, as well as having 36 years of experience with selling and appraising violins. Without having the instrument in hand, any estimate over the internet is just a guess as the label inside an instrument is more often wrong than right, so just having that information is not very useful. Pictures can sometimes be helpful but only so much, as the "feel" of the instrument along with small clues in workmanship and varnish cannot be seen in pictures. Any pictures should be high quality close-ups of the top and back. Additional photos of the front and treble side of the neck are also useful. It is always best to have an instrument seen in person at a violin shop that does appraisals. I can also provide advice on bows, rosin, strings and other string instrument accessories. As I am now retired, I have no bias towards selling anything; I only wish to share my knowledge and experience by providing information for those that may be getting confused by misinformation, misdirection or conflicting statements. (While I have seen many thousands of instruments and have performed numerous appraisals; if I have not evaluated an instrument in person, any information I set forth in an opinion is just that, an opinion based solely on what you have provided. Thusly, no financial decision should be based on that opinion, but rather, further investigation should be performed by having the instrument examined in person.)

Experience

I am a retired violin maker and repairman with 35 years experience having worked in Chicago and Maryland at 5 different violin shops and music stores including the first violin repairman at William Harris Lee in Chicago, the head repairman at Weavers Violins in Maryland, and in my own shop of 25 years. I have made 160 instruments and have restored countless professional level and student grade instruments. I am an accomplished violinist having performed with semi-professional as well as amateur groups although I haven't played for years and mostly stay away from questions about playing. I have taught violin making and restoration to about 20 students; three of which have gone on professionally and now have their own shops. I know violins from playing, selling, repairing, making and teaching.

Organizations
Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

Education/Credentials
I graduated from the prestigious 4 year Chicago School of Violin Making in 1981 under Master Violin Maker Tschu Ho Lee. I also studied with violin maker Willis M. Gault in Washington DC from 1973-75, who was the former owner of the oldest known example of an instrument from the modern violin family, an Andreas Amati Viola.

Awards and Honors
2008 Chester Petranek Award for service to the music community. ASTA award for service. Top All Expert in Violin for 2014 and 2015.

Past/Present Clients
I have worked with many professional musicians from DC area Symphonies as well as players from all over the US. Here are just a few, Leonard Slatkin - Former conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. Doris Gazda - Nationally renowned string specialist and composer. Bernard Greenhouse, Tanya Anisimova - Internationally renowned Solo Cellists. Jody Gatwood, Mark Pfannschmidt, Lori Barnet, Doug Dubé, Judy Silverman - National Philharmonic Orchestra. Robert Blatt, David Hardy, Glen Garlick - National Symphony Orchestra. Eddie Stubbs, Brendan Mulvahill, Nate Leath - Professional Fiddle Players. David Basche, Pat Braunlich, John Knudson, Romano Solano, Ed Ferris, Fred Lieder - freelance musicians.

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