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Master Hand Violin Shop

  • 546 S Main W Street
  • Broadway, VA 22815
  • 630/ 292-2641

    Store Hours

  • By Appointment Only
  • Owner

    Elizabeth Ecklund

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    So, What's Up With Chinese Instruments?

    By Diane Bruce

    We are frequently asked why we carry Chinese-made instruments in our store. Many people think that Chinese instruments still are incredibly low quality, improperly made, and likely defective. There is a reason people think this way. We have seen these instruments. And we still see these instruments. China has put these poor quality instruments on the market for several decades.

    Well, it turns out that somewhere along the line, putting out poor quality instruments got China a bad reputation, and nobody would purchase their wares. China was forced to begin making better quality instruments. Unfortunately for China, but fortunately for you, people still wouldn't buy Chinese violins. Chinese violins got nicer and nicer, but the prices stayed low. China started using properly aged wood to prevent warping, but prices stayed low. China upgraded from spray - on varnish to hard paint - on varnish, but prices stayed low. China began hand carving previously laminated instruments, but prices stayed low. So here we are today, with Chinese instruments that are substantially nicer than equivalently priced European instruments. *gasp*.

    What are the advantages to purchasing a Chinese instrument? As previously mentioned, high end Chinese instruments get you more bang for your buck than European instruments. Additionally, their instruments are new, so they are scratch free and pleasing to the eye. Sometimes Chinese instruments have extra fancy abalone inlay or fancy accessories. Chinese instruments also tend to have a very moderate and sweet tone that is neither too bright nor overly dark. And as a bonus, because the instruments are new, the sound will improve as you play.

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    In the instruments above, you can see that the equivalently priced German instrument has substantially less flame in the wood and substantially more varnish blemishes than the Chinese violin.

    What are the disadvantages to purchasing a Chinese instrument? Most importantly, high-end Chinese instruments are still not as nice as other high-end instruments, and low-end Chinese instruments still are pretty bad (just check ebay). Additionally, if you like the red violin shown above, you're out of luck with a Chinese violin because Chinese instruments tend to be yellowy-brown.

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