Don't settle for garbage when you shop for a violin.

The so-called deal that is "too good to be true" isn't good at all.

dumpsters with horribly cheap junk violins

I received an upsettlingly rude email today that shook me up. The writer said, "You really need to look into some cheaper violins. I'm going to ebay they are waaaay cheaper!"

Wow, this was a first for me. I receive daily emails from players who thoroughly enjoy my site and thank me for not selling cheap, disposable violin shaped objects. I took it personally and was shocked by what I took to be a sharp accusation and even more surprised this person took the time to share it with me.

Sadly, I have seen for myself these $20 Ebay deals and have had students skunked by these violins. Usually the shipping (and ensuing duty into Canada) is killer. Worse yet, by the time they replace bad parts and get luthier work done they would have been better off with investing that money in a higher quality violin.

Yet it's hard to share that with a player who sees more importance on "cheap" than on quality, and especially considering they will think I'm just biased. Hence I wrote the following reply with hopes to explain why I don't sell cheap violins while also letting this person know he or she is most welcome to shop elsewhere:

"Thank you for your feedback.
"I provide the service of providing high quality instruments which meet my high standards as a player. I have made a very conscious effort not to sell lower quality, thus also lower priced, instruments since they can be found easily in so many other places. My business, being more a specialty boutique, also offers award-winning service and support and has many pleased customers who find great value in the service they receive.
"I understand your request but I will not be carrying cheaper violins as I cannot, as a professional teacher, recommend them as suitable or qualified instruments to new players who trust my opinion.
"However, individuals who wish to spend less on a lower priced instrument are most welcome to shop elsewhere as there are many options online. I hope you do locate something to suit your budget and wish you all the best in your music."

Cheap violin in cheap case, missing its bridge

Now I reflect on how many other players, teachers and luthiers have worked to educate people against the cheap violins as seen on Ebay, the "bullseye" store, the big "W" shop, and the bookstore run by the richest human in the galaxy, which all sell terrible violin outfits (including extra bridge since the first one is warped) for $89 or so.

Have other teachers or shop owners had a difficult time explaining to students or other players why a good violin costs more and why a deal that is "too good to be true" most certainly is? How it's a waste of money, with problems that cost more to correct than the whole outfit costs? How the instrument will only frustrate the student by being difficult to play, sounding awful the whole time? How these things will break before long and end up in the landfills?

I know there are many players, like myself in my youth, who cannot afford a quality violin at all and are left using poor quality violins many would call "junk" or "VSOs" (Violin Shaped-Objects). This is why I take payments and deposits, much like rent-to-own, from such players so they can get their hands on a decent instrument rather than settling for garbage. It was also the motivation behind me starting up a non-profit society which provides instruments and scholarships to students in financial need so there are other options beyond the Ebay junk.

Finally, I ponder, should I have just ignored the email? I felt pressured to write something defending my decision not to sell cheap violins, but maybe it's just that I am 8 months pregnant and plain worn out.

Nope, I know am doing the right thing as a promoter of quality instruments. And I stand by the decision.