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Apr 7, 2021 - 1:36:45 PM
124 posts since 4/2/2019

I’m talking to a lady about a violin. Gorgeous flamed maple on back and sides. I’ve noticed some odd “blemishes” (not sure the right word) in the top and am wondering if they are red flags.

I’m going to see the violin on Saturday, so of course sound and general condition of the violin will be the most important things, but hadn’t noticed these kinds of top “features” on other violins I’ve seen.

The violin was sold by KC Strings in 2011, when they didn't include model info on the label inside the f-hole. The seller bought it used from KC Strings, used it for four years, then had it restrung by KC Strings and then left it in the case for three years. She is asking $225.






Edited by - DougBrock on 04/07/2021 13:49:52

Apr 7, 2021 - 2:15:48 PM
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9037 posts since 3/19/2009

I don't know what to say about the top blemishes, but that back blemish is interesting.. I Love that one piece back!!!!

Apr 7, 2021 - 2:34:21 PM
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Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2621 posts since 2/3/2011

The scuff marks on the top could possibly have come from a loose bow in the case. I see the case has the propeller style bow retainers.

Apr 7, 2021 - 3:48:54 PM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by boxbow

The scuff marks on the top could possibly have come from a loose bow in the case. I see the case has the propeller style bow retainers.


I'm not talking about the scuff-type marks. I'm talking about some imperfections in the wood grain, sort of like knots maybe? You can see some on the lower ends of the f-holes, but really they seem to be all over the top.

Hmmm, maybe they ARE just a bunch of scuff marks? It will be interesting to get a close look at this violin.

Edited by - DougBrock on 04/07/2021 15:51:31

Apr 7, 2021 - 7:23:27 PM
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370 posts since 7/18/2014

I think they are, or were, forming birds’ eye.

Apr 7, 2021 - 8:02:51 PM
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367 posts since 3/1/2020

Those don’t look like blemishes in the wood to me. The spots look more like attempts at varnish touchup.

The blemishes are cosmetic. You could pay to have them retouched properly and they’d be less visible or you could just leave them as they lie. As long as the violin is structurally sound, $225 isn’t out of line.

The only caveat is that it may be necessary to have a new setup done given that it’s been sitting unused.

Apr 7, 2021 - 8:42:15 PM
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DougD

USA

10033 posts since 12/2/2007

I agree with Rich. Its hard to tell from a photo, but the light spots just look like regular old dings, and the dark ones the same, which have been "touched up."
Let us know how it goes.

Apr 8, 2021 - 6:50:04 AM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

I asked the seller about the “marks.” She said, “That is the top finishing coat of the wood that’s been worn off.” Hmmm. Seems odd that so many little spots would be worn through like that. I’ll just have to see it more closely on Saturday.

Apr 10, 2021 - 12:54:55 PM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

I just saw the violin. The “blemishes” were not user damage but were obviously made during the finishing process to make the violin look older. I just couldn’t see that in the photo.

I didn’t buy the violin. The e-string was very low and would have at least needed a new bridge. That by itself wasn’t a deal breaker, but it was a rainy day and I wasn’t able to play the violin to see what it sounded like.

Apr 10, 2021 - 5:36 PM

182 posts since 4/9/2009

quote:
Originally posted by DougBrock

but it was a rainy day and I wasn’t able to play the violin to see what it sounded like.


I'm sorry, what? I may be dense, but I'm not understanding how a rainy day would keep you from playing a violin that you were interested in.

Apr 10, 2021 - 5:54:54 PM
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124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by East Texas Fiddle
quote:
Originally posted by DougBrock

but it was a rainy day and I wasn’t able to play the violin to see what it sounded like.


I'm sorry, what? I may be dense, but I'm not understanding how a rainy day would keep you from playing a violin that you were interested in.


We met half-way between our towns at a gas station and were standing in the parking lot, hoping the rain wouldn't pick up again. Seeing the low e-string was enough to say never-mind. I've started trying to fit bridges, but for now a bridge or neck problem on a low-priced violin is a bigger factor. If things had otherwise looked good, then I would have more likely tried to figure a way to put a bow to the violin.

I'm TRYING to be picky when I look at violins, lol. I've bought four since February and already had an old German violin so now have five violins, so on the way to see this one I kept telling myself to be strong and not buy the violin unless I REALLY liked it. I really don't need a bunch of low-end violins.

If I see another old German violin for $50, I'll probablly buy it, just to practice on setting it up. (I just took the top off an old violin that I bought for $50. Needs pegs bushed and some cracks fixed - for $50, I figure it's worth the money if only for the experience.) Otherwise, I'll check out violins here and there, but mostly try to NOT buy!

Edited by - DougBrock on 04/10/2021 17:55:53

Apr 11, 2021 - 7:31:47 AM
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182 posts since 4/9/2009

quote:
Originally posted by DougBrock

I'm TRYING to be picky when I look at violins, lol. I've bought four since February and already had an old German violin so now have five violins, so on the way to see this one I kept telling myself to be strong and not buy the violin unless I REALLY liked it. I really don't need a bunch of low-end violins.

If I see another old German violin for $50, I'll probablly buy it, just to practice on setting it up. (I just took the top off an old violin that I bought for $50. Needs pegs bushed and some cracks fixed - for $50, I figure it's worth the money if only for the experience.) Otherwise, I'll check out violins here and there, but mostly try to NOT buy!


I get it now.

Also in the same boat. 2 new in the past 6 months.

The struggle is real, lol.

Apr 14, 2021 - 12:29:17 AM
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5536 posts since 7/1/2007

quote:
Originally posted by KCFiddles

I worked for KC Strings from 2006 through the time I set up my own business, and helped set up their inventory management system, and was privy to their operations through the late teens, and I can tell you for sure that in 2011 every KC Strings instrument had a label and a serial number. I seriously doubt whether the seller bought that instrument, new or used, from KC Strings. As mentioned, it's hard to tell from the photos, but the blemishes on the top are consistent with damage from a loose bow, and may have been subjected to retouching attempts. The damage on the back is harder to assess. Looks to me like the violin may have been set down in something that attacked the varnish. Hard to say much about the violin itself. The varnish on modern Chinese instruments is generally pretty tough and damage resistant. KC Strings had over 100 rental instruments out at any given time, and I never saw that kind of damage during the time I was there. Have seen similar damage on older instruments, though.

BTW, you've passed up a number of cheap instruments in your area in the last couple of weeks, including a $50 Hopf violin on Craigslist right now.


Apr 14, 2021 - 5:58:04 AM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by KCFiddles
quote:
Originally posted by KCFiddles

I worked for KC Strings from 2006 through the time I set up my own business, and helped set up their inventory management system, and was privy to their operations through the late teens, and I can tell you for sure that in 2011 every KC Strings instrument had a label and a serial number. I seriously doubt whether the seller bought that instrument, new or used, from KC Strings. As mentioned, it's hard to tell from the photos, but the blemishes on the top are consistent with damage from a loose bow, and may have been subjected to retouching attempts. The damage on the back is harder to assess. Looks to me like the violin may have been set down in something that attacked the varnish. Hard to say much about the violin itself. The varnish on modern Chinese instruments is generally pretty tough and damage resistant. KC Strings had over 100 rental instruments out at any given time, and I never saw that kind of damage during the time I was there. Have seen similar damage on older instruments, though.

BTW, you've passed up a number of cheap instruments in your area in the last couple of weeks, including a $50 Hopf violin on Craigslist right now.


 


Cool that you worked at KC Strings!

This violin DOES have a KC Strings label and date (2011) - it just doesn't show a model. I had called KC Strings about another violin that was reportedly from their store and they said that they did have labels at one time that didn't have model numbers. 

On close inspection, the violin didn't seem to have any real damage. The violin does have the popular artificial "aging" on front and back, but all looks to be done by the craftsmen, not by the players. The appearance wasn't a deterrent to me.

I do check Facebook marketplace and Craiglist every day for old fixer uppers. I checked on that $50 HOPF when the ad first came out but the lady said it was sold. Since the ad has stayed up for a while, I checked again last week to see if perhaps the deal had fallen through, but I didn't get a response this time.

Apr 14, 2021 - 7:40:58 AM
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5536 posts since 7/1/2007

Ok, if it just has a label on it that says "KC Strings", it's their entry level model (It will still have a 3-letter inventory code on a separate little label). IIRC they were still made by Chen near Beijing, and were really good for entry level (You can tell by the way the cheeks of the scroll are carved). That makes the varnish damage on the upper part of the top and on the back even more of a mystery, because as I recall, that varnish was pretty near child proof. We used to bring in school instruments by the container load, and Misha Krutz stayed at the factory in China for weeks at a time to assure selection and QC. H personally inspected each instrument he bought.

Apr 14, 2021 - 7:55:41 AM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by KCFiddles

Ok, if it just has a label on it that says "KC Strings", it's their entry level model (It will still have a 3-letter inventory code on a separate little label). IIRC they were still made by Chen near Beijing, and were really good for entry level (You can tell by the way the cheeks of the scroll are carved). That makes the varnish damage on the upper part of the top and on the back even more of a mystery, because as I recall, that varnish was pretty near child proof. We used to bring in school instruments by the container load, and Misha Krutz stayed at the factory in China for weeks at a time to assure selection and QC. H personally inspected each instrument he bought.


Really, the varnish does NOT look like it's damaged - it looks like typical attempts by the finisher to make an instrument look old. I'm guessing from your comments that this wasn't common for KC Strings instruments?

(I personally would prefer that a violin NOT be artificially "aged," but my current "best" violin (Chinese) was manufactured to look like it has decades of wear. I do have an old German violin that HAS been aged naturally, and it doesn't look great, lol. I wouldn't mind a bit if my next "good" violin just has a nice glowing undamaged varnish! :) )

Edited by - DougBrock on 04/14/2021 08:06:45

Apr 14, 2021 - 8:06:29 AM

5536 posts since 7/1/2007

Correct. They didn't antique anything in that price range. Antiquing adds cost. To me, that looks like solvent damage that someone tried unsuccessfully to "fix", primarily due to the location and form of the damage. The other, on the top, still looks like damage from a loose bow being carried continuously. I could tell more from a closer look, but it's moot, now.

Apr 14, 2021 - 8:08:48 AM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by KCFiddles

Correct. They didn't antique anything in that price range. Antiquing adds cost. To me, that looks like solvent damage that someone tried unsuccessfully to "fix", primarily due to the location and form of the damage. The other, on the top, still looks like damage from a loose bow being carried continuously. I could tell more from a closer look, but it's moot, now.


The spots on the top didn't look like user damage at all. The spots look just like the fake wear on my other artificially-aged violin. Yes, moot point now.

Edited by - DougBrock on 04/14/2021 08:09:10

Apr 14, 2021 - 8:12:14 AM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by KCFiddles

Correct. They didn't antique anything in that price range. Antiquing adds cost.


The nicely flamed maple on back and sides ALSO didn't look like anything I've seen from KC Strings in the low-priced models. Also the fancy boxwood pegs and tailpiece, but those pieces could have been changed out by the original owner?

Apr 14, 2021 - 8:21:06 AM
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5536 posts since 7/1/2007

Went back and took another look. Too much figure in the back for an entry level violin. Should be very plain, although IIRC some of them did have 1-piece backs, but they usually selected for figure and charged more. Things didn't always work perfectly when you had a business run by a Russian who grew up and learned business under Stalin, and manned by a mix of people from several different countries and backgrounds.

Apr 14, 2021 - 8:30:41 AM
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5536 posts since 7/1/2007

Slipups DO happen, but the label is for an entry level instrument, and presumably it was sold as such.

Apr 14, 2021 - 8:34:39 AM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by DougBrock
quote:
Originally posted by KCFiddles

Correct. They didn't antique anything in that price range. Antiquing adds cost.


The nicely flamed maple on back and sides ALSO didn't look like anything I've seen from KC Strings in the low-priced models. Also the fancy boxwood pegs, but those could have been changed out by the original owner?


Apr 14, 2021 - 8:54:41 AM
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5536 posts since 7/1/2007

The "Boxwood" pegs are jujube wood, very soft, and don't wear near as well as ebony or real boxwood.

Apr 15, 2021 - 7:08:14 PM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by KCFiddles

The "Boxwood" pegs are jujube wood, very soft, and don't wear near as well as ebony or real boxwood.


Jujube?  I have so much to learn! :)

Apr 15, 2021 - 8:14:42 PM
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5536 posts since 7/1/2007

LOL! Wait til you eat an actual jujube! The candy ones are much better, IMHO.

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