Students every year are exiting violin making schools around the world. If you are in love with the idea of buying a hand crafted instrument from someone from one of these schools, the head instructors might be able to point you in the direction of an affordable, quality instrument that is probably chalk full of stories and hasn’t gotten super expensive yet because the maker is so far unknown. We all gotta start somewhere.
Links to the most established violin making schools in the US:
If you’re making plans on purchasing a instrument this winter season, try checking out work from some of the graduates of one of these schools.
So if you wanted to buy an instrument would you just contact the school and ask if there are any students selling, or contact the students?
I would contact the school and ask one of the instructors if there is anyone that is about to graduate or has graduated recently that might have an instrument in the price range you’re looking in (or area of the country you are in so you can try instruments without any extra shipping/traveling expenses). If your range is fairly low, expect a “no.” The idea is promote single makers and support a living wage. Ask if there is contact info for that person – phone number/ website/ email/ name of violin shop that they went to after school.
Recommendations from the instructors should be given due weight, as they have seen the student in action and the attention that they have given to their work. Through your searching, try not to judge a maker based on an early instrument; a lot of growth can happen within the first couple of years of working in a shop after school – thus the increase in price of the instruments as the maker hones his or her chops.
Also, looking at graduate lists and searching online by “student name” + cello or viola or violin, etc. might bring up instruments that have been listed online at various shops. This might also bring up prices, so you don’t have to call anyone.
A caveat to online searching: I started selling through different shops on consignment and currently prefer to let one shop in particular handle most of my sales. Some of my instruments are still listed on other sites and I know for a fact those particular instruments are currently not in those shops, so the internet isn’t always up to date, but it’s a starting point for many.
It’s that time of year again! Happy graduation and job placements to the luthiery graduates of 2018!