The New Breed of Hybrid American-Chinese Violins
The phrase “Cheap Chinese Violin” has become part of the musician’s lexicon in the U.S. Implicit in the phrase is inexpensive (i.e. $50 - $200) and not really great quality. While it is true that many of the tens of thousands of violins being made today are made in China. Many of these instruments are really not even worthy of use by beginning students.
A growing number of really nice Chinese violin family instruments
All of the above being said, there are a growing number of true master luthiers in China turning out some really nice instruments.
The American-Chinese Hybrids
A number of these top Chinese makers supply partially completed instruments to U.S.-based violin suppliers. The resulting instruments are highly regarded as intermediate and conservatory level violins, violas and cellos. We call these instruments “American-Chinese Hybrids”. Some of the best-known well-established brands are:
- Scott Cao
- Eastman Strings
- Jay Haide
The Growing Brands
Calvert Violins, based in Baltimore, MD, sells a number of intermediate to advanced level violins. These are made to spec instruments primarily from Viol Master in Hong Kong. Instruments made in Hong Kong are quite a bit more expensive than those made in Beijing or Shanghai, and they are worth it.
The Revelle line of violins are products of Connolly Music Company, the New York based premiere distributor of high-end instruments, bows and accessories by the top makers, including master level instruments from Bernd Dimbath and its intermediate and advanced instrument brand, Heinrich Gill.
Connolly’s Revelle violins are essentially completed by carefully selected contract workshops in southern China, with setup (including sound posts) and accessorizing done by Connolly’s own experts in the U.S.
Revelle violins are beginning replace Scott Cao and Eastman violins as the instruments of choice in Secondary School and University orchestras.
The Don Rickert Musician Shop carries the two top end Revelle violins, the Model 600 and Model 700QX. You can read our own product descriptions of the Revelle Model 600 and Model 700QX.
The Revelle Model 600 and Model 700QX are shown below.
Note: Dr. Rickert has adopted a Revelle Model 700QX and has it set up for playing Scottish Highland and American Old-Time fiddle. It its strung with D’Addarrio Zyex synthetic gut strings, the closet thing to post 1890s "modern" gut strings, except that they stay in tune once broken in...and tolerate frequent tuning changes from standard to various alternative tunings.