Monday, January 23, 2012

Contempt for their product.

Another in the soundpost series -- an example of why it's not a good idea to simply give a quote for standing a soundpost. This one came out of a violin-shaped object. I had quoted them the price for a new soundpost, because I guessed that I wouldn't want to use what was bouncing around inside. There's something about the way this one was cut symbolizes the contempt with which many of these cheap Chinese vso's are made. Not even an effort at cutting a bevel. One should see smooth bevels that match the inner surface (top and bottom) of the the instrument. This one was simply crimped off, partially, then broken off the rest of the way.

But, hey, they're affordable!


  1. I hear that... I try and avoid the VSOs as much as possible, sometimes even saying no to working on them.

  2. I'm turning away more and more of these, particularly if they are brand new. In that situation, new instrument, I try to get the owner to take it back to the place where they bought it for a refund. Here, it was an instrument in use, and nothing else on the instrument bothered them. I don't know how they lived with the pegs, but didn't get into that. This vso came in through a local music store and I told the store personnel that the cost of the repair (a new soundpost) was near the value of the instrument. I don't know whether they passed that along to the customer or not! :-) But, it now has a decent soundpost and will be back to work in a public school orchestra.

  3. So you don't see VSOs as a "gateway drug" to better instruments? I mean, if someone (like myself) picks up an inexpensive instrument and quickly learns that it has major shortcomings and then purchases a better instrument, then the cheap VSO has served its purpose, no?

  4. Certainly that can happen. My first violin was no beauty, a Skylark in the1970s, but it did function. I could play it.

    More and more, though, I'm seeing instruments that don't function. For example, I had a cello in the other day. Extremely bad fingerboard, bridge so low that the strings were on the fingerboard, soundpost that didn't fit. Pegs that didn't work. Marginal strings. The person who bought this is out their purchase price, and not willing to put more money into the 'cso' -- reasonably so, since it's likely to start losing its ribs around the endpin (something I see often these days) and cracking along the endblock on the top and back.

    So the only thing there is something masquerading as an instrument, sold at, I think, $200. I'm guessing it only served to generate anger in the parent, who is out $200, and disappointment in the child for whom it was intended.

    We can certainly argue that $200 is way too little to expect to pay for a cello, but in many cases the parent is trying to save money and willing to believe that if they buy something called a cello, they get a cello. Not the best, of course, but something that works. If people bought cars that didn't run, then there is a recourse available to them. For instruments, it's much tougher to get that sort of legal help.

    I'm trying to be helpful, spreading the word. Be careful out there and buy from reputable dealers.