Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Violin Shops in Hong Kong

Bumped into another parent who is also learning the violin after the ISF Grade 6/7 Musical and had a brief discussion with him about violin shops in Hong Kong.  Here is my list of violin shops in Hong Kong (most of them also carry other stringed instruments).

Orfeo Strings
I love and hate Orfeo.  Their collection is good (this is the place where you can see and try bows by Thomassin and Vigneron) but I'm really fed up with all the bullshit from one of the guys there.  Visitors to the shop who are identified as someone who can afford better instruments will be told that their children need a Laberte for grade 6 and up violin examinations, and that Chinese and Eastern European violins are for beginners.

Hong Kong Strings
A nice shop in Central with a fairly good collection and helpful staff.  Prices are reasonable too.  However, a neck resetting job that needed to be completely redone keeps me from rating it more highly.

Violmaster
Mr. Au and his apprentices, all quiet and timid men, are extremely helpful.  They carry Chinese stringed instruments of different grades.

Andre Jutras
A small one-man operation in Wanchai.  A French husband to a Chinese lady and father of a teenage girl who is also playing the violin, AJ is one of the very few violin makers here.  These days he is more a dealer of Chinese instruments than a maker/restorer but he does more than just buy and sell.  He will make sure that all the instruments that leave his workshop are properly set up and in playable condition.

Solo Strings
Another no-fuss and honest violin shop in Wanchai.  The shop that I now go to for repair and maintenance.

Some violin shops are less honest than the other.  So be careful.  An unlabeled instrument that is sold for less than US$400 in a Tarisio auction may somehow find its way into a shop in the New Territories and become a HK$50,000 violin with an Italian label.

17 comments:

gweipo said...

Have to agree. Although I'm still partial to HK strings, my son is hiring a wonderful little 1/4 size violin from them with a beautiful tone.
They didn't have a 1/4 cello so we're with orfeo for that and their admin is less than stellar! Not at all as friendly or helpful

btw, the suzuki school in HK is starting cello lessons from Sept if you have people interested in cello.

Joyce Lau said...

Gweipo -- Your son is learning both violin and cello?

SorLo -- What size violin does your daughter play?

W said...

Hi Joyce, my daughter switched to a 3/4 some three or four months ago. I guess she will be ready for a full size in a year or so. She will probably skip the "lady-sized" 7/8 (she tried her teacher 4/4 yesterday and it was not too much a stretch).

HK_Guy said...

Hi Sorlo;

Thanks for tip on HK violin shops. I need a new bridge and a neck angle reset. Which shop do you recommend? Also do you have any experience with Dynasty Violin Shop?

Yiu Ming

HK_Guy said...

Hi Sorlo;

Thanks for tips on HK violin shops. I need a new bridge and neck angle reset. Any recommendations?

W said...

I am now going to Solo String and entrusting my violins to Stephen, who always knows what I want. HK String is good on the whole but I am not entirely happy with their work. I once took my violin for a neck resetting, which needed to be completely redone. And, when the violin was back there was still an open seam. The violin stuff is very personal. One rarely feels 100% satisfied. In my case, I always find it necessary to reset the soundpost when I get my violin back.

GEDWIN717 said...

Hi SorLo,
I am writing a thesis about HK violin makeing history, can you give me some information, who I can find to have an interview? Thanks.

EDWIN

W said...

Sorry I don't have much information to offer. You may want to talk to Andre Jutras. He has a Chinese wife and been around for a long time. You can call him a local maker. You may also want to talk to the boss of Solo Strings (forgot his name). He has been very active recently. Did you go to the violin exhibition he sponsored less than 2 weeks ago?

HK_Guy said...

Hi Edwin, Hong Kong violin-making dates back at least to the 60's. I have a violin made by Chan Chi Ming (Andy) in 1961 in HK. It was sold to a European violinist (maybe someone playing in the HK Phil) in 1962.

It looks to be completely handmade and use a soft reddish oil varnish. The workmanship is a bit rushed and tone lacks depth, but is a still major step up from student violins from Europe or China.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Hello Edwin,

I would be very interested to know more about your thesis.The history of violin making in Hong Kong is still young but certainly desserve to be paid attention/be documented
Im a violinmaker myself, have worked in one of the HK workshop
Here is my mail : lauline99@yahoo.fr, it might be interesting to talk? Feel free to contact me.
Céline

cellofreakz said...

Hi Sorlo,
it's interesting to find a details views on violin shops in hong kong. I am a long amateur cellist new to hk, would like to ask some views on violin shops here who are good in bow re-hair, bridge setup and fingerboard replacement. thanks a lot

W said...

Most of the shops can do a fine job. Habitually I return to Solo Strings.

Anonymous said...

I am happy with my purchase of a violin from Solo Strings. Good services and happy customer.

Anonymous said...

Also got a very good violin at solo strings, they are very friendly people

Christopher Pang said...

Hi, i would like to ask, i have a zeta violin, and i would like to get it repaired. is there's anyplace in hong kong i could do that? thanks for reading and looking forward for your reply :)

Christopher

Anonymous said...

Don't go Violmaster. I asked them to change my tail piece and chinrest, the result is good. However, the guy there suggested me to lower the bridge. After that, then tone of my violin is getting lower and curve of the bridge is a bit flat for beginner like me. I have difficulty in doing cross strings now.

Corilonviolins said...

Many violin shops take advantage of the fact that most customers have little technical knowledge. This makes it easy to sell a more or less costly "repair", such as a new bridge and soundpost by standard.

Fitting a new bridge and soundpost is more than just fitting the bridge foot to the table. These acoustical elements are the most tonally critical parts and it needs much experience to get the dimensions, thicknesses and positions right.


Kindest regards from Munich, Germany

Corilon violins

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