Frequently Asked Questions
Where are the instruments made, Who by?
All the instruments are individually handmade by small family-run or individual luthier workshops in China.
My current stock includes instruments from several different makers, but I am increasingly working with one particular maker, who is making our unique custom designs.
When I receive each instrument, I optimise the tone and playability to my own preferences. This includes fitting high quality strings, improved tuning systems, and changes to the bridge, nut, tailpiece and soundpost, as needed.
Chinese-made violins still have a bad reputation amongst some players. This is mostly because the largest factories making cheap mass-produced violins are in China, just the same as all cheap mass-produced products. Keeping this in perspective, remember that China is a truly massive country with 1/5 the world's population, and some very fine handmade instruments are also made there. In fact China now has a very strong tradition of fine lutherie, and the better Chinese luthiers can compete with most others worldwide for quality. Due to the exchange rate and other factors, they usually produce the same quality at a much lower cost. You can often buy a proper handmade instrument by a Chinese luthier for a similar price to a German factory-made instrument.
Why are your instruments so cheap?
Mostly because they are made in China. The Chinese government keeps their currency valued artificially low to stimulate exports, and wages, materials, and cost of living are all lower in China than in the west. Also because I'm an experienced buyer with a good eye for value and quality. Also because no large profit maximising businesses are involved with these instruments at any point. For these reasons, you can often buy a proper handmade instrument by a Chinese luthier for a similar price to a German factory-made instrument. I try to always pay a good rate to the makers.
Many customers do not realise that ALL hand-made violins in this price range are made in asia or eastern europe. Many other sellers try to hide this.
Where are you located?
Violorama is run from my small home studio in York, England. You can visit by appointment.
What payment methods do you accept?
My preferred method of payment is UK bank transfer. As explained on the home page, I am phasing out the use of paypal as they are prone to arbitrary and unreasonable decisions, and I no longer wish to support their unhealthy near monopoly. Until I find an alternative I will leave paypal buttons on the smaller items. For instruments and some other expensive items please contact me to arrange payment. I may still accept paypal by personal arrangement if no other method is convenient. I can also accept cash in person, bank cheques, and personal cheques if you are an existing customer or are willing to wait for the cheque to clear before receiving the goods.
What delivery methods do you use?
Instruments are sent by courier, usually UPS, and you will need to be in to sign for them. Bows are usually sent Royal Mail special delivery within the UK. Small accessories are sent royal mail first class. Of course you can always visit my studio (by appointment) to try an instrument and avoid the need for courier delivery.
Who are you? Who runs Violorama?
I'm not in the UK - what do I need to know about ordering from overseas?
How much are your instruments in $US or other currencies?
Please don't contact me asking how much the prices are in your local currency. Exchange rates vary. You can get the latest exchange rates at xe.com but you should bear in mind that these are midmarket rates and you will get a slightly worse rate by about 2% since all currency sellers have a small premium built into their rates.
I can accept international payments by paypal, in which case paypal will do the currency conversion. I can also accept payments from europe by SEPA european bank transfer.
Do you have reviews / videos / sound clips / testimonials?
There are sound and video clips on some of the individual instrument pages, I'm working on more. The customers page has links to some of the musicians using Violorama instruments. Some of these include videos.
I'm a dealer. Can I buy wholesale?
When you receive your instrument, it is essential that you check that the soundpost is still in place.
If the soundpost has fallen over you will need to get it put back in place by a competent luthier before tuning the instrument to pitch. About one in 10 times we ship an instrument the soundpost comes loose, this is normal and cannot be prevented since putting the soundpost in tighter or glueing it ruins the tone of the instrument.
We cannot take any responsibility for a soundpost falling over as it is a normal risk of shipping stringed instruments and not a fault.
Assuming the soundpost is still in place, tune the instrument up to pitch, taking care that the bridge remains vertical. The flat side of the bridge, away from the pegs, should be perpendicular to the top of the instrument.
You have 10 calendar days from the day you receive the instrument in which to make up your mind whether to keep it. If you have any concerns about the performance or suitablity of the instrument please contact me as soon as you can, since many concerns can be overcome with adjustment or string choice.
If you make a decision before the 10 days are up, it helps a lot to let me know earlier.
Yes, please follow this link: Mailing List