I have never given much thought to violins as I found them too simple. They looked like mini guitars and once you’ve seen a violin, you’ve seen them all – only the colors differ. So it was with much enthusiasm that I took on the challenge last month of finding a violin for my husband that will stand out from the sea of bland violins.
Being a flutist, I know for a fact that hand-made instruments are the best choice; they have an unmatched sound that is smooth, deep, loud but not harsh, and sweetly haunting. The bad news is, hand-made instruments can be expensive (hence I’m still using my Yamaha beginner’s flute :P) and it’s quite a challenge to find a good compromise of hand-made craft and affordable price. At least one that will burn a tiny hole in my wallet and not a sinkhole that will swallow up my house. Enter Violin Village.
The first time I ran across their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/violinvillage), the violins they had posted made me think that they were based in Europe until I saw their 2014 Brand of the Year seal (this was in May 2015, they now have a 2015 Brand of the Year seal). I am familiar with the Brand of the Year seal because of Reader’s Digest and honestly, it was because of this seal that made me further explore their FB page and, during that process, their website. It is in their website, Violin Village (http://www.violinvillage.com), that I found more information about the violins they sell. Although, their FB page carries a complete catalog of their violins compared to their website.
Violin Village specializes in the interpretations of rare 17th-18th century violins by Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati, Bergonzi, and Magginni with the goal of providing the Filipino strings community an easy access to high quality stringed instruments. They are a family-owned business based in Bacolod, Negros Occidental that was established in 2013. All of their violins are made of aged spruce top, flamed maple back, sides and neck, natural black (unpainted) ebony fingerboard, natural hardwood pegs, chin rest, and tailpiece. The Italian oil varnish is applied by hand.
With this information, I got ready to send a private message on FB about thier available violins. It was with mild surprise that they replied immediately as it is my experience with most online sellers to wait a day or two for their reply. They were gracious and kind in answering all my inquiries about their instruments and I ended up placing an order for the 1724 Stradivarius with Corinthian Scroll. The price for the violin, case, and brazilwood bow was P16,900 ($375.55 using the prevailing exchange rate now) and shipping is free through LBC. They do sell just the violin at P14,500 ($322). Happily, their price burned no hole in my wallet nor made a sinkhole under my house as compared to another Philippine company I saw.
I had to wait 18 days before the violin arrived only because it was still being set-up, calibrated and finely adjusted while we were doing the transaction. According to Mr. Elias, their master-luthier Mr. Jay Qing started work on the violin on November 2014 and finished around the first week of June 15 because of the intricate carvings and oc-like (Mr. Elias didn’t use that word exactly though :P) tuning that went into the instrument. And as it happens with things that took its time to be crafted, the 1724 Stradivarius with Corinthian Scroll was definitely a work of art and music. I am sure all this hard work and dedication was applied to every violin that they sold, the difference being that the particular violin I bought had carvings on the back and on the scroll. Mr Qing, Violin Village’s Master-Luthier makes the violins in China but he does sometimes make it here in the Philippines when circumstances permit.
The pictures above where taken the same day the violin arrived and they do not do justice to the magnificence of the violin. The color looks lighter in the picture but in person, it has a lovely rich mahogany finish that is hard to find in other violins being sold in music stores now. The sound it produces is deep, rich, and vibrant.
One more thing that makes this company stand out aside from their instruments is the fact that they are so kind, and refreshingly honest. Kind because, come on, can you name any company that will stay up with you until almost 12 midnight just answering your questions? I thought so. Before Violin Village, I never encountered an online seller who would reply to my emails past 6pm. Refreshingly honest because before my violin arrived I saw in their page a comment asking if the violin also came with a rosin. When they replied in the affirmative, I was looking forward to the rosin but the violin I ordered didn’t come with one. I immediately went to FB and asked them about it. Naturally, they replied instantly and told me that they discontinued giving out rosins because their rosins are low quality. How’s that for honesty. I was genuinely amazed at how straightforward they were, I can only hope that other companies are like them.
If you too would like to own a handmade violin, visit their website and FB page for more information. They update their Facebook page regularly so it would be better to check their page first 😉 Then send them a private message immediately because their instruments really do sell fast. It is worth every penny.
*Discalimer: Violin Village did not pay me to make this glowing article for them. I made this because I (and my husband) am very impressed with the violin we bought and of their excellent customer service. This is my way of recommending their company to everyone.