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1 Review by Kevin

FiddlerShop

FiddlerShop

5/18/16

I actually had an issue with my most recent order. I caught them during a move they were having problems with on their end, so shipment was delayed for a while. Pierre and John both called and left voicemails apologizing and explaining the situation, also offering me an upgraded instrument for the delay (ordered an Apprentice, they gave me an Artist!). And, surprise, they overnight shipped it, which must have cost a fortune as well (letters are about $30 and this was a whole violin). So just remember this is a small operation handling (due to their own reckless practice of supplying outstanding products for silly prices, as well as personal customer care) reorganization and probably a lot of new business. It's worth it though, to support a business like this, for all the extras and whatnot that make them outstanding.

These whatnots include but are probably not limited to: Pierre makes video demonstrations for all his instruments, any purchased instruments on request, instruments the customer is interested in (including side-by-side comparisons and even selecting among their stock of a particular model range an instrument best suited to the customer's stated preferences), and goes further still by making a demo video of the one he selected and waiting for confirmation before shipping it out. If you can tell me you've had that level of customer service from another online store, you're probably lying.

He also has made a good many instructive videos. I cracked vibrato from one of these. A quick aside with regard to integrity: theres a particularly funny video Pierre made for his Apprentice viola. His violist friend plays it and when asked for his opinion, says "I don't think much of the finish" and Pierre gives him a look like "C'mon man, I'm trying to run a business"... and posted the video anyway. You'll notice this type of thing in the comment sections on his youtube videos; Pierre answering questions objectively and even sometimes recommending other instruments over his own.

So now for their own line of products, of which I now have a few. They partnered with GCV to make instruments sold as outfits (typically including a chinrest, shoulder rest, strings, a carbon fiber bow, Kaplan rosin, and for the higher-end models upgraded strings they select based on the tonal qualities of the model, or whichever you request) ranging from ~$300 to over $1000. They also have their own line of historical remakes, the Holstein range, that include famous Amatis, Gesus, and Strads. Their "Lord Wilton" is particularly drool-inducing :3

But it's the pricing of these instruments I find admirable. For the sound they produce (Youtube Fiddlerman Artist for Kevin. It sounds just like that but even more sonorous and pretty under the ear), these guys could charge a lot more than they are, especially since they have a monopoly over them.

So, still considering other options? Let's do some math: The Apprentice minus all the upgraded kit would cost about $200. Listen to it. For $200 youre in the market for cheap eBay violins or a student Gliga and those are not very nice. In fact, I looked up demos of Gligas and the least expensive one that rivals the Artist is the Genova 2, which costs over $1000 and to my ear sounds tinnier and more amateurish. But in this vein I do have one tiny nit-pick: I wish they had an option to choose which accessories to include with the outfit. They might actually do this on request, I haven't asked, but it's not on their site.

They also have their own line of strings that sound like slightly clearer, more focused Dominants, but for half the price and with a vastly superior E string. The G string is also a different metal winding than the D and A. Im not sure what it is but its very smooth. There is also a Fiddlerman carbon fiber bow that far exceeds in quality what it costs, and comes with all their outfits. Lots of surface area on the hair, great flex and balance, bounce when you want it and none when you don't. I encourage anyone reading this to buy any of their branded products, and support the type of people who, despite doing a lot of leg work to find the best quality items they could for the lowest cost to them, don't inflate prices to anywhere near what they could.

Tip for consumers: Watch your order status and ask questions, because they won't tell you anything as a courtesy.

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