"Where are your instruments made?"
This is a very common question we receive from customers, and, interestingly, the violin-family making regions have moved throughout time, based primarily on global economics and availability of skilled craftsmanship.
Most recently, post-war Germany in the 1940s - 1970's was the principal location for violin workshops, as the country re-built its economy on the basis of a sort of industrial revolution, similar to what the United States experienced in the 1800's, but also with a plethora of skilled, artisan labor and supply of raw materials. These three components are critical in creating a successful instrument-making region for the violin family.
As Germany's economy - and that of the whole of Europe - started to improve, and again be positioned as a global economic power, the cost of labor rose drastically, and these well-known and well-established workshops could no longer produce quality violins, violas, and cellos. By the late 1980's and 1990's, much of the production of violin family instruments had moved to Eastern Europe and China, with some semi-successful attempts in countries like Sri Lanka.
Where are they made now?
China has emerged as the only country that can combine consistent craftsmanship, labor cost, and raw materials availability in our current market, though Romania still retains a small portion of the market, as well as Bulgaria and Hungary. Most of the instruments under $5000/$10,000 (violin/cello) are made in China now, as the craftsmanship and consistency is difficult to beat. While early attempts at larger workshops produced some lower quality instruments - some exceedingly low quality - demand and work with luthiers around the world has developed China's workshops into a world leader, and the vast majority of instruments produced by workshops (not single makers) is from China as a result.
To make a comparable instrument in the United States, with the same quality materials and workmanship, one would expect to pay 5-7 times the price, so the goal of delivering quality at an affordable price is one that is detrimental in the continuation of our industry, making sure that parents and students have affordable instruments that encourage their musical growth, not hinder it.
Know also that StringWorks, in particular, spends hours and hours on each instrument as well, once they have been hand-selected by our staff. Our StringWorks Setup continues to lead our industry, particularly in instruments under $2000, where most shops settle for a 'factory setup', which we would never do. Any customer can, at any time, ask to see progress of their instrument being set up by our luthiers, and often they find that being 'part' of the process enriches their experience with their instrument, even before playing on it for the very first time.
Where else are your instruments made?
Our Kallo Bartok is made in both Romania and Italy, our Man Claudiu is made in Italy (by Man Claudiu, himself), and our instruments by our head luthier, Mark Benischeck, are made right here in Illinois. We invite you to experience any of our instruments - violin, viola, or cello - and to give us your questions so that we can share our knowledge and passion with you. Don't simply take our word for it, look at each of the reviews on each of our instrument pages, or see this compilation of reviews from prior years, and see what other musicians like you are saying :)
October 6, 2021
Todd French, Founder/President