Customer reviews for violins, violas, cellos & bows
We have been selling old violins, violas and bows to customers worldwide since 2007. In 2009 we branched out and developed designs for Martin Swan Violins (MSV) European violins, violas and, more recently, cellos. These instruments have been purchased by professional and amateur players in the UK, France, the USA, Malaysia, China, Australia and elsewhere.
On this page you can read customer reviews of our violins, violas, cellos and bows. Most of our instruments are sold through this website but we also sell through eBay to maintain our visibility on search engines. You might like to check our feedback on ebay itself or look at the bottom of this page to see what some of our ebay customers have said.
"I came to Martin looking for a violin that would be best for me as a classical & traditional violinist at the stage I was at. Knowing this information already, Martin laid out six or seven violins which he thought might suit me best, and sure enough. I worked my way through and found a violin with a beautiful and special tone to it. After only a few seconds playing it I knew it was the one for me. I wouldn’t go anywhere else for a violin. But the best part about Martin Swan Violins is Martin himself."
Benedict Morris, Scotland
"Knowing that I would soon need a better violin for my young daughter, I had put Martin Swan on my shortlist of dealers because the ethos conveyed by his web site is so refreshingly unstuffy and straightforward. He tells you his credentials; he's willing to publish his prices; and he'll stick his neck out and say how he thinks each instrument plays. To my surprise, I don't think I came across another dealer that did all three of these things upfront.
I had a specific requirement for an unusually small full-sized violin, so I was delighted when Martin listed one at a price which didn't make the instrument too scary to place in the hands of a primary school child! He said in an email to me, 'I'm always keen to help parents' and, although this was only quite a modest purchase, he clearly meant it. He provided comprehensive and informative answers to queries raised by my daughter's teacher, and he went to considerable trouble having the instrument set up the way the teacher wanted it. He could not have been more patient, and he was equally helpful in the selection of a bow.
Consequently my daughter is now the very proud owner of a lovely antique violin and bow which should take her a long way. Now all that stands between her and her hoped-for music school audition is a great deal of hard work!"
John Parkin, UK
"The viola I bought some months ago from Martin - instrument no. 54
- is a beautiful instrument to look at and a great pleasure to play.
I have owned five or six violas and would say unhesitatingly that,
of all of these, this is the best value for money and looks of all
of them and performs better than many much more expensive violas I
have seen and tried in shops up and down the country. Getting a
really good viola is hard!! It is neatly and precisely made with a
fine scroll, well-fitted pegs and impeccable purfling. The
interestingly-figured one-piece back is nice, the varnish warmly
coloured and expertly applied and the whole impression is of a
well-made instrument. It's still quite new but from the start has
been even across its range and attractive on all strings (it still
has its original Dominants, which suit it well), with a sonorous C
(often the weak string on a viola), pleasantly mellow G and D and
lovely, singing A, which has presence and power without any of the
thin, edgy sound that sometimes you find high up on a viola. I fully
expect that the sound will become fuller and better as the viola
matures and is played more, but already it is excellent. Recently a
friend, a very capable player and teacher, who plays in the string
quartet of which I am a member, used it in one of the Mozart
Quintets and immediately commented on its lovely sound and its
'playability' - it speaks very easily. I use it in classical music
but also when I play Scots airs, and in these it is beautiful - the
tunes truly sing. In all, I am very happy with it and would
certainly recommend this kind of instrument to anyone, student, keen
amateur (like myself) or professional player."
Alastair Macfarlane, Scotland
"I could not be more proud of this instrument - those close to me
will testify that I am eager to extol its virtues to any and all who
will listen! I even asked my violin instructor to play it so I could
gain a greater understanding of its range and potential in more
experienced hands than my own. (So beautifully crisp and clear!) I
am pleased to say that my initial admiration of my violin has only
deepened with knowing it better. It is a pleasure to play, inspires
and challenges me, and I'm eager to grow with it and into it as I
progress. My confidence has improved already. :) It's a dynamic
instrument that is not only absolutely beautiful to look at but
possesses great presence and personality. I feel my violin gives me
something back when it's played...that there's a partnership
developing between the instrument and myself. I'm confident that its
pleasing richness, body, and clarity will prove versatile and
adaptable to many styles - I can hardly wait! It's an exceptional
violin and I am beyond privileged to own it!"
Jennifer Williams, Scotland
"I was halfway around the world from home when my family asked me about finding a violin for my sister – having less than two weeks left in Europe, I scoured the countryside for violinmakers and instrumental workshops to no avail. I almost at the point of giving up after having to deal with people who were hesitant to do business with an international student, or shops that did not have a wide variety of selection of violins for our asking price. It was just my luck that I found Martin’s website and contacted him about the violins that were available for purchase.
"Martin has been extremely courteous and informative about every question we have had about the instrument and its condition. After a string of emails, our beautiful Roth violin arrived with no harm done, from all the way across the Atlantic! It is a lovely instrument with a sweet, strong tone and definitely worth it’s value. Martin also helped us in selecting a bow that would be a good fit for the violin and its level of playing. Any small bumps in the road that we encountered in terms of purchasing or fixing up the violin, Martin was able to assist us with his knowledge and advice. We are so thankful for our experience and will definitely keep him in mind for our future instrumental needs."
The Tseng family, USA
"The entire experience of working with Martin has been a delight. He is invested in not only making superior instruments, but also making real connections with musicians – matching them with the right instrument and sharing the passion we all feel for music. He was generous with his communication and time at every stage. As the cello was being made, he asked perceptive questions about what I would most like in the instrument. Once it arrived he worked meticulously with me to give the cello the best set-up possible at my end and helped me understand what kind of settling-in process new instruments go through.
"The technical qualities of this cello would please any level of player. Projection, sustain, resonance, complexity, power and volume are all excellent. It was remarkably open right away, with a singing resonance to the wood. There are no dead spots or flaws to work around. The quality of the work makes for a generous, easy player but never an insipid one. Quick response plus even volume, character & projection across all strings & registers - basically the cello is never in my way. It allows me to express all the musicality I can muster without over thinking technique.
"All of this would be enough to say, wouldn't it? But it would be meaningless to have all this technical goodness if the instrument sounded boring! Bold and expressive – arresting at forte, a delicate soaring sweetness at pianissimo – no matter the dynamics or voicing, the tone & projection are always alive and speaking. The character of timbre is a dark and full core, with a rich raspy bite to attacks and a sweet brilliance in the harmonics. It's beautiful under the ear and out in front its vibrance fills the space. And while pretty is as pretty does, it is a striking instrument. Classic lines and arching with an artistic, translucent varnish that both highlights the beauty of the wood and is a softly textured, lively addition to it. My cello gets compliments from everyone who sees it. My response? "Just wait till you hear it!"
"I got some time today to get a second opinion from my orchestra friend, who put the Boulangeot through the paces of a lot of repertoire... We both agreed it was a very dark, complex, interesting sound, and he thought it felt very even across the strings. He was playing Sibelius, there were some notes on the lower G string which were absolutely awesome - just went straight to your heart and gave you shivers.
"Thanks so much for all your time in this process Martin, I'm going to keep it! You did a great job describing its sound, it really matched reality. Honestly, I need to get to learn this violin more... and to harness its sound, but I can tell already I'm going to be able to speak and express a lot more with this instrument - it really holds its own. Thanks so much again!"
"I got the viola from u a year ago... my daughter like it a lot...
had attached a photo of her with my wife n son after a concert...
she had passed her viola grade 7 ABRSM recently with distinction
Lieu Wee Ling, Singapore –
"Rosie, Vicky her teacher, Hayley and I reached a unanimous decision, and it's in favour of the Apollo. Your selection has ticked all the boxes. Rosie loves the sound she's making and so do we. It was her teacher's first choice. When she listened to, and played the violins, she actually described the decision as a "no brainer" and it is ideally suited to Rosie and her progression over the next few years. So thank you very much, you've made everyone here very happy!"
Julian Olver, UK
"Martin came to my rescue when I needed a new violin. He wasn't
just very helpful but gave me an unbelievable price on an amazing
Hungarian violin. Being a Hungarian, it was a very funny coincidence
and I have no doubt that without Martin's help I would have never
been able to own such an outstanding instrument. I can't explain how
much difference it makes to play on a violin that sounds and plays
like any old Italian/French etc. top violin. Not to mention all the
compliments that I receive from my audience and fellow musicians on
my violin. Now I own an instrument that will stay with me for all my
Jani Lang, Scotland – Website
"I couldn't be happier with this beautiful instrument -
exceptionally resonant and responsive with depth and clarity on all
strings. Intonation is very true. Shines in both performance and
Deirdre Morrison, Scotland –
Image © Øivind Arvola
"Thank you Martin for providing such a wonderful instrument, I really love it with a passion. It is everything and more than I could have expected. I was looking for something that had qualities that were in reality far outside my price range but somehow you managed to find an instrument that far exceeded anything I had any right to expect. This instrument and I will go on a long journey together of that I am sure. Your very descriptions were spot on, as impressive as the service you gave, at all times.
"When the instrument arrived with me in Bergen all was clearly not well, as I could not match your descriptions of sound with the instrument I had in my hands. You helped me establish that the sound post had moved and after only a few minutes at a luthiers everything fell into place and it was clear that this was a special instrument indeed. Wild horses would not drag the violin from my hands now and I will forever thank you for that."
Tony Harrison, Norway Record Producer and Conductor – Website
"My violin arrived safely no problems or damage.
I'm afraid I don't agree with your assessment of its tonal qualities. When you said, "I can't pretend that these are the best-sounding instruments we've made," I think what you actually meant was this is the best sounding instrument we have ever made...!
It is certainly the best sounding one I have played. Although I am certainly no expert I was on a £4,500 Nicolo Croce and a £2,700 Philip Haycock Guarneri last week in my music store as well as some antique instruments (that I might actually be able to afford - C20th unlabelled French, German, etc) and this outperforms them easily.
I've only done about 4 hours in the last couple of days but I am astonished at the sound it produces. I don't have the vocabulary to describe it but the sound seems so layered, complex, and rich. It is even across and up the strings. The lows have depth and power without being gritty or coarse and the highs are sweet without being piercing. The sustain is like playing in a cathedral, it goes on and on. You can really feel and hear the wood singing when you play.
I knew I would love this instrument at first sight although I
didn't ever expect to be able to own it. Kismet."
Allan Green, UK
"Having lost my viola in a burglary, I had spent an unsuccessful
summer looking for a new instrument before I came across Martin's
violas. The quality of sound was in a different league to the other
instruments (of the same price and more) that I had tried, and I
instantly fell for the viola. It has a wonderfully edgy sound in the
lower register, and beautiful lyrical higher notes. I'm so happy to
be able to play such a fantastic instrument."
Chris Law, UK –
This is just some of our feedback – look here to view our feedback ratings on ebay itself.
wonderful violin for a very modest prize. you have no risk, if you buy there
Member id ccroissant 06-Nov-12 17:33
An Antique French Violin, Laberte Workshops c1920 (#330818022351)
Great seller, enjoyable transaction, fab comms, recommend!!!!!
Member id nics1234 12-Jul-12 13:42
An Antique French Violin, JTL Amati III, circa 1910 (#330749966625)
Alles super, empfehlenswert.
Member id mag22 01-Jun-12 08:31
A Good French Violin Bow, JTL Grandini circa 1920 (#330725906785)
Absolutely delighted with this violin! Great communication and expert shipping!
Member id sue*sue 12-May-12 20:25
A Good Scottish Violin by Joseph Wilson, Edinburgh 1922 (#330724775991)
Fantastic IN EVERY ASPECT
Member id elisasmi 05-May-12 07:33
An Antique French Half Size Violin : JTL c1920 Medio Fino (#330692419075)
This is the best newly made left handed violin i've come across
Member id grownindirt 23-Apr-12 17:12
A Fine Left Handed Violin from Martin Swan Violins (#330692418281)
Excellent Violin! MS is my favorite violin dealer!
Member id 2a3ck 08-Apr-12 04:31
A Good German Violin : Konrad Leonhardt 1947 (#330683460461)
Would recommend this seller any day of the week. Great Cello!
Member id haveco 22-Mar-12 09:41
A New Handmade Cello from Martin Swan Violins, Superb Sounding Instrument (#330543278141)
Good instrument, accurately described. Helpful and communicative :-) thanks
Member ID dr.mrwilson 15-Mar-12 16:34
A Fine French Violin, Jacques Leclerc, c1950 Laberte Workshops (#330694595052)
Always a pleasure. Accurate item descriptions. Fast international shipping.
Member ID ozcollegeguy2003 02-Mar-12 09:21
An Antique French Violin by Jerome Thibouville Lamy 1887, Authentic Example (#330686390248)
Excellent purchase and extremely helpful discussion with seller.
Member ID dblackburn_2009 17-Feb-12 21:03
An Antique French Violin : Mirecourt c1920, Vuillaume Label (#330668303456)
I'm very pleased with the violin - it's great for my student. Good seller.
Member ID ladyviolinteacher 29-Nov-11 21:22
An Antique French Violin :"Ruggielli", Mirecourt c1910 (#330640072664)
Excellent violin, amazing sound at a great price, A+ service too, thank you!
Member ID cecr1984 17-Sep-11 06:27
A Fine Antique French Violin : Laberte Kloz Model c1910 (#330609844928)
Exactly as described. Great fiddle for trad sessions. Tks Martin.
Member ID nessaogrady 26-Aug-11 23:41
An Antique French Violin : JTL/Claude Ferber c1920 (#330602574624)
Really beautiful violin, lovely tone A++++++++++
Member ID bassregulator 20-Jul-11 19:44
A Fine Left Handed Violin from Martin Swan Violins (#330570039510) £1,800.00
-----Sehr gut !!! ----- Very good !!! -----Sehr gut !!! ----- Very good !!!
Member id tourte_de 19-Jul-11 12:38
A Chased Silver German Violin Bow by Max Wunderlich (#330576086718)
One of the Best Sellers on Ebay! Honest, communicative, fast and friendly! Great
Member id piper5johnny 01-Jun-11 18:47
A Fine Antique French Violin : Mirecourt circa 1920 (#330564678915)
First class service. Excellent product, swift postage. Thanks!
Member ID sam-sweeney 19-May-11 13:28
A Modern Hardanger Violin from Martin Swan Violins (#330547503436) £999.99
extremely helpful and honest dealer, an absolute pleasure to
deal with. thanks
Member ID nick2325 04-Feb-11 16:05
A Fine Hungarian Cello from Martin Swan Violins (#330514993276)
Very helpful and knowledgeable seller - highly recommend.
Member ID meph1950 23-Jul-10 10:02
A Fine Modern Hungarian Violin : Guarneri Pattern (#330452678653)
Extremely pleasant transaction; speedy shipping and great
Member ID desiree 14-Jun-10 17:04
A Fine Modern Hungarian Violin : Amati Pattern (#230473475102)
So delighted - stunning instrument!! Very helpful and honest
seller. Thanks : )
Member ID bididi 01-Jun-10 14:43
A Fine Modern Hungarian Violin : Guarnerius Pattern (#330420886968)
Thanks so much Martin the instrument is even better than I
Member ID hallidaymak 19-Apr-10 22:05
A Fine Modern Hungarian Violin : Guarnerius Pattern (#330423010454)