I could easily fill pages writing about the unbelievable mixture of exceptional tonal qualities, very good condition and exceptional prices of the violins I purchased from Martin, but for this review I want to focus on why I repetitively put trust in Martin’s business and why I consider it the future of fine violin dealing.
When I started to look into procuring higher class violins, I saw four possibilities and pursued them all:
1) Direct purchase from another player: Potentially best price, yet extremely limited choice and most of them do not put the same emphasis on long-term value as I do.
2) Auction: Let me make it short – Everything you can read in the FAQs on this page is true. I have been at a couple of viewings, and actually found around 2-3 instruments satisfying my wishes. All then achieved record prices, partially beyond retail level and hence were too risky since there was no time for trials and detailed examination of the condition.
3) Traditional violin shops: Again, choice is often somewhat limited. There is typically a good focus on investment value, but actually quite little on tone (not as bad as on auctions to be fair). Often I am not comfortable with the atmosphere of the most reputable shops – they tend to make you forget who sells and who the customer is. Of course this not a general rule! The price level and the travel to visit distributed locations has been usually an issue here.
4) Martin’s mixture of a transparent web page (former sales, visible prices, etc.), having violins sent home for trials and examination, and yet the possibility of meeting the seller in person. Since he is not standing in a shop all day long, he has the possibility to hunt for best-in-class violins at good prices and build effective dealer networks (so he is taking this work away from me). This approach combined with a decent turnover of violins yields very reasonable and hard to beat prices for his customers in turn. So for me, this is the best possible compromise of all other buying options.
The only “downside” is that if you want to explore all benefits of the last mentioned model, you need to have some acceptance for remote communication (email and telephone), mail delivery of violins, and sending money to foreign bank accounts. I know, for example my parents, would not go that route, but I and others are fine with it.
Of course, you need a person to bring the business to life, and as it is also reflected by the other reviews, Martin is this person. Open, honest, patient, customer oriented, trustworthy, giving very detailed and complete answers to all questions, just to name a few of his excellent characteristics. The fact that he is a true player helps a lot in the pre-selection of violins. If you test through his stock, you will definitely notice this compared to other selections.
Dr. Michael Krauß