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1. John Stein, Cardiff, Founder and leader of the orchestra of the Welsh National Opera for 40 years.
The quality of work carried out by Chris King of Cardiff Violins is best exemplified by my experience when Leader of the Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera.
During this period I was playing on a long pattern Stradivari of 1693 and had tried many different 'set ups' from the top luthiers of London and Paris.
After the work carried out by Chris King, the improvement in sound and ease of playing made the instrument a joy to play and, I believe, brought this wonderful instrument the closest to its true potential.
2. Geza Hosszu-Legocki, aka Gezalius
I came to Cardiff Violins and very much enjoyed the warmth of the people and the place. I spent a lot of time playing their stock of violins, and particularly loved their set-ups. I felt very comfortable with Chris and the way he was working on tonal adjustment to achieve different effects, and felt I could trust him with my Carcassi, so I asked him to set it up. I have never been so happy with my violin. The results are brilliant and unforgettable. The violin opened, became brilliant, and the intonation easier than ever to produce. That is what violinists want : an easy intonation. I have now seen a number of instruments transformed by Cardiff Violins' set ups, and strongly recommend you try them!
3. Richard Newington, 1st violinist in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Cardiff
Chris King was first recommended to me by a dealer in London who suggested I was making unnecessary journeys to the capital for work on my violin, when there was an excellent repairer in Cardiff. That was thirty years ago, and since then I have had major work done by him on my 1879 Audinot. He repaired the scroll after an encounter with a frenzied viola player's "down bow" left a nasty crack. He also restored the varnish on the back after the violin had been left in storage in 100 degree heat at Hong Kong airport, melting it and even fusing it to the case. Both repairs were immaculate. Over the years Chris has provided me with excellent bridges, tonal adjustments, bows and rehairs. He and Cecile always make time to remedy any problems I might have, and we are very lucky in Cardiff to have such a wonderful, friendly service close at hand.
4. Ruth Elder, London
"It is rare to find a shop where you feel you can relax and take your time; at Cardiff Violins they respect that choosing the right instrument can be a long process and requires a relaxed environment in which to make these important decisions. The staff are so welcoming, always at hand to help and advise or simply to bring you a fresh cup of tea, and they also know when to allow the customer some privacy in order to get to know their instrument of choice.
I had the luxury of being able to play the wide range of instruments that Cardiff Violins offer on a regular basis as I was once on their team of staff. Having gone through their extensive collection I simply could not take my mind off one violin in particular, which sadly at the time was out of my reach financially. There came a point when I could no longer bare showing other customers the delights of this violin as the thought of it being sold to someone else was too much, and neither could Chris or Cecile who very kindly allowed me some time to save up to be able to buy the violin of my dreams.
At the time I had only recently graduated from music college and this new violin certainly helped me to kick start my career, accepting a place at Southbank Sinfonia in London which has since led on to many wonderful opportunities. Having an instrument that you feel proud of and helps you to play at your best is so important and is something that all at Cardiff Violins are fully aware of. My violin and I have since performed at the Wigmore Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, the National Theatre, the O2 Arena, Glastonbury Pyramid Stage, not to mention various TV appearances, many theatres across Europe, and at Buckingham Palace for Her Majesty the Queen.
Therefore I am very grateful to Chris and Cecile at Cardiff Violins for their patience and understanding that enabled me to purchase my lovely violin which allows me to be the best I can be."
5. Ellen Casey, Cornwall, Argentina
You might walk through the Castle Arcade in Cardiff and never even realise there is a balcony, let alone somewhere as special as Cardiff Violins up there. But if you let yourself be led by the sounds of violins, violas and cellos that drift down and resonate through the arcade, as I did in 2003, what you will find is a treasure trove. And I say that not only because of the many instruments, but also for the knowledge and passion that Chris King has for his work, and the dedication of Cecile and the rest of her staff to really helping you find the right instrument for you.
What began as curiosity found me falling in love with a new cello, a Dheil copy by the British maker William Piper. This encounter not only gave me a great instrument to play and enjoy while I was studying, but also led to me working for Cardiff Violins for the following five years. The appreciation for instruments, their quirks, nuances and almost endless potential for different sound that I learned from working extensively with Chris is what I value the most from my time at Cardiff Violins. To be able to hear the hidden capabilities of an instrument is a wonderful gift, and to awaken them is a skill.
Towards the end of my time in Cardiff I was lucky to inherit some money, and I knew that it was to be for a cello. I had liked many cellos that had come and gone through the shop, but never fallen for one as Ruth Elder did with her violin. Chris and Cecile put every effort possible into looking for a cello that would have just the right character for me, and I am very lucky to now own a beautiful old English cello by Thomas Kennedy. Luckier still am I to own a bow by Benoit Rolland, made for me after his visit to Cardiff Violins in 2007. It is growing with me as I develop as a musician, and will forever be a part of me.
To pursue a dream of travelling around South America, I now live in Buenos Aires. Travelling with a 200 year-old cello did not however seem like the most sensible idea, so I have left my Kennedy on loan to the Welsh College of Music and Drama, and exchanged my Piper for a good quality Chinese “Belissimo” cello to take with me. So far we have been through deserts, across mountains and down into jungles travelling around Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. While the cello does of course react to the extreme climate changes, I have not had any problems. For a new instrument it has a very rich sound, and is a pleasure to play.
Although I am such a long way away, I still have a very close relationship with Chris and Cecile at Cardiff Violins, and I hope that it will continue for many years to come. They are the kind of people, and Cardiff Violins therefore is the kind of shop, with whom you can have a relationship for life.
6. Dr. John H. Watson
on behalf of Sherlock Holmes
221B Baker Street
July 28th, 2011
Cécile and Chris at Cardiff Violins,
I just wanted to say thanks on behalf of my friend Sherlock Holmes for the violin he recently purchased from you. He would thank you himself; only, well Sherlock doesn’t really do that sort of thing.
You were extremely patient with him, much more than he deserved which I should also thank you for, as a lot of people find him ‘difficult’. Thought you handled the situation very well, especially when he insisted on deducing the history of each instrument he picked up, in addition to identifying the rosin dust from each bow that had previously been used! Anyway sorry about that, he’s always like it and yes it does get annoying, but at least you don’t have to live with him.
Dr. John H. Watson
Hartswood Films Ltd
7. Julia Hwang, Bristol
I have bought my wonderful Benoit Rolland and Joseph Arthur Vigneron bows from Cardiff Violins over the years, and I could not thank them enough for the enormous help and kind support they have given me. The bows are perfect for me, and make me enjoy practicing and performing even more.
My Vimercatti violin was acquired through Cardiff Violins four years ago. I was looking for a violin at the time and was contacted about an Italian violin which had just come in. It was made in the 18th century and has a beautiful rich tone. I am very happy with it and very fortunate to have it in my possession.
8. Conor Gricmanis, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
Finding the right instrument for one’s self is probably the hardest thing to do, for a Musician. I have always taken the Violin seriously, it’s something I’m completely devoted to – I want to study the Violin as far as I can, and I want it to be my profession. Not only has looking for ‘The right Violin’ been a long, exhausting journey all over the UK, it has also been a huge emotional journey. Stringed Instruments are not cheap. When I started Violin lessons with Michael Bochmann (leader of the English String Orchestra) I realised I needed an instrument that could give a promising tone, and help me advance as a soloist. After about a year-and-a-half of searching for ‘The right Violin’, I found Cardiff Violins. We gave them a ring, and we shortly agreed on a day to try out the stock of Violins. After being disheartened from so many other Violin shops, I thought the same would happen again.
How wrong I was. I was greeted SO warmly by the entire team, and they made me feel at home. I was so impressed by the amount of instruments they had in stock. The atmosphere was brilliant, and I was very relaxed whilst playing numerous Violins – the service, and the advice I was given by everyone who works there was so wonderful, and I’m ever so grateful for it. In the end, I found ‘The right Violin’. An Alfred Vincent, 1936. The condition and tone was perfect. But, that worried me! The price! I had the awful feeling it would be over our budget. Yet again, I was wrong. The price was within our budget – it made me realise that Cardiff Violins give honest prices, advice, and opinions on their instruments. Quality instruments, quality prices, and quality service. I have made a wonderful friendship with the team from Cardiff Violins! I can’t wait to take my Violin everywhere! I haven’t had it long, but it’s got a very fun life ahead of it. '
Where I play, and what ensembles I am in…
I’m the lead Viola player in the Shropshire youth Orchestra, lead Violinist of the Bishop’s Castle Orchestra, Lead Violinist of ‘Po’s Stringendo ensemble’ leader of many ‘youth quartets’. I won a quartet competition to have a master class with the Wihan Quartet. I have also played alongside the English String Orchestra in a workshop. I also play violin, and dance, for the Shropshire bedlams Morris Dancing team, through this I was given the opportunity to play the Cello on the T.V series ‘Victorian Farm’ for their final Christmas episode: http://www.bbc.co.uk/victorianchristmas/activity/carol-singing.shtml.
9. Tom Player, Composer & Producer, London
Cardiff Violins is a delightful family run music shop, hidden away above the hustle & bustle of the arcade.
Right from my first visit, Cecile and her team were very welcoming, accommodating and patient - I was offered a cup of tea and the freedom of their cello room, with the company of their cello specialist Katja. She was very courteous, knowledgeable and honest about the cellos - and was happy to play as I walked around the room listening from another perspective.
I drove 3 hours from London on two occasions, and over these few days, I was happy to find a cello I loved the sound of. It's so easy to spend hours playing these instruments, and the staff are well versed with each one, with their highly skilled and careful luthiers working diligently to bring out the best in each cello.
There was never a rush, or pressure to buy, and I was free to try all of their cellos - which really helped me to relax and enjoy the time spent playing. I had no idea buying a cello could be this much fun!
I bought a stunning old English cello c1800 - and as I had to wait to pick up the cello after closing hours, Chris & Cecile invited me to their home and we spent a while talking over some tea and cookies, which was a really nice touch.
I shall be fondly reminded of Cardiff Violins each time I play, as their logo is stamped into the bridge.
10. Ken Watkin, Neath
I just love my Luis & Clark viola. The sound is amazing and it plays easily and consistently. Each string is evenly balanced and equally rewarding, and the machine is physically a joy to work on.It blends in perfectly with tradition instruments and is just as responsive whether playing loudly or softly. A bonus is that Cardiff Violins have provided excellent support service and are always willing to advise and help. I look forward to many happy hours of playing this super viola.
11. Allan and Wendy Betts, Swansea
We would like to let you know how delighted we are with our violas by Don Tatem. Wendy bought her instrument form Cardiff Violins in June 2004. It bears the name "ANNOWRE", No 291 and is dated 1990 and has a full, rounded, smooth tone. The back-length is 15.5 inches.
When I needed to change my own viola a few months ago, I tried out a number of instruments from Cardiff Violins at home, and settled on another instrument by Don Tatem which I purchased in September 2011. This viola is No 427 dated 1998 and the label bears the name "JOANNA" The back-length is 15.75 inches.
Since I acquired my viola we have played about six concerts, and innumerable rehearsals, with two busy local orchestras. I am equally delighted with the sound produced with my own instrument, having been Wendy's desk-partner, and admired her powerful smooth tone for years.
We would not hesitate to recommend Don's instruments to anyone. Try one and see. We cannot praise the beautiful sound and appearance of Don Tatem's instruments highly enough, and on our recommendation, an orchestral friend has recently bought a Tatem violin, with which she is very happy.
Our thanks and best wishes are due to all at Cardiff Violins who have been so considerate and obliging when we have wished to try out instruments.
12. Edgar Bailey, Cheltenham, London
I first met Chris and Cécile at Cardiff Violins about six years ago when, as a music college student in London, I replaced my first full size violin.
They are extremely friendly and helpful and their expertise is second to none. They have an extensive range of violins, bows, cases and accessories and I know that they are only a phone call away if I have a string emergency!
I am now a professional violinist and I have continued to use Cardiff Violins as my first point of call.
13. Nicole Wilson, London
Principal Second Violin, English National Opera
I bought my Gagliano violin from Cardiff Violins several years ago and was thrilled with the service they provided. Not only did they patiently help me through the very important and nerve wracking process of choosing the perfect violin but after the purchase they gave me wonderful support setting up the violin so it had the optimum set up for me. My Gagliano is part of me now - I can't imagine my life without it. Thanks Cardiff Violins!
14. Hans Bonzel - Violinist, Rotterdam, Holland
Destiny or coincidence?
My wife and I were having a short holiday for the first time in beautiful Wales early 2011. The week started in Dolgellau and the last day we spent in Cardiff. Walking around in a sunny but cold Cardiff we heard some violin music floating in the air in a shopping street! Like a magnet we were pulled by the music or was it also by the warmth, which came from somewhere upstairs in a shopping mall. The violin shop had a small entrance and a friendly man (Chris we heard later) asked what the purpose of our visit was, and that was basically none! After some stumbling words, Chris asked me whether I played violin, and yes I did (although I hadn’t played for a while). Immediately I was offered the opportunity to try out three beautiful instruments, which I accepted since we enjoyed the friendly and hospitable approach. It took a while to get my fingers warm, not only from the cold but also from not playing for months. One of the violins was a beautiful Sebastian Klotz violin mid 18th century, which I loved at once. A violin however is not something you normally buy as an impulse investment, so after a very nice hour or two of trying we left with doubt in our hearts. Back in the Netherlands I realized that I really was keen on the violin. I did some research on the net to find out more about Sebastian Klotz and expressed my interest to Chris and Cecile. On Easter Monday I returned to Cardiff. Chris and Cecile were so kind to open the shop especially for me during their Easter holiday, and I played most of the day. Even their daughter came in and played for me so I could also listen and compare from a distance. It was a wonderful experience with a very friendly welcome in Cardiff. I bought the beautiful violin and with it a nice bow. Chris and Cecile, thanks for your warm hospitality and we hope to see you again when we are over in Wales!
Hans Bonzel and Jàn Hooper
15. Cara Williams,
"When it came to the time to buy the instrument to begin my journey through music college, I needed help and advice from someone I could trust. After an exhausting search across the UK for my perfect violin, Cardiff Violins really stood out - in all the right ways. From the moment you enter the shop you’re made to feel at home, and the staff are kind, honest, and always catering to your every need. The vast range of beautiful violins across all price ranges meant I was spoilt for choice, but when I was handed a beautiful Hubicka violin by Chris and played it I knew it was perfect for me, my decision was made! I couldn’t be happier with my violin and I love it more every day. I'm eternally grateful for the generosity and help that everyone at Cardiff Violins has given me. It’s not just a single purchase - it’s an ongoing relationship. Even though I’m away studying at Birmingham Conservatoire, Chris and Cecile always like to know how I’m getting on with my violin and would help me at the drop of a hat with anything I needed for my playing! They offer me support with everything I do.
Not only did I buy my violin from Cardiff Violins – but also my bow, case… even my shoulder rest, rosin and strings! They really have everything you could need, which means I would never need or want to go anywhere else. I couldn’t possibly recommend Cardiff Violins enough, and I look forwards to maintaining my relationship with them throughout my entire career as a violinist.
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional or anything in between, I completely believe there’ll be an instrument for you at Cardiff Violins and I know it’ll be an experience you’ll enjoy."
16. Philip Aird
First violinist at the Royal Ballet Sinfonia,
Director of The English Mozart Ensemble,
General Manager of the European String Teachers association
The folk at Cardiff Violins are simply the most professional, knowledgeable and friendliest team you could hope to meet, and I will be forever in their debt for the help, advice and patience they have shown me over many, many years.
I never hesitate in recommending colleagues, pupils or parents to the shop for whether buying, browsing or just in need of some advice. Customers will always find a warm welcome awaits them.
For the beginner, student or professional it’s a wonderful environment with the time and space (plus plenty of tea and coffee) in which to try out instruments - and you never feel rushed or hassled! They found a wonderful violin for me and have kept it in perfect playing condition ever since.
Thank you Chris & Cécile
17. Trevor Maplestone, Cwmbran
Violin and viola teacher
In a violin, I look for a working musicians tool. I need an instrument that is clear and resonant. An instrument that rings and responds back to you. I found such an instrument at Cardiff Violins, as a new violin made by Elspeth Rowe. Already designed and set up with no further adjustments necessary. I can project in a performance environment, and yet play so incredibly quietly as well. A good violin makes you a better violinist.
I recommend Cardiff Violins to my students too.Good instruments do not have to be old or expensive for a student to improve. Students need to be motivated and inspired by the tools they work with. What is important, is a good set up with all the upgraded parts in easy working order, comfortable to play, and a resonant sound.
One of my students has bought a new bow from Cardiff Violins and we can’t believe how much it has improved the sound of the violin! Previously, I was asking the student how old the strings were etc. because the violin was sounding a bit mellow and dull, when all along it was the bow. Her two previous bows had felt so soft, soggy and wrong. Amazing result!
18. Nicola Ramirez, Violin and viola teacher at the Conservatorio de Castello Branco, Portugal; Violinist in the Sentica Ensemble, Portugal
I have known Chris and Cécile for almost 15 years now and even though I now live in Portugal, I am still able to enjoy their friendship and their never ending knowledge about violins.
As a student, I purchased several instruments and bows from their excellent selection. Although making such an investment is always a stressful thing, I always loved the fact that I was able to stay for as long as I needed, playing as many instruments as I wanted. I cannot think of any other shop in the UK where one would be able to do this. There is not such thing as a perfect instrument of course, but should one find a violin close to the ideal but with something missing (perhaps not enough bass sound or maybe too bright E string) Chris would then spend long hours on a one-to-one session fiddling around until finally a miracle would happen.
One such happy occasion happened a few months ago, when my group, the Sentica Ensemble, gave a couple of concerts in Cardiff and London. I went to visit Cécile and Chris and took my Portuguese colleagues with me as they were looking for bows, wanted a check up on their instruments etc. We didn´t spend more time only because we had to catch a plane back! Chris and Cecile were absolutely wonderful and my friends were over the moon being able to spend time with two luthiers who shared their knowledge with such generosity. I was of course, very proud!!!!
I taught in Cardiff for 13 years and I believe over 500 individual students had lessons with me at one point or another. Of them perhaps half owned one example of the incredible range of student violins Chris and Cécile have at the shop. I can say with absolute certainty that it is not possible to find anywhere in the UK (or in Portugal for that matter) violins that have been worked on so, so well, that their sound is unbelievable and at very affordable prices. I miss their friendship and their expertise a lot. Having Cardiff Violins is one of the things the city must be proud of, and I hope many trips come by in the future so that I can pop in and spend some happy times at the shop.
19. Gwen Lewis, Aberystwyth
I really enjoyed my experience in Cardiff Violins. There was an extremely friendly service and no hurry to choose your violin or bow. I bought a beautiful old violin which has gone from strength to strength, and I’ve several compliments on its wonderful tone. I currently use my violin for solo, chamber and orchestral playing as it is so versatile – just what I wanted! I would recommend Cardiff Violins to anyone for knowledgeable and helpful advice and plenty of choice of instruments, bows and cases. I couldn’t be happier with my violin, and I only have the staff at Cardiff Violins to thank.
20. Kate Bresner, Bridgend
My relationship with Cardiff Violins dates back decades to when I traded in my first ever cello for a beautiful old Saxon cello. My first instrument was reworked and remodelled to bring it to its full potential, and I considered buying it back. Years later I traded in the Saxon cello for a more robust modern instrument. I followed Chris's advice and tried a handmade Chinese cello and, without a doubt, it is one of the finest instruments I have played. I would never have found my perfect cello if I had not been willing to 'think outside the box'. Since I bought it I have returned for routine maintenance and tweaking to maintain the best possible sound.
It is always a pleasure to pop into Cardiff violins for a cup of coffee and a look at their latest acquisitions. As well as being a first class instrument dealership, Chris and Cecile love to share new innovations and ideas (as well as the latest music sensation trending on YouTube). They make every visitor feel very welcome and ensure that they will return time and time again. I would have no hesitation in recommending them to musicians of every level. Not only will you receive the best service, but you will probably make friends for life in the process!
21. Brigit Forsyth
My first visit to Cardiff Violins was to play on a wonderful cello that had belonged at one time to the cellist Beatrice Harrison! How this came about is a whole separate story, far too long to put here. Suffice it to say, I had a wonderful day there with Dale Culliford, who was my teacher and had suggested I do a show about Beatrice Harrison. I shall never forget playing that cello. On my next visit, a couple of years later I think, I fell in love with a Banks cello and ended up buying it in part exchange for my Craske cello. And the visit after that I bought yet another cello, a Kennedy, as felt needed two! It is a dangerous place, Cardiff Violins. Cecile and Chris are utterly charming and have created a wonderful relaxed atmosphere in the shop and you are surrounded by lovely cellos and violins, and they let you play them for as long as you want. Very seductive. I play in a band called the Fircones, and love the sound the Banks cello makes with the guitars and the mandolin and the violin and the bodrin. I am not sure I can visit Cardiff without calling in to see Cecile and Chris, but think I must try and not buy any more cellos. There was a lovely Smith last time….oh dear!
22. Nicky Enderby, Gloucestershire
By the time I went to Cardiff Violins I'd already been looking for a new violin for nearly six months with no luck. A couple of friends recommended that I try Cardiff saying that they were sure I'd be able to find something. Chris, Cecile and the rest of their team were all incredibly friendly and absolutely fantastic. Choosing the right instrument takes a long time but I never felt pressured to hurry the process. I'd come so close to finding the right instrument on several occasions but there was always something that wasn't quite right and I was delighted that that wasn't the case at Cardiff. I found an absolutely beautiful 1780 Viennese violin that I just fell in love with straight away - it just felt like the right instrument. I simply couldn't believe that it hadn't been bought before. Chris and Cecile were fantastic after I had bought it as well, checking to make sure that I was still happy and hadn't had any problems. Since I bought it, I've used it for operas, recording sessions, solo recitals, auditions and everyday orchestral playing and I couldn't be happier. I'm incredibly grateful to both Chris, Cecile and all of the team at Cardiff Violins - I couldn't imagine playing on any other instrument now!
23. Chiara Beebe, Guernsey
Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
Growing up in Guernsey, it could be difficult to have access to a variety of quality instruments and services and it was completely by chance that I came across Cardiff Violins. My parents found the charming shop whilst visiting the city of Cardiff a few years ago and insisted I visited. I was so glad for my parents’ accidental discovery and the trip to the shop was well worth my while. Cécile and her team were absolutely fantastic in helping me try out different instruments without ever being intrusive or putting any pressure on me. They have a great understanding of the importance of each individual’s particular needs and were able to guide me to finding my perfect cello. I spent two days in the shop but came out with a fantastic instrument and case which I am as happy with now as the day I bought them.
The Ian Ross cello I bought from Cardiff Violins has been with me for a few years now, at first helping me perform locally in the Guernsey Eisteddfod where my solo cello performance won me the Prix D’excellence award, and getting me through my grade 8 exam with distinction. I also played the Saint-Saëns cello concerto with the Guernsey Youth Orchestra. Straight away people noticed a difference in my playing and the beautiful tone the instrument produces. I am now studying music at Manchester University where I have lead the University Symphony Orchestra and play with a variety of ensembles. I currently study with Simon Turner from the Hallé and am looking forward to my solo recitals as part of my course on the instrument. My Ian Ross cello has been to Prague on a recent tour and will soon be accompanying me to Europe again for the next summer tour. It will also have its first outing to the Bridgewater hall when my quartet plays in the lunchtime concert series there.
Performing cello will always be a big part of my life I see no reason why the cello I bought from Cardiff Violins should not accompany me through all of it. I highly recommend Cardiff Violins to anyone looking for personal service, quality and choice.
24. Gwen Richards, Neath, Cardiff
1st violin in BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Cardiff Violins has been part of my life since a young age. Cecile and Chris have always provided helpful assistance, a happy atmosphere and a varied and vast choice of bows and violins to try. I’ve been very fortunate to find my bow made by Benoit Rolland and Hopf violin (dated 1790), both of which I love and found through Cardiff Violins.
The shop is in a great location in Cardiff, making it very accessible to and from London where I was a student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Chris and Cecile have always been exceptionally supportive and have always been helpful at every step of my musical development. They understand that taking time to find the perfect instrument and bow for you is important and needs patience, time and several cups of tea! Thanks to Cardiff Violins, I’ve found an instrument and bow that I adore playing every day in my work as sub co-leader of BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
25. Elen Richards, Neath, London
2nd violin in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
I have been a customer at Cardiff Violins for the past 15 years and they have always been the first port of call for any instrument purchase. Chris and Cecile have a wide range of instruments and bows, for any price range, and any time in your musical career. My first violin and bow from Cardiff Violins helped me obtain a place at the Royal Academy of Music, London and my current purchase of a Benoit Rolland bow is a great asset to my work in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Chris and Cecile are so welcoming and accommodating. When I come home to South Wales I will often pop in to visit and they let me indulge for hours playing the instruments and bows they have on offer.
I can without any doubt highly recommend their work and I will continue to visit Cardiff Violins again for future purchases.
26. Nicola Thomas PPRNCM, Pembrokeshire
Benoit Rolland Bow Testimonial:
"I had no intention of purchasing a bow, however, when I visited Cardiff Violins and tried a Benoit Rolland I loved the sound it made and the fact that it seemed to suit the cello I play. I bought it! The Rolland has become my full-time bow and I love finding more and more possibilities from this wonderful piece of craftsmanship.’’
27. David John, Cardiff
Proper stringed instrument shops are becoming an increasing rarity in the UK – foreign competition and the growth in on-line shopping have transformed the market-place so it’s gratifying to know that the traditional violin shop is alive and well in Cardiff.
At Cardiff Violins, knowledge and expertise are combined with friendly enthusiasm to create an environment for providing good advice and making satisfying purchases. Whether you’re a student or a professional musician, the team will always find time to listen to your needs, explain the options and assist in making the most appropriate choices. The stock of instruments is rich and fascinating, including examples of the finest work, past and present. Chris and Cecile also have a knack for selecting outstanding support staff – invariably talented young musicians who bring their own flair and charm to the business.
Apart from the abundance of practical benefits at Cardiff Violins, there is an extra, less obvious, bonus in visiting the premises – the enjoyment of its artistic ambiance. With a little imagination, the place might feel like Vuillaume’s Paris salon – a centre for violin enthusiasts; or maybe one would not be surprised to see David Laurie calling in on his return from a trip to St Petersburg, bringing a case of Strads and Guadagninis - certainly the old masters would feel comfortable here and in good company.
28. Andrew Jones, Pembrokeshire
"I had been looking for a new viola bow for a little while when I was recommended to try one of Gary Leahy's. This bow stood out immediately. It is beautifully balanced and draws a lovely focused sound from the instrument; the workmanship is excellent. I am delighted with it."
29. Harriette Piesley, Rainham, Kent
Dolce String Quartet, Viola
I would like to thank Cécile for the great service from Cardiff Violins. I was initially looking for a viola at a moderate price range but after looking far and wide I was unable to find an elegant viola with such a broad sound. After much searching I was told by a tutor of the Kent County Youth Orchestra to try Cardiff Violins. Within a week I was sent several different Violas and Bows from the shop to play in my own environment. The service was fast and superb. Shortly after my purchase I played for a local youth orchestra in which our concert concluded with Mahler’s 4th Symphony. I played the solo on Don Tatems' Mischa and received many comments about the depth, tone and quality of such an instrument! Even the Mayor congratulated me on the elegance of my playing due to the sound I could produce of such a high quality lovely instrument and that it had a distinguished sound that had not resembled his expectations of a viola in the past. Now, where ever I go I am known as “that violist with a loud sound"… definitely a good thing!
30. Nicholas Jones, Cardiff
Violist and Teacher
"Well what can I say about the wonderful establishment that is Cardiff Violins? I have been going to Cardiff Violins since the age of 7 and now at the age of 31 it is by far my location of choice for all my viola requirements. Just about every instrument I have owned has been purchased from Cecile and Chris and I couldn't ask for more in terms of quality of service and most importantly the service and care given afterwards. Most recently I have purchased a wonderful English silver mounted viola bow (pictured) which I could not be happier with. Whenever my students are looking to purchase a new instrument I have always taken them to visit Cardiff Violins and Cecile, Chris and all their assistants always make myself and my students feel most welcome. The one thing I can say is that you never feel like an inconvenience when visiting. Cecile and Chris, for all the help and support you have provided me with my instruments over the years and continue to provide, Thank you!
Having taken my viola into Cardiff Violins for advice as to what I should do in order to get the best out of my viola, it was recommended that I should opt to have a professional bridge fitted in order for the viola to produce the best sound possible. I knew myself that the bridge I initially had was below standard however I was a little sceptical at first as to how much difference a bridge would actually make to the sound quality. I was assured by Chris that if the new bridge did not improve the sound quality then he would put my old bridge back on and I would not be charged. I decided to take the plunge and having returned to test the results I was absolutely amazed! The tonal qualities that my viola now produces is nothing short of perfect to what I was looking for, Chris spent at least half an hour with myself making sure it was exactly to how I wanted it to sound, a lovely caramel sound however still retaining the clarity and brightness that I have always preferred on my Violas. In my opinion, the cost of having the bridge fitted along with the consultation to make sure it is to my liking is well worth it!"
31. Susanne Hehenberger, Salzburg, Austria
Concertmaster of Sinfonietta da Camera Salzburg
Violinist and Violin teacher
Many thanks, last Friday I got my pink violin and I am really happy!
I feel a little bit like a three year old girl.
My youngster, who is ten and plays violoncello, was very happy, too. He told everybody, he now would start to play the violin, the pink one for sure ;-)
I was very busy, so I could not really test it very long, but I think, my pupils and I will love it! I really wish, I could come to Cardiff soon to visit you and the shop and your experts. I Have to see, how to manage that!
Studied at Mozarteum Salzburg with Prof. H. Kienzl, Prof. Irmgard Gahl and Benjamin Schmid.
Master classes with Lynn Blakeslee (USA), Ljerko Spiller (Argentina), Jürgen Geise (Salzburg) and the Bartok – Quartett (Budapest).
The violinist from Salzburg is the concertmaster of Sinfonietta da Camera Salzburg and the principal violinist of a number of ensembles and moreover is involved in the training of young talents. Her many performances of chamber music have led her to three continents where she could gather valuable experience when working with Heinrich Schiff, Ernst Kovacic, Thomas Zehetmaier and Justus Franz.
32. Helen O’Reilly, viola, viola, piano and theory teacher in Hereford.
Just a quick note to say a huge thank you, yet again, for your support and help with the purchase of violins, violas and accessories. It was lovely to visit Cardiff Violins last week as the care and service you provide is second to none. In particular I would like to say how tremendously helpful Magda was in attaining an excellent violin set up for Ioan. Her care, attention, communication and expertise when dealing with both children and parents is marvellous and left both Ioan and I feeling truly spoilt. We are both thrilled with the result of our visit and Ioan is now even more excited to get out his violin and play!
33. Nigel Walker, Oxford
Stick Shift (Contradance band)
“The Luis & Clark violin surpassed all my expectations in sound quality; acoustically the violin has the power to fill a hall, while not being too penetrating for a small room. This superb violin has strength and balance from top to bottom, lots of volume while remaining easy on the ear. It is visually stunning and feels great to play. Being a folk musician, I seldom use higher positions – however the tonal clarity and feel of this instrument almost tells me where to put my fingers. When on stage using a small, attached microphone – it simply works better than anything I have tried previously. Overall this instrument has opened up opportunities to improve and enjoy playing. I was lucky to find Cardiff Violins to import the violin from America so I could try it before buying – they have a wonderful shop, friendly people and have set up the violin beautifully”.
34. Jonathan Hill, Leader of 'Les Miserables' Orchestra, Queens Theatre, London
Dear fellow musicians,
Cardiff Violins have been an immense help to me for the past decade. I popped in originally whilst working on the Cardiff light music singer of the year awards in 2005. I was looking for a good violin to use in my new position of Leader at Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly theatre, London.
Their Don Tatem immediately stood out as the budget instrument I required and subsequently I have also purchased one of Don’s 5 string instruments that are so brilliant in the studio.
The assistance I have required since with all nature of string ‘things’ has been exemplary. Chris in the workshop is a fountain of knowledge to whom I never tire of listening. The repairs and advice on setups have always served me extremely well.
On all the essential sundries of violin playing you can’t beat Cecile for organisation and friendliness. Unlike most of the violin dealerships in London you do feel that Cardiff violins are on the side of the player and you’ll always be treated fairly and respectfully.
For more about Jonathan please click here!
35. Delphine Coleman, Machen, S.Wales
The Old Violin.
The violin laid in its old case of faded worn blue felt and rusty locks, it had not been played for 40 years or so and had belonged to my late husband who was a very keen violinist. He was one of 3 brothers whose parents must have been very thrifty to have paid for piano and violin lessons for them in the late 1920’s.. Those were days of great hardship in the Welsh valleys, and my father-in-law worked as a railway ganger which was not a very well paid job. They all played in a local orchestra, the leader of which was their qualified violin teacher. The orchestra practised every week in the nearby Workmens’ Hall and gave concerts at local venues, mostly for charity, which gave the boys added skills and experience. They also performed at chapel gatherings as a trio. The eldest, an excellent organist is still playing in his parish church at the age of 91!
My husband became a teacher, and when we married in 1950, musical evenings were very popular, he would play, and I would accompany him, and friends would join in. A lovely way to enjoy music in your own home at no cost which was an important factor after the war for quite a while. He told me all those years ago that in his teens, he had played the Second Movement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto before Paul Robeson. How I wish I had asked more, but I do remember it was one of his very special memories.. His brothers recall it but only vaguely, and all my efforts to discover more have not been successful. Information gathered seems to concentrate only on Robeson’s speeches, rather than any concerts. He visited South Wales many times and was very respected by the mining communities with whom he had a great affinity. Maybe someone somewhere might remember although it is such a long time ago in the mid 1930’s.
I am now 85 years old, and have been widowed for 13 years but am blessed with a loving family and 4 great grand children, the eldest of whom is 10 years old, and has just passed his Grade 3 violin exam. His sisters aged 8 and 5 years have also started lessons. Young Jacques is also a cathedral chorister so I think there must be a few musical genes around! This made me think about the old violin, could it still be played, should I seek advice about having it restored, and would it be worthwhile?
This is where Cardiff Violins enter my story. A visit there was to prove a lovely experience. The time and expertise given to advise and show what was necessary in such a friendly atmosphere was amazing, so lacking in today’s busy world. I was told that the violin was in relatively good condition, was about 120 years old, was probably made in the Vosges region of France, and was certainly worth restoration.
My granddaughter and her husband, (Jacque’s parents) were thrilled to think that in time he would be able to play his great-grandfather’s violin so it was obvious the path I needed to follow, and the work was put in hand.
When we went to fetch it a few weeks ago, Jacques had no idea why we were going to Cardiff, and what a surprise it was for him! Once again every effort was made to ensure that everything was as it should be, in fact, he would soon be able to play it. We chose a new case but my grand-daughter insisted on keeping the old one with its white painted initials on the cover
It was a very happy and emotional occasion, enriched again by the whole ambiance which surrounded us. I know my husband would have been delighted and proud to know that his treasured violin would be in good hands, and that it had passed down to the fourth generation of the family. So if anyone has a budding musician in the family, and maybe an old instrument tucked away and forgotten, please give it some thought. It could well have a new life, and give much pleasure to others.
Once again, thank you Cardiff Violins, how glad we all are to have found you!
36. Meryn Hellier, Herefordshire
When I took my ancient cello to Cardiff Violins for a major repair, it was very fragile and weary. It has come back strong and beautiful with an even, fuller tone.
I've also had a set-up on a new cello, which has created new depths of beauty.
37. Peter Copper, Thatcham, Berks, Reading
Choosing a new bow from so many available is difficult.
Will it play well with the violin? Does the balance feel right? Is its range of tones and responses right for me?
Does it look like a piece of art to be admired as well as used?
Being presented with twelve or so bows in my price range, £2-3000, and slowly reducing them down to two over an hour or so wasn't easy. However, as soon as I picked up Anne-Cecile’s bow, it felt right… it was that wow feeling. The first notes and scales on the violin just left me smiling.
A number of phrases later and I couldn't decide between two French bows. Both felt perfect! I chose Anne-Cecile’s on price, appearance and of course, its richness and sound variations in combination with my violin. It is a true piece of art I never tire of looking at and playing!!
38. Alex Woodwood, Swindon, Cardiff, Bristol
"I have tried several of Ian's cellos and they are all beautiful instruments. What I've noticed about them is that they have a great all round sound as soon as they start to be played, even in the lower register. In addition to the sound they produce, they look fantastic with real care taken to make the varnishing look older. The cello I now own is a Vinnacia copy. Over the 9 months I have had it, the sound has developed to provide a really tone end that stands up to being in large cello sections. I've lost count of the number of times I've had positive feedback around the way the sound projects and also how beautiful the cello looks…including being asked how old the cello was!!"
39. Michael Edwards, Cardiff
40. Elizabeth Elliot, Cowbridge
Until I lost my hearing, the violin was my life and my beautiful Italian instrument had gone faithfully with me throughout my career as a performer and Suzuki teacher. But recently I came to realise that I would never play again and that it was time to find it a new home in which it could be played and loved once more.
After reaching this sad decision it was a huge consolation to me to be able to place it in the hands of Chris at Cardiff Violins so that it could be restored to a perfect condition before putting it up for sale. After completion of the restoration I spent a very happy morning with Chris and Cecile at their beautiful showrooms. Briefly reunited with my violin I was so happy to find it once again in a glorious condition and sounding magnificent thanks to Chris's excellent craftsmanship. I know that Chris and Cecile are in the best possible position with their fine reputation and experience to find my violin a good home, for which I shall be for ever grateful.
41. Mark Aitchison, Bridgend and Gloucestershire
My relationship with Cardiff Violins has developed over that last 20 or so years.
I purchased my first viola from Chris and Cecile aged 14, then aged 18 they advised me and helped me to select the instrument that would allow my playing to develop through university and with the National Youth Orchestra of Wales. Then in 2008 I decided that for my performance to be enhanced, I would need to invest in a better instrument. Over a period of 5 months, I visited Cardiff Violins and both Chris and Cecile were extremely accommodating; these visits occurred when I had a spare hour before a rehearsal somewhere in the city. Fortunately for me, the same viola was always there, proudly waiting for a play. Making the decision to purchase it was one of the best I have ever made. An Ian Ross viola from 2004, with the most sublime tone across the entire register. Without the patience of Chris and Cecile it would not have happened.
They then helped me purchase my first violin, when I decided that I needed an instrument that I could teach beyond grade 3 violin on. A very difficult task on the viola. They pointed me in the direction of a very capable and inexpensive instrument that fitted the job description perfectly. So well in fact, several of my students have visited Cardiff Violins and enjoyed the advice and knowledge of Chris and Cecile in the purchase of their "first" instrument.
42. The Petfield Family, Newport
Purchasing George’s violin was a wonderful experience enjoyed by the whole family. Magda and Cécile ensured that our afternoon spent at Cardiff Violins was a highly successful one where we were able to purchase a beautiful instrument for George, which was clearly of a far superior quality compared to anything seen previously.
The environment and pleasant ambiance of the premises lends itself perfectly to the occasion and allows you to easily concentrate on the matter in hand without distraction. George was able to play each violin in turn, (including a duet with Magda), until he was satisfied beyond doubt, that he had found his favourite.
Each part of the whole process was taken as carefully as the last; whether it was selecting the violin itself or the shoulder rest, bow and case.
A welcome benefit was that the purchase was aided by the 'Assistance Purchase Scheme', which enabled us to save on all the VAT for the sake of two minutes spent filling out a brief form which accompanied our payment.
Most importantly George loves his new violin to bits and plays it at any opportunity. The difference in his playing is obvious and makes us all wonder how he managed so well previously? Thanks again for all your help and we look forward to seeing you soon.
43. Maddie and Anne Fowler, Bristol
When you first enter the Violin Room at Cardiff Violins you find yourself in a wondrous Aladdin's cave of violins, the walls lined from floor to ceiling with row upon row of instruments, and there is the feeling that surely you will find “that special violin” here. There is a warm welcome to settle you in with reviving cups of tea to brace yourself for the task ahead, and Chris is on hand to tell you about the different instruments and their histories. They also have a violinist available to play for you, so that you can hear how your selection sounds from a distance, and how well it projects. When you need a break there are plenty of little cafes nearby where you can sit and discuss and mull over the decisions you might make.
Maddie fell in love with a wonderful old English violin, and I was also so inspired by one of the instruments (sadly beyond our price range) that I decided to start to play the violin again. Cecile and Chris were able to find me a lovely old instrument that suited my hands. So now Maddie and I play duets together!
The next fun task is choosing a violin case. Choosing a violin case is easy with such a variety of cases to choose from – once again one is spoilt for choice – from the simply sumptuous to the functional. Seeing your violin in a beautiful case that sets off the wood is inspiring and just makes you want it pick it up and start playing.
So although we set out to purchase one violin and ended up with two, we went through an amazing journey of discovery, our lives are the richer and our music making enhanced! Thank you Cardiff Violins!
44. Florence Altenburger
Violin teacher at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Junior department
Head of Individual lessons at Faulkner House Girl’s school, London
“Cardiff Violins have been taking care of my violin since I moved to England 2 years ago. I have spent such a long time with Chris to find the best my violin could offer, and it now sounds wonderful. I trust them for anything, from working on my violin to selling violins to my students. I am very grateful for their superb honesty, timeless availability and endless generosity. It has made a real difference and I feel I can come back anytime to look for the same perfectionism, "amour du métier" as we say in France!"
45. Orla Mooney, Co Clare, Republic of Ireland
Cardiff Violins could not have been more helpful when I decided to purchase a Luis and Clarke Carbon Fibre Violin. I was an adult returning to music after a twenty year absence and Cécile was wonderfully patient and helpful in swiftly answering my endless questions. The violin looks absolutely beautiful is a pleasure to play. The exquisite tone it produces flatters the player and even my most sceptical wooden violin aficionado friends have been converted upon playing it. I particularly enjoy their incredulity at the extremely high quality sound for the comparatively low price. Cardiff Violins took care of the importation of the violin from Luis & Clarke and offered invaluable advice on the purchase of a suitable case, rest and carbon fibre bow. If my playing of this gorgeous instrument ever matches the customer service I experienced when I purchased it, I will have exceeded my wildest dreams!
46. Ginny Small, Surrey
I needed to buy a new cello because I had outgrown my ¾, so needed a full size. When we arrived at Cardiff Violins, Cécile was very helpful and friendly and I was given very good help and advice. Angharad played a few cellos for me so I could hear them and so I could see what they could do. I also played them all myself. Angharad told me which instruments she preferred and also changed many strings for me to see if that helped. It took roughly 2 1/2 hours for me to decide, as there were so many! It was brilliant because we were able to take the cello home on “trial”. Angharad also gave us lots of advice and help in choosing a bow and case. I was very happy but mostly excited when I left the shop! It was a wonderful experience and with Angharad’s help, I chose the right cello first time!
47. Leena Oh , Godalming, Surrey
I purchased two beautiful French violins about a year ago from Cardiff violins for my daughters 11& 9 years old and we have been absolutely delighted with them. The girls love their violins and it's evident in their playing and it's a joy to listen to the wonderful sounds coming from the violins.
From the moment I contacted Cardiff Violins, they have been extremely helpful, friendly and accommodating. Before I visited the shop, Cecile sent me many photographs of the violins she sourced for us and provided us with lots of information. Their professionalism and expertise at Cardiff Violins is second to none and the customer service is simply outstanding. Cecile and Chris are the kindest and warmest people ever. They provide good honest advice and run the type of business whom one will have a relationship with for life.
A year on, and they have continued to provide excellent support and service and nothing is ever too much for them. A big thank for all your help and I will not hesitate recommending Cardiff Violins to anyone.
48. John Senter, Principal Cellist in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
When I came back from an orchestral tour of the USA with my cello in pieces, having split as a result of the dry atmosphere, it was to Cardiff Violins that I turned. Chris and Cecile immediately provided me with a cello to play on for which I was extremely grateful, and after a few weeks I was back in their shop trying many of their cellos, with a view to buying another instrument. They both showed incredible patience, giving me their undivided attention, as well as several cups of tea! Eventually at their suggestion, I brought away a cello by Henry Jay to try for a few weeks, so that I could play it in the orchestra, and see how it felt playing solos. At first I wasn’t certain that this was the instrument for me, but as I gradually adjusted to it, I realised that they had seen that this cello would probably suit me before I did. It now feels almost part of me, and I only wish I had found it 25 years ago!
49. Dee James, Bath
I bought a viola from overseas and the tone was most unpleasant to the ears. I contacted Cardiff Violins after finding out about them via the Web and from the onset they were extremely helpful and very patient. The viola has been completely reset and the tone is now superb. if you have an instrument that seems unplayable, I would definitely recommend the Cardiff Violins shop to transform your instrument. A big hearty thank you to all at the shop for my viola. It is a joy to play again.
50. Richard Crabtree ARCM
Prof Viola & Violin, RWCMD Cardff & Trinity College London
I can't thank you enough for the considerable time and trouble spent on restoring and voicing my violin and viola.
Your quest in satisfying my demands on workmanship and tone production with these instruments, is both reassuring and very much appreciated.
51. Sebastian Rudnicki, Freelance Violinist, London
I am so pleased with the violin I bought from Cardiff Violins. The shop was recommended to me by a friend, so when playing in Cardiff recently, I decided to visit the shop and try a few instruments. Cecile, Chris and their assistant Magda made me feel very welcome indeed, I was given lots to try and never felt under pressure. Simply to try and enjoy. They were so helpful and on hand to give advice and adjust the instruments if necessary. Chris also did a set up of my own modern violin and changed the bridge, which has transformed the instrument so it sounds better than ever.
I very much look forward to visiting Cardiff Violins when next in Cardiff, they really did make the whole experience a very nice one and the violin I had been looking for all these years is now mine thanks to Cecile and Chris. Thank you so much.
52. Hazel and Henry White,
We visited Cardiff Violins in January 2012 on the recommendation of my son's violin teacher. Henry spent a couple of hours trying many instruments with your patient, knowledgeable staff. Having narrowed down the selection, we went for lunch and returned to consider the few violins we had chosen. With more patience and a variety of listening opportunities, we took two instruments home to try with his teacher. Since this was Henry's first full size instrument, we appreciated the guidance and humour of your expert staff. This made our journey worth while. Within a month of proudly owning his 'new', old violin, Henry used it to gain a music scholarship to the senior school he will start in September 2012.
Thank you all at Cardiff Violins!
53. Nicholas Thompson,
As a student, I was borrowing the University's Baroque violin and bow, which was of fairly basic quality. As I progressed, I wanted to purchase my own, looking for something of great quality. After giving up many days for travelling and trying out over 17 different Baroque violins, I came to the conclusion, with a second opinion from my teacher, that this wonderful 18th century Scottish violin was 'the one'. I would like to thank Cardiff Violins, in particular Chris and Cécile, for such a friendly and helpful service. My parents and I received a very warm welcome and were given some expert advice on what to look for in the instrument and information on prices. I was given time and space to try out the violins they had on offer, and assistance was there when required. What particularly impressed me was the after-sales customer service. Having just bought a very recently, beautifully made bow from the famous French maker, Monique Poullot, I encountered a slight problem with it, and Chris explained to me how to overcome it, and it has been absolutely fine since. Even after that, I received numerous phone calls ensuring that everything was in working order and to my satisfaction. Once again, I would like to thank Cardiff Violins for their excellent service, and that I am extremely content with my purchases!
54. Alex Woodward, Cellist,
Swindon, Cardiff, Bristol
'I recently came across an Italian cello which needed considerable work undertaking to correct the neck angle and realise the playing potential of the instrument. Chris and I spent considerable time going through the options of what would be possible and also cost effective. I must admit that I was nervous when Chris explained the work he recommended, but I was amazed at the level of craftsmanship that Chris and his team achieved, and in fact, you would never know that a repair had been done!
I'm always impressed by the work that Chris and his team undertake and I have huge respect for the values that they work by - a real passion to do the right thing for the musician and also to ensure the instrument can perform to its full potential, which mine now does!
55. Danielle Bruckert, United Arab Emirates.
I had only ever played student cellos, and had been looking into an upgrade for some years, but lived in two countries without Cellos and without weather for cellos. Fate, a long weekend, Luis and Clarke, and Cardiff Violins came into my life, and I finally have a great instrument that will last the weather and my progression.
Here's some brief notes on my experience:
I was so impressed by two points, Chris and Cecile made me feel at home, and since I was so nervous, this was the best treatment I could expect, I had my own room, and even my own coffee mug. Second I was amazed at how they treated all clients the same, whether you were coming to buy a £ 6,000 Cello or a £ 5 piece of rosin, they treated everyone the same, and I thought this was really great.
The Cello professional, Angharad, was in and out all day to help me with bows, cellos, and cases, she was always not far off when I needed her and let me be in peace when I didn't, Chris helped me with wolfnote devices and advice on bridge setting, and let me play several wooden Cellos in my range and some way out of my league for comparison. For someone who had only ever played student cellos, this was amazing.
I was considering buying a Cello from Cardiff without seeing it, if I did not get the few days away, as they said they will ship, especially in circumstances like mine, and after being there I would be happy buying an instrument from them prior to seeing it. However I am so glad on the experience I had, and the knowledge I gained from the day at the shop, if you can get there, I highly recommend it.
Regarding the Luis and Clake - I am really impressed, it is perfect for someone in my situation, it sounds great, is weather durable, rugged, but still plays like a similarly priced wooden instrument, and I have to say, looks cool on stage for jazz and rock. I always thought it was retail jargon that if you buy a better instrument, your playing will improve to match it, but so far, I am finding at least my practice has improved immensely, I can now play without the limitations of my student Cello, and I've managed to resurrect a few pieces I'd given up on as not being able to play well. The resonation is so much better, and it is much easier to get a good sound. I am extremely happy with the instrument I now have.
Here's a pic of me looking very nervous at my first public performance.
We were only at Cardiff for a couple of days, but we made some friends, I found a great instrument and learnt a great deal, and we definitely want to go back.
56. Jules Coomber, Herne Bay, Kent
My first encounter with Cardiff Violins was not, in fact, for the purpose of purchasing a violin, but researching the instruments used in the BBC drama Sherlock, for the website Sherlockology. Having played the violin from a very early age myself, the subject was of particular interest to me and I was excited to learn more about the instruments chosen for the television series.
Chris and Cécile were exceptionally helpful, giving detailed descriptions and accounts of the violins used onscreen and why they had hand picked them amongst countless others. It was fascinating to learn the history of the 19th century German violin chosen for the second series and its journey to Cardiff Violins, and then onto the Sherlock set to be played by actor Benedict Cumberbatch while portraying Sherlock Holmes in the episodes ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’ and ‘The Reichenbach Fall.’
Thanks to Cardiff Violins, today I find myself the current custodian of this very special violin. It is a magnificent instrument and from the very first moment I played it, I fell in love and understood why they had chosen this one in particular. Not only a beauty aesthetically, it possesses such a rich and mellifluous tone, that every violinist who has heard me play this violin, has immediately asked if they could play it themselves!
Living in the south-east of England there is a severe lack of experienced string instrument suppliers and restorers in the area and it was wonderful to finally find Cardiff Violins, with whom I had confidence that I could entrust my own violins and bows that had been passed down to me from generations in my family. They have since fully restored two such bows and I am absolutely thrilled with them both; they look spectacular and it is a joy to play with them. I have another violin that is in desperate need of being brought back to life, and would not dream of taking it to anyone else.
I am very pleased to have found such patient and dedicated individuals, who have both the passion and knowledge to ensure whether you are a novice or experienced musician, you can leave Cardiff Violins reassured you have found exactly the right instrument for you. And if you believe as I do, that finding ‘the right violin’ is like finding your life partner, then in my opinion, there are no better matchmakers than Chris and Cécile.
57. Roseanna Jones, Spain
I would like to thankyou for the promt & friendly service that I have received from you. I bought a Violin bow from you on Wednesday 25th July, and it was delivered to my home in Spain on Friday 27th.
I look forward to visiting Cardiff Violins when I am next in Cardiff.
58. Alessia Beebie, Guernsey
It was three years ago that I first visited Cardiff Violins. I was overwelmed by the choice of string instruments and accessories on offer. Already an accomplished violinist, I was looking for a new bow of excellent quality to complement my violin. I didn’t have to go any further as Cardiff Violins stock a wide selection of bows. I finally set my eyes on a Manuel Francisco bow of exceptional quality. After trying a number of bows at my own pace and taking Chris and Cécile’s excellent advice, I never looked back. I was also conscious about taking care of my violin as I travel considerably and Cardiff Violins also stock a significant selection of high end cases. I chose a HIMA violin case because it was robust and practical for air travel. Additionally, it has a special music slot inside the case which was just what I was looking for.
I am a qualified musician having recently graduated from the University of Southampton and am a regular player with local orchestras in Guernsey. Since being back in the Island, I have performed as a soloist as well as string quartet events for various functions. Being a primary school teacher by profession, I also provide private tuition lessons in piano and violin.
59. Katie Davies
We purchased a full size violin and bow for our daughter Katie.Laura was so kind and very patient with Katie we did not feel pressured at all Laura made Katie feel very comfortable. Laura and Cecile, thank you so much for your expertise and outstanding customer service. We would recommend Cardiff Violins to everyone.
60. Osian Dafydd: Royal College of Music & Drama
My name is Osian Dafydd and I am 18 years of age. I am currently studying the violin at the Royal College of music in London. I hope to pursue a professional career in music and preferably the violin as
a primary instrument. I am also hoping to study voice at the Royal College of music. Currently I am a very proud owner of a great instrument made by a man called Henry banks, along with his father Benjamin banks who were both very gifted violin makers that lived during the 1700s and 1800s. It was this violin that was introduced to me by Chris and Cecile last year at Cardiff violins that made me realise I wanted to pursue a career in music and therefore I am extremely grateful to Chris and Cecile for introducing me to this violin.
When I arrived at the shop to purchase a new violin I instantly realised the warm atmosphere created by the building and also the welcoming staff who were very considerate and kind. It was also apparent that Chris and Cecile had a great interest in me and in my happiness of finding the right instrument. I had the opportunity of trying many violins, each one being unique in its sound and characteristics. It was a very long procedure to choose a violin but Cecile and Chris showed endless patience and true care.
It is very apparent to me that Chris and Cecile greatly enjoy their business, they are also very open to helping you adjust your violin to your preferred sound. Chris being an excellent craftsman does excellent jobs of repairing your violin if necessary and it is also possible to place complete faith in his dexterity. I recently had my violin completely re-glued, involving hours of Chris's time, when I went to pick up the instrument and offered Chris a sum of money he quickly rejected it. I believe that this demonstrates his love for the instrument.
To conclude, I have received many wonderful experiences from Cardiff violins and would happily advise everyone who wants to buy a new instrument whether it is a violin, viola, or a cello or whether you wish to service your instrument to go to Cardiff violins and truly have a great experience.
61. Ted Wilson: St. David's String Quartet, Former Member of The Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, and violin Teacher
I have known Chris King since 1977, when he was a student at the, now defunct, srting instrument making school at Abertridwr; and I was a member of the Orchestra of Welsh national Opera. It is with the greatest pleasure that I have observed Cardiff Violins grow and become such a great asset to Cardiff, British and internationally based string players.
During the past 35 years Chris has never lost sight of the fact that as pupils usually start playing with a small size, modest instrument, they then grow and need a larger instrument and if sufficient progress is made a fine instrument might be purchased. Cardiff Violins offer an excellent trade in scheme which allows pupils to upgrade to larger and better quality instruments. Over the past 35 years I have been delighted with this service.
The variety of instruments available at Cardiff Violins is large. The cheapest instrument I have ever bought for a pupil cost £35 and an ex pupil of mine recently purchased a fine old Italian instrument at a cost which would have bought a reasonable house in Wales!
As well as instrument sales, Cardiff Violins has an onsite workshop. Here new instruments are correctly prepared for sale and other instruments are repaired. I have always found the quality of work to be excellent.
There are numerous rooms at Cardiff Violins where instruments and bows can be played, at your leisure in pleasant surroundings.
Dear Chris and Cecile, I hope you will continue to look after us for many more years.
St David’s Quartet
62. Alan McClure, Co Antram, Northern Ireland
I am a freelance violinist /violist and am a bit hard to classify…
I enjoy being versatile as I love many styles of playing in many different contexts. I regularly work as an orchestral player, recitalist, baroque violinist, jazz violinist/violist, quartet and session player. I have always been interested in string playing from many parts of the world, from Cape Breton fiddling to Indian ragas!
I have just purchased a marvellous bow by American maker Lee Guthrie. Beautiful craftsmanship, powerful, superb playability and draws out colours and sonorities from my instrument I didn't know were there! Cardiff Violins have been extremely helpful and a pleasure to deal with. The Lee Guthrie is the third fine bow they have sold me. The others are a wonderful Baroque bow by Jacques Poullot, gorgeous and full of nuance and the renowned "Spiccato'" by Benoit Rolland- powerful, smooth and versatile. I use it for many styles including jazz..
63. Ivor Cox
I was in your shop recently and purchased a composite violin bow (and some very posh rosin). I can report I am very pleased with both and am being especially mindful of not overplaying - something the new bow makes easier.
While there you expressed interest in my family all being string players and asked for a picture. Attached is a scan of a photo taken at the last Victorian week at Llandrindod Wells. From the left:
Al the best,
64. Nicolas Ramirez, Conservatorio de Castelo Branco, Portugal
Blind date with a baroque violin!
The Early music scene is rapidly growing in interest here in Portugal and I was recently lucky enough to successfully audition for the Concerto Iberico Orquestra Barroca, one of the top portuguese Early Music groups. Up to that point I was borrowing a fiddle but decided the time had come to invest on my own one. Budget was not large, so knew from the start that it would need to be a Chinese copy, which didn´t worry me at all as I have witnessed the excellent quality of some Chinese violins in the past. I looked on the internet and suddenly panic started to appear: the amount of makers, dealers, websites selling chinese baroque violins is enormous, it is a bit of a jungle. I looked at some shops here in Portugal but somehow didn´t trust the product I was being offered. After weeks of frustration, I finally opened my eyes and saw that the answer to my predicament had been in front of me all the time : Cardiff Violins!
I have enjoyed a wonderful friendship with Chris and Cécile for the past 15 years. They were always there for me at the start of my career and during my 13 years in Cardiff, and colleagues and pupils have enjoyed the outstanding quality of their violins, bows and accessories here in Portugal too.
Due to professional commitments it was impossible for me to go to Cardiff personally, and on the other hand, I needed the fiddle urgently. So I experienced the best thing Cardiff violins has, its customer care. For the past few weeks, Chris and Cecile have patiently replied to the dozens of emails I sent them with all my requirements.
As the budget was so limited my expectations were not high, but I wanted to get the absolute best value for money. Exactly on the day Chris and Cecile promised, I received an absolutely gorgeous violin. I literally couldn´t believe my eyes how beautiful the fiddle was. Then I started playing and the sound was wonderful, right from the start a clear round sound, very easy to play on all the strings. The violin was fitted with an unbelievable bridge (my friends in Portugal are sending their violins to them for new bridges all the time!) which makes all the difference and all my requirements in terms of thickness of the neck, weight. everything was just as I wanted.
In short, Cardiff violins are on to a winner with this range of baroque violins and, if you are as specific as I am, you WILL NOT get better customer care anywhere else in the U:K
Conservatorio de Castelo Branco, Portugal
65. Simon Rees
I bought a newly-made Baroque-style violin from a Chinese maker by eBay, and received it packed neatly and with the sound-post and bridge down. It looked smart, with a nice shape and good varnish, so I brought it to Chris King at Cardiff Violins and asked the simple question: ‘Is this a Baroque violin?’ ‘It will be when I’ve finished with it,’ Chris said, and made some critical comments about the set of the neck, the shape of the bridge and other matters he felt he could rectify. ‘How much do you think that will cost?’ I asked, and Chris told me to expect to pay about as much as I had spent on the violin. In the end, his bill came to around £350, which was what I had paid the maker, and the instrument was a great deal closer to my expectations of a Baroque violin, and I have been playing ever since with great pleasure, although no expertise whatsoever… I continue to come to Chris’s shop to buy strings, rosin and other accessories, and always enjoy the opportunity to try out instruments in the practice room, and chat to Chris and Cecile about matters violinistic and musicological. Cardiff Violins, in its picturesque arcade setting, is a wonderful place to learn more about the whole violin family of instruments, and acts as the hub of a network of contacts among musicians throughout Wales and the West Country.
66. Michelle McNulty, Yorkshire
When I was looking for a new Intermediate violin I found Cardiff Violins and having read the testimonials and seen what they had to offer I arranged to visit and try some violins. Fortunately my partner and I had already planned to go visit the Millennium Center so this provided the excuse to drive over from Yorkshire.
I was not disappointed. Everyone at Cardiff Violins is very focused on helping you find the right instrument. I spent two hours there trying a selection of violins in one of their trying out rooms. I finally selected a 'Con Fuoco'. It's a great violin and I have had many compliments over it's tone and appearance. I can wholeheartedly recommend Cardiff Violins.
67. Gavin Stoddart, Burnham-On -Sea
I have been playing some of the Bach Cello Suites this week - and the tone and resonance is outstanding. Not sure what you did with the new bridge, and sound post placement, but it has made a good instrument exceptional.
I have now just got to learn how to get the best out of it.
So major thanks!
68. Bill Robinson, Rochester
Cecile and Chris were a pleasure to meet and so helpful when I was trying to decide which instrument to choose. Being a mature `enthusiastic amateur` as apposed to a `pro`, meant a certain degree of nervousness on my part, but I was very quickly put at ease by their friendly and supportive manner. Their service was just perfect, I couldn`t fault it at all. Now as the proud owner of a beautiful Don Tatem viola, I couldn`t be happier. However, Chris, I do have one problem with it : at a recent rehearsal, I still could hear wrong notes! Any suggestions !!?
City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra, and ‘Caliband’.
69. Philip Heyman, Principle Viola at Welsh National Opera
Well, there is not a lot I can say that has not already been said! Going to Cardiff Violins does not feel like going to a shop…it feels like looking up old friends – who happen to know a lot about what you need! Good advice is always there, Chris never screams at my latest discoveries…such as Pellegrina violas or the Luis & Clarke instrument (which I affectionately call Captain Plastic!). They know I love innovation…and colour…which is why Cécile knew I would be perfect for one of BAM’s less subtle cases! They also introduced me to Arcus bows, which I now use all the time. It is so easy to take for granted the convenience of having a place where you can go and try stuff and discuss ideas…something the internet cannot compete with.
70. Freya & Cathy, Brighton
We just wanted to say how delighted we are with the new violin. It looks beautiful and the tone is like velvet! It makes a big sound, as well, for a 3/4. Up to this point, Freya's played whatever I could find second hand and locally, but this is a violin to fall in love with. It's really enhanced her
Thank you to Cecile and Laura for your excellent personal service. We were nervous about buying a musical instrument online and relied totally on your expertise and advice in making a selection. When Freya grows out of this one, we shall definitely be back for a full-size - maybe in person, this time. Many thanks.
Freya and Cathy, Brighton
P.S. Freya's exams before Christmas went very well, she got distinction for her violin exam (grade 5, 135) and for her grade 5 piano too. She is thrilled. I'm quite sure her new violin helped!
71. Lauren Alexandra Haley, New York
I am infinitely grateful to Cardiff Violins for introducing me to my Thomas Smith violin. As a violin performance major, my violin means absolutely everything to me. I cannot imagine how different my life would be without it. I had started my undergraduate degree as a viola performance major and re-auditioned at my school (the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York) as a violinist because I could not stand to go a day without playing my violin. While most of my friends dream of someday owning their "soul mate" instrument, I know I've found mine.
Lauren Alexandra Haley
Eastman School of Music '13
Rochester, New York
72. Judy Powell, Sydney, Australia
I just wanted to let you know that the case arrived safely a couple of days before Christmas! Thank you so much for organising all that process - it all went very smoothly. And it was an excellent price - even with shipping, it was by far the best price we could find either in Australia or elsewhere online for the Bam cases.
My daughter is thrilled with it!
73. Carol Paige, Violinist, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
I am lucky enough to be the playing the beautiful Brandini violin that belongs to Eleanor. I am so enjoying playing the instrument, getting to know it and hearing it open out more and more as time passes. The violin has such an interesting sound which for me is so exciting and I am still finding new colours as each day passes. Just before Christmas I noticed that the instrument had opened up slightly on one of the shoulders so this has been glued now - pretty inevitable for older instruments as they get used to being played again I imagine? I have been using Evah Pirrazzi strings on the violin but have just treated myself to a Christmas present of their new 'Evah Pirazzi Gold' strings. These have gone on today and I can't wait to see how they settle in as one of my colleagues raves about them.
Many thanks for sourcing and selling such a beautiful instrument to Eleanor and Ray, it has made so much difference to my playing.
Eleanor & Ray, Violin Owners
We are so glad that Carol is finding that the Brandini is making such a difference to her playing, as this was the intention, to give a player an instrument that would allow them to progress their talent in a way that they could not afford without such help. We would encourage others, who are deciding how to invest some money at this time of uncertain markets, to consider doing the same.
74. Chris Holland, Cello Teacher, Germany
Thank you for all the time and skill you have lavished on my cello. I am still discovering its full potential but it is already clear that the tone quality is now better accross the entire register than it has ever been before and the ease with which the instrument responds is a transformation and a joy. My pupils are always greatly inspired and practise far more when they have one of your cellos. I now find myself sharing their experience. Thank you so very much!
75. David Hornberger
In June 2012 I started cello shopping. Having just finished my postgrad at the Royal Northern College of Music, I knew that, in a few months time, I would have to give back the lovely cello they had loaned to me for the past two years. I knew that the next instrument I purchased would be a serious investment, and I could only stop cello shopping when I’d found the one. I’d been trying out various cellos over the course of the 2011-2012 academic year, and I had yet to come across an instrument that made me not want to put it down. So, we arrive at September and I’ve given the cello back to the RNCM. I had been to Cardiff Violins once before and loved it – it was back in 2010 when I just popped in for a nose (I ended up trying some cellos then too!), and I was excited by the fact I could go there again! I was due to be working in Cardiff around mid-September, so sent an email to Cécile asking if I could come and try out some cellos whilst I was down there. “We would be very happy to meet you and show you our cellos”, she said! Brilliant, I was going to Cardiff Violins!
Cécile was a tremendous help; she had prepared many cellos that suited my budget, so when I arrived they were all perfectly tuned and ready for me. There were two girls who also assisted me; they brought fresh coffee and gave me a selection of bows for me to try. This was a brilliant thing to do as not all bows suit all cellos, so they gave me the freedom to find an instrument that would shine. So there I sat, well catered for, for 2 hours! Time flies.. I asked to not know the prices of the cellos because sometimes this can get in the way of finding an instrument that you like when you have a budget.
And then that moment came. I had found the one! A cello by the Scottish maker, Colin Adamson, made in 2006. It was brilliant. I loved the sound, the feel and even the look! As much as looks shouldn’t really matter, it’s always a bonus if your chosen instrument is pleasant on the eye! It was beautiful in every way. After I had tried all the cellos, Cécile insisted that I take the Adamson away to try – I was immediately very fond of it! Cécile contacted me over the next week to see how I was getting on and I told her how I just had to have it. It was at the top end of my budget, but I didn’t care.. I would find a way! I assured Cécile that I would definitely be purchasing the Adamson, and unfortunately hit brick wall after brick wall when investigating loans/grants/scholarships etc.. What was a horrible few weeks of decline after decline, eventually turned into success! I cannot thank Cécile and Chris enough for their patience and continued optimism in my search for funding. They were also extremely generous to lend me a case for the whole time, and I cannot explain how warming it is to have a shop be on your side; they wanted me to have the Adamson as much as I did!
So now I have a cello which I’m very proud to own, and it’s all thanks to Cécile and Chris really. Next time I’m in Cardiff I’ll be popping into Cardiff Violins – not to try out cellos for 2 hours, but instead to have a catch up with the lovely friends that I made during my time spent at Cardiff Violins; although, I guess I’ll be the one making the coffee this time!
76. Adam Robinson, Violin & Violist
As a violinist and violist, I have been playing on a friend's Don Tatem viola for the past 3 years in a variety of settings. I find it a very easy instrument to switch to from the violin and really like the strong, even tone across its range. I came to Cardiff Violins specifically to buy a Don Tatem for myself and found a similar instrument in size to the one I was playing that I really like and am looking forward to playing. I have tried quite a few instruments much higher in value yet none have seemed quite as nice as Don's! Thanks to Cardiff Violins for helping me.
Here is a video of the viola multi-tracked in a new composition:
77. Janice Blackiston, Haverfordwest
I am loving the violin and have had a go (required) at tuning it – the pegs are excellent – a far throw from my student instrument. I can hear the sound interval when moving the pegs and am having reasonable results when checking with my tuner – great crash course from Chris! Having such a beautiful violin is going to be a great learning aid for me, I feel it leads me, I am so fortunate to have it. Big big thanks to Cecile and Chris!
78. Allegra Gaspardis, Udine, Italy
I’m Allegra, I come from Italy and I’m 17 years old.
I play violin since when I was 9 years old but there was a moment when I’ve thought that that wasn’t my way. Then I’ve been so lucky to attend for a couple of years the LMFL International Summer music courses in Landovery, in Andorra and in Cadeillan as well.
So I’ve met my wonderful teacher, prof. Crabtree as well as Arlette Herrenschmidt, director of the LMFL, both of them, but Prof. Crabtree in particular, helped me to understand better my potential and what music meant for me.
My professor, last summer, suggested my to try the viola, I was so keen but also a bit afraid of the instrument cause it meant a new beginning and I was feeling a bit blue and frustrated having spent so many years with the violin.
Prof. Crabtree chose the instrument in Your store and I was so excited when I’ve received in Italy before last Christmas, such a wonderful instrument, the sound is melodius and light as a river’s flow, I feel the warmth and the sweetness of this viola, I really love playing it.
I practice every day and twice a week, through skype I have lessons with my teacher, and I feel the viola almost as a part of me. I think that I didn’t choose this instrument but it did choose me and it has overwhelmed me as well.
When I play it there are good as well as bad moments, and my very patient teacher knows it well, sometimes it’s difficult, I feel like I’m not good enough but then I know that I’ve my special instrument that helps me fighting all my music and life’s difficulties.
79. Lorilea Jadeborg, Denmark
My Don Tatem viola is a charming and gifted musical personality. Even with possible lingering "jet-lag", Syrena produced a delicious, even, and full sound, with a nuanced timbre that bodes well for future development. I have no doubt that her voice - like that of the best contraltos - has the capacity to easily fill a room full of people, but still send a personal message to each individual listener. She doesn't demand attention, but will get it anyway - one won't be able to resist her!
80. Chereene Allen, No. 5 1st Violin BBC Concert Orchestra
If you would like to take your hard earned cash (or well deserved loan) to a dealer who might be pompous, have his heart only half in his job, know little about the craft and the musicians he serves, then do not come to Cardiff Violins. Buying an instrument is a very emotional, unique and often lengthy process. To be treated with respect whilst being shown great patience is a rarity and I had this in abundance whilst dealing with Cécile. Cardiff Violins was recommended to me by a colleague and after several lengthy and very informative telephone conversations with Cécile I bought a wonderful Benôit Rolland bow and Bam violin case. Cecile impressed me with her knowledge about the makers and their bows and spent a long time discussing this with me. Nothing is too much trouble for her. I could not recommend Cardiff Violins highly enough.
81. Samuel Bossart, 1st viola in a surrealistic funfare, Belgium
I must thank Cécile Limon and the Cardiff Violins eam for their sense of service. I bought my bow (Viola Spiccato Solo, Benoît Rolland) without coming to the shop. Cécile gave me the needed time to try it on stage, and answered all my questions with rapidity and professionalism. I must say I have not been disadvantaged by the distance to make my choice, on the contrary. I warmly recommand Cécile and her team. And many thanks: this bow is simply amazing!
82. Sarah Eales (Sarah Loveridge), Freelance Violinist and Teacher & Leader/Administrator of the Ardeton String Quartet, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol
I’m still completely in love with my beautiful violin after all these years, and it seems to get better and better each year! I’m so grateful for your help when I first bought it, and I’m so glad I found it, as I can’t imagine ever having a different instrument.
83. Frank Thomas, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The Violin case arrived today, less than 24 hours after ordering. Amazing service. Thank You.
84. Jan Tyrrell, Kent
I have never been so excited, I even cancelled a hair appointment as I wanted to be here when it arrived. I have only played a few notes, what an amazing wonderful sound, I cannot believe the difference. The most sweet sound, and it is mine!
I had to stop to write this to let you know how fabulous this is to me. I have tears in my eyes because I never thought I could find such a lovely violin, with such a wonderful tone, let alone own one.
The bow too feels perfect in my hand, I used to judder slightly, but don't seem to now, it has such a great balance to it.
I have only been playing for 6 weeks now, I find it hard but so rewarding. This violin makes me just know inside that I will learn how to play it well, no matter how hard or how long it takes. It makes me feel so happy and alive that no matter how hard or sad things sometimes get, this violin will lift and inspire me.
I don't know if this all sounds over the top, but it isn't to me, it is the most fabulous day for many a year and will affect me for many to come.
Thank you, thank you , thank you.
You knew what I needed Cecile and you have made sure I got it.
85. Jenny Wigram, Amateur Cellist, Torbay Symphony Orchestra
Nothing was too much trouble for Chris and Cecile at Cardiff Violins. From the initial phone enquiry late on a busy Saturday afternoon to the final purchase, they couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly. They even organised Angharad, a postgraduate music student, to play numerous cellos for me, when I visited, so that I could judge the quality of sound production of each instrument. The service didn’t end there, either. They asked the previous owner to provide detailed provenance of my cello, including photographs of William Smith’s signature inside. I know that this excellent service will continue for my cello’s future needs, too.
Thank you, Chris and Cecile, for introducing me to the “love” of my musical life. It has opened up unimagined possibilities in my music making. I feel that I have, at last, found my voice.
86. Ruth Jarvis, London
Thanks so much for your amazing service. Violin case has reached me and been put swiftly into service, at which it has excelled.
I'm leaving the country to go travelling in South America – I move out of my house tomorrow, and everything is hectic. So your speed and kindess and efficiency were particularly welcome. I've been buying lots of things and having them delivered, from bike parts to base layers, and your service has stood out.
87. Jason, Bridgend
I have purchased 2 violins from Cardiff Violins and I am very pleased with both the service and invaluable advice that I have received on my many trips to the shop. Recently, I have bought a Bridge electric violin from the shop and I am overjoyed at its quality and usefulness when performing, I would recommend Bridge Instruments to everyone looking for good quality electric instruments and I would recommend Cardiff Violins to everyone because of the friendly tone and expertise of all of the lovely people who work there.
88. Johanna, Bavaria
Johanna is a little girl living in the south east of Bavaria. She started playing violin three years a go with a 1/8 size violin. When it was time to change to a half size violin we got the advice to try Cécile's Violin shop in Cardiff.
Cécile was very helpful and she made it possible that Johanna got a very beautiful red coloured half size volin. Johanna is very happy with it.
Thanks to Cécile and her team.
89. Tonu Reimann, Prof. of Violin, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre
I met Chris King of Cardiff Violins at ESTA Conference in Oxford where he crafted a new bridge for my violin and checked the soundpost. I was pleasantly supprised by Chris' and his son Dan's knowhow and understanding of the instrument.My violin got whole new fresh breathing and improved sound.
Thank you a lot!
90. Chris Richards, Cardiff/Birmingham
Thank you Cécile, Chris, Magdalena and the workshop for your help last week. I popped in for some advice and instead received personal help for almost three hours: nothing was too much trouble. I'm especially pleased with the repair to my violin: initially, I didn't believe it was mine! Attention to detail, personal service and knowledgable staff can be lacking in this world of online shopping but these are very much alive at Cardiff Violins.
91. Mr. H. Pritchard, North Wales
I had intended to put off writing to you with my impressions of the violin until I had lived with it for a while. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm has overcome me! I am too delighted with the tone of this beautiful instrument not to write and tell you. It sounds so rich and warm. I acknowledge that I am not an accomplished violinist, but I have played musical instruments for thirty years, and would consider myself sufficiently competent to appreciate the rich and subtle tone of the Czardas!
The chin rest is very comfortable too and I feel that I could play this lovely violin for hours.
Buying the violin was a leap of faith so thanks for your assistance in selecting such a delightful violin and for your excellent and patient customer service. Due to the pressures of work and family life and the complications of geography, I doubt that I would have discovered such a lovely violin, if it were not for your friendly and courteous service.
I would not hesitate to purchase another violin from you by means of the internet and phone!
92. Tim Notts, Ensemble Galante, Australia
The baroque violin is doing well as our "trainer" instrument.
We used it for a classical concert at A430 in August (2nd violin on recording), it was played for a Purcell concert last month and being used for a JS Bach event on Nov 17. The players seem happy with it and has a nice tone that fits in well with the other strings.
Here's a very live sampling from the classical concert. Haydn Symph 104 arranged by his contemporary Salomon. Click here for mp3
93. Katrina Elliman, Doha Community Orchestra, Qatar: Purchased violin by Eric Jackson
What a marvelous instrument. I'm so glad I traveled all the way from the Middle East to Cardiff to play your wonderful violin. Having played in orchestras from the age of 7, I went on to lead most orchestras I played in right through my Masters of Music degree to now, in Doha, where I lead the Doha Community Orchestra whilst at the same time act as Head of Music at Doha College, Doha Qatar. Having extracted every bit of sound of my old violin it was time for an upgrade. I had no idea new violins could sound this good. In fact, it was so good my partner (a cellist) was so impressed with the violin sound that he played your cello and didn't want to play another after hearing it (he's now saving up). Recently we had the Williams Formula 1 team visit school and so I include a link to the You Tube clip, it's not my recording but I was playing the Bach! When they send me the photo I will pass a copy on to yourself too.
94. Mladen Spasinovici: Principal Solo Cello – National Opera of Bucharest, Romania
I just returned from a tour with Philharmonie der Nationen conducted by Justus Frantz. Every since 25th of April 2013 when my L&C carbon fiber cello arrived, I must tell you that I constantly played my cello and I love it! This cello was delivered by DHL at their office near by Otopeni Airport. They told me that they will bring the cello to my house the next day, or I can take it myself in the next hour. I had three hours before rehearsal at the Opera House, so I “flew” with my car and took the cello myself.
When I first open the shipping box of the cello I couldn't believe my eyes and my ears also… It looked so luxurious and shinny, and when I plucked the strings, I was amazed because it was pitched tuned 440 Hz. The big moment of the box opening was inside the Opera House. In 10 minutes a lot of singers and conductors gathered near me. They were very surprised about the warm and qualitative sound. All cellists that were there tried it and told me it's incredible! I was also surprised by its popularity.
On August 17th, I played my L&C cello in front of a numerous jury, and I won the position of the principal solo cello of National Opera of Bucharest.
A few days ago, an inattentive colleague from the Opera hit severely the back of my cello with the scroll of his cello. I was surprised again: not a single scratch! It could have been “good bye” for a regular wooden cello, but not for my enduring L&C cello.
Now I can tell you that L&C cello worth every cent. It sounds just like a 20.000 euro wooden cello and I highly recommend it to every cellist in the world!
Your sincerely, Mladen Spasinovici
PS I attached a photo with me and my cello, and youtube video link with duo Cell'Arpa (it's a duo I formed with Roxana Moisanu, Principal Solo Harpist – National Opera of Bucharest)
Duo Cell'Arpa - "Lascia ch'io pianga" by G. Fr. Handel :
95. Hatty, Gloucester
I am really really thrilled with my Musafia violin case. I love it so much and I feel so privileged to have had this beautiful case made specially for me the exact way I wanted it. It is amazing and even better than I ever hoped for. The attention to detail and quality is fantastic. I will feel special every time I use it - it is so fab. Thank you SO much for ordering it and arranging for it to be made for me - I am so glad we found you and you were willing to help. This is the best Christmas present ever.
96. Errol Matthews, Rutland, Central England
Having played the violin for over 40 years (I was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales under Clarence Raybould and Arthur Davidson) I have owned a considerable number of instruments including some significant Italians. During this time I have had the opportunity to use the services of many dealers and restorers in London and elsewhere.
In December 2013 I had my first set-up on my nineteenth century Italian violin undertaken by Chris King of Cardiff Violins – my experience has been refreshing. When I collected the instrument Chris and his colleagues were keen to further understand my tonal requirements and very precise adjustments were made on the spot. Two days after this, Chris phoned me at home to check that I was pleased with his work. It is now one month on and the instrument has continued to grow in tone and character. I now plan to take some of my other instruments to Cardiff for the same treatment.
In conclusion, I cannot recommend Cardiff Violins highly enough in terms of their passion for their work, their technical expertise and their commitment to violin as a vehicle for sound production.
97. Genevieve Phillips
'My Luis & Clark Cello'
I really enjoyed my day out at Cardiff Violins trying many cellos with varying prices. This particular one I found had a very deep and lush tone. I got to know this cello very easily and found it very easy to adapt to the shape, even though it is quite different to what I had before. I also thought it was very comfortable. This is because there are no ribs around the edge and none around the top either. I managed to get a nice constant loud tone even at the higher range of this cello with both fast and slow melodies and a steady mellow sound in the deeper range. I also find that it is hard not to comment on the amazing patterning on this instrument - after all it is very unique and different from other cellos. The carbon fibre gives this fascinating diamond pattern and dark mysterious colour. I am looking forward to having many worldwide adventures with my cello!
98. Debbie Boyce, Lymington, Hampshire
As an adult cello student I was on the point of giving up because I was not consistently getting the right pitch from my full size instrument because I could not stretch my fingers enough. The string length of my full size cello was 27¾ inches. I needed a cello with shorter strings, 26 to 26½ inches if I could find one, so I decided to try a smaller cello, and Cardiff Violins had several available.
Cecile was very helpful on the telephone and encouraged me to visit the shop. When my husband and I arrived we were made most welcome and were provided with a private room and a variety of instruments in different sizes and prices which had been selected for me by Katja, a cello student at the Welsh School of Music.
I was able to take as much time as I needed, not only to try the instruments myself but to have them played for me by Katja. It was enormously helpful to both play and hear the different cellos. Katja not only played beautifully, but was also very encouraging and thoughtful in her comments and suggestions. She also gave me several playing tips which have greatly improved my technique. (Katja pictured below during Debbie's visit)
With Katja’s assistance I arrived at a short list of two 7/8 cellos. Eventually I chose one to take home for a two week trial during which time I would be able to take advice from my regular teacher. Shortly into that period I wished I had also asked to try my second choice instrument. Cecile was only too pleased to send it to me by courier.
Thus with my teacher’s help both cellos were put through their paces and I settled upon a Chinese Con Brio instrument with a voice which is powerful and rich despite being 7/8 in size. It is also very attractive with good varnish, colour and patterning. Most importantly the size is just right for me. It is also much easier to play than my old cello, because of the way it has been set up.
At the end of the trial period we returned to Cardiff Violins to finalise the purchase. Once again we were made very welcome and Katja was on hand in the private room to provide advice and support. She had also given further thought to my needs and showed me a 7/8 sized bow , I didn’t know there was such a thing, which she demonstrated and encouraged me to try. It was an instant improvement on my old bow, not only in size, but also in being firmer. This bow had silver fittings unlike the nickel of my old bow which had been causing me a significant allergic reaction. Chris very kindly offered to modify my old bow, but I chose the new 7/8 bow, which was a significant improvement.
With good part exchange prices for my old cello and bow I was able to afford the new ones and am absolutely delighted with them.
In every respect I rate Cardiff Violins extremely highly. I was pleased to find a good choice of instruments in a smaller size, in particular better quality instruments at a higher price, most luthiers only stock basic models of smaller sizes. The choice of instruments was excellent and the service was professional, warm and friendly. I was given as much time as needed, a private room and no pressure to make a purchase. The whole experience was trouble free, interesting and very enjoyable, the more so for the expert help and advice from Katja. I live a significant distance from Cardiff, but it was well worth the journey.
99. Lucy Rivers
I recently purchased a new violin at Cardiff Violins after finally admitting that my very old one was becoming too delicate and wasn't fit for harsh stage lighting or long-haul travel. It was a difficult decision as I knew that this new violin would become my main playing instrument and considering my relatively small budget I didn't think I'd find anything I loved anywhere. However, I couldn't believe the high quality sound of the violins that Chris had to offer. After spending a few weeks trying out and taking home various fiddles, I finally settled on a top range Chinese violin that Chris tinkered with to get the sound just how I like it. Chris and Cecile are always very friendly, patient, and giving of their time and advice even when you know they have a very busy business to run.
Since then I've played on a number of folk gigs and theatre shows and on each one the instrument has sounded warm, rounded and a pleasure to play. I've been coming to Cardiff Violins for over 20 years and their expertise, knowledge, welcoming and helpful service make each visit a great experience. Thank you.
100. P R Pay, Devon
There’s something delightfully other-worldly about Cardiff Violins.
Partly it’s the place on that magical upper level arcade walkway with the great mirror windows doubling the architectural space. Inside, Joe was exercising various violins as I arrived and rich sounds of the Barber concerto permeated the building. “Would you like tea or coffee?” “How was your journey?”
Here one is literally spoilt for choice – were there 40 or 50 instruments in the viola room alone? Selection might have been daunting except that Cécile and Chris, like caring marriage brokers, are so focused on matching players’ needs and the qualities of the instruments available.
Potential musical bonds were soon being established. Even so, there was no rush in this homely hospitality and amazingly it was three hours later when I carried away two instruments to try at home.
A week later Cécile and Chris listened carefully to my observations. The favoured instrument was not quite as I would like. So, like a bespoke tailor, Chris was soon making subtle adjustments. Nothing appeared to be too much trouble and I got the impression that these people would not sleep at night if they thought an instrument had gone out of the shop not wholly suiting a player’s aspirations.
I am pleased with the antique viola purchased and most impressed with the hugely knowledgeable and friendly assistance that enabled me to choose the right instrument.
101. Anders Christopher Nielsen, Fredensborg, Denmark
The violin case arrived yesterday, and my daughter is very satisfied!!!!! So thank you for your service. I will always recommend you to my friends!
I'm a GelRest addict! It really helps to get a better purchase on the violin with less effort, thus reducing any excess tension which in turn makes it more relaxing to play! I always buy my GelRests and other violin accessories from Cardiff Violins as they're such good value and super quick to order from!
103. Jose, Spain/South of England
Hi Chris, Cecile and all the nice staff in Cardiff Violins,
I want to write you to let you know how much did enjoy the visit to your shop.
Also I would like to stress the fact that my testimonial is addressed to those that are absolut beginners or one or two steps below, like me. Those that have not idea about violins and are in need of beginner's instrument and much more, really a lot more, help to make the decission on which one will suit him/her.
I decided to go to your shop by recommendation of a good friend of mine, already playing violin, and firstly I did my research through internet and did read other people testimonials about you, your job and your shop.
I have to say, after I knew you personally, that all those testimonials I did read were in some way wrong. My only fear is that my broken English possibly won't allow to say all that would like, to express all my feelings and how sucessful was for me the decission of going to your shop.
Formerly I did visit some other shops. Shops where violins were kept locked. That instantly sent a message to my brains: "We are not here for you, go away". Shops where the first sentence after the "Good morning/afternoon, sir" was "how much is your budget?". In short words, shops where they didn't look at the music lover, they looked at the customer wallet.
Since the first moment, when I did phone you, the warmth, the will to help, was present and very noticeable for me. That got me instantly hooked.
The moment I crossed your step door was a delight for my senses. My only worry was not to break anything. All the instruments were there, to the reach of my fingers, they weren't jailed in nice glassed urns. They were there telling "try me, please". And what to say about you, the persons behind all those instruments? The welcome was warmth enough, even when I changed my appointment time, you were still there smiling and waiting for me. You knew before hand I was an absolut beginner and I felt like you were waiting for a famous performer.
All what followed was magical. Your attendant was simply brilliant. She showed not dismay, restless, giving me all the explanations for my questions. Trying violin after violin. More like if we were friends. I never felt her rushing to close the sale. Never in a hurry to see me going and go for a next customer.
I could be here writing for hours about all my feelings. But nothing I can write will be even close to the reality. They were three fantastic hours in my life.
And what to say about you Chris, abandoning your workshop and finding five minutes to come to know me? Thanks very much for that detail. Amazing, simply amazing.
I just will add that your way of doing business is far away unsurpassed. You are brilliant, all you, stars in a world of mediocrity, in a world of money as main moto, yours is the satisfaction of your customers, and probably you don't have customers, you now have friends. I am.
I will, probably, carry on being an absolute novice for many years. I probably won't play decently a violin in my life. But now I am richer as person, as now I knew you.
From the bottom of my heart, a big thanks to all you.
104. Sarah Thomas, Wales
For some time, due to various physical problems, I had been struggling with a 16¾" viola. Thanks to the encouragement of a musician friend whom I consulted about this I made an appointment with Cardiff Violins. Being of modest talent and skill, I was rather apprehensive about going, but I needn't have worried. I was welcomed so warmly and treated throughout with great respect. Cecile took careful note of my needs before producing a number of 15" and 15½" instruments, each one of which was played by Joe, to show what they could do in the hands of an accomplished player. I finally opted for a 15" viola, which has made all the difference to my comfort. Not only did Cecile guide me in selecting it (and the chin and shoulder rests most suited to my needs), but she spent time giving me some general health information in addition to her very useful tips about posture and bow hold. A most worthwhile and very personal experience. Thank you Cecile, Chris and Joe.
105. Mary Cordall, String Teacher, Guernsey
I have been lucky enough to meet Chris and Cecile in Guernsey at their annual visits in Guernsey. This is a real treat for our students and local players and teachers - a room full of instruments to try! Exhausting for poor C & C though, a massive load up, long drive, sometimes ghastly boat journey and then all hands on deck to set up a local hotel as their weekend showroom. Many of my pupils have enjoyed choosing their first instruments from them and the parents enjoy the part ex scheme when they need a bigger instrument or an upgrade. Two years ago my son chose a gorgeous old German cello and this year it was my turn to part exchange my old French cello for this beautiful old english instrument. I absolutely love it!
106. Marilyn Timmerman
We placed an order this week for a violin case. I just wanted to say thank you and how impressed we were with the service. It arrived amazingly quickly, and we are delighted with it.
107. Rosie Smith
Love this viola it's so beautiful! And the bow - your mans done a fab job. I had my first viola lesson the day it arrived, I can see I'll have to get past those scraping noises before I find out how wonderfully this instrument can play!
It had always been one of my ambitions in life to be able to play the viola. However as a long time vegetarian turned vegan, I soon found that there were particular obstacles that prevented me from obtaining an instrument. In particular, I found it VERY difficult to find a bow anywhere that was completely free of animal products. The hair on the bow was from slaughtered horses, the slide or eye made from abalone and mother of pearl(also exploited by cruel practices), and other materials such as leather, snakeskin, bone and sometimes even ivory. My heart sank - perhaps playing this instrument was never to be.
But I don't give up so easily, and I'm glad I didn't. After a few e-mails to different music shops I learned that many student instruments tend to use a low melting point resin glue rather than animal hide glue. This was good news - now if only I could find a bow that used synthetic strings…
It was then that I stumbled across Coruss hair on the Cardiff Violins website. At last, synthentic bow hair for the viola! It DID exist! I was so excited - I got in touch with Cardiff Violins immediately about buying an outfit from them with a completely customized bow. Being vegetarians themselves, they completely understood my problem. They were extremely helpful and more than happy to fulfil my needs, replacing the horsehair with Coruss hair, removing the leather thumbgrip and shell, and replacing the slide with ebony instead. They did an absolutely AMAZING job, and without their help I would probably never have had the chance to play. Thank you so much Cardiff Violins!
108. Saran Davies, Neath & Royal Academy of Music London
I can't thank you enough for all your help and invaluable advice over the years. My journey to find the perfect cello has been difficult - to say the least! However your kindness and detailed knowledge has ensured that I have the perfect instrument as I embark on my studies at the Royal Academy of Music. I would recommend your workshop to all cello owners and I would recommend your wonderful shop to anyone looking for a new instrument. Thank you so much once again.
109. Sue Stone, Truro, Cornwall
Here is my photo with the lovely Paul Bailly violin purchased last week. I am so thrilled to own it. I'm sure it is going to take my playing to a higher level. I feel truly inspired. Thank you both so much for all the help, time and expertise you gave me in choosing the right instrument for me. I had a wonderful memorable day. Thanks also to Joe who gave his time playing the violins for me to hear, he is a beautiful violinist. I'm sure we will be in touch in the future.
110. Tracey McKerrel
Dear Cecile, Chris and all the team,
I just wanted to say a very big "thank you" to all of you for your hard work on my violin. It arrived safely this morning, and is barely recognisable! (In a good way.) Also thanks for the Obligato strings, really lovely sound. You take so much pride in your work and it shines through in all you do. I know you had nightmares over the varnish but the end result is better than I could ever have hoped for.
Thank you so much,
111. Venetia Oakley, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
I would like to thank you for the very prompt service received when I placed an online order for my new violin bow. I received the Standard Col Legno bow within three days, safely packaged and it arrived in perfect condition. It has certainly made a difference to the sound I am now able to produce from my violin! The resonance and tone are much improved and the bow is definitely recommended to anyone who is looking to change from a wooden bow to a carbon fibre one for the first time.
112. Chris Hawnt, Cellist, South Devon UK
My experience with Cardiff Violins began with my quest to buy another cello. I already owned a lovely old cello which was totally restored many years ago and I was now looking for a second cello which would widen my scope of sound and repertoire. I had heard very good feedback about the Luis & Clark cellos, so I contacted Luis & Clark in Milton, Boston USA and they kindly sent me a comprehensive pack of information, DVDs etc.
Following further correspondence with Stephanie Leguia (Luis & Clark) she recommended that I contacted Cardiff Violins in Wales to see if they could arrange for me to try one of the cellos. My first call to Cardiff Violins was answered by the delightful Cecile Limon who answered further questions I had regarding the Luis & Clark cello and carbon fibre instruments and said she would order one from Luis and Clark that I could try - without any obligation to purchase. True to her word, Cecile contacted me a short while later and said the cello had arrived. I arranged to travel to Cardiff with my wife and stay overnight at the Angel Hotel which is almost next to Cardiff Violins.
On the day of our visit to the shop we were greeted at the door by Katja. Cecile then greeted us and said she had arranged for Katja, the shop’s cellist, to spend the rest of the day with us. My first impressions of Cardiff Violins were of a feeling of tremendous warmth from Cecile and Katja in a very relaxed atmosphere. We were then taken by Katja to a room which had been set up to try the instrument.
Soon I was introduced to The Luis & Clark cello by Katja, which I must admit looked stunning– but as always playing and hearing the cello is what it is all about. I was not disappointed – the response; volume, ease of playing and quality of sound projected from the cello is very impressive. A really beautiful instrument. I then met Chris King, who although very busy in the workshop, spent time with me discussing the instrument, strings, and the importance of a good set up to the performance of an instrument. I next needed a new light weight case for the cello, Katja and Magdalena (shop violinist) again helped me choose the right case.
The next day we returned to the shop to collect the new cello and case and say our farewells to our new friends we had made – Cecile, Chris, Katja and Magdalena who had made our visit to Cardiff Violins a very enjoyable experience which I would highly recommend to anyone.
113. Sovra Wilson Dickson, London
I went in not expecting to get anything, but just to look because my brother Oliver Wilson-Dickson had found his main working violin in Cardiff Violins for an amazingly low price as the body was hand made in china from their exclusive makers they work with and then altered a bit and set up in the Cardiff Violins workshop… and it was just ridiculously good, so I ended up going, just to have a browse. I however fell in love with a 'Con Fuoco' violin and ended up getting ultimately a violin and a viola, a 'Con Fuoco' violin and a 'Con Passione' viola, and I traded in my old German violin and a Finkle bow and bought a modern China-made much less expensive but such good quality and it allowed me to end up with a fantastic violin and viola! I was amazed with how good the instruments were for the price! And also loved how helpful they were in trying to find me the sound I was looking for. I never thought I would ever own such beautiful sounding instruments without having to win the lottery. I'm really so happy! I am based in London but if I need anything done instrument wise I will always take a trip to Cardiff Violins.
Sovra playing her new instruments:
114. Sam and Tom Lees - Guernsey
A HUGE THANK YOU TO CECILE & all at Cardiff Violins. How you managed to get the replacement brand new cello to Guernsey in time for Christmas was amazing. Our 10 year old daughter Catherine had no idea. We were relieved we took out the insurance you recommended and can not believe you have done all the liasing with the insurers and all we had to do when her previous cello broke was make the initial phone call. The insurers took all the details over the telephone and there was no need to fill out any forms. What a relief! The minute the cello box was opened and after a few seconds of jumping around Catherine had the first try. She said it was all perfectly tuned for her and just perfect to play.
115. Bailey Perschon, Idaho, USA
I received a beautiful Czardas violin as an upgrade from my beginner’s violin, and it is even more beautiful and lovely than I had dreamed. I can't believe how much different it sounds and how much the Col Legno bow changes what I can do!
The violin, bow, and especially your willingness to help me figure out a violin that was just right for me has definitely been worth ordering all the way from Idaho. I'm so happy with everything, and I can't thank you enough!
116. Kate Fitzgibbon
Cardiff Violins did a terrific job transforming my violin bow from an exploited one to a humane one. I am delighted with the Coruss hair which must have the right rosin incidentally: Evah Pirazzi Gold this is. The bone tip was removed from my bow as was the mother of pearl which was replaced with black ebony wood. We do not need animal products so why use them when they are always a source of exploitation and torment, and yes this includes horse hair which generally comes from China with the horses ending up in the same old slaughterhouse.
I am delighted with the bow sound and I cannot see any reason, even putting the paramount importance of ethics aside, why horse hair would be preferable. Also this idea that horse hair is the 'real thing' is simply ignorant nonsense. I find most people who say this have never even tried or tested or listened to Coruss hair and have no intention to do so: they are simply prejudiced. Please use Coruss hair and more importantly please be vegan. The world is vegan if you want it.
117. Bethan Lloyd
Thank you so much Cardiff Violins - I am absolutely delighted with my Vassil Valtchev violin (made in 2011). The violin looks great, and it sounds even better, with a warm, rich tone. It is a true pleasure to play it.
Thank you also for the excellent customer service - choosing a violin from your wonderful selection is a marvellous experience.
118. Kushla Jugeewon, Poole, Dorset
Super cute violin, I got the Andantino and I am very impressed with the finish, the sound is phenomenal, Cécile has been a sweetheart with her help in choosing me the best violin from her classy collection.
119. Julie Conway, Colyton, Devon
Stepping into the past brings magnificent rewards for the future!
I cannot begin to describe the surprise and joy my trip to Cardiff Violins brought. I discovered from my research on the internet that this shop was one of the best in the UK from which to buy a high quality stringed instrument, and so at the first opportunity I travelled there from my home in Devon in hope of purchasing my very first viola. As an adult beginner, I was slightly nervous about the reception I would receive at such a prestigious establishment, but I was welcomed with an enthusiasm and professionalism, rarely found in a 21st century retail environment.
There was something ‘timeless’ about the whole Cardiff Violins experience. Firstly, the arcade in which the shop is situated has been preserved with all its original Victorian charm and splendour. Tucked away at the top, Cardiff Violins is like walking into a different century – yet some how totally appropriate in its arrangement and tone. Violins, Violas, Cellos and Double Bases all carefully placed in their own rooms. Staff with expert knowledge, and perhaps even more importantly passion for the instruments, offering top class service.
I wished to purchase a viola and was given personal time and space to test several instruments in order to find the ‘right fit’. Then, once my accompanying friend and I had whittled it down to three choices, perhaps the most special part of the visit took place. We were honoured with a private, virtuoso performance on each of those three instruments from a young member of staff, who also studies at the world famous Royal Welsh College Of Music & Drama. His performances brought tears of happiness to our eyes and we felt like something truly magical had occurred in a truly magical shop. Perhaps a little like stepping into the Olliander’s Wand Shop, a visit to Cardiff Violins is an experience one will never forget.
I bought my beautiful viola, and every time I pick it up, I think of that wonderful afternoon and the lovely staff and excellent service. I only hope I have an excuse to go there again in the future.
120. Rachel Roberts, Cardiff/4th year student at Birmingham Conservatoire
Since the age of 9, when I first started playing the violin, I have never strayed away from being an avid customer of Cardiff Violins. They have accompanied me on my journey ever since the purchase of my half sized violin all the way up to my Old English Violin c.1810 as well as a full sized viola and 2 bows. Chris and Cecile couldn’t be any more helpful when I've needed repairs, help or even advice. I have tried many instruments in their cosy oldie worldy rooms and the staff have been nothing short of amazing. They have always been patient, obliging and accommodating and have always made me feel like I can take all the time in the world. Studying at Birmingham Conservatoire is a long distance from Cardiff but I will always visit Cardiff Violins as Chris and Cecile's service is very professional and they without fail make time for me and my many bow re-hairs and repairs. Cardiff Violins is a truly excellent establishment for any professional or aspiring musician.
121. Philippa Appleton, Guernsey
I'm writing to say thank you for the safe delivery of my cello to Guernsey. It is beautiful, and I'm loving playing it!
Thank you for the superb service that you and your staff have provided. It's unusual in this day and age, and I've been really impressed.
122. Malcolm Price
Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for the great help and support you provided for my daughter, Emily, during her violin finding visit on Saturday. It was a great experience and Laura did a great job of helping Emily through it all. Whilst she has not yet decided on which instrument it will be I know that the service we had from you will be hard to beat.
123. Carol Gibson, Surrey
What I can say is I absolutely love my violin and am very much enjoying the lessons I am having. It’s quite complex isn’t it but that is also the beauty of it.
Thank you so much for my violin!
124. Vivian Kwan, Lausanne, Switzerland
We presented Lyndon a beautiful cello from Cardiff Violins as his 16th birthday present. I wish you could have been here to see his expression the first moments he bowed the instrument. A huge smile of delight slowly spread over his face as he heard its first resonating sounds. Lyndon has been playing an electric cello for the last 1.5 years and was missing what it sounds like to play an acoustic instrument.
The cello is not only beautiful-sounding, but also beautiful to behold. We love the gorgeous colour of it.
The cello was shipped to our home in Switzerland and arrived safe and sound, along with a hard case that we also bought for it.
Thank you to Cardiff Violins, Mary (our cello teacher), and Andrew (our cello teacher’s cello-playing father) for helping us find the perfect birthday present for Lyndon. It seems very fitting that Lyndon is going to play the Prelude to Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suite in G Major as his first recital piece with this cello. The cello is going to bring many years of happiness to our family. We are sending you a special photo that Lyndon’s sister took of Lyndon and his new cello, as thanks.
125. Radka Koprivova, Sutton, Greater London
Hi all, Thanks again for amazing experience two weeks ago when I came to buy my bow and thank you for adding on insurance for me.
126. Shay Kurz, Soldotna, Alaska, USA
I got the cello today! Hurray!! I had to quickly sneak it away to hide it from my mother, but I did get to open the case and get a look at it. It's BEAUTIFUL! I am so excited to see my mom's face when she gets it in September, I'm almost tempted to give it to her now.
So, I cannot express my extreme gratitude to you and your wonderful company for helping me with this endeavor. It's been quite the ride and I loved being able to chat with you and learn a little about you. Thank you my friend, you've been fantastic.
Oh P.S The postal worker absolutely could not believe that there was a cello in that box!
127. Brian & Debrah, Essex
Thank you for the delivery of the cello case - it turned up yesterday.
I just wanted to say that Debrah is very happy with the cello we purchased from you, and I am equally so with the bow I purchased.
We were very appreciative of the help Katja gave us on the day, and the time she was prepared to spend with us, helping us to select the right instrument. Can you please personally thank her for us.
128. Anne Mee
We recently bought a vintage electric violin from Cardiff Violins for our daughter. We have recently started a family ceilidh band and we are about to do our 4th gig so we decided she needed one. I have a friend who has a different electric violin and it is nowhere near as good as this one. I would highly recommend these electric violins- they look superb, they are light and they sound perfect!
129. Ben Pollani, Viola, London Philharmonic Orchestra
I would highly recommend Don Tatem's instruments to any professional musician. I've played on a Tatem viola since 1990 and I absolutely love it. So much so that I've recently bought another Tatem, also a great instrument. I think Don's craftmanship is second to none, his violas have a powerful, beautiful round tone, and they look stunning. Thank you Don for providing me with these two wonderful instruments
130. Simon Smith, Swansea
Just like to say a big thank you to all of you at Cardiff Violins, I had a very enjoyable afternoon selecting a new violin last Saturday and can't thank you enough for all the help that Laura gave me, after trying out many violins and Laura's expertise, and being kind enough to play them for me to hear from the listeners point of view, I've come away a very happy person and look forward to seeing you again when I'ts time to upgrade to my next violin. Thanks again.
131. Christine Riley, Tewkesbury
During the summer of 2011, I made several visits to Cardiff violins in order to replace items which had been stolen. Each time I was given excellent personal attention and as much time as I wanted to try instruments and bows. The viola I eventually purchased was expertly set up to my specifications and the choice of bows was extensive-something for all budgets.
I cannot fault the care, help and enthusiasm (especially with the merits of cases!) given to me by both Chris and Cecile and would recommend Cardiff violins to all string players.
132. Anna Jones
Several weeks on I still revel in the memory of my day trying out cellos at Cardiff Violins in January. I’d been playing my presumed French, late nineteenth-/early twentieth-century anonymous cello ever since moving up to a full size instrument, and was fond of it for its many associations, but, having long wondered what it might be like to broaden my sound horizon, thought to start a search for a new cello in the year of a significant birthday. There was no hurry to find something, and I was resolved to allow time to explore.
Proximity to family, and its good reputation led me in the direction early on of Cardiff Violins. A careful and solicitous consultation by phone before Christmas when I booked my appointment set the tone. A Saturday was set aside for me to try out several instruments in a suitable price bracket, and by lunchtime I’d played 5. Having Katia on hand to discuss the instruments, their response and feel, and to hear her play them to me was invaluable. After lunch I was able to try the John Morrison I’d heard about on the phone weeks earlier, and it was every bit as good as it had been made to sound then. My mind was made up. Having been prepared for a long haul by tales from cellist friends who’d spent months finding something that suited them, I found myself in possession of two new cellos by the end of one day.
The Morrison is a pure delight, and surprises me each time I pick it up to play. Working full time in another sphere my only regret is that I don’t have enough time to explore it as fully or as often as I’d like to in these early months, but all being well, I hope to have many more months and years in which to get to know it inside out. With Katia’s excellent guidance, I also purchased a Czardas cello (complete with carbonfibre endpin and gear pegs for maximum portability and convenience), benefiting again from Chris' set up to maximise its potential, for those outdoor gigs and other occasions when the family silver is best left at home.
The cellos speak for themselves, but the care and attention I did and continue to receive from the staff at Cardiff Violins deserves special celebration. Having been so well served in finding an instrument I’m happy with, I’m unlikely to want to repeat the process, but would have no hesitation in recommending the team to anyone starting a similar quest. Thank you all!
133. Meryl Childs, Guernsey
Two months ago, our 10 year old son, Benjamin, needed a new cello bow. Cardiff Violins was recommended to us by his teacher and I quickly discovered what a fantastic and genuine Company they are. Cecile packaged up the bow and it arrived within a couple of days of ordering, in time for Benjamin to take his exam. Within the last month, we have bought a Bel Canto cello from Cardiff Violins. From the very first telephone conversation with Cecile, and right up until after delivery, we knew that we were dealing with somebody who genuinely wanted the very best instrument for Benjamin and have felt extremely valued as customers. Sadly, we were unable to meet Cecile and her team when they came over to Guernsey with the new cello, as a close family member in the UK had died unexpectedly. The concern shown by Cecile and her husband was really appreciated. A friend kindly collected the cello (and case), which Benjamin is absolutely delighted with. The cello has a wonderful sound to it and is a very handsome instrument. Benjamin's practising is a pleasure to listen to! To Cecile and all at Cardiff Violins - thank you so very much for the wonderful, efficient and caring service you gave to us. We will be back!
134. Peter Miln, Monmouthshire
Cardiff Violins is a fantastic shop. A Dickensian treasure trove of instruments with the highest standards of personalised customer service. It was the first port of call in my search for a new violin and bow. I did not have a budget in mind as I had no idea what I would need to spend to get the instrument and sound I wanted. Above a certain figure, the new roof would have to wait a bit longer. So I was let loose in the violin room to try whatever I wanted. I felt like a child in a sweetie shop. Four and a half hours later I was still in there and had found and tried the David Bittner violin (c.1870) that I ended up buying. By this point I’d had a lot of help and guidance from Magdalena, Chris and Cecile. They struck the perfect balance between offering help and leaving me in peace to try instruments in private. I returned a week later to take the violin home to try, by which time I had some other instruments to try for comparison. But it was the Bittner violin that I kept wanting to play. Having bought the violin and had a skyinbow pick-up fitted by Chris, I returned to find a bow. This took a couple of visits but I found one that did exactly what I wanted, made by Manoel Fransisco.
The whole process was great fun and very enjoyable.
135. Jackie Tapper, Northamptonshire
At the end of August we took our two music mad teenagers to Cardiff Violins to hopefully buy violas and possibly a cello. Both play in County Orchestras and had just completed their Grade 5 and both have been saving for nearly 3 years (as well as having some parental contributions). Cecile had spent some time on the phone with me prior to our visit, but neither my husband nor I play a string instrument (or any instrument) and did not really know what to expect.
The range of violas in our price range, the patience and enthusiasm with which Cecile helped the girls try out the instruments and guided us through the process made this an amazing afternoon for all of us – and the girls have beautiful instruments they will treasure for years to come. Oh – and a cello which has since been named “Fred” :) .
Although we live several hours away, we will be coming back to Cardiff on a regular basis to make sure the instruments are looked after properly and continue to sound as amazing as they do now.
136. Shay Kurz, Alaska
Cheers from Alaska, it's been a while! My mother's birthday FINALLY arrived and nobody in my family could wait until I gave her the cello. I cannot even begin to try and tell you the reaction I got. No tears, but she kept starting sentences and then cutting herself off to point out another feature to her cello. She absolutely loves it and has promptly named it 'Bella'. She also had to immediately tune and then play her two favorite songs that she's learned from our local orchestra. Since her birthday, (which was on Monday), she's been to orchestra practice and was the envy of all the string section!
So thank you so much Cecile, you've been the source of a happy Alaskan mommy!! Hope your year has been fruitful and full of joy. Thank you again for all your help with the cello.
Much love, Shay
137. Alexis Hutchinson
I am currently in my 3rd year of Undergraduate Study at Trinity Laban conservatoire of Music and Dance. During the latter half of my second year, my teacher, Sarah-Jane Bradley, and I were discussing the purchase of a new instrument, and she recommended Cardiff Violins. During the summer holiday, I travelled to Cardiff Violins looking to try violas, and it was a great experience from start to finish. I felt as though I had all the time in the world to try the instruments and nothing was too much trouble. I was told the price range of the instruments and then left to try as many as I liked and take as long as I wanted. The staff even offered to play the instruments for me so I could hear what they sounded like from an audience perspective.
While I was trying the instruments I quickly found a favourite; a 16 inch viola made by Andrzej Kalata. After spending a couple of hours trying instruments, I decided that I would like to take that viola on loan. Very graciously, I was allowed to keep the viola on loan for a month as I was not going to be able to see my teacher until mid-September. My teacher agreed with me that the viola was the right instrument for me and had a lovely tone across the whole range of the instrument, as well as looking absolutely beautiful.
I would thoroughly recommend Cardiff Violins to anyone looking for a new instrument following my own experience there, whatever their standard. The staff were welcoming, accommodating and very helpful, and at no point did I feel under pressure of time or purchase.
137. Sanjeev Choudhary, Surrey
I was referred to Cardiff Violins when I was looking for an upgrade violin for my son, Vansh. It was a great experience talking to Cecile for couple of times before trying out few violins. Vansh found his first half size violin - an Andantino. We are very impressed with the finish, the sound is phenomenal, lovely tone, and has been much admired by others too. Vansh is suddenly playing it lot more..it is like - close your eyes, take a deep breath.. And let the violin dance!!
Cécile has been so kind with her with her valuable advise to offer best to meet the requirements of a growing and passionate young musician.
It was with a degree of trepidation that I contacted Cardiff Violins in the late summer of 2014 to see if it might be possible to view their collection of cellos in the September, following their August break. There were reasons for the trepidation… I had only begun playing the cello in mid-July (on an electric cello!) but within a month had recognised that this was a love affair which was going to need an acoustic consummation at some point - but not likely to be necessary for at least a year, so it was at best a speculative visit; and should these circumstances not appeared to be an impediment, my journey to Cardiff would require a 1200 mile round trip from the North West Highlands of Scotland. Not, one would have thought, the most promising of customers upon whom to bestow valuable time and space. Notwithstanding the impediments Cecile Limon was more than welcoming and during the phone call was happy to arrange an appointment for me… Which was duly upheld by both parties. I was welcomed warmly and offered time, space, tea, advice and encouragement and left several hours later without a cello but with a renewed faith in humankind and a promise from Cecile that they would bear me in mind should they find an instrument which they felt might suit my needs. Perhaps a month later I had a call from Cecile, who suggested that they may have a cello which the staff were sure I would like and that perhaps I should go to play it. So, I had now been playing for 3 months faced with an enormous journey and a cello somewhat beyond my budget, and grave concerns about my ability to benefit from such an instrument. I decided to take advice from a conservatoire teacher about my aptitude and potential - particularly give that I was now into my seventh decade! - and I was generously encouraged but put in no doubt that a 'proper' cello must replace the electric one at the earliest opportunity. After some minor prevarication I decided to put my faith in the judgement of the staff at Cardiff Violins and headed south… I had not been misled; his was indeed a beautiful cello, and, after several hours and several assorted beverages for myself and the friends who had accompanied me to assist in my decision making I left Cecile and Chris King's premises a poorer but happier man. Which is the state in which I remain as this cello continues to grow with me.
The story does not end there, however… a couple of bows had come into the possession of Chris and Cecile which they believed would complement both the cello and my playing and contacted me to advise me so. Now, instead of my having to drive to South Wales from Northern Scotland, they agreed to entrust two very precious bows to the vagaries of the national courier networks and to me, simply for me to try them. They were so good I very nearly bought both! But finally decided on a sensible path and bought the bow which had made the most profound impression on me. The patience and advice of Chris in particular during this process defied my belief and frankly left me awe-struck…
Their support during the ensuing year on so many levels has been not merely helpful but inspirational and when I approached Cecile recently with a notion to swap my now redundant electric cello for an acoustic viola Cecile was instantly on board and was able to immediately offer me assistance beyond the bounds of expectation and suffice to say I am now a deeply happy violist and cellist and continue to flourish with the help and support of two people along with their exemplary ancillary staff who have become a significant part of my life and whose judgement and technical expertise I would trust without any qualm. Remarkable people and a remarkable shop, Thank you so much Cecile, Chris and of course Katja.
139. Chris Tremblay, St. Louis, Missouri USA
Hi Cecile - Had a great weekend with my Roth. To my ear and my teachers ear, the sound is great. Compared to the violin I was playing my Roth has a deeper, fuller sound that projects very well (I am not good with adjectives). At this point, I can't play it to the level that will push it to it's full capabilities, but my teacher could and it was very impressive. I have some work to do in 2016. We are going into our holiday season, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years and I have been practicing holiday songs. Very fun.
Attached are a couple of pictures of me with the violin. Not sure if people name their instruments, but I think I am going to name mine, Ernestine. I am a very happy customer not just on the fact that all worked out well with the purchased but I/we did this all by email, not knowing each other and me never seeing or hearing the instrument. You were very honest and straight forward with me. I followed my instincts and trusting heart and I was rewarded. Hats off to you, your team and your company. I am sure Cardiff Violin Ltd is a very successful company based on the character and integrity of you and your team.
I will send you an update sometime in the future to let you know how things are progressing.
Early Happy Holiday to the Cardiff team :)
140. Gordon Ewan
Just a quick note to say how pleased I am with the Coruss bow hair. I fitted it last week and have to say that it is superb. Needs a bit more rosin than usual but plays with minimal bow noise and good grip. I find that cello rosin works best. It has transformed an ordinary Snakewood Baroque violin bow into a very expensive feeling bow that plays effortlessly and with great precision. Thank you very much.
141. Beth Fuller-Teed
I’ve been looking for a new viola for a while now and after studying for 4 years in Cardiff
I knew that Cardiff Violins would certainly be one of the shops worth looking in. I was not disappointed. Joe, one of the staff members had heard I was searching and sent me a lot of information on their instruments and invited me to come and have a look.
Upon arrival a wide range of violas were set out and I was able to try them at my leisure. One in particular, a lovely Paul Harrild, stood out for me but was unfortunately out of my price range. Paul and the staff at Cardiff Violins were more than helpful in offering funding advice and working out a situation to enable me to purchase this instrument. Next year I hope to start auditioning professionally and this will hugely assist me. I cannot say how grateful I am – it is a beautiful viola!
142. Teresa James, Cardiff
I accompanied my son Sam to purchase a violin from your shop and it was a lovely change to be greeted by welcoming and knowledgeable members of staff, and in particular Laura, whose passion for both the violin and customer service was clearly evident, as she spent over an hour with us to ensure my son was able to select the most appropriate violin to suit his level and style of playing.
Refreshingly, we did not feel pressured and we did not feel intimidated; instead we left feeling valued customers and confident with our purchase…….. and that is quite a rare thing today!
So, once again, thank you very much for your expertise & outstanding customer service and we look forward to shopping with you again in the future!
143. John Donaldson, Republic Of Ireland
Just a quick note to say'' thank you''to you all for your very warm welcome on Tuesday.
It was a long day for me(back home at 1am) but well worth the visit.
Knowing the calibre of many of your clientele, I am extremely impressed with how I, as a beginner, was treated. Thanks for all for your patience with me (especially Magdalena)
I'll let you know how I'm getting on after I've spent a few weeks with the new set up.
Thanks again and best wishes.
144. Jessica (Jellicle Jess) Butterworth, Doha, State of Qatar
I am a young multi-instrumentalist [violin, viola, voice, piano, keyboards, guitar(s)…], composer, arranger, and producer, presently living, working and studying in Qatar, at the Compass International School and at the Qatar Music Academy. I am in Qatar (5-years now) because my family are here at the moment, but I plan to return to the UK to attend university or conservatoire, commencing 2017, to pursue further qualifications leading to a musical career.
I play with the Doha Community Orchestra, the Doha Players Theatre Group; provide evening Street Classical Music for restaurants at the Pearl, play recitals for my regular school and the Qatar Music Academy, and also teach violin and piano to a number of teenage school students.
Provision of, and care for my instruments, together with my other support requirements, present a particular logistical challenge, as my requirements cannot be met fully locally within Qatar.
I was referred to Cardiff Violins by my violin/viola tutor to arrange for a viola, bow and case, as I moved from violin to viola. I placed my trust in Cardiff Violins and bought on recommendation without ever trying the instrument, and this has been a major success – I am extremely happy with the resultant instrument and equipment, which was couriered to me, arriving 2-days after purchase.
I have maintained the link with Cardiff Violins to subsequently buy a dual instrument case, which they also couriered to me in an amazingly short time; to make the logistics cost-effective they also supported me with obtaining music for my viola and voice exams and an electronic violin pick-up and wireless PA link which were included in the same shipment.
Cardiff Violins have been immensely understanding of my situation and hugely supportive – although I suspect that they are like this with everyone!
I plan to continue this relationship and I really do look forward to visiting to choose my next instrument in person.
Many thanks and keep-up the very much appreciated good work.
145. JAP, Mid Wales
Once more my grateful thanks to all of you for working on my 'cello and improving its sound so dramatically. I've just had a two-hour practice and am delighted with the sound it now makes.
146. Julia Dealhoy
My vegan cello bow has arrived safe and sound…thank you for packing it so carefully.
As soon as I picked up my new bow, I could feel that it was an improvement over my old bow. As well as having a little less weight as requested, the new bow has better balance too…just what I was hoping for! I think I will continue to use the Andrea A Piacere rosin, as I have found this to work well with Coruss bow hair.
All in all, I am very happy with my purchase. It is a delight to be able to buy a truly vegan bow. Thank you very much for your excellent service, and for my super cello bow.
147. Chris Hair, Tenerife/Cardiff
I got to know Chris and Cécile when I moved to Cardiff almost fifteen years ago and was immediately impressed by their vast knowledge and professionalism and, on a more personal note, their friendship and encouragement. As a period instrument player I had decided that it was time to purchase a genuine antique instrument and relinquish my modern copy. Chris found me the most beautiful unaltered violin – perfect in every way – and at a later date a wonderful richly sonorous viola. Over the years they have kept me supplied with specialist strings and maintained my instruments to the highest of standards. A perfect example of their dedication to customer service occurred a number of years ago when I was rehearsing for a concert in Exeter. The neck of my violin suddenly collapsed and we discovered that the original 18th century handmade nail had given way. I rushed the instrument back to Cardiff and Chris had it ready for me to perform on the following evening. You can’t get better than that! I now live in Tenerife but, should my instruments ever need any attention, I will always make the journey back to Cardiff in the knowledge that I will be receiving the best service from the best people. Chris and Cécile – thanks for everything. Feiolinau Caerdydd am byth!
148. Ann Reed, Goodwick, Pembrokeshire
A huge thank you to everyone at Cardiff Violins,especially Angharad ,who showed great patience and understanding whilst helping our daughter with the very grown up decision of choosing her new violin. The expertise and advice was much appreciated . The whole experience was so enjoyable . She finally came away with a lovely violin ,which will be used for many years to come. Thank you from the Reed family.
149. Stacey Morin, Cambridge, USA
The [vegan] bows are great! I've been playing with them for a couple days now, and they're a joy to use. The hair is so much nicer than other synthetic versions I've tried, and I love the weight and the feel of the bows themselves. Thank you so much for creating them!
150. Gent Kocho, Glasgow, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Dear Cecile and Chris,
Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to purchase your bow.
I am very confident it will help me achieve with more ease the finer details in sound production that I would otherwise not have had the capabilities to attain .
A very good violin bow which responds to little muscle movements is treasured by all violinists alike, no exception.
Thank you also for explaining to me the mechanics of the bow and finally making the experience of purchasing it a confident and pleasant one.
My best wishes to you both.
151. Zarina - West Yorkshire
Discovering Cardiff Violins is like finding your favourite piece of music. Cecile and Chris have a passion for their instruments and a genuine desire to encourage talent/dreams/commitment to music and indeed positivity. I bought a cello from them and being a vegan, I asked for the possibility of a vegan bow. Cecile went more than the extra mile to source materials to veganise a bow. Her patience and her own ethical thinking made this possible for me and now many more can enjoy the option of vegan bows. Guilt free and ethical playing sounds and feels so much better. It doesn't cost the earth or the innocent animals struggling to keep their corner of it.
Cardiff Violins are not just a business. Their involvement in charity work for animals and underprivileged children shows the customer that they have entered into the world of kind souls making a difference to music and life.
152. Rebecca Hart, Guernsey
Living in Guernsey means that we do not have a lot of choice when it comes to buying a new instrument. The wonderful staff from Cardiff Violins travel over each year in June when it is possible for us islanders to try a selection of what they have to offer. My daughter Evie plays the cello and we first purchased a super half sized Con Amore from them about 5 years ago. On that occasion Cecile had it sent over to us, it arrived beautifully packaged and came very quickly. When she needed a three quarter size, Cecile again found her the right cello and brought it to Guernsey on their June visit for her to try. On each occasion the advice and special treatment was second to none. When Evie was ready for her full sized cello we decided that we really wanted to visit Cardiff Violins for ourselves in order to give her as much choice as possible. We were certainly spoiled for choice!! I have to say it was wonderful to visit the fabulous shop in Cardiff, what a very special place Cardiff Violins is. All of the advice that Cecile, Chris and Carwyn (the cello expert) gave us was so very much appreciated. We never felt under any pressure to rush or to make a quick decision, we really did benefit from their wealth of knowledge and experience.
My daughter is over the moon with her cello and I'm sure she will enjoy it for many years to come - Thank you all so very much!!
153. Mandy Hogdson, Port Talbot
Thank you for the time and attention you gave my daughter Amy last Saturday. Amy left your magical shop with a beautiful violin outfit and a smile on her face bigger than her smile on Christmas Day.
154. Caroline Hill
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you all for helping my daughter Isobel purchase a full size violin on Saturday. I have to say it was a really great experience. Please pass on special thanks to Sophie, who guided us so expertly through the process and helped us make that all important decision. Isobel is absolutely delighted with her new instrument not to mention the case that she so desperately wanted. We both found it so inspiring and even my mum (not a string player) who came with us was impressed.
Thanks also for servicing my violin which has been a little neglected over the years, I am looking forward to playing once again.
I would highly recommend your services to anyone and will definitely be visiting again.
155. Anonymous player from the Royal Danish Orchestra, Copenhagen, Denmark (name withheld for confidentiality reasons)
I am keeping the Primon viola. Played it a lot and some of my viola colleagues also played and we all think it is a very high level professional instrument - and so beautifully made! It would be impossible for me to find the same level of instrument in Denmark at this price, so I feel very lucky with this purchase.
It has been a pleasure to deal with you. I will keep an eye on your site to see if anything interesting turns up in the future.
156. Christin Cockerton, London
For those who are contemplating buying an instrument online, but are daunted by the prospect, let me share my wonderful experience of Cardiff Violins. We live in London, and, unbelievably, it?s quite difficult to source an “intermediate” quality violin in a fractional size. We needed a good quality 3/4 violin for my 10 year old daughter to take her through the upper grades. Rather reluctantly, I decided to search online and I stumbled upon Cardiff Violins through a couple of recommendations.
When I called Cardiff Violins, Cecile was incredibly helpful. She patiently answered all my questions and made specific suggestions within my limited budget that I wouldn?t have thought of. Her knowledge and experience is immensely reassuring, and one gets the strong sense that she genuinely cares about musicians of all levels getting the right instrument. Several phone calls and emails later, and after taking her suggestion to use Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (which saved us a lot), I ordered the instrument.
When the Con Passione violin arrived, it was beautiful - perfectly set up and ready to play. And the sound was rich, warm and sweet in the upper registers. My daughter fell in love at first sight and sound, and her teacher wholeheartedly approved. It was so easy and pleasant to deal with Cecile and Cardiff Violins, and the result is so splendid. Honestly, I can't think how this could have turned out better. My daughter has the perfect violin for her right now, which will allow her to develop further as a musician, and brings her joy every day.
157. Mike Lockey, Bangor
I would like to thank every one for preparing and demonstrating cellos last Saturday, it allowed us to make a much more informed decision on our instrument choice. The whole experience more than justified the trip. Thank you.
158. Ursula Carter, Yorkshire
Just to let you know the violin bow I ordered from you recently arrived safe and sound yesterday afternoon. I have tried it and am very pleased with it. So, many thanks to you and your staff for your input in choosing a suitable bow for me - much appreciated!
159. William West, Bristol
Just a quick email to express by sincere thanks especially to Angharad, and Cecile for all the time that you have given to me over two visit whilst choosing a viola. As you know, it was only by chance that I stumbled across Cardiff Violins whilst having a wonder around the city prior to a meeting. The guidance, opinions and patience that Angharad gave were greatly appreciated, and the time taken yesterday trying such a range of instruments helped reinforce what I first felt when I played "Virginia" by Don Tatem three weeks ago, in that his instruments have such a wonderful quality and tone. The decision between "Virginia" and "Geronimo" was certainly a hard one to make as you know as I agonised over for some time, but, I am looking forward to spending many happy hours getting to know "Geronimo" and the huge depth of sound that it has to offer.
160. Heather Fenoughty, Sheffield
Thank you so much for my new ‘vegan bow’! It has a lovely weighting and the hair has a good grip on the strings with no squeaking at all, as is sometimes the complaint with synthetic hair. It’s definitely comparable in tone production quality to my current wood/horsehair bow, such that I’ll definitely get my bows rehaired in future with animal-friendly Coruss at Cardiff Violins. Thank you too for providing an efficient and friendly service. I’ve told all my fiddle-playing vegan friends about you :-)
161. Janet Hardy
I have just purchased a violin from Cardiff Violins and have been very impressed with the service I received. I visited the premises on two separate occasions; Angharad spent a lot of time with me, helping me to decide which was the right instrument for me within my price range. She was very enthusiastic and patient and as a result the whole experience was very positive.
162. Peter Carroll, Cardiff
Vegan violin bow: This has lightness and ease of handling, and when I play it is fast, responsive, with beautiful articulation and exceptional clarity. This bow makes my playing sound better and sharper, and so well priced too. It is far cheaper than most good quality bows, and I look forward to playing with it for many years to come. I expect these will become very popular even among non-vegans.
163. Bill & Diane Francis, Plymouth
We would just like to say what an amazing experience we had at Cardiff Violins yesterday,with our 8 year old granddaughter. We had travelled up from Plymouth as our granddaughter needed the next size violin. Her music teacher had phoned in advance with what was needed and there was four violins ready for her to try. You are in a private room and given plenty of time to try out each violin. We have no musical ability, Megan was extremely helpful and at no time did we feel rushed or pressured in any way. Tavy was given plenty of time to play each instrument. Megan also played for her which was extremely helpful. We cannot thank Megan and Cardiff Violins enough and would highly recommend the shop.
164. Peter Carroll
I called in for another vegan bow, which I can highly recommend; as always, helpful and knowledgeable service, and a great range of products. Thanks again.
165. Jenny Quick, Devon
Katja could not have been more supportive or helpful. Even before I set off for Cardiff, her first telephone comment "I love serving adult beginners" immediately reassured me and dispelled my self consciousness. Up in the beautiful cello room, (and with the added bonus of her Alexander Technique experience) she saw immediately that my left hand looked uncomfortable and overstretched so she brought up three 7/8 cellos for me to try. Her skill in demonstrating each one so beautifully (each string department has its own professional player) meant I could really hear beyond my ability. "This one is really special" of the stunning Ian Ross instrument that I'm proud to say is now mine. A few weeks later, as I was still unsure of the bow, Cecile brought a fresh selection for me to try and left me in Caerwyn's capable hands … I took home four on trial. One of them, a bow by Jacques Poullot, she also described as "very special". It immediately felt like silk on the strings. It's this bow that I have chosen.
I think the thing that has been most delightful is that everybody in Cardiff Violins loves what they are doing, are passionate about music and beautiful instruments as well as being sensitive and intuitive to what their customers need. They listen very carefully and understand the importance of finding the right combination/marriage partners between bow, instrument and musician. That it is a musical relationship of love. I am so grateful to have been in such safe, respectful hands. Thank you all for your expert, discreet guidance. I have been a lifelong pianist and now with sadly painful thumb joints, instead of feeling bereft at stepping back from the piano, I can continue to explore my love of music-making with my beautiful new 'friends'. Thanks also to Chris for servicing my other cello and bow and for all your enthusiasm and expertise.
166. Fiona O'Sullivan, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
I am extremely happy with my cello which we brought from you in June. We had never visited your shop before we bought my cello and I knew that it could be very hard to find the right instrument. However, the quality and choice of instruments that Katia showed me was amazing. Katia was extremely helpful when I was trying the different cellos and showed me a wolf note eliminator which has been very useful as the instrument that I decided on has a wolf note without it. Chris explained in detail the work that he had done on the old German cello and gave us an insight into its history. Cécile was also very patient and friendly as we tried to decide if it was definitely the right cello. When buying my cello I was preparing for my grade 8 and with only a few weeks to go I wasn't sure if I would be able to use my new cello to play my pieces as I would have to adapt to a full sized instrument after playing on a 3/4 sized cello. I decided that my new cello would enhance my sound and help me perform to my full ability.I think this decision helped result in me getting distinction in my exam. I have also used my new cello to play in the National Children's Orchestras' main orchestra in the Preston Guild Hall and will be playing in the Barbican concert hall in London in December. I am sure that we will return to Cardiff Violins to look for an instrument for my sister as it is such an amazing shop! I am very thankful to have the opportunity to play such a nice instrument and I am sure I will be playing it for a long time!
167. Patrick Crooke, Violist, Orchestral Freelancer and leader of The C Strings Viola Quartet, Norfolk
I made the long journey from Suffolk to Cardiff with a shopping list of two items, the first of which, a five string viola, Cardiff Violins appeared uniquely placed to help me with. The second item on my wish list was a fine baroque viola to take advantage of some opportunities that have opened up in that direction, but mostly because I am TOTALLY nuts about unaccompanied Bach!
The two instruments I left with have exceeded my most optimistic expectations in terms of quality and value for money.
The Don Tatem five string viola is a WHOLE LOT of instrument for an amazingly modest price - I'm absolutely loving it.
The Joseph I Ross baroque viola modelled on the Harry Danks Amati has a sound like pure velvet and I fell in love with it as soon as I started playing.
The customer service at Cardiff Violins was outstanding, starting from the previous day when I spoke to the charming Cécile to make the appointment.
I was made very welcome and given all the time and space I needed to really try out the instruments. It was most helpful to be able to call upon the assistance of a member of staff, Angharad, herself a very fine violist to take turns playing and listening.
To summarise, the choice and quality of the instruments at Cardiff Violins is superb, the technical aspects outstanding (the instruments are brilliantly set up), and the Customer Service is outstanding. I am so glad I made the journey from Suffolk.
168. Kevin Jacobs, Cardiff
Just wanted to thank you for the work you did on my violin/viola. Don't know why, but it sounds so much better now than before it broke.
169. James Barratt
I just wanted to thank everyone at Cardiff Violins and in particular Megan for the wonderful service I received when I came for a visit just over a week ago. It was my first time in a proper music shop and I was quite apprehensive but was immediately put at ease. I only went for some advice and ended up leaving with a beautiful new violin. The whole experience from start to finish was exceptional even to the point of having a follow up call a week later to see how I was getting on, I don't think I've been to a shop where the staff are so dedicated to their customers. The really stand out thing for me was how supportive and understanding Megan was when I arrived when I was clearly a clueless newbie. As a visually impaired adult learner it really was wonderful to be taken seriously and to be guided to making my dream of becoming a violinist a reality. Megan couldn't do enough for me; showing me different violins and bows and giving me the space to practice and not wincing when I made mistakes. I can't recommend Cardiff Violins highly enough and wouldn't even consider going anywhere else in future. Thank you again for all you've done.
170. Susan Wright, Swansea
I have just received my new Bam violin case from you and thought I would let you know how pleased I am. It is a beautiful case indeed. My Paul Voight violin looks beautiful in it. The service and delivery was extremely quick . Thank you. I shall certainly come here first in the future.
171. Pepita Barton, 12, Cheltenham
I went to Cardiff Violins to buy my first full-size violin. It was a memorable day out and I arrived home with my perfect violin. From the minute we arrived at the front door of the shop, we entered a world of experience, knowledge and friendliness that filled me with confidence that I would be taking home the right instrument for me. There is such a wide range of instruments to choose from and making that final decision would have been difficult without the assistance of the lovely staff.
I was able to play the instruments, but also to have them played for me so that I could sit and listen to the differences in sound. The assistance from Cardiff Violins made choosing so much easier. Then there’s the bow, the chin rest and other bits and pieces. Cardiff Violins made sure that everything was matched and fit me perfectly before leaving the shop. I spent about 4 hours choosing and in that time was looked after by student musicians, professional teachers, violinists and violin makers, each providing advice from their own area of expertise.
It was a great experience and I was left to choose without any pressure to buy. Everyone was full of advice and very friendly, making it easier to find the perfect match. The violin we chose has a lovely 1-piece back and has a nice strong sound. It makes my practice so much more fun. I love playing my violin and hope to progress and go a long way with it!
Thank you to everyone at Cardiff Violins for being such a big help and being so kind! The advice and friendliness you have given is greatly appreciated and I look forward to seeing you all in the future!
172. Christian Meaas Svendsen, Norway
I came to Cardiff Violins searching for synthetic bow hair for my double bass bows. For some reason it seems like the classical luthiers are persistent in keeping with the tradition, and finding alternatives to animal products in our line of work can sometimes be a hassle. Therefore I was so happy when I found Coruss bow hair. They work excellent for my type of playing which is — well a bit out of the ordinary. They are super durable, and I haven't broken a single hair since I got them (and I used to break a lot!). What is really super about them is that they have all the qualities needed for playing more conventional as well. I simply rejoice by the fact that a competitive alternative has entered the market, and I hope the rest of the business follows suit. I will recommend Coruss bow hair to every player I meet, regardless of playing style!!!
173. Daf Arwyn Jones, Cardiff
Just a quick line to express my huge thanks to Mick Quinn and all who were involved in the restoration of my cello. I am absolutely delighted with the result. I have a few decades of practice to catch up on now, but looking forward to it very much. It was also good to meet Chris yesterday as well and I am seriously considering upgrading to the new machine pegs.
Please use my comments as you like as I am genuinely delighted with the skill and craftsmanship devoted to my cello at your place. Not only is the instrument restored but many precious thoughts and memories over the years too – I just wish I’d brought it in decades ago.
174. Dawn Zalas, Lincolnshire
Dear Cecile and Chris, I would like to thank you both for your time, patience and very valuable knowledge when Joe, Andy and I visited Cardiff Violins a couple of weeks ago. I didn't know what to expect when we travelled from Lincoln early Friday morning. As soon as I entered the shop I knew we would be coming away with a lovely violin.
Angharad showed us into a room of which there must have been a hundred with a few hand picked on a table to start Joe off. However, we were told we could try each and every one if we so wished! Joe then spent an hour or so trying and rejecting violins until there were four left. Angharad then very kindly played the violins for us so we could listen, oh, she played beautifully - I could have stayed and listened for another hour or so!
It was decided that we would return the next day to play the four again and make a final decision. The violin room was duly booked for the next day and we arrived slightly early. Yet again this was no problem and the violins went through their paces. It was agreed that we would sit and listen to the violins being played away from our sight. Joe from the workshops played the violins (again an amazing talent) and we were down from four to three. After a further blind test the resultant violin was chosen. We had a lovely time, we never felt rushed, nothing was too much trouble and we were expertly managed. There will always be a good violin at a price you can afford at Cardiff Violins. I thoroughly recommend them. Thank you.
175. Roger Hughes, Cheltenham
I visited Cardiff Violins for the first time in the hope that I might find a cello that would suit me. I am in my seventies and have played my first cello for about 35 years. On arrival, I immediately felt the warmth of the greeting from Cecile and Chris and was offered a coffee which was most welcome after my long drive. I was taken up to a room full of cellos and met a young student from the College of Music and Drama who is studying there. She was most helpful and played the various cellos so that I could hear the sounds of the different instruments. She also listened to my playing and then left me to myself. Amateurs often feel intimidated when playing in front of strangers but she put me at my ease and I was able to concentrate on playing and ultimately choosing a new cello. I’m very happy with my Con Brio and look forward to many years of playing, even at my age! Thank you Chris and Cecile for a very pleasant and rewarding morning and I hope to come again in the future.