I bought a newly-made Baroque-style violin from a Chinese maker from 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 visit 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.