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.
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 Tatum 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 Cecile 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, BLANK, 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.
I am a proud owner of 3 violins and 2 bows, purchased from Cardiff Violins with Miki's help. They all have different characters and I like them very much. The violin that I play mainly is the Hill, which is the first violin I bought from Cardiff Violins. I particularly like the quality of sound on its E string. It is absolutely beautiful. It gives such pure sound that travels through the air. The more I play, the better it gets everyday. I can achieve good precise sound on high positions too. I am very glad that I asked Miki to bring the Hill violin back to Japan. Recently, I have become the proud owner of a Tobin violin. There is depth in its sound that is extremely beautiful. Also, the whole instrument feels so good. It is very compatible to my hand, that is so comfortable to play. All strings have got beautiful quality of sound and it is easy to make the music sing. Cardiff Violins sent me the sound of 2 instruments via internet all the way from Cardiff to Japan. I could listen to the sound of 2 instruments over and over again, that allowed me to compare carefully. I was confident that I made a good informed decision. It was great and I am satisfied. I am happy with the Gewa case and little accessories. With Miki's great effort, I am lucky enough to own the Tobin despite the fact that I live in Japan, which is nearly 6000 miles away from Cardiff! I very much appreciate her consistent effort and customer service that she has provided for many years. I also bought the Vuillaume violin from Cardiff Violins. It has got a different sound to the Hill and Tobin violins and I play it now and again, when I want to hear a different sound. I also bought a Spiccato carbon fibre bow and a Dodd bow. I use them both frequently and they work very well. The only inconvenience I can mention is that despite wonderful modern technology which we have today, Britain is still far away from Japan, and I can't have such a thing as "just a quick look by Chris" or easily take them for a repair to Cardiff. For example, there was a trouble incident at customs when the Dodd bow had to travel between Japan and the UK, back and forth for a repair. They demanded VAT and handling fee although the bow was exempt from import/export item. Fortunately, it was dealt with and there was a happy ending.
I met Cécile and Chris last summer during a festival in England. I was absolutely not looking to purchase any instrument since I was going to buy a viola I had been playing on for several years, but just out of curiosity, I wanted to try « something else » and started to look at the beautiful instruments they had brought. First, I admired the beauty of this viola, made by Andrej Kalata, which is quite dark. And then, I played on it and really fell in love with the round timbre and all the different colours I could produce. Chris has also been an incredible help to me and has guided me in making the viola sound exactly the way I wanted it to be. I really felt like we were working as a team and I am so grateful to have crossed paths with them ! A huge thank you !
Winner of the Musical Patronage Société Générale 2015 and a few national competitions (Lempdes, Toulouse, Mouans-Sartoux), Cynthia is currently finishing her Doctorate at the University of Montreal. As a chamber musician, she performed in several festivals in Europe such as Rencontres Musicales de Haute-Provence, Rencontres Musicales de St-cézaire, ISA Festival, AuditionPerform and is a guest member of the Osmose Ensemble. During the summer of 2018, her passion for orchestra led her to perform within the Pacific Music Festival as co-principal for a tour in Japan.
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 Instriment 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.
I took up the fiddle again after a gap of some sixteen years. This time, I decided, I would learn to play differently - with longer phrases and bowing independently of the beat. Don Tatem's fiddle is my companion and teacher during this process. The instrument is responsive, warm-toned and capable of great sweetness. It contiues to surprise for me. When called upon,Don's fiddle will play very loud.
We would just like to say what an amazing experience we had at ‘Cardiff Violins’ yesterday,with our 8 year old grandaughter. We had travelled up from Plymouth as our grandaughter 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.
I'm still being amazed by the Arcus bows I bought some time ago, not only because they make even the most difficult things ridiculously easy, but also because of the sheer range and nuances of tone colours that I am discovering they can produce, not to mention the effortless projection and beauteous sound — whenever I play it seems there is some new delight. The bows have surpassed what I was given to expect from the website