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I have known Cecile and Chris for a long time. They have always been helpful and lovely to talk to. I was particularly pleased with how they renovated my Andrzej Kalata violin.

The ribs of the violin were in a quite poor state so I was delighted when Chris added wooden parts. This did not affect the sound, which might occasionally happen if it is not done correctly.

Also, Chris covered the top of the violin with wood varnish. I am impressed with this improvement because it is matching nicely the original look of the violin and now it is impossible to see any marks on the violin, which were left after practising.

I had problems in the past with my chin-rest, as it was uncomfortable while practising. I had full help from the staff in Cardiff Violins to find a new and comfortable chin-rest. I had the opportunity to try different options and was provided with good advice.

Also, I appreciated support in choosing a new bridge for the violin. This improved the sound of the violin and I was given instructions on how to keep the bridge of the violin in good condition for a longer period of time. The French type of bridge was chosen, which was similar to my previous one. I had some adjustments done in relation to pegs as well. In the past, it was quite hard to tune quickly, but now they are working smoothly.

My violin received a polished look, after special cleaning. It looks really great at the moment, I have to say.

Finally, Chris helped me with my bow too. The previous frog of the bow was damaged and Chris found a matching frog, which not only looks better, but more importantly is pleasant to use.

Whilst having the renovation done, the pad and hair in the bow were changed too. I can say that it is much better to hold the bow with the new pad and I am pleased with the hair in the bow as well.

I would certainly recommend Cardiff Violins! Cécile and Chris are really welcoming and provide an excellent atmosphere for musicians and I am impressed with the quality and speed of their renovations.

Patricia Nowak, Cardiff & Poland

I just returned from a tour with Philharmonie der Nationen conducted by Justus Frantz. Every since 25th of April 2013 when my Luis & Clark 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 nearby 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 shiny, 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 by 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 Luis & Clark 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 Luis & Clark cello.

Now I can tell you that a Luis & Clark cello is worth every cent. It sounds just like a 20,000 euro wooden cello and I highly recommend them to every cellist in the world!

Mladen Spasinovici, Romania
Principal Solo Cello – National Opera of Bucharest, Romania

I just wanted to drop you a note to thank Katja very much for looking after Jack this morning. Despite having a cold and a loud brass band outside for the duration of our visit, Katja made time for an appointment for us (even though we were only popping in to make an appointment!) and gave us very helpful advice and assistance.  Great service, thank you. Jack seems delighted with the cello, bow and case he chose and need some time to adjust to the full size. He tried a few and kept coming back to this particular  Firenze model.  The difference in sound with his basic Stentor student II 3/4 is astounding and we are all excited to hear how he now develops with grade 5.

Paul Millar, Cardiff

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 1920s... 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 1930s.

I am now 85 years old, and have been widowed for 13 years but am blessed with a loving family and 4 great grandchildren, 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 obviously 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 ambience 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!

Delphine Coleman, Machen

I would like to thank all at Cardiff Violins for their help in supplying a superb cello.

It was my first visit to Cardiff Violins and a few Saturdays ago my wife Jayne and I set off to have a ‘Reccy’.  I think it is relevant to note that I am predominantly a woodwind player who has always wanted a cello and I really have an extremely limited knowledge of stringed instruments and can barely play a few notes on the cello. To make matters worse, I had already bought a relatively inexpensive cello, got myself a teacher and was fast beginning to realise I had not bought the right cello for me.

Cardiff Violins is on the balcony floor in the Castle Arcade which in itself has something of an old world ambience.  As you enter the shop you get an old world personal service … we got to meet Katja first, I explained I wanted to have a browse at some cellos (sounds better than celli) and amidst a most welcoming smile Jayne and I were shown to the cello room.  Katja explained the various cellos which they had … starting with those of good quality but at a more affordable cost and we worked through the cellos in the room with Katja playing several of these for me, but I wasn’t quite taken. Katja said that there was a cello in the other room that had come back off loan and asked if I would like to see it.  What followed was Katja playing an absolute masterclass on what is now my new cello!  I could see by Jayne’s face that she was as convinced as me and that agreeing to buy ‘Leonora’ was a straight forward choice.

Katja discussed with me how I would like the cello set up and we went down to meet Cecile and Chris who own Cardiff Violins.  I was telephoned on the Tuesday by Cecile to say that my cello was ready and went in to collect it.

The new cello is superbly set up and I am delighted with it.  I had a relaxed and pleasant buying experience, Chris and Cecile are very laid back and clearly know their stuff and a big thank you to Katja!

Wyn Davies, Cardiff