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Johannes Kohr and August Kohr - reputation?


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#1 MingLoo

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 10:44 PM

Dear List:

What, in general, is the reputation of the violins made by Johannes Kohr and August Kohr, distributed by Howard Core? Are these Chinese made violins?

I played a K470 for a while and found it to be harsh and tinny, sort of. Even a change to Evah Pirazzi strings did not much help.

The most expensive instrument in the line is their HC7000 which appears to be available in Strad, Balastrieri, Ruggieri, Guadagnini, Bergonizi and del Gesu models. Strings magazine apparently had an article, featuring (and recommending) the HC602; I sure would love to see that article.

Your expertise appreciated. I am curious what is generally thought of them and what their professional reputation is.

#2 MingLoo

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 10:01 AM

Dear List:

What, in general, is the reputation of the violins made by Johannes Kohr and August Kohr, distributed by Howard Core? Are these Chinese made violins?

I played a K470 for a while and found it to be harsh and tinny, sort of. Even a change to Evah Pirazzi strings did not much help.

The most expensive instrument in the line is their HC7000 which appears to be available in Strad, Balastrieri, Ruggieri, Guadagnini, Bergonizi and del Gesu models. Strings magazine apparently had an article, featuring (and recommending) the HC602; I sure would love to see that article.

Your expertise appreciated. I am curious what is generally thought of them and what their professional reputation is.


I'd like to revisit this question...?

#3 GMM22

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 10:26 AM

To be brutally honest, questions of this sort about factory violins are unreasonable, and are really incapable of being answered in anything close to a truthful way. Here is why.

At best, you are going to get less than a handful of responses, and if you do, they are apt to be highly prejudiced. If someone got a bad one, which happens now and then in every low cost production line, they will be more than quick to report they are all junk, and they may embellish this claim as revenge. However, this may not be representative of the instruments in general. On the other hand, someone might well report they are fantastic, but then they might be selling them, and hence have a vested interest in bolstering their reputation, or they may not even be capable of recognizing a good or bad factory instrument, or they bought one for personal use and want to assuage their conscience that they made the right decision.

In the end, two or three comments (if you're lucky) is just not nearly enough -statistically speaking- to form a valid opinion about production violins. The simple answer is bite the bullet and buy a few. If you think they fill a role in the low cost violin spectrum, then buy more, if you do not like them, then don't buy any more.
If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. AE

#4 FiddleDoug

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 10:48 AM

Seems to me that, from your previous posts, that you sell the Howard Core instruments. If that's correct, you should be very familiar with their product line, and you should ask them where the instruments are made. As a professional, you should also be well aware of what changes can be made to instruments to "adjust" their sound.

#5 Johnmasters

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 11:15 AM

Seems to me that, from your previous posts, that you sell the Howard Core instruments. If that's correct, you should be very familiar with their product line, and you should ask them where the instruments are made. As a professional, you should also be well aware of what changes can be made to instruments to "adjust" their sound.

I have to say that the white violins I have had from Howard Core are nicer than some from other sources at similar prices. I have no idea about the finished ones.

You likely are speaking of tone. I am speaking only of construction. They are good or bad to me based on the internal work. The outsides look similar.

#6 MingLoo

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 02:45 PM

To be brutally honest, questions of this sort about factory violins are unreasonable, and are really incapable of being answered in anything close to a truthful way. Here is why.



I _love_ that you're brutally honest. So they're "production violins?" I don't even know what that is, really. I got into this business because I was living in remote areas where there were no violins available, and I wanted to introduce them into the community in a big way. I started with SAGA's. I do realize that this is a very, very different thing than an artist/luthier designing instruments individually, at substantial costs. I have several such instruments. I have a LOT of interests (performance, pedagogy, composition), but since I'm in this business now, I'd like to learn more about it.

It did not occur to me that the Howard Core is a "low cost production line." The HC's start at a student violin outfit for $265 all the way up to a HC39 "Master" viola for about 12K . Their best violin lists 9.4. Over the last 10 years I've sold one or two or more of all the instruments in I guess the lower 75% of their offerings. I've gotten ONE back; one which customer liked, but picked a different choice, from SHAR. I do sell a cello and a bass now and again, without ever a single complaint. Core sets them up and apparently they're fine.

The SAGA's are a different story, but I make no apologies for those. They are simply the *best* instrument at that price point, designed primarily for people who love music but are economically only able to manage a purchase at that price point. The SV-175 was upgraded and the distributor raised the price nearly $30 recently, but it's well worth it as the bow is much better now. This instrument has real perflings, not painted ones and at that price, I don't think there is anything better. But if there is, I would like to be informed.

I live very simply and my main focus is honest-to-god, not making money, I don't care what anyone says. They can't make any determination about me unless and until they have met me, for heaven's sake.


#7 GMM22

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 06:21 PM

So they're "production violins?"


It is safe for you to assume that any violin under say $1000 (although experienced violin importers would likely correct this dollar threshold much higher) that is sold by major distributors like HC are "production violins", i.e., made on an assembly line of sorts somewhere in Asia, and that the names of the makers are fictitious or added just for show.
If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. AE

#8 momentofclarity

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 09:30 AM

The fact is that lower priced instruments from companies like Howard Core come from similar and sometimes the exact same workshops in China as say, Eastman violins. The main thing to understand is the skills and training at these workshops (assembly line yes, but hand work assembly lines, not much machine work)are fairly consistent. The main value of the big companies like Core and Eastman is leverage - their ability to force consistent quality because of the volume of instruments they buy. The workshops make sure to stay consistent so they don't lose big accounts. I have found no significant, measure-able difference between similarly priced models from any of the larger, reputable companies. That is because there really isn't. Occasionally the stars align and a worker has a moment of inspiration and makes a better model in the same line up - that is the value of the "approval" service offered by most shops, where you get to try several instruments and choose the best. Your best hope of getting a really good one is to ask if the shop set up the instrument - the setups from the companies are adequate, but there is no substitute for a highly skilled set up in the local shop. At our shop I never try to suggest that our Core instruments are far better than Eastman or West Coast String instruments - they aren't. Our value is in our set up and reasonable pricing, and the ability to spot a dud when it comes in. We send those back. Oh, yes, I am a shop owner. Not trying to fool anybody here.

#9 madbee

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:29 AM

Hi MomentToClarity, this is my first post as I am just beginning Violin. I have an opportunity to pickup a used Kahr (model 80 of the 400 series) but have no way to evaluate it. I saw the negative comment on K470 from the OP but realize that even the best of companies will have quality vary a bit from one sample to another. I was interested in finding out what the difference was (in general) between the 70 and the 80 of the 400 series. If you (or anyone else in the know) would be so kind as to provide an opinion it would be appreciated. I realize that only an actual test of the specific instrument would be fully disclosing, but was just initially curious about how they were regarded. Thanks.

Edited by madbee, 06 April 2012 - 02:54 AM.





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