Burgess doesn't make copies. He believes that the current popularity of copies and antiquing is a passing trend created by a unique set of circumstances. In the past, old instruments were considered obviously superior; in the present, modern instruments have been proven to hold their own or be superior. During this transition, some people compromise. They find a new instrument that looks old. This is understandable. After all, every time in their life they were shown a great instrument, it's most obvious feature was that it looked old. Some people have less difficulty with the transition. They simply buy a new instrument.

Making copies is a great learning tool, and is probably the safest option for a violin maker or instrument maker who hasn't been able to establish a successful personal style. But historically, the most valuable art is not somebody's copy of someone else's work, but an original. Would Picasso have been as noteworthy if he had painted copies of Renoir? Would you be impressed if someone composed a copy of Beethoven's 9th? If some violin makers feel that they must make copies, why don't they copy the best preserved examples of the old instrument makers? There is no doubt that, all other things being equal, the best preserved Strad or Guarneri with the least wear and the most original varnish would bring the highest market price. Be sure to see the pictures of what is probably the world's most valuable instrument, the Messiah Strad, from the link on the main page.

Simone Sacconi, one of the best known violin experts of the Twentieth Century, in his book The Secrets of Stradivari states; "The ignorant remain more in awe of the back of a Stradivari instrument worn away, than before an instrument with its varnish intact".

In 2004 a summit was held in Italy to ponder the future of violin making. According to one of the organizers, who makes mostly copies and artificially aged instruments, it grew out of the questions, "Where would the world of fine art and literature be today if most of the painters since Leonardo and many of the poets since Shakespeare had limited themselves to recreating copies, in ever finer detail, of the Mona Lisa or Hamlet . . . why are we still copying?"

Good question.

Here's one more thought, emailed from a potential customer who had been on this web site:
"If Stradivarius and the Guarneri family had just copied what was in their history, then we would never have had their unique take on the violin."

Remember to look at the pictures of the "Messiah", the best preserved Strad, on the main page.

Back to Burgess, Violin Maker Main Page

For more information about Burgess violins, violas and cellos, contact David Burgess at:
1510 Glen Leven; Ann Arbor, MI 48103 U.S.A.
Phone: (734) 668-7803
Burgess Violin Maker Main Web Site:

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