Fiddleheads the Trusted, Reputable, Expert Source for Zhu Instruments
Fiddleheads is Your Premiere Source for and the Expert of Ming Jiang Zhu Workshop Violins
The Original Source
Fiddleheads's owner, Rhiannon Nachbaur, is a professional symphony violinist and concertmaster (lead violinist) of two orchestras. She has taught violin since 1994 and has won several awards for her musicianship and business. She identified the Zhu workshop violins as an unknown gem in 2003, well before other sellers offering these instruments. She forged a professional relationship with Mr. Zhu directly and has played several of his rare handmade models by him personally. At one point he generously gifted her with a beautiful pernambuco bow as a symbol of their enduring friendship.
As Rhiannon is highly selective of the violins she keeps in stock (rejecting and returning those that don't live up to her perfectionist standards), after an impressive years serving Fiddleheads, the Zhu workshop carefully picks through their entire offering to provide Fiddleheads their best possible quality instruments in each release.
Rhiannon is widely known in the violin world as the foremost expert on this series as she knows the instruments inside and out. Thus Fiddleheads had a tremendous impact in taking these formerly unfamiliar violins from relative obscurity to a popular, mainstream model now sold by all sorts of sources, many of them less-reputable websites.
By reading the reviews of these instruments alone you can see the impact Fiddleheads had on the market and why you should buy your Zhu violin from her and not someone who has jumped on the bandwagon.
Our Prices are Not Inflated
In the early 2000s, before many most other shops had discovered Zhu or his violins, the prices at the few shops that carried these violins were insanely inflated. We were charging only $2700 for the 909 model and later held our price at $2990 for 6 years.
In one case a player contacted us and said, "I was told by [a northern British Columbia violin shop] that Ming made my violin himself, but the label reads VN-900 from the workshop of Ming Jiang Zhu, 2004. I paid $10,000 for it."
We sell the same model for far less than retail and are truthful in telling customers it is a workshop instrument. We also don't dubiously change the name to say VN-900 or "AAA" model when, in fact, it is actually a VN-909 from the source.
From Mr. Zhu three years before his untimely death
You can also rest assured you are never buying a fake when you shop with Rhiannon! Some shops make a point of changing information to make price comparison more difficult. As with some furniture stores selling mattresses, some violin sellers and web sites change the model number to add confusion in comparison shopping. This is why you see some shops selling the VN-909, others call it the VN-900 or AAA model, some call it a "Maestro," etc.
She purchases authentic Zhu violins directly from the workshop, not middle-men resellers. We don't change model numbers to add confusion in comparison shopping and we would never switch labels up a level or two, as is a practice with some shops and we can spot them from a mile away, but most buyers sadly wouldn't know the difference.
That said, Fiddleheads has access to the best violins in the series owing to our long-held relationship with them and our high standards. They know we will send the instrument back if it's not to our liking, and it only took doing this once early-on for the quality to rise to the occasion. Coupled with our world-class setup, our Fiddleheads series of these instruments really does stand above the rest.
Due to the enormous popularity of Zhu's violins there have recently been many fraudulent violins bearing fake Zhu labels sold on the internet. This is the reason for the most popular 909 (also called the VN-900 or VA-900) model now coming with a certificate from the actual workshop.
And note that even though some sites have popped up claiming to be the actual workshop selling direct to the public, many of these are not who they claim to be.
For additional peace of mind, for us and our customers, know that we purchase Zhu instruments directly from the workshop so we can guarantee there are no fakes.
Setup Makes ALL the Difference
Fiddleheads' Zhu violins are the only ones you'll find which are precisely setup in Canada to very high and demanding professional criterion and tested individually by the owner herself. Rhiannon is symphony violinist and concertmaster of two orchestras as well as an expert in her field of contemporary violins, she understands the importance of a good setup.
We also make improvements to the varnish and sealing of the wood that is not good enough from the workshop by Rhiannon's standards. This in addition to the usual tweaks and adjustments leading up to Rhiannon's playing and testing before the instrument is ready to ship. Rhiannon personally works with her the makers and her local Canadian luthiers to ensure the setup is exactly as she would want it for herself and her students.
Customers purchasing a Zhu violin elsewhere will not receive setup at nearly this level of quality or precision, and it shows. Time and again our setup always beats out competition of low-level players running shops, or those who are not even violinists at all. You can trust that Fiddleheads provides the finest setup so all our Zhu violins will have the optimal adjustments to make the best playing experience possible for our customers.
Additionally, our prime wood seasoning environment is superior to that of other violin shops, especially those located in humid regions of the southern USA. Keep these considerations in mind when comparison shopping because it is a matter of apples and oranges.
Photo: Rhiannon plays a 2012 Strad model handmade Zhu violin with the Kamloops Symphony in their annual Vienna New Year's Celebration Concert
So, you're looking to spend a couple or more thousand dollars on violin; it's a pretty big deal! At Fiddleheads your decision is not taken lightly and we understand that the service you receive will make all the difference to such an important purchase.
Simply put, Fiddleheads' service is absolutely exceptional. Rhiannon operates her shop with integrity and strives to create close relationships with her customers through honesty, quality products and fair pricing.
Visit our About Us page and our growing list of hundreds of testimonials from many elated customers with detailed positive feedback on our exemplary service, matchmaking players to instruments, our in-home instrument trial process, and other Fiddleheads perks by topic.