master violin and viola case maker
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The strange tale of a hair stylist, an auto mechanic, a lawyer and a violin case maker.
The other day I was thinking of relativity. Not Einstein's relativity between mass, time, and motion, but relativity between how we attribute the worth of people's time.
At the barbershop where I go, Ginetto charges me EUR 23 ($34.50) for a half hour's work, and I am pleased enough by the result to go back there from time to time. Ezio, the guy who services my car, charges EUR 75 ($112,50) to keep it on the road, and so far he's managed because after 12 years it's still running fine. (Ezio's not cheap, but a new car is more expensive). On the other end of the spectrum, is my lawyer. I won't mention his name, but he charges $475 an hour. I won't mention what he does for me either, but I suppose since we all have our lawyers I don't have to expound any further.
Indeed it was with a renowned lawyer from New York that I once got into a discussion about my own work, and this brings us to the topic of this editorial. I don't know what he charged per hour, but he declared my cases to be overpriced. He maintained that there was no way that a Master Series violin case should cost him over $1,000, when one could buy a Bobelock for $200.
Walking out of Ginetto's the other day it suddenly occurred to me. I decided, just for fun, to see how much a Master Series violin case would cost if - instead of being made by my staff and myself - it was made by, say, by Ginetto the barber, Ezio the mechanic, or Esquire the lawyer. And remember, we're talking about ordinary barbers, mechanics, and lawyers, not top-of-the-profession, world-famous ones. I can't afford those.
To make a Master Series Classic mod. 4011 takes EUR 91.35 ($137) of materials, which are the finest available and purchased in bulk. It also takes 12.02 hours of highly specialized work to craft the case. So, given the above-mentioned hourly cost figures, a Ginetto Master Series would cost $966, which I guess would be reasonable if he knew anything about making cases. But an Ezio Master Series would cost $1,489 and the lawyer-made Esquire model would cost a whopping $5,846!
I don't have anything against barbers, mechanics, or lawyers. I also have the greatest respect even for those who do humble yet absolutely necessary jobs like street sweeping or garbage collection. Imagine a world without any of these people!
But to put this into perspective, I have 27 years experience making cases and I charge less for a new Master Series Classic than what my mechanic would. And I'll even ship it for free! You'll have to agree that this is not unreasonable.
But what I really would like to know is how much the case would cost if made by that lawyer in New York... and if it'd be any good.
Thank you for your attention, and feel free to comment!
Dimitri Musafia, November 14, 2009
“Logic will take you from Point A to Point B. Imagination will take you anywhere.” - Albert Einstein
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