Over the years, many luthiers have traveled from China to Europe to learn the fine art of violinmaking from reputable schools in Germany, France and Italy. Some of the more highly trained and talented violinmakers set up workshops where they created quality instruments and trained new makers. One of these luthiers was Xueping Hu, founder of the Snow workshop in Beijing, China.
Though Snow is noted for its violins, the workshop also produces other handcrafted stringed instruments including violas, cellos and basses. As his six-worker shop grew into more than seventy craftsmen, Xueping Hu and his brother set up Snow Stringed Instruments, a wholesale company whose purpose was to distribute to retailers instruments hand-crafted solely in the Beijing workshop.
Snow’s produces a line of violins categorized into four types: basic, advanced, professional and performance. Most are based on Strad & Guarneri models. The basic models are high quality student violins to lower intermediate violins that retail from between $1,200 and $1,700 depending on whether a player orders a SV200, SV300 or SV400 model. Perfect for students, all SV models sound warm and resonant and are antiqued with hand-rubbed varnish and feature a top made of spruce and a back crafted from maple.
The PV models, or “advanced”, are crafted for higher intermediate and advanced violin players and range in price between $2,200 and $3,700 depending on whether one purchases the PV800, PV900 or the PV1000. These intermediate violins are made with higher-quality and longer-aged European tone woods. The varnish is higher-end, and offers the player more varied tones of color.
Snow violins are shipped from China to New York in ready-to-play condition. Once in New York, they undergo a battery of quality control tests by specialists to assure that the set up, tone and overall quality is up to standard. This is done before shipping the violins to retailers across the country.
Interestingly, even though these violins are set up and tested, most violin shops who stock snow violins will take the time to set up the violins yet again, according to the standards of the shop. This may include relocation of the sound post and new strings. By the time the violin reaches the hands of the player, it has received much attention from several craftsmen.
Many retail violin shops will pair Snow violin with different types of violin bows, cases and basic violin accessories in order to sell the Snow violin as an outfit. Prices will vary depending on the quality of the case and bow, but it is typically a good value to purchase an instrument as part of an outfit assembled by a knowledgeable maker.