Q: What does my label or model number tell me about the instrument's materials and build characteristics?

A: Here is a complete breakdown of our numbering system.

  • SV stands for Shen Violin
  • SA stands for Shen Viola
  • SC stands for Shen Cello
  • SB stands for Shen Bass
  • "1000" indicates a special or unique instrument, using the best maple and spruce tone woods and painstaking craftsmanship.
  • 800 level instruments have highly flamed maple backs and ribs, and excellent spruce tops. The varnish is usually a heavily shaded oil.
  • 300s are moderately flamed maple back and ribs, and solid spruce top. They have a moderately shaded oil varnish.
  • 200s are fully carved instruments with either unflamed maple, willow or mahogany backs and ribs. The tops are fully carved spruce, and the varnish is a moderately shaded oil.
  • A 190 level instrument is a high level hybrid, with fully carved spruce top, solid willow ribs, and a maple ply flat back.
  • 180 Hybrids have flamed German maple veneer back and ribs, and a fully carved spruce top. The 180 basses are upgraded to Suzhou machines.
  • 150 Hybrids have fuly carved spruce tops, maple veneer back and ribs, and oil varnish. 150 basses and cellos come with many configuration options to allow flexibility for school bids, such as CV tops, gamba outlines and lacquer varnish.
  • 100 level instruments in violin and viola are fully carved with plain maple backs and ribs and spruce tops. The varnish can vary between shaded oil or an occasional shaded lacquer. The 100 level basses and cellos are fully laminated with spruce ply tops with inlaid purfling and maple ply backs and ribs. The basses have the Suzhou machines upgrade.
  • The 90 has blonde lacquer varnish, spruce top veneer, maple back and rib veneer, an upgraded etched Tyrolean machine set, and painted purfling.
  • 88s are relatively new, sporting an oil varnish on all-maple veneer with painted purfling.
  • 80 level instruments have maple veneer on top, back and ribs, painted purfling and lacquer varnish.

The size will be expressed as either a fraction such as "SC150 3/4", or as the body length of the instrument in millimeters as in the above label.

The suffix adds additional info not declared by the numbers. Here are the suffixes we've used over the years:

Chadwick Folding Bass
Cosmetic veneer
European tone woods
Five string
Flat back
Italian, usually indicating a Rogeri bass outline.
Left handed
Oil varnish

The year it was shipped. This is not necessarily the year it was built. Serial numbers are assigned prior to shipping.

Container number for the year. So in the example, this is the fifth container of 2014.

Instrument number, meaning this is the 123rd violin packed in this container.

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