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The Violin Society of America • 20th International Competition

Quartet Judging

Following the individual instrument Competitions, quartets will be judged for workmanship and tone. Makers must have previously designated which violin is first and which is second. Makers may enter any combination of models.


The violin workmanship judges will not participate in quartet workmanship judging due to their greater workload. The designated viola, cello and bass workmanship judges will evaluate the quartet as a unit in one evaluation round considering the following categories, totaling 100 points:

  1. Construction 40 points
    Includes technical aspects of making, including the body, neck, scroll, setup and consistency of construction among all four instruments.
  2. Varnish 20 points
    Includes color, transparency, application, texture, patina (if present), and consistency of varnish among all four instruments.
  3. Artistic 40 points
    Includes sense of taste and artistry, considering stylistic and material similarities within the realm of overall impression.Quartets that proceed to the medal round will receive at least a Certificate of Merit for Workmanship. Quartets that receive a unanimous vote as being of superior quality in workmanship will be recommended for Gold Medals. Please read the rules explaining Gold Medals, Silver Medals, and Certificates of Merit below.


Tone judging will be divided into two (2) rounds: preliminary and final. During the preliminary round, each quartet will be played and evaluated by four (4) players serving as tone judges and one (1) listening tone judge on a pass/fail basis. Each judge will have an equal vote. Quartets that pass into the final round will be further reviewed by the four (4) playing judges and one (1) listening tone judge to reach a consensus for Certificates of Merit or recommendations for Gold Medals. Please read the rules explaining Gold Medals, Silver Medals, and Certificates of Merit below.


For an instrument to receive a Gold Medal it must be recommended by all designated judges for such a medal in one category and have at least a Certificate of Merit in the other category. Instruments considered of certificate quality in both categories, but not selected to receive a Gold Medal, will receive a Certificate of Merit in each category. It is possible for an instrument to receive two Certificates of Merit and not receive a Gold Medal. 


A Silver Medal in Workmanship or in Tone is awarded if judges recommend a Gold Medal in one category and award neither medal nor certificate in the other category.

Bows are judged on workmanship only. There are no Silver Medals awarded in the bow making competition. 


An instrument will receive a Certificate of Merit in a category if it reaches the medal round in that category and received neither a Gold Medal nor a Silver Medal in that category.

Bows that proceed to the medal round but do not receive a Gold Medal will receive a Certificate of Merit.

New policy for advertising of medal and certificate recipients: 

It is the policy of the VSA that all awards granted by the VSA, including medals and certificates of merit, are personal to the award winner. Any advertising, publicity, or promotional materials, in any format or media, that refer or relate to a VSA award shall be accompanied by the award winner’s name. Failure to comply with this VSA policy may result in expulsion from VSA membership, forfeiture of VSA awards, or other remedies. 

Violin Society of America • 341 N. Maitland Ave, Suite 130 • Maitland, FL 32751 • USA • 407-647-8839