Southern Violin Association

Competition Rules for 2019

 Southern Violin Association

Maker's Competition Rules and Guidelines

2nd Bi-Annual Competition 2019

Updated 13 January 2019



·         Event begins with check-in Thursday April 18 and concludes with checkout April 21, 2019

·         Awards announced the evening of April 20, 2019

·         The event will take place in the village of Little Switzerland, North Carolina

·         Anyone may enter from anywhere – this is an International competition.

·         All participants must pay both an application fee of $100 per instrument, and a $100 for two year  membership fee. 

·         Instruments must be less than 5 years old

·         Applications for those bringing  their instruments in person, must be received by April 12, 2019

·         Instruments being shipped must submit application and fees by April 5, 2019 and the instrument received by the committee by April 16, 2019



COMPETITION OBJECTIVE (1.1) The Competition’s objective is to inspire the creation of outstanding, artistic, concert-quality violins. Those judging are instructed to identify those violins having the greatest artistic merit, technical execution, tone quality, and ease of playing.

ELIGIBILITY (2.1) All entry forms and fees must be received by the SVA on or before Apil 12, 2019. The entry fee covers SVA Maker’s Competition and general events for the maker or their single representative during the Competition weekend.  Non-maker spouses are permitted to participate in lectures.  Earlier deadlines may apply to those shipping their instruments to the event.

To enter the 2019 SVA Maker’s Competition, complete the entry form included with these rules and guidelines. Questions? Contact the Southern Violin Association’s 2019 Competition Coordinator, David Chandler, at phone 828-675-0449, email (2.2) All competitors must be members of the Southern Violin Association. 

Membership is open to anyone, applications can be obtained at, and the current two-year yearly membership fee for is $100.00 US. (2.5) Refunds of competition fees  will not be made after April 1, 2019 as those funds will be fully committed to hosting the event.   (2.6) The membership fee is separate from the competition fee and is not refundable. 

GENERAL RULES (3.1) Rules and judging procedures for the SVA Maker’s Competition have been designed to insure fairness to all competitors.  Violins submitted for Competition must have been completed not earlier than May 1, 2014 (5 years old).   Instruments may not be entered if they have already received medal awards in other Competitions (such as silver or gold medal).  Instruments may be entered if they have won certificates in other Competitions (such as certificates for tone or workmanship).  The decision of the judges is final. (3.2) At this time there is no rule for Hors Concours status but the SVA reserves the right to act retroactively concerning this issue should it decide to do so.  (3.4) No workmanship or tone judge may have seen, heard, or played on any instrument entered in the Competition prior to the date of the Competition. (3.5) Competition Committee member may enter the Competition but will not be allowed to be an active part of the judging process on the day(s) of the judging in any way. (3.6) The Southern Violin Association will take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of instruments entered into the competition and exhibition. However, the SVA is not responsible for any loss, damage or destruction to any instrument during the competition (including the period during which instruments are stored before and/or after the competition). Competitors are responsible for insuring their own instruments. (3.7) Contestants are financially responsible for the transportation of their instrument both to and from the competition site.

(3.8) By entering this competition the maker agrees to have their instrument photographed by the SVA, and to have the photographs used by the SVA for publication or any other purpose, without prior permission of the maker.

REGISTRATION (4.1) Competition entry forms are available from the Southern Violins Association via its website at:

a.       Unaccompanied entry (4.2)

                                                               i.      I submitting an entry, all applications and fees must be on hand with the committee not later than April 5, 2019.

                                                             ii.      Entries must arrive at the designated judging facility by Friday, April 12, 2019.

                                                           iii.      Shipping information will be provided as we draw nearer the competition and participants not transporting their own instruments will be advised well in advance on procedures.

b.       If transporting entry yourself

                                                               i.      You must arrive at the designated judging facility by Thursday, April 18, 2019, no later than 10:00 pm.

                                                             ii.      All entry fees and registration forms must arrive to the SVA Competition Coordinator, David Chandler, 201 Riverlinks Drive, Burnsville, NC 28714, not later than April 16, 2019.

c.       All Entries:

                                                               i.       (4.4) Competition entry fees will be $100.00 per instrument  (4.5) An SVA receipt will be issued to the maker or the maker’s single representative of each instrument at the time it is delivered to the Competition Committee.  When the competition is over, this receipt must be presented to the SVA check-out personnel on order to obtain redelivery of the instrument.  It is very important that every maker obtain this receipt and keep it safe until the competition is over.

1.       A limit of 2 instruments total may be submitted per category, i.e. 2 viola and 2 violins would be the maximum.

2.       AFFIDAVIT OF AUTHENTICITY (5.1) All makers entering the Competition must sign an affidavit on the entry form indicating that the instrument has been made entirely by their own hands. Fittings such as pegs, tailpieces and chinrests on the instrument may be commercially produced. Makers are not permitted to sub-contract work on instruments submitted. (5.2) Factory produced or mass produced or instruments made using the skills and labor of more than the single/sole/one individual maker are not eligible for the competition (except for rule 5.3). (5.3)

Under review:  Two makers (“co-makers”) may work together to enter one instrument if the co-makers have been previously established as a known “team.”   Neither of the co-makers may also enter an instrument on their own.  If the co-makers win any awards, only one certificate and/or award will be presented to the team.

ANONYMITY RULES (6.1) In an effort to insure impartiality, the identity of the makers of the instruments is withheld from the judges during the Competition. To prevent the judges from identifying the maker by looking at the instrument’s label, brand, or stamped mark, it is the responsibility of the contestant to make sure that all such labels, brands, or stamped marks are covered or otherwise concealed at the time of entry.  Even so, all instruments must have a label, brand, or stamped mark.  This is so that the maker may be positively identified, if necessary, at the conclusion of the Competition after the judging has taken place. Once the instruments have been entered into the contest, each is given a randomly assigned secret number known only to the Competition Facilitator.  At the conclusion of the Competition, we want to be able to examine the hidden maker’s label, brand, or stamp to insure that the instrument is returned to its rightful owner.  Participants will at no time during the event discuss their instrument in any way with judges.    Any violation of these rules will lead to disqualification.  Competitor lists will not be available until the completion of the judging. 

RULES COMMITTEE (7.1) The responsibility for interpretation of Competition rules, the settling of disputes and dealing with questions arising during the Competition lies with the SVA rules committee.

RULES INFRACTIONS (8.1) Infractions of rules will be determined by the rules committee after consultation with the appropriate judges.   Instruments which do not comply with Competition rules will be disqualified. All entry fees for disqualified items will be forfeited. Any maker who is caught attempting to commit fraud in the Competition by submitting the work of others in his/ her name will be disqualified from the Competition and may be banned from all future SVA Competitions.

RESTRICTIONS ON MATERIALS (9.1) Under the Endangered Species Act, under States Customs does not permit the importation of elephant ivory, tortoiseshell or whalebone. Items made from these banned materials that cross United States borders may be confiscated by United States Customs. (9.2) Instruments must be made of predominately wood material. Fiberglass, carbon fiber, Kevlar, epoxy and other such materials may be used, but very sparingly.

INSTRUMENT SETUP (10.1) Prior to the announced time of the beginning of official judging, proper setup of instruments must be verified by the maker or his representative, or by the official SVA representative, according to instructions provided by the maker.  Once judging begins, access to instruments will not be permitted until the completion of the competition.  (10.2) The SVA will designate a qualified luthier to handle small simple repairs and adjustments should the need arise.  This will include replacing broken strings and closing open seams between the ribs and plates.  A luthier designated by the SVA will close any such open seams with very dilute hide glue to enable the instrument to participate in the tone competition.  The judges will be informed of the repair and shown its location on the instrument.  Once the instrument is returned to the competitor, he/she may easily reopen the seam and repair it to his/her satisfaction.  (10.3) Luthiers who would prefer that no one repair his/her instrument in the event of a more extensive problem should mark “NO” in the box on the front page of the registration form and initial.  Hence, any instrument which required extensive repairs will be removed from the Competition and the Competition fee will be refunded.  If a problem occurs during the judging phase of the Competition, the SVA cannot contact the competitor because this would necessitate a breach of security concerning anonymity.

INSTRUMENT WORKMANSHIP JUDGING (11.3)  Instrument workmanship evaluation will be divided into six categories, totaling 100 points..  The point/scoring system is for both the maker’s and judges’ consideration for this competition.  Judges will be strongly encouraged to write comments for the maker’s benefit. 1. Setup --- 15 points --- Includes bridge, post, pegs, tailpiece, fingerboard, nut, saddle, and endpin. 2. Varnish --- 10 points ---Includes color, transparency, evenness of application, ground and texture. 3. Modeling --- 10 points --- Includes arching, surface texture, f-holes, including positioning and shape relative to arching. 4. Scroll --- 10 points    --- Includes model, flowing lines, pegbox, finish work, and overall character. 5. Construction --- 20 points --- Includes outline, glue joints, bending and fitting of ribs and purfling, execution of neck, edges, corners, f-holes, scroll, and finish work. 6. Overall Impression --- 35 points --- Includes originality, choice of materials, elegance and overall consistency of style, and artistry.

TONE JUDGING procedures are being developed and will be provided in advance to tone judges, and posted here as they become available.

NOVICE MAKER’S HONORABLE MENTION (14.1) For a violin to receive Novice Maker’s Honorable Mention, the maker must have completed no more than 10 instruments  at the time of the competition. (14.2) At the completion of the workmanship and tone judging, those instruments made by a novice maker will be pointed out and shown to the judges again for consideration of a Young Maker’s Honorable Mention award. (14.3) At the judges’ discretion, either the Workmanship or Tone judges or both sets of judges may award an Honorable Mention to an instrument. (14.4) A violin may also qualify for any other award as well as this one.   At the judges’ discretion, no instruments may receive this award or multiple instruments may receive this award.

SOUTHERN MAKER  AWARD (15.1) For a violin to receive the Southern Maker  award, the maker must be residing and working in one of the following states at the time of the competition:  Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington D.C., or West Virginia. (15.2) At the completion of the workmanship and tone judging, those instrument made by a makers from southern states will be pointed out and shown to the judges again for consideration of a Southern Maker  award. (15.3) At the judges’ discretion, either the Workmanship or Tone judges or both sets of judges may award a Southern Maker award to an instrument. (15.4) A violin may also qualify for any other award as well as this one.   At the judges’ discretion, no instruments may receive this award or multiple instruments may receive this award.

SVA “BEST OF SHOW” AWARD (17.1) For a violin to receive the SVA Best of Show award, those instruments which have placed in the top five in the Workmanship Awards and Tone Awards, will be eligible.  The single instrument which as the highest combined ranking from these categories will earn the title SVA Best of Show. (17.2) Those instruments which have won special recognition in the Novice Maker’s, and the Southern Maker categories will not be included in the rankings for SVA Best of Show award.  The term “Best of Show” may be changed by the judges depending on the level of participation, and the quality of entries and a “gold medal” may be awarded instead.

First Prize, Second Prize, Third Prize medals will be awarded in workmanship, and in tone.  These terms may be changed to “Gold, Silver, Bronze” if the judges determine that the level of workmanship is competitive with other international competitions.


These rules are subject to change over the course of the coming months as we work our way towards the competition.  Check our website from time to time, and any changes in rules will be highlighted.