I have been trying out a Carlo Bisiach at my local violin store. I was amazed and blown away by the clarity, depth of tone, and color. I had searched around the archives on V.com and I could'nt find much information.I was wondering if it is worth it, as the violin is priced at around $80k.
Any information would help a lot.
According to Tarisio, the top auction price for one of his violins is around $60K...auctions are wholesale, so $80K from a shop is not surprising. There is more information in his wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Bisiach
If you were blown away, I'd say buy it. It's only money, right?
It's disconcerting that there isn't a whole lot of information on Carlo even in Eric Blot's book "Liuteria Italiana 1860 to 1960 Volume 11-Lombardia e Veneto".
I'm not surprised about $80k which is something like €67k in Europe. One of the three finest instruments (by far) I was able to try yet was a Carlo Bisiach. The price tag was not far from yours (€65k), and it definitely wasn't far from the Giuseppe Antonio Rocca it shared the shelf with. (Both instruments regularly played until only a few months ago.)
I've never played a Carlo Bisiach, though I've tried a few Leandro Bisiach violins that I've liked (Carlo's father).
I've never tried a Carlo Bisiach either, but I did try out a Giacomo and Leandro (II) Bisiach violin not long ago and was pretty impressed with it. I was even more impressed with another violin that had a much lower price tag on it; the Bisiach ended up in 2nd place by the time I got around to making a purchase. Personally, I would try other violins and make sure that this is absolutely the one you want.
If you're thinking of it as an investment then make your decision according to your assessment of the market value now and in the future. If it's sound you're interested in then there's no reason why 80k would buy you more or less than a violin at 20k or 150.
"I was wondering if it is worth it..." or to say something similar to the above post by Martin Mcclean, it probably depends on what you mean by "worth it." Probably one of the least desirable Strads in poor condition that few people want to play, for ten times the price has a better resale value. Does that make it 'worth it'?
A little update on the Bisiach:
"Value" for a normal mortal like me might include resale value (and therefore depending on documentation of provenance etc.), beauty, sound and playability. For a young professional targeting on a soloist career, playing an instrument with a "name" may be helpful to draw attention and thus contribute some "extra value".
I was going to say make sure you have a good certificate for the violin as there are lots of fake Bisiachs out there.
Do you have it for a trial already?
For an instrument of this value, you should have no problem getting a two-week trial, and there may be a strong argument for a four-week trial. (Neither a shop nor an individual owner with a consigned instrument is going to balk at a longer trial unless for some reason someone else is wanting to immediately look at it.)
Thanks Lydia for the helpful input.
Is there any more advice from you guys?
Having a violin by Bisiach family is one of the best early 20th century Italian names you can have as an investment, especially if the tone and response is desirable. Carlo's instruments definitely have a particular style in the making as he worked on his own, compared with his father Leandro Sr, who employed and taught many of the best 20th century makers. There are some instruments I wouldn't say are fakes, but they are certainly influenced by other hands and came from the Leandro Sr. workshop, much like the Vuillaume workshop a century before. He also experimented with a lot of different models.
The violin is really responsive and there is a wide range of tone. The label reads, " Carlo Bisiach Di Leandro Milanese , fece in Firenze l'Anno 1948. " There is his signature, and a stamp that says CB
At this price range, isn't it necessary to have a certificate from a dependable evaluator?
He said he had a certificate on it from Leonhard.
Oops. Missed that part.
The Bisiachs were excellent makers and perhaps the most important violin making family in the late 19th and early 20th century in Italy. My Guadagnini was repaired by Leandro Bisiach in 1890. There's a pencil inscription inside with his hand writing.
I'm an amateur who indulged in buying a violin even more expensive than the one you're looking at, Andrew, and it pretty much makes me happy every time I take it out of the case. It's really a joy to play, even if it's also sometimes more challenging to work with. So I figure it was totally worth it, and the appreciation over my lifetime is a bonus.
I believe that the violin will also lead me to new heights that I have never experienced, and it will be a great teacher for me. I hope I still like it at the end of my trial ;-).
By the way Lydia, what violins do you have and which is your favorite?
I've owned three violins and tried a lot of instruments. My current violin is a JB Vuillaume. I used to own an Enrico Marchetti (modern Italian, late 19th century). And I have a Rafael Carrabba (contemporary American, made under Carl F Becker's direction) from my childhood.
Lydia next time HH is in the area you should try to arrange a grouping of regional JBV owners to compare instruments -- blind test, HH plays, JBV owners listen. That would be amazing. I bet she would do it, and I bet you could find half a dozen willing owners. Luthier could inspect them and talk about differences in how they're made, and a nice article could come out of it for a magazine like Strad.
I think that I have learned quite a lot from this thread, and I think that the best way is to try out more violins from different shops and luthiers. I will be in San Francisco and New York soon for business, I think that I will have time to visit a few violin shops there. Any recommendations for me?
I just feel like trying more before I take the violin out for trial, so I can get a good comparison.
Hah, Paul. There are a couple at shops in the area currently, I think, and at least three local v.com readers who own JBVs. :-)