I'm looking to buy a new violin and I'm trying to decide between an old french violin with a Millant certificate or a new violin from a well respected maker. Both violins are about the same price. I prefer the old violin, but I am concerned that the value of the violin may not be worth it based on internet searches. There are not many listed and those that are listed are far lower on auction sites and on other seller sites. I don't know the condition of the online listings but the one I am interested in is in mint condition and from a well known dealer in the area.
Should I be concerned about the value of the old violin and instead go with the new maker violin? Is my concern valid? Ultimately I don't want to pay far more for a violin and not be able to recoup my money in the future if I sell or trade.
If it were me, I'd get an independent appraisal of the older violin if that is the one I preferred but was concerned that it may be overpriced. Having an appraisal in hand would be an asset in negotiating a lower price, if the appraisal comes significantly lower (greater than 10-15%). Many factors of course comes in pricing an instrument vs another and you have to judge for yourself if the extra cost is warranted. You mentioned already condition. It may have a particular superior tone and playability compared to others from the same maker etc. (and does according to you have a particularly good sound). Keep in mind that you possibly stand to loose 20% on the resale/trade of the new instrument through a reseller/auction also.
"I am concerned that the value of the violin may not be worth it based on internet searches. There are not many listed and those that are listed are far lower on auction sites and on other seller sites."
The old one I'm looking at is $16k, for a Pillement. I haven't negotiated price at all. My concern is that auction prices vary widely, starting in the hundreds of dollars to maybe 5k. Again, condition and certificate of the online ones is unknown. I found one on an online store in good condition at under 3k.
At those prices, I think it comes down to which one you like better, but definitely try to haggle on the price--if they only paid a few thousand for the violin they would probably come down quite a bit on price instead of losing the sale.
Auction prices for the modern violin you're considering will vary widely as well, assuming any have ever appeared at auction. If you love it, and it's affordable, you should get the violin you prefer. Buying from a retailer is very different from buying at auction. Auction requires snap decisions. What can you get for 16K at auction as opposed to 16K at retail? How good are you at picking out great violins? ;)
Auctions and retail sales are apples and oranges. There is a lot of risk involved with buying an instrument at auction that you're not taking when you have a chance to inspect the violin and take it out for a trial week. The dealer needs to make money on the sale to stay in business.
Thanks for the responses. My question isn't about buying a violin at auction, it is the price disparity between online sources including auctions that concerns me. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear about that when I posted originally. Auction prices I've seen are varied but generally under 1k, online dealers under 4k roughly. I understand that there are many factors involved, including condition and authenticity, but the wide delta between online and at a dealer for a mint example just has me concerned about the future resale value of the instrument.
You know nothing about the condition of the auction violins if even the authenticity. Then on the whole a higher auction price is about half of full retail.
Searching the maker on Google, it looks like his bio states that it was probable that he was running a workshop making lines of instruments at varying degrees of quality. That would explain the unusually wide range of prices at auction. Auction prices are typically half of retail price, by the way.
The antique will probably have a better resale value than the modern.
Who's the respected maker?
Pillement is the old one, comparing against my first choice modern by Melanson
Here's another option: if you like the Melanson, try to play some other Melansons first. The reason I say this is that a few years ago I played a Melanson I regret not buying. It really was a great-sounding and playing violin. However, more recently I played one that didn't do it for me. It really depends on the particular violin. He's a very respected maker--I wouldn't be surprised if the resale value compares favorably to the older French.
I agree. I've tried about 5 Melanson violins now, including two he brought with him to the VSA convention. Surprisingly they are all good, but with some very noticeable tonal differences.
I tried the two Melansons that were at this weekend's VSA convention. I thought they were both nice, but not as much to my taste.