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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: How much did your violin cost?

March 19, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Today I was chatting with some friends, one who is looking at buying a pretty pricey fiddle.

It probably costs more than your house. Possibly double.

It made me think about my own decision to buy a fine fiddle, and how glad I am that I bought my violin -- and not a house -- in 2006!

My fiddle didn't cost the same as a house, but it did require a loan, which I'm still paying. It was a lot like buying a very, very nice car.

What did your violin cost? I've purposely made this a little bit vague, relating the cost to other purchases people typically make: a computer, a car, a house. Also, let's talk about what it cost, not about what you believe it is now worth, for the sake of the poll. It's too easy to enter the realm of fantasy here -- though I was happy to hear that fiddles continue to increase in value. Also, please share your thoughts about buying a violin, violins as investments, etc., below in the comments section.


From Steve Reizes
Posted on March 19, 2010 at 10:03 PM

Strictly speaking, I inherited mine, however, I have spent more on maintenance and repair at one time than on a computer, and its insured value would only buy a used car.

Posted on March 19, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Prices are all relative. When was it bought? Today or many years ago

Even at today's prices if at all possible it is wise to invest in an instrument capable of appreciation and not one that is mass produced. But that of course depends on how much one is willing and capable of spending

From Randy Mollner
Posted on March 19, 2010 at 10:36 PM

My story's similar to Steve's, I found my fiddle in my wife's grandpa's basement, where it had lived since his great-uncle died in the early fortys.  The cost of a computer later, I was able to play it. 

Actually, I had just received a birthday coupon from my luthier for a free polish.  You should have seen the look on his face when I brought in that fiddle.  I still feel kind of bad about that.

From Randy Sandstrom
Posted on March 19, 2010 at 10:58 PM

If I total the cost of buying my 4 violins/fiddles together maybe a new Mini Cooper,And after total redoing them all, Strings, Sound posts, Tuning pegs, Set-ups, Shoulder rests,and polishing 3 of them, I now can buy a Jaguar X-12 !   BUT people why stress about how much we have invested into something that we all love ! Oh yea can't forget my Bow-Hold buddy !

From Anne Horvath
Posted on March 19, 2010 at 11:30 PM

For those who might need it, this is a handy-dandy inflation calculator:

Guido was purchased for me in high school.  Not chump change, but still a really good deal.

My condo was a repo, and even more of a good deal.

From Marsha Weaver
Posted on March 20, 2010 at 12:07 AM

Both my violins came to me for free.

My first was a gift from a friend who had inherited it.  He had no interest in playing it.  I did, so he gave it to me.  A couple hundred dollars worth of repairs later, and it was ready to play!  Its finish still looks very abused (it's a hundred or so years old, and it evidently took its share of knocks over the years), but it sounds great.

My second -- uh, an interesting story there.  Being short, I decided to see if a 3/4 violin would be easier for me to manage.  It is.  I purchased a very low-priced 3/4 violin outfit (all I could afford), and shortly thereafter found out that there was so much wrong with the violin that it was basically unplayable.  When I returned it to the store where I'd purchased it, they said they had a discontinued model of a German 3/4 violin (Bellafina) that had sort of "slipped through the cracks" in inventory, and their computer system wouldn't allow it to be sold (it apparently didn't think the violin actually existed).  Jeez, I love that computer!!.  They offered to swap this German violin for the bargain-priced Chinese violin -- even swap!  Needless to say, I took them up on their offer.  They rounded up a case for the Bellafina, and I've since bought a really nice bow for it.  On a subsequent visit to the store, they had a few violin cases near the checkout that they said they needed to find homes for, and asked if I'd be interested in one of them (for free).  I picked one up and opened it, and was surprised to find it was the violin outfit I'd returned!  I pointed out that the case contained a violin (or at least a VSO), and they said that due to its "problems" (brother, do I ever know about its problems!!) they couldn't sell it.  They told me to just take it home if I wanted to, and make "wall art" out of it.  :)  So I now have the original (unplayable!) Chinese violin/wall hanging, plus the wonderful Bellafina (German) violin, both for the price of the Chinese violin.  The Bellafina had been priced at approximately five times the price of the Chinese violin.  To me, it's priceless!  Every time I play it I send warm and thankful thoughts to the folks at the store!! 

Posted on March 20, 2010 at 12:53 AM

Anne, great calculation tool... THANKS

Wow, decent violins from the start dwarf those figures...moral of the story, must buy more violins

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on March 20, 2010 at 2:09 AM

No ipod, no cell, no car, no monthly fashion shopping, no life (euh just joking that would actually be because of my studies!!!) but it all worth giving this up to have my violin. And a wonderful opportunity for my parents to remember me to never complain... even when I'll be 50 and they'll be very very old, they'll still tell me, "don't complain, you have your violin" ; )  But it's sound worths so much more than its listed price I feel he's priceless for me!  Definitivly I agree with Sam.  Prices will always go up so it will always be harder in the futur to have = quality as what people could once afford in the past. What one can buy now could not even be possible to buy later on as my family though it was best to get the best one possible now for this reason! 


From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on March 20, 2010 at 2:23 AM

For the survey, I guess you exclude Ferraris as well as ladas??? ; )

From Nate Evans
Posted on March 20, 2010 at 4:18 AM

 Kinda makes you wonder if it's really worth it all.  I mean, does a $10K violin REALLY outperform a really well set-up $900 violin?  Or is it all psychological.


  I wonder how much of it is like audio equipment, where you have these amazingly expensive turntables, which in many peoples opinions, don't sound as good as a $1000 turntable, but at the same time, others think it's completely different and magical (usually the owners of said equipment).  Makes me wonder that if this is for audio quality reproduction, how much of this same "magic" translates into the instruments themselves.  And at what pricepoint do the value:performance ratio really start becoming greatly off tilt like it does in the speaker, amp, player world.


  On that note, I got a fiddle for free from the fiance's parents and have thus far spent $200 on it for strings, pegs, bridge, and a cheapy bow.  I'm still ahead of the cuve as far as value is concerned, but I do need a better (at this point, mainly lighter) bow....and thus begins another expensive hobby. :)

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on March 20, 2010 at 5:18 AM

I have several violins, and my favorite by far belonged to my violin teacher, who lent it to me when I was in high school.  It had  and still has a beautiful, warm, sweet, deep, resonant sound.  My family didn't have enough money to buy a  good violin like this.  After I had played it for a few years, I told my father that I would  be very unhappy when I had to give it back to my teacher.  "You don't have to give it back,"  my father told me.  "It's yours now."  He had been paying my teacher a small amount of  money every week for years.  This violin is, in more ways than one, the greatest gift I"ve ever received.  

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on March 20, 2010 at 5:27 AM

A beautiful story, Pauline.


From Rosalind Porter
Posted on March 20, 2010 at 10:54 AM

Some heartwarming stories here and what I love about this thread is that it is obvious that no matter how much or little the violins have cost, they are all loved and appreciated by their owners.

As for me, well I have absolutely no regrets about buying Johannes and I think he likes his new owner too!  I'll always be grateful to Sean of Bishops Strings in London for putting us together.

A lot of people are kind of shocked when I say he is worth more than a rather nice car, but for me, the thrill of simply opening up the case to get him out for a practice session, is better than any gas-guzzling road monster!   Not to mention the fact that cars lose their value the minute you put the key in the ignition for the first time.

On the other hand, I still adore my Charles Buthod, which I had all through high school and university.  Monetary value certainly isn't everything.

Posted on March 20, 2010 at 3:56 PM


Wow, nothing wrong with a Charles Buthod fiddle. Here's an example of a darn good 19th century instrument which for whatever reason is under priced. I have had one of his bows since mid high school years. Great orchestral bow, but has not nearly appreciated in value as others...GO FIGURE

From Anna Meyer
Posted on March 20, 2010 at 7:16 PM

My violin cost 2000 dollars and it´s worth every single cent. I jokingly call it my extension :)

From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on March 21, 2010 at 12:43 AM

About a year after my dad died, a savings bond he left me came due.  Because of the type it was it had to be cashed out.  I used about half for a much nicer violin that what I had, and invested the rest.  Dad was always supportive of my interest in music, and was pleased that I continued to play the violin as an adult.  My mom and I agree that he would have loved what I did with the money he left me.

A few years ago, my only sister died, leaving me some money.  I used part of hers to buy my viola.  I'm not positive what she would think; she was always much more serious-minded and driven than I am.  (Typical oldest child.)  On the other hand, as it became clear she wouldn't even make it to 50, much less retirement, she started saying things like, "Do what makes you happy.  You never know how much time you have."  I think she might approve after all- my viola makes me very, very happy.

I think of both of them when I play, and my instruments feel like gifts every day.

From William Gibson III
Posted on March 21, 2010 at 2:12 AM

I am very lucky in that my first violin is a family piece and needed only to be put right by a good luthier , my second was given to me and currently needs a bit of TLC before it is in playable condition ... both are worth more than I could afford to own at this time or even have gotten except for the way they have come to me.  I am sure that to some here to be told that your instrument is worth $6-8000.00 may not seem like much but to me it is very humbling in that as a beginner she is more Violin than I could ever dream of having just starting out to play .  My second was given to me by a friend it needs a bit of repair but even in its poor and hurt condition and not having had a chance to give it's voice to sing again it is easily worth $1-1200.00... based on what my luthier sees ...


From Joan Coy
Posted on March 21, 2010 at 3:11 AM

I bought a new violin two months ago. I could have bought a very nice used car for what I paid for it (actually, I'm still paying on it) but I don't care. It was worth it. Blows my previous violin out of the water, as promised by the gentleman who sold it to me.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on March 21, 2010 at 12:48 PM

 I think that we won't see much increase in violin value. There are limiting factors. Musicians don't make enough money, in general, to pay more for violins and dealers need to mark up instruments a minimum of 20% (and frequently up to 100%) to make enough money to keep a shop open, carry inventory etc. There may be deals out there but they will be for finding a violin in neglected (but not damaged) condition that is being sold by the heirs of a decent but not great violinist who don't take the trouble to really determine the worth of the instrument or really need cash fast. 

Elsewise be careful about anticipating an increase in value.

From David Beck
Posted on March 21, 2010 at 6:05 PM

 The last one I bought was €6000 (including local tax) in 2003 which was then £4,300. Cremona, Italy. Sorry, I didn't track the US dollar at the time.

I thought to sell it back in the UK but I like it too much, and still play it. I imagine that a player might strike lucky in any violin-making town, and there are other such places, not only in Italy but elsewhere, England, too - Newark, for example.

My BIG expenditure was for a Vuillaume back in 1976 - £5,500 !!! The price of 2 small saloon cars, I think, then.

From Deborah McCann
Posted on March 21, 2010 at 11:57 PM

I had a violin that we paid $4,000 for in 1971, sold it for $35,000 in 1989, and just resold for $125,000 last year.  Now, bows the next time?

From Alan Swafford
Posted on March 22, 2010 at 3:07 AM

When you get that Violin even moderately priced , that tunes in to your style , would you ever sell it?   I am interested in the difference in bows. $400  or$4,000 .If I ever get the money , is it worth it?

From Wendy Evenden Loney
Posted on March 22, 2010 at 2:18 PM

 Intrigued by a course offered at a local arts school, I made my own violin. It cost less than $500, but the time, and particularly tears and sleepless nights I invested was huge.

Am I happy with it? I absolutely LOVE it.

Is it perfect? No. 

Would I do it again? Absolutely, I'm building a viola now, and plan on a cello next.

Posted on March 23, 2010 at 12:50 AM

I make my own instruments, the problem is that I can't afford one of them!!!

From David Beck
Posted on March 23, 2010 at 7:12 AM

Nothing new there, Luis ! The top bowmaker at  W.E.Hill and Sons of his time, Retford, bought a Weichold for his own use.

From Sari Beastall
Posted on March 24, 2010 at 8:57 PM

I'm not sure what to vote, to be honest.

My primary violin is only a cheap student one which certainly cost less than a computer but I also have another, more expensive instrument  which would probably fall between computer and actuality he is probably worth more than that, but the person selling him didn't seem to realise it - got to love Ebay!

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