Printer-friendly version weekend vote: Would you take out a loan to purchase a violin?

The Weekend Vote

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Published: January 25, 2013 at 11:19 PM [UTC]

Good violins can be quite pricey.

The most recent record-sale sum is an extreme example: the undisclosed amount -- somewhere in the vicinity of $15 million -- fetched by the 1741 Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesu. Many things came together to make this one violin extremely valuable: its age and provenance, its extremely pristine condition, the famous violinists who played and endorsed it, the famous and long-deceased luthier who made it, the publicity surrounding its sale, etc.

But even a violin that costs a fraction of that price can be a huge investment for a person of average means. The purchase of a good violin may require a loan: from relatives, or from a bank (though instrument loans are hard to get). My instrument loan came from the Musicians Interguild Credit Union, a resource for members of the Los Angeles AFM chapter (I like to tell people about this possibility, as it is a good one.)

I never thought I'd put so much on the line to obtain a good instrument, but then I fell completely in love with the one I bought. I've never regretted it, either.

Would you, have you, taken out a loan to get a violin?

From Arashi Lilith
Posted on January 26, 2013 at 12:41 AM
In lieu of getting a credit card, which I think are scams, I may take out a smallish loan or two for new instruments to build credit and personal satisfaction in tandem.
From Eugenia Fielding
Posted on January 26, 2013 at 1:49 AM

From Patrick Tinney
Posted on January 26, 2013 at 1:48 AM
As an amateur I would never be able to justify going so far out of my means to buy a musical instrument. This doesn't mean that I haven't in the past, but I'm older and more understanding of my limitations. Actually I had an old black power gun collection many years ago than I turned in to recorders and flutes. And my current violin was a 1961 Les Paul Junior.

Also souls are a dime a dozen in today's world so that is not an option either, though I remember a guitar in the '70s where I thought about it (an HD28 and a particularly nice one).

From Annabelle C
Posted on January 26, 2013 at 4:06 AM
I believe a professional musician on a $20K violin would sound better than me on a $15M Strad or Guer... so I would not take a loan out to buy something that I could not make sound well yet. I just bought a $2K violin set that I feel is more than enough violin for me and was within my budget.
From Steve Reizes
Posted on January 26, 2013 at 6:42 AM
I'm in agreement with Patrick. As an amateur I could not justify spending more than I could have to hand on an instrument. If I were a professional that would be another matter, you need to do what is necessary to have the tools of your trade.
From David Beck
Posted on January 26, 2013 at 11:12 AM
It all depends.
Say you are a very talented product of a Conservatoire. You have maybe gotten through the stiff exams by using a top instrument lent to you by your college. This has to be returned.
Now, on the strength of your auditioned performance on thiis borrowed instrument, a major orchestra has offered you a job, right up the front amongst the big-time guys'n'gals.
In this situation, and in view of the HUGE salary you are going to be getting, I'd reckon going into hock might not be an entirely bad move.
Otherwise, forget it !!
From james holmes
Posted on January 26, 2013 at 4:19 PM
Definitely not at the level of even inquiring about this notion. But if someone was good enough why not invest in oneself. Plus unlike other things that can depreciate, your talents can only get better. That is priceless.
From M.L. Scott
Posted on January 26, 2013 at 5:30 PM
As an amateur, no, I would not take out a loan for a violin. However, I imagine that a professional, or aspiring professional, might need to do so in order to advance their career.
From Corwin Slack
Posted on January 26, 2013 at 6:04 PM
What is eye-opening is to hear a fine professional play on your own inexpensive instrument. There is such a thing as a fine violin but it's only a fraction compared to a fine violinist.
From Ellie Phillips
Posted on January 27, 2013 at 7:27 AM
If reasonably possible, I would save up for a viola in order to avoid debt. If not, I would take out a loan. Of course, professional-quality instruments are EXPENSIVE, so realistically I probably would end up taking out a loan.
From Paul Deck
Posted on January 28, 2013 at 12:05 AM
Like some others, I would not take out a loan to buy a violin simply because I am not a professional and cannot justify that.
From Kevin Keating
Posted on January 28, 2013 at 1:21 AM
No, I would not take out a loan. I agree with Corwin. I would love to hear my own 2008 Capri in the hands of someone like Itzack Pearlman. Likewise, I'd love someday to try out a million dollar Strad. If given both opportunities, however, I'm pretty confident Itzack would sound no worse, nor I any better.
From elise stanley
Posted on January 28, 2013 at 3:14 AM
I think you have to balance where you are with where you are going - whether you are a professional or amateur. Thus, if playing is an intermittent pleasure and you don't plan for it to be any more, then a loan makes no sense. However, if you see it as a future career then you had better somehow get a violin that matches that goal rather than your immediate means. Unless the shop you buy the violin at guarantees 100% trade in, you will almost certainly loose money each time you trade - and that could be much more than the interest payments. And bear in mind if you do opt for the trade-in idea you have then markedly limited your choices for instruments down the line (not to mention if the business closes).

The amateur is the interesting case. I happen to think that if you see playing as part of your future destiniy - I mean something that you will spend a significant part of your life at - then I think you could justify a loan. Of course, its makes all the difference i you have a good salary and can pay it off in a reasonable time.

So I answered yes - though I have not yet done so myself.

From Royce Faina
Posted on January 28, 2013 at 8:23 AM
Yes I would! But also would think this over discussing it with string savvy friends/teachers. It certainly would be a fun "Investment" but an investment that comes with quite the responcibility.

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