A question for our beloved luthiers.

June 2, 2009 at 06:58 PM ·

I own an antique violin, as some of you might have read in other threads. It has passed from fathers to sons in my family since mid 1800's. I am not a pro but a simple amateur so I have not payed too much attention to the instrument until I have started (again) with my adult lessons at the time my 3 years old doughter is starting with her first suzuki lessons. I have taken the violin to a local luthier to have new pegs fitted. Once examined the violin he has confirmed it is and old italian one, probably late 1600's/early 1700's, and that the label is most likely to be original. If that is true (he is now examining the violin more deeply) I am lucky to own a Giovani Battista Rogeri.
As the luthier has said. the violin is in fair shape, has a 5 cm crack repair in the top, and the varnish has some later light retouches and polish. The neck of course is not original as has been modernized, but the head has been kept. Once listened he said the violin has and excellent sound but quite low ("bella voz pero poco pulmon" - beautiful voice, but little lung). What he has told me then is what I would like to ask here.
He says that the neck angle is very low, he measured 17mm from the end of the fingerboard and says it should be 21mm (if I remember exactly), and that is the main reason for the low volume. Also he says the the sound post is not in the best place and that needs a new bridge.
He says once the violin repaired (new neck angle, new soundpost and new bridge) it's volume should increase a lot, and the value of the instrument would probably increase. He is charging me 1.200 USD for the job.
Here in Spain we don't have a tradition in violin making, we have the best guitar makers in the world, but no violin makers at the same level, althogh this guy is a graduated from the Antonio Stradivari School in Cremona.
What I am trying to ask is that if what he is saying could be true, or if there is a chance he is trying to charge 1.200 for something won't be noticeable.

Sorry for the long post, and sorry for my english, I wish have made myself understood.

Replies (28)

June 2, 2009 at 11:25 PM ·

Nahhh you're English is perfectly fine! I wouldn't call myself a repair/restoration expert, but I know that last time I went to my luthier to fix the projection/volume on my violin, he charged me approximately 100 bucks and an extra ~50 for resurfacing and leveling the fingerboard. And he shifted my soundpost free of charge...

I'd think USD1200 would be too much, even if he graduated from Cremona. But there are many more knowledgeable people on v.com than me--wait for their responses. :) Good luck.

June 3, 2009 at 12:19 AM ·

IF the sound is as you say, $1200 to restore a genuine Rogeri is cheap.  But ensure the repair guy has the reputation needed.    Check with pros, and see what they say.  Whatever work is done, you want it done right the first time.  


June 3, 2009 at 12:31 AM ·

If I had a Rogeri I would take it to another luthier  to have a second opinion, in an important violin center if possible, such as London, NY, etc. I think the reputation of the luthier may match the quality of the instrument.

And yes, 1,200 bucks is not expensive for a work in a Rogeri

Are you sure the head is original? It's hard to find Rogeris with their original scroll. Do you have photos? Ciao!


June 3, 2009 at 03:37 AM ·

if you don't completely trust the luthier to do the repair, can you trust him opinion that it's really a Rogeri? 

June 3, 2009 at 04:15 AM ·

If I have a real Rogeri, I'd save up money and fly to visit world well-knowned maker/restorer. But before that, I'd ask more opinions from others to confirm if it's a real Rogeri anyway.

I believe messing with neck angle projection is something to be done by a really experienced hands, which might cause harm if done badly.

June 3, 2009 at 08:47 AM ·

Thank you guys for your tips. Yes  I was thinking to take the violin to have a second and even a third opinion. There are a couple more reputable violin makers here in Madrid.

Nevertheless, this violin maker (Juan Peñalver) is well known here in Spain. Furthermore, I have some good references about his work. My doughter's teacher took once a violin which had fallen and nearly was destroyed and his repair was excellent.

The violin is now in the hands of this luthier to have new pegs fitted, as the actual ones are awfully fitted, and are different between them (clearly the work of an amateur: probably my granduncle Carlo). He is also examining the instrument more deeply to make sure if it is an authentic Rogeri. Once I have "The Granpa" as I call him in my hands I will take him to Fernando Solar, Yuri Pochekin and Agustin Clemente to hear their thoughts.

Personally I am very eskeptic, probably the violin is only an old copy. A couple of years ago a violinist of the Spanish National Orchestra said the violinis probably German, not Italian. I have no idea to tell between a German and an Italian violin.

I don't want to be overoptimistic, but having even a small chance to "discover" a worthy oldie is very exciting, isn't it?

Luis, I have some pics. If you like I can send them over to you. A question: rising the fingerboard will "boost" the violin's volume?



June 3, 2009 at 12:15 PM ·

Shop around… get opinions… can’t tell you what it is without photos… and even then, perhaps not.

The problem with a low fingerboard angle is that the bridge must be cut low as well. The shorter bridge height reduces the distance between the violin strings and the top, which means that there is less downward force on the bridge, less ‘clean/strong’ contact between the critical components of the violins voice. The result: potentially muted sound, less transmission of sound throughout.  Someone please correct me if have made a mistake in relaying this idea. 

I wouldn’t expect a miracle, but some improvement!

June 3, 2009 at 12:51 PM ·

If the sound is basically satisfactory, and the low neck angle doesn't cause any playing problems such as the bow hitting the C bout when playing, I'd leave it as is for now, (maybe get the new soundpost and bridge), take good care of it, and wait to have anything major done until you can have it appraised by one of the major appraisers.

June 3, 2009 at 01:17 PM ·

David is quite right. Before you invest in significant repairs, you should know exactly what the violin is and what it is worth. There are only a few experts in the world who can accurately identify old violins. You should then get a certificate of authenticity, but this document can be costly and it will only be as good as the person who issued it. If it is a genuine Rogeri, the cost of the repair as you mentioned is relatively small. If Michael Darnton is following this thread, he will be able to advise you better because his company deals with many old instruments where questions of authenticity are critical. Congratulations on your good luck!

June 3, 2009 at 02:09 PM ·

I woud get another opinion on authenticity, first. If the violin is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, then $1200 isn't much. If the violin is worth $200, $1200 is too much to spend. I'm not aware of any violin shop in Spain that could authoritatively judge the authenticity of your violin--this is a very specialized field, and few violin makers are qualified.

As far as the work, I agree with David. I don't like to do work unless there's something very wrong. On something like this, it's difficult to predict if you would like the new version of your violin after some work. For instance, it the arching on it is very high, the low neck and bridge may have been intentional, to account for that. Again, another opinion or two may help, expecially from someone who customarily handles this type of violin, and knows how they behave. In general, I would not want to hand over expensive instrument for work to someone who does not normally work on expensive instruments.

June 3, 2009 at 02:24 PM ·

 Thank you all once again. I will try to post some pics I took some time ago.

I don't know if I am allowed to do that in this site.

June 3, 2009 at 03:43 PM ·

And..Michael: hundreds of thusands of dollars?  If that was true I would sell the violin right away and get one of yours!!

I did't want to talk about money, but Mr. Peñalver said that the violin in his actual state is worth about 6.000-7.000 euros. And that once the violin repaired price would rise up. He could not tell how much because he could not anticipate completely the results, but between two and four times that money.

Maybe he is trying to fool me in order to get the 1200 to have the violin repaired. It is not a question that  I trust this particular guy, I don't trust anyone in a field I am like a fish out of the pond.

June 3, 2009 at 04:03 PM ·

I'm, uhm,  skeptical that resetting the neck will increase the value of the violin two to four times, if the violin is valuable to begin with. The market value mostly depends on who made it and when, and how much it's been messed up over the years.

June 3, 2009 at 04:09 PM ·


If you luthier says the violin is worth only 6-7000 E, I don't see how it could be a real Rogeri. Even if it were in pieces, a real Rogeri would be worth more.

Don't hold your breath on it being a Rogeri. These scenarios of "old-Italian-in-the-closet" are one in a million.


June 3, 2009 at 07:44 PM ·

Good points by Michael Darnton and David Burgess as usual.

If you want to send me photos my email is:



June 3, 2009 at 07:23 PM ·

I would second on the photos. although the repair price is not outrages especially if it is really a Rogeri. I am a violin maker and have done restorations. And have studied with Micheal Darnton, any association with Micheal Darnton and his Darnton and Hersh firm would be a great source. Micheal worked for Bien and Fushi, with his photagraphy background. He has photograph a lot of the master instruments. I do not mean this in any way to under mind your luthier but it never hurts to get a second opinion.

June 3, 2009 at 07:56 PM ·

I am aware of the Fernando Solar (Gonzales) shop in Madrid, which I visited in 1990 - just to meet the maker of one of my violins. I believe the shop is still in business, athough it has passed to his children. I had heard they now specialize in bows, but the instruments that the old man made acquired a good reputation suring his lifetime.


June 3, 2009 at 09:03 PM ·

Thank you once again for your valuable advise. I'll be sending photos of the violin as soon as I find them (my hard disk is really a mess).

I am not trying to fool myself: I am aware that the chances it is an authentic Rogeri are one in a million. I am very conscient on this. I would be happy if it was Italian.

What I am going to do is first visit a couple of violin makers or more. If they agree the violin is , first of all, Italian, and secondly, a valuable one then I was thinking to take a trip to London to visit J&A Beare, I have read they are very reputable. London is only a couple of hours away from madrid. I can take a round trip in one day.

Again thank you for your inputs, I really appreciate them.

June 4, 2009 at 10:59 AM ·

Here are some pics. If any of you would like some others with higher resolution I'll be glad to send them over.

As you can see, the violin has suffered quite a bit. Something curious, at least for me, is that the top is of three pieces, as if the maker had run out of wood.

There are some words scratched in one side of the back: thay say "P.F.R. Fedele"












June 4, 2009 at 10:45 AM ·

I think I have messed up the whole thread layout. Sorry for that.

June 4, 2009 at 11:49 AM ·

definitely do not spend 1200 for the repair just yet. the scroll, the f holes, the varnish, the corners, the outline,,,  i highly doubt this violin is worth tens of thousands, let alone being a rogeri.  disclosure:  i am not a beloved luthier, so what do i know,,,

can someone link a verified rogeri photo please?

June 4, 2009 at 12:18 PM ·


June 4, 2009 at 12:19 PM ·

It's not a bad little violin, but as suggested, probably not Rogeri. 

June 4, 2009 at 01:25 PM ·

It's not a Rogeri, and I would not spend $1200 to get it fixed.

June 4, 2009 at 01:49 PM ·

 Thank you guys, I really appreciate your thoughts.

Ian, whats the difference between Pietro Giacomo Rogeri and a Giovanni Battista Rogeri.? Are they relatives? Are both from Brescia?

June 4, 2009 at 09:52 PM ·

The difference is that I found a Rogeri, but the wrong one.  :)  Sorry about that.  I do not know if they are relate.

June 8, 2009 at 07:55 AM ·

Dear friends,

I have no words to say how grateful I am for all your wise advise, both to the ones who responded here in this thread and to the ones (quite a few!) who did my private e-mails.
You have saved me 1.200, that is good. But most important is what I have seen here in this site, true collaboration spirit and good will to help. There are no borders here.

As for the violin,I picked it up from Peñalver's workshop on Saturday. He has done a stunning work with the new pegs. He has confirmed me that the violin is definetely not a Rogeri, but it is an italian violin from the first half ot the 18th century, unknown (for him) maker.

In the end I am happy to be sure this one is not an authentic Giovanni Battista Rogeri: I would not sleep very well with a valuable violin at home. The important thing is that this violin is sentimentally almost unvaluable, my family has played it with more or less fortune and grace during generations, and I am so happy to see that my 3 y.o. doughter is going to keep the tradition and the instrument alive.

Believe I was not one of those "I have discovered a treasure in mi grandmom's closet", but only I wanted to know if the instrument was worth a $1.200 repair.

Again, thank you and I wish my English was good enough to have expressed my feelings the right way.

June 10, 2009 at 06:54 AM ·

I say you did discover the true value of your violin.

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