Values of various violins

July 20, 2013 at 01:56 PM ·

Replies (53)

July 20, 2013 at 02:30 PM · Violins are tools of the trade and pieces of art. Moreover, some violins have a considerable investment potential that is often influenced solely on the maker (lineage), country of origin, condition and age. It often does not necessarily correlate with violin's sound. Sound is a subjective, psycho-acustic category, while the above are easier to identify and appraise.

Inconsistency is well known in violin maker's world; the better the maker is, the less of variability in quality of the instrument there is, but even the best makers have made a few average or mediocre instruments during their opus.

At the end of the day, a violin is "just" a commodity and its price is driven on perceived demand and offer. I say perceived, because once you enter the dealership (or the auction site), you have in fact entered an invisible stock exchange, where someone is pulling the strings and creating a psychological surrounding for you to make financial decisions. Those decisions are often driven by our fear, greed, and bunch of other feelings that are, by nature, irrational.

Dealers make money and we pay for their service; the only question is how brazen some of them are, and what is their margin of profit. On the other hand, they do have expenses and considerable knowledge and sometimes can save you a lots of time and travelling.

Lastly, the most expensive violin is one that is not being used. If your new violin is going to collect dust, you have wasted your money. But if you are going to use it a few hours a day, the price will soon become irrelevant.

[ p.s. I have no idea who invented the acronym VSO. If the "object" sounds like a violin - it is a violin! More appropriate would be VLO; violin looking object - it looks like a violin, but it does not sound good. ]

EDIT (2013/07/21): removed all references to Roth after re-reading the original post

July 20, 2013 at 02:41 PM · Traditionally there have been question marks about how durable the sound quality is in recently made violins, but I won't go into that here because people have already thought the unthinkable in another discussion.

July 20, 2013 at 02:56 PM · Id say you payed way too much for your Loveri, for what its worth, Mr Feller's Roth is still worth close to $10,000 after you buy it, your teachers Loveri immediately reverts back to $2000 after you buy it and you imply we shouldn't trust dealers, when it would seem you're much more likely to be ripped off by your teacher.

A Roth is a fairly consistent imvestment piece, Part of what you're paying for is the name, the label and stamp and the reputation for quality of the company, which is never to say you might not find a violin for $2000 that you like more, but paying $8000 for A $2000 violin because it sounds better than the Roth is a complete rip off and explains exactly why violins aren't always priced on tone.

July 20, 2013 at 03:15 PM · I should add, I've never heard of a Loveri instrument coming even close in quality of construction, to a pre war Roth.

July 20, 2013 at 05:00 PM · "Sound" is eventually and always subjective. There probably aren't many who prefer a "thin" sound, but within the tone range from very dark to very light/treble you will find someone who just loves each gradation. Think bell curve.

July 20, 2013 at 05:13 PM · Dear Lyndon,

No I don't believe I'm being ripped off by my teacher. I have known him for almost fifteen years and we are extremely close. Part of the reason you think he's ripping me off is because he's from China and doesn't know much about supposed "reputability" of violins. He judges solely based on sound.

As for the Roth, I believe it was either 1923 or 1922. My memory is a bit hazy. You say I got ripped off, but the quality and sound of the Loveri instrument was just superior by too much. You think I don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to quality, but I'm serious. The Loveri violin is on par sound-wise with violins several times its price. Wouldn't it seem silly to pay more for an instrument whose sound is far far worse than another less reputable instrument? Ultimately my purpose in purchasing an instrument is to enjoy the sound and ease of playing, not to admire the nice label inside the f hole.

Edit: In case you're interested here are two pics of current my violin. Sorry I'm bad at taking pictures.,AvvOlkA#0,AvvOlkA#1

July 20, 2013 at 05:16 PM · Dear Rocky,

You may have misread my post. I didn't buy the Roth, I ended up buying my teacher's "worthless" instrument.

July 20, 2013 at 05:56 PM · Violins are not priced solely on sound but more on the quality and reputation of the maker, Loveri, a trade name for markneukirchen/schoenbach production violins are not valuable no matter how good you think they sound, anyone in the violin business will tell you you got ripped off, and how this can have anything to do with your teacher being Chinese, since you only just mentioned it, is entirely beyond me.

July 20, 2013 at 06:20 PM · Its related because you said my teacher is trying to rip me off. I refute that statement by saying he doesn't know much about the reputability and history of instruments since he is from China. He picks solely based on condition and sound. This is why he picked the Loveri violin, not because he wants to sell me a bad violin for a lot of money. I guess the consensus is that I got ripped off. Darn.

July 20, 2013 at 06:23 PM · one word for you: marketing.

congrats on your new violin. if you didn't buy it for resale purposes, then you need not worry. of course, you'd like to tell everyone what a trade mark your violin is, but you bought it to play it, not to show off. i agree that the true qualities of a violin are neglected when considering the price.

July 20, 2013 at 06:59 PM · really though... if the instrument is that good, and you sound far better, and can project a rich, spectacular tone for many years-- then it would not have been such an unwise decision after all.

I have found violins worth far less, that play far better than anyone would ever imagine. The luck of the draw for most of the low to mid priced fiddles out there. Keep in mind it may largely be the setup and string selection for that instrument that makes it.

July 20, 2013 at 07:30 PM · Joe, I am a little confused - you said it was his violin, but then it sounded like he picked the violin for you from somewhere...

If he was the previous owner of the violin, I would have a hard time believing that he did not know the value of the violin. What if this were a $16,000 violin, do you think he would have sold it to you for $8,000?

July 20, 2013 at 07:48 PM · Sorry if my post wasn't clear. My teacher did not own the violin, he got it from his friend, a violin dealer, to let me try out and possibly purchase.

July 20, 2013 at 09:00 PM · How long ago? If its a reputable dealer and a large purchase you have a right to return it if you so choose.

If they won't agree to take it back then you KNOW you got ripped off - maybe not by your teacher but by his dealer...

That's a lot of money to loose...

July 20, 2013 at 09:23 PM · You could see your purchase as reasonable by distinguishing between two groups of buyers. For the majority, the market price is $2000. For the small subset who listen to the tone, it's $8000 or more. This means that if you want to sell it for 8K you'll have to wait a few years for the right buyer.

Doubtless many here have read the articles on the Fritz Reuter website (which seems to have disappeared) about the widespread teacher-dealer commission conspiracy. Also interesting is this article about Machold . Some of the comments about fake violins made in China are interesting. Personally I would ask to return the violin. If these guys are good friends then they will do it, no big deal. If you're not absolutely certain about the sound, it might rankle with you for years...

July 20, 2013 at 09:28 PM · Original Post:

"Was I ripped off because I paid $8,000 for an instrument worth only $2,000? "

Obvious answer is Yes! Anytime you pay more than something is worth, then you've overpaid. Supply and demand affect the value of an instrument. Just because one violin may not sound as good to you, it's still worth more because there's a demand for it at that price based on other factors. The ultimate value is the resale value- and if you bought something for $8K that you can only resell for $2K, you've been taken for $6,000- or one great bow, or 2 really good bows, or tons of other stuff. Did your teacher get a commission/kickback on the sale? Very common practice, although many (most?) consider undisclosed payments unethical.

There's a player's market for violins that sound good but aren't collectible for some reason, and prices are generally much lower in this category since collectors don't run them up. Players should NOT overpay in this market, because the resale is limited to other players.

July 20, 2013 at 09:41 PM ·

July 20, 2013 at 10:05 PM · Unless you are planning to resell your instrument, then the only thing that should matter to you is whether you are going to get $8000 worth of enjoyment out of it. The only other person who need to know the market value of your violin is your insurance agent.

July 20, 2013 at 10:18 PM · Rocky,

VSO has meant violin SHAPED object for a very long time.

A few years ago a dealer mentioned in a talk that up to $5000, sound is the determining factor. Above that price, name, etc., take over. Of course, the break point varies with locality and even among dealers. At any rate, any reputable dealer should have known that your fiddle was vastly overpriced. That said, if you are happy with it at that price and haven't found anything as good for less, don't worry about it.

July 20, 2013 at 10:54 PM ·

July 20, 2013 at 11:02 PM · Another factor not mentioned so far is how an instrument sounds at a distance. An instrument that sounds lovely to the person playing it may sound a bit thin at audience distance. This can apply also of course to the way an instrument is played. I was told that if you were too close to Pablo Casals all you heard was scratch. An exaggeration of course, but you know what I mean.

July 20, 2013 at 11:40 PM · I agree with Joe-- There is something inherently wrong when a musician walks into a violin shop seeking the best possible tone, and walks out with merely a nice looking investment.

July 21, 2013 at 12:35 AM · If you intend that this is your permanent instrument partner then its surely no problem - its just if you want to trade it in at some point (or sell it for some reason).

One thought: how do you insure an instrument for $8,000(what you paid for it) if every dealer says its only worth $2000? Maybe they would go with the sales receipt.

July 21, 2013 at 02:46 AM · Yeah, do what them said. Return the good sounding but overpriced violin and buy the lesser sounding but money-worthy Roth (or whatever). Improve yourself as a violin student or perform as a musician on that lesser sounding violin, and then make a capital gain when you eventually sell it. Not bad for the career path of a financial investor, no I meant, musician.

Seriously, if you are going to hold on to the violin for a long time, you may factor the benefit of playing on a better sounding violin into the decision. If you plan to upgrade it again soon, the discounted sum of the benefit from the better sound may not worth the extra price you pay for it.

Also, if the violin shop has a reasonable trade-in policy, I don't see why you have to worry. --Henry

July 21, 2013 at 02:57 AM · Just a guess but I'm going to venture a dealer selling a $2000 violin for $8,000 won't have a trade in policy, or will have a Stardivari made in germany for $12,000 for trade in!!!

July 21, 2013 at 04:36 AM · This comes down to objective value of an object, versus the personal value of that object to you.

The objective value of the instrument that you have is $2k. You might well have trouble getting it insured for more than $2k. (Your homeowner's insurance policy might take the receipt value on faith, I suppose.)

You, personally, like this instrument a lot. You were willing to shell out $8k for it. If the dealer disclosed to you that it was only worth $2k objectively, but he asserted he wanted $8k anyway, then I don't think you were ripped off; you decided that you were willing to pay 4x the objective value for the violin. If the dealer didn't disclose its true value, though, you got ripped off, as you were not making a decision with full knowledge of what you were doing.

As long as you have no expectations of reselling the instrument or trading it in at a later date, the only question you have to ask is whether or not you're getting $8k of pleasure out of it. You're essentially tacking on $6k of extra subjective value. It's kind of like overpaying for a house. You can loooove a particular house and be willing to overpay hugely for it, but the market's got an objective appraisal value for it based on the comparables; as long as you're not dependent on the external value (say, for getting a mortgage or getting home insurance), you can overpay as much as you like. Doesn't make it a smart decision necessarily, but hey, it's your money.

Every violinist on the planet who's tried a reasonable number of instruments can tell you about the crap he's played that's worth $Zillion. The fact that this $2k violin is better than more expensive instruments you've tried doesn't mean that it's broadly competitive against other $8k instruments, or even a broader selection of more expensive instruments. It just means that the stuff you tried that happened to be in the shop wasn't particularly good (at least to you).

July 21, 2013 at 04:59 AM · Joe,

You can look at your situation in different point of view, but in the end, a value of a violin is all down to the buyer to judge!

If you look from the point of market value, yes, you're being ripped off. However, as you said it, it sound on par with $30k violins you tried, then it's a heck of a deal you got there.

I'd say, if you think your violin is worth the price you paid, where you can't get any better sound without spending significant more, then it's a good buy. In the end, the true value is how you progress as a musician - having a better instrument will make you a better musician, priceless! What's the point of buying a Roth when you know it's not going to gain anything while spending so much money? Unless you're a collector with extra money to spend.

By the way, if your teacher got it from "other dealer", without your present, then I'd say your teacher might involve in the hugely marked up price, or not. You can probably fully trust the words from your teacher only if you did shop together with your teacher cause right at the shop, there's most likely no room for "business" for the teacher, everything is priced and the dealer will tell you the price of each violins, not your teacher.

On the other hand, if you ever shopped at fruit store that sells "hand picked" fruits, you'll realize that same grade of fruits sold more expensive in the store than others, but you rarely pick up bad pieces out of the bunch, compared to what you'll get at regular supermarket where they sell cheaper, but you'll have to hand pick the fruits yourself (this is true in where I lived, not sure about other countries). Likewise, your teacher did select what he thought was the best option, so in a way your teacher might deserve more than just the 5% commission - it's a matter of fact that he saved you from spending extra money up to $22k.

Still, instruments are no fruits, I'm not going to add anything as it's already covered by other members above. If you think you don't like your current situation, return the violin.

July 21, 2013 at 05:12 AM ·

July 21, 2013 at 07:22 AM · I haven't made any personal attacks on you, however much you might like me to, your crude attacks on my meager ebay listings(only 10% of what I have for sale) on the other hand are quite personal in that they are not logical; YOU'VE NEVER HEARD THE VIOLINS!!!yet you're attacking my almost 200 year old hand made (not markneukirchen production)violins on ebay because they have cracks?? How do you know the makers are not reputable? And I'd hardly call $1500 expensive. Funny that one the one hand you claim violins should be priced on tone, but when listed on ebay you change your story to violins should be priced on how they look to you, unheard!!

You need to talk to some experts about pricing because violins are NOT priced principally on tone, If you want to start a new movement selling Stradivaris for $30,000 and David Burgesses for $3 million go ahead, good luck.

Violins are priced on a lot of factors, condition, provenance, quality of construction, age, area of origin, and perhaps very importantly the maker. Pure and simple if you don't buy into this, look for very affordable, unlabeled, not very old, crudely made violins that sound great, kinda like Loveris, they don't cost that much.

PS its not circular reasoning, violins just aren't priced on tone, sorry to dissapoint you!!

July 21, 2013 at 08:11 AM · Joe,

You have to separate the violin as a tool for performing, and as an investment. the two ideas are very far apart.

if you like the violin more than 40 others as you said, keep it. don't worry about the money, because it seems this is a very rare find. you said you'll keep it for 10-20 years? by then it'll either be worth around what you originally paid for (before adjusting for inflation unfortunately) or world economy will collapse and you can buy Mr. Burgess's lovely instruments for $100. And a Stradivari for $101 :)

You state:

A. Your teacher has your best interests

B. This is not at all an investment fueled purchase, as you are a performer and are only interested in good sound and usage.

So why are you worried about being ripped off? If you are really worried, then one of A or B is not true...that's how it looks to me.

What does your teacher say when you tell him you found out this violin is worth only $2k on the market? if i was him, i would get to the bottom of why my student who i have a good relationship for over 10 years so grossly overpaid for a violin, no matter how good it sounds.

hope everything works out for you! if you consider yourself experienced with judging a violins sound and playability, or you have friends that have this experience - and all signs point to this violin sounding like "30k" then by all means, celebrate, and forget the whole situation, because you are one lucky guy.

July 21, 2013 at 08:23 AM · Heres a mint Loveri, Tonk brothers just like yours going for $595 on ebay;;

link to Loveri violin

July 21, 2013 at 08:49 AM · You know it's amazing, but some of these factory built violins can be really great. They don't usually do any advanced measurements or acoustical analysis for forming their instruments. But once in a while, things align and they plates are calibrated well just by dumb luck. If you try 4-500 violins in some large factory, a few of them will sound like they were hand made by a skilled maker.

July 21, 2013 at 10:46 AM · Hi Joe,

It is odd, but sound really does not factor into the price of an instrument. You can line up 10 instruments from the same maker, some might sound great and others might sound awful, but assuming they are in the same condition, they will all have the same price tag.

If you are happy with your purchase, then good for you -- time to move on and enjoy your purchase. But, at the same time, I don't think you would have started this thread if there wasn't a little buyers remorse going on.

I think the mistake you made was putting too much trust in your teacher and not getting a third party appraisal on the instrument before you bought it. If you had it appraised 6 months ago BEFORE you bought it, then you would have been in a better position to negotiate a better price. But now that you have purchased the instrument and some time has gone by, you don't really have a leg to stand on.

You seem like a very nice guy and I would guess that you are afraid to offend your teacher of so many years. But at the same time, you have to look out for yourself in this dog eat dog world. When there is money at stake, you cannot go on blind trust. There is nothing wrong with asking tough questions.

Look on the bright side. Maybe you got taken on this transaction, but in the grand scheme of things, a few thousand dollars is not going to make a huge difference in your lifetime. Perhaps this lesson will save you a lot more money down the road. When you become famous and spend a lot more money on your next violin, I'm sure you won't make the same mistake.

July 21, 2013 at 12:30 PM · Joe, it sounds like you want people to tell you, "You got a great deal. Violins ought to be priced on tone, and you were totally justified in paying what you did."

But that's not in fact the case. Lyndon's just telling you like it is. Violins are valued based on very specific things. Tone, sadly, isn't one of them. Given two instruments at a particular price, the one with great sound is going to be easier to sell than the one that doesn't have great sound, of course -- you'll find instruments with high values but poor sound will linger in shops on consignment for years and years. Sound and playing characteristics are subjective evaluations, so instruments aren't priced based on them. They're priced like antiques.

There's an issue of business fairness involved here. If the dealer-collector you bought this instrument from knew the true value was $2k, and he'd bought it for that kind of price, what was justification on the part of him and your teacher for marking it up FOUR TIMES over its fair market value? What you *should* have gotten was a marvelous, $2k deal. It sounds like you're justifiably having $6k of worry that you might have been cheated.

I suspect that part of what is making you uneasy is the lack of disclosure. You trusted your teacher and his friend to ensure that you got a fairly-priced violin. Instead, they seem to have taken you for what you could afford, without telling you that you were overpaying. Your question is not, "How could I have paid more for an instrument with inferior sound?" but rather, "Why did I not pay fair market value of $2K for this instrument whose sound I love?" or perhaps, "Why was I misled to believe that the fair market value of this instrument was $8K?"

As someone has already said, $6K will get you a very nice bow or two.

July 21, 2013 at 01:34 PM ·

July 21, 2013 at 02:22 PM · A $2,000 violin (retail) with an $8,000 sound. The since of wellbeing and satisfaction after hours of etudes and pieces, a violin that sounds and feels so good it drives you on! You wish you could muster a little more in you to play a little more. I cannot help but think that if you had bought one of the other violins and knew what you know now after your purchase you would have the $2k-$8k violin on your mind and saying to yourself, "I made the best monetary decision, but dang... I really wish I had went ahead and bought the $2k-$8k even if it did cost me $8k." Reading what you said about the other violins and the one you have now believe me, it is worth the $8,000 if not more!

And as far as other peoples opinions the only opinion regarding this violin you bought is yours and many have said here that their violin/viola is like an extension of them a limb like an arm or leg, however listen to the advice on making a good financial decision in the future. The glass half empty has been addressed but the glass half full is just as valid.


July 21, 2013 at 02:25 PM · Nicely put Royce!

I missed out the bit where Joe bought the instrument for a period of time so returning the violin isn't possible now.

Again, in the end, if it worth the money to YOU that's the most important!

July 21, 2013 at 02:59 PM · Thanks for the kind words. I am very pleased with the sound and still think it was a good purchase. But I'll definitely keep your advice in mind next time and look for an instrument with a good appraisal value if I ever want to build up a small collection or upgrade my instrument.

July 21, 2013 at 03:28 PM · Hi Joe, I also used to wonder why violins are not sold largely based on sound. There are several reasons for this, I have found as time and experience have shown in my search for a nice violin.

Violins are interesting beasts. Firstly because they are so complex to create and set up, and so difficult to play that one seemingly needs a degree in music,engineering and science to purchase one. A good violin, depending on how well or badly it has been set up with strings, bridge, soundpost placement etc, can sound either fine or poor. The same violin can sound either fine or poor depending on the skill of the player. The violin can also sound fine or poor depending on the skill of the buyer. If the buyer is a beginner, and takes along a good player to test a mediocre instrument, it can still sound heavenly to a beginner. A good violin that has not been played for a very long time may even sound poor. As you can see, there are plenty of variables to create the first set of confusions.

Secondly, there are some beautifully crafted instruments that will catch your eye, with price tags to match. Inlaid with precious and beautiful items, double purfling, pretty flame maple and glorious design features you would suppose that anyone taking the time to dress up an instrument in such a painstaking way would not waste their time on a poor sounding instrument. But alas, that is not always so. Sure, if the maker is a known craftsman of fine instruments, then your chances of finding an excellent violin increases a good deal, however it is still no guarantee in your quest for a fine sounding violin.

Thirdly, as mentioned by someone previously, there is the issue of investment. A violin made by a reputable maker will be more likely to sound good or even great, and should continue to retain its value even if it has not been tested. It's nothing more than a perceived value, but as with many worldly items, it is usually enough for even an experienced investor to hand over the cash without blinking. A violinist would at least test it, but that is not always necessary if you are intending to sell it at some point and you have purchased the genuine article. In this instance, sound could be irrelevant.

Fourthly, there is the issue of honesty. How can you tell if the violin being shown to you is a 'wondervarius'? Is there a way of knowing for sure of the provenance of the instrument? Are there others to compare it with? Just whose opinion are you trusting in order to spend your million? Has someone created a composite instrument out of old wrecks and presented it to you complete with a dodgy label?

I mentioned the last one, because sadly, it was true for me. In keeping a long post short, my very own teacher whom I've known for 4-5 years and had a great relationship with, went on a trip to the city (we live regionally) to scout for instruments for some students as was done from time to time as nothing of interest can be purchased locally, and most parents were clueless. On this trip, I received an excited phone call from my teacher to say a wonderful instrument was discovered which would really suit me and was 'only' $8500 dollars. My teacher went on to extol its virtues, describing the maker and the label, made in 1741, and said it sounded even better than some $25,000 instruments that were in the same shop. So it was brought back on commission for me to try for a week. To me, yes, it sounded beaut and was very easy to play with a sweet, clear sound. But it looked strange. The top was ok with no cracks, but it was a different colour to the sides and back, which were heavily varnished. The instrument did not look as though it had been through 272 years of wear and tear. The label, when googled, told me that it was not what my teacher was trying to tell me it was, and could not possibly have been made in 1741 by the name typed on the label. I also ran it by this forum, with some great advice from many. One of the other things that did not sit well with me was that I was informed by this teacher that I could not deal directly with the store, the price had already been firmly set and no discussion would be entered into by the store owner. This also meant I had no chance of 'trading up' at the store if I ever wanted to.

So, disappointed but diplomatic, I gave the instrument back, simply saying I was not interested, and my teacher returned it to the store. A few months later I went on a trip to the city and decided to seek out the store. I remembered roughly the name of the store as teacher had let it slip some time before when buying some 'wonderful' bows. I found it and went inside. Lo and behold, there were hundreds of instruments, mostly with very shiny thickly varnished backs and sides. I asked to test some of them in a given price range, so they brought around ten instruments to the table. As if by magic, there in the middle of them was the instrument I'd sent back. It still sounded nice and played very well, but the price attached was only $6000 dollars! I was more surprised by the amount of profit my teacher was trying to make out of me than the fact that here was the proof that I had been targeted for a decent hoodwink.

The actual store owner I found to be very honest who explained that this particular instrument and some of the others were indeed successful composites and was at pains to note that the labels did not necessarily mean much, they just came with the sections they were already attached to and may or may not have been genuine.

Anyway, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to try other instruments, so I played them all. In amongst them was a genuine Roth for 8000 and a Colin Mezin for 13,000. They were really lovely. This exercise also pointed out to me that whilst in the home environment comparing the returned violin only to my own other two, the sound really stood out, but when compared, amongst other instruments, with the genuine name brand violins in the store, it was obviously not of their quality. It's just another perspective we should bear in mind when purchasing violins.

I didn't buy anything that day, and will continue in my search but from now on Sherlock, Einstein, Mozart and Guarneri will be looking over my shoulder along with me when I really spot something I like. In the end, I am responsible for what I pay and why, and how I go about it, and nobody else can decide that for me. If I am not yet experienced enough to make an informed decision, my purse will remain shut until I am.

But my search did tell me why violins are not sold on sound alone. Too many other things just get in the way!

July 21, 2013 at 04:54 PM · Joe - this is interesting.

Have you had the violin assessed by an independent, reputable and knowledgeable dealer?

Take a look at this link:

Tonk Bros violin Labeled Loveri

I'm no expert at all but its just possible your violin is not really a Loveri but something better...


July 21, 2013 at 05:25 PM · I thought VSO mean violin shaped object, with no reference to sound. I have a $2000 violin and a $200 violin, there is a sound difference but I wouldn't say one worse than the other, just a preference. Blind test, I could see some novice liking the $200 violin instead. The $200 violin is my "beater" that I take to my elementary school to practice with, so in case I drop it or someone else knocks it over. Just my novice experience, but i tried about 40 different violin when selecting my violin and the price range.was far apart and some cheaper priced instruments sounded better than more expensive ones. I looked in $1000-10k range. The best actually was a $3000 violin, but it was not available for sale as it was reserved already.

July 21, 2013 at 06:15 PM · My advice is always the same. Buy from a seller with a good reputation, and or who will give you your money back or give you what you paid towards an upgraded instrument. Most of these dealers are members of the VSA Violin Society of America who agree to certain ethical standards in the antique musical instrument trade. You may pay a bit more, but in the long run, and especially in high cost instruments you will do much better in the long run.

July 21, 2013 at 07:07 PM · Hi Joe, your teacher may well have your best interests at heart, but if he buys any more violins from this 'violin dealer' friend of his (who is either clueless about violins or intentionally ripping people off!)he may find himself in trouble with his less trusting students in the future.

Do let him know that you love the violin he chose for you, and that you're glad you bought it, but that the market value is considerably less than amount you paid so he may want to be more careful of his 'friend' in future. This should avoid offending him, and also maybe give you some resolution to the unease you feel about the situation - as you would have gotten it off your chest with the one person you know who is directly related to the problem, even if innocently.

July 21, 2013 at 07:40 PM ·

July 21, 2013 at 07:41 PM · @Annabelle: I think you made the right decision, out of everything I've personally tried under $10,000, almost all the best violins were $3,000 and down. Not far above that range, though, you can find even better instruments - you can get a violin by the great Cremonese modern maker Vittorio Villa (often recommended on this message board by Raphael Klayman) for $12,500.

July 21, 2013 at 09:59 PM · Joe - I think you are being too hard on everyone, I've read the whole topic too and I've seen lots of comments to the effect that if you bought what you really wanted and you are comfortable with that then why worry?

From your comment I guess that's what you wanted everyone to say but unfortunately, you are on an open forum where you will get opinions from the knowledgeable and the less so stating their pointof view and really what they would do under the same circumstances. I guess what I am saying is 'don't shoot the messenger'.

Also, you obviously really trust and respect your teacher. On that basis I think we readers should accept that he is a decent person trying to put you right. But the way you described him does leave open the possibility that the dealer he is working with is far less scrupulous.

Did you ever meet the dealer? First, go and get your violin professionally valued by an impartial expert. Next meet the dealer and ask them in person: why did my violin, which I have had valued at $2,000 (assuming that is correct), cost $8000. That should at least give you the whole story (or if not, a better sense of where you stand).

Either that or just enjoy the violin and forget about bying it. Its like a house - its not an investment if you live in it, its a home. A home may have a particular cost - but it actually has infinite value....

July 22, 2013 at 12:42 AM · Millie, that is a frightful story but a salutary lesson nonetheless.

I don't recall but did you say somewhere before that you have ditched that teacher? If not, how has it affected the interaction between you?

July 22, 2013 at 01:48 AM · Well, Joe, the argument in favor of your purchase is, "You paid $8,000 for it and you love it." It's objectively worth $2,000-ish, it sounds like. So you've got $2k of "hard value" and what amounts to $6k of sentimental value. Everyone in this thread seems totally supportive of your right to spend your hard-earned money as you see fit. We're all just pointing out that you have a serious delta between what your purchase price *should* have been, and what you actually paid.

Claire and Elise have good advice. You should find out what the story on the purchase price is, and make sure that your teacher isn't overly gullible.

There are lots and lots of violins out in the world. The fact that you looked at a few dozen and didn't find any others you loved isn't indicative of the possibilities. You've ended up with a false dichotomy of "this instrument that I overpaid for" vs. "more expensive things that I didn't like". The best scenario is that you would've paid something close to fair market value for the violin -- or that you'd have found another $8k violin that was as good or better.

And when the time comes to go bow-shopping... get some second opinions on the price of what you're buying.

July 22, 2013 at 10:21 AM · "However, the v.... was probably two centimeters longer than a normal violin and had a very fat neck and slightly unusual proportions.

This violin was difficult to play due to its size and felt heavy and unbalanced in the hand.

color was quite dark - the instrument looked pretty unattractive.

I didn't get it."

You sure didn't get it!

That makes the perfect description of a VIOLA!!!

July 22, 2013 at 10:38 AM · Joe wrote:

"... It isn't so much that my teacher didn't disclose the value, it is more like he didn't know the value in the first place. When you pay that much for a violin, you kind of assume its value lies near what you paid for it. "

I didn't mean to imply that anyone intentionally overcharged you for the instrument. It is very possible that neither your teacher nor his friend knew the true value of the instrument. But when you plunk down thousands of dollars on something, don't you think you should do a little research before you make the purchase?

It is understandable that you might make a mistake like you did. After all, the violin sounds great and is a good bit cheaper than other violins you tried -- seems like a good deal. But when you assumed it was worth the sticker price, that was your mistake. Even without an appraisal, a quick search on the internet would have revealed the approximate value.

We all work hard for our money. When someone wants some of it, it is our responsibility to ensure that the money is being well spent. Sellers are going to charge whatever they can.

For example, I am going to sell my house next month. I consider myself generally an honest guy. But if someone is willing to pay me double what my house is worth, I sure am not going to say no. I'll sell it for whatever I can get. When you shop for a bow, remember the words "buyer beware."

July 22, 2013 at 10:56 AM · It seems like the mistaken idea that violins should be priced on tone, is largely what led you into this mess.

Also I should point out that the main reason violins are not priced on tone, is no two people can agree on exactly what constitutes good tone, everyones ears are different, thats why theres never a double blind test with one violin winning all the votes.

Im not a player, but when players come over and play my violins, which ones sound the best and worst depends on the player, different players make different violins sound best or better.

If you were to have a 100 people compare the tone of your Loveri to the Roth, I'm sure a sizable percent would pick the Roth, possibly even more than 50%, that's why you can't expect any dealer to price violins reliably on tone, when no one can agree which tone is the best, certainly for yourself you can agree on which you like best, personally, but you're making a big mistake to assume everyone else would agree with your assesments.

July 22, 2013 at 07:06 PM · Joe:

I see three possibilities to explain why your instrument sounds significantly better than others from Loveri:

1. Like a winning lottery ticket, by chance, all the right mass produced parts that resonate just right together happened to end up in your violin. Truly the one in a million.

2. This instrument parts were assembled by an excellent luthier in the German factory. This maker took the time to select the best plates from the stacks of plates then perfectly finish graduate the plates to properly match to the best of his ability. When finished, even though mass produced parts were used, the excellent instrument that you have was created. I would suggest that it could have been a demonstrator instrument for the distributors salesman to impress violin shop owners or at expositions. Bait and switch and you just happened to get the real bait . . . er violin.

3. At some time in the last 90 years, your violin was worked over by an excellent maker to emit the music that you enjoy. This would be considered a master shop violin. Look at the joint where the belly is glued to the ribs for rework. There are two possibilities, first and good is proper re-graduation where only the minimum of wood has been removed. You should not notice any difference in weight between your Loveri and other German trade fiddles. On the other-hand and not good, if the instrument feels light, it could be re-graduated by a hacker and too thin.

I think that you did your homework well before purchase and have a good feel for the sound that you want. Think then that you found the $30,000 sound for only $8,000. If the expensive violins were antiques, and if you choose one of them, over the years it might require $6000 more upkeep than your Loveri. High grade German trade fiddles from the twenties have a good reputation for quality of material and workmanship.

(Think of four basic grades for violins: 1, Beginners VSO, 2, High Grade trade fiddles for intermediates, 3, Master Shop which is a High Grade finished by a luthier and sells for triple the price. 4, Hand made violins using the finest materials are the top of the list. The divisions between the grades are grey areas and can overlap.)


July 22, 2013 at 08:20 PM · To those who say that violins are not priced on tone, because there is no objective test for tone, you are wrong. There is a reliable test for superior tone. When you tap on the violin, it should go, "Tonk, tonk."

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