How to sell an upscale cello????

November 22, 2014 at 11:40 PM · The Cello is an AC1

Level 1 Artisan Crafted Cello

MSRP- $9999 .00

Purchased for 6,500.00

Replies (25)

November 23, 2014 at 12:17 AM · If you don't have enough musician contacts to sell it privately, you could look into selling it on consignment at a dealer.

November 23, 2014 at 12:49 AM · Maybe it's a clue from the Universe for your husband to take up the cello!

November 23, 2014 at 02:47 PM · ...and for you to take up viola?

First step is to find out the market value of the instrument. This could be done by an esteemed appraiser. Some appraisers will charge you a flat fee, others % of the appraised value. What matters is a written appraisal. Verbal appraisals sometimes have a hidden agenda - do not ask for an appraisal from a potential buyer (dealer or musician).

Once you know how much this cello can fetch on the market, you could try to sell it yourself or, as mentioned, let a professional do that for you. Both approaches have pros and cons.

p.s. I love your expression "upscale" cello.

November 23, 2014 at 03:03 PM · I'd go for a flat fee appraisal. For some reason the idea of a %-of-value appraisal doesn't appeal to me - can't think why.

November 23, 2014 at 03:56 PM · I'm really curious what an "upscale" cello is. I would expect that any genuinely higher-end cello wouldn't simply be raffled away, so to speak. So I'm guessing that this might be a modest student instrument? Even an inexpensive student cello will often cost upwards of $2K, though.

November 23, 2014 at 05:11 PM · "upscale" cello would generally mean 5 figures, but I think we all assume this is not the case and, as Lydia says, probably a couple of thousand. You're lucky to live in a big city, so here are some possibilities before turning over to a dealer for consignment. I would post advertisements with:

-the local youth symphony

-local colleges/universities and their cello teachers

-local private cello teachers

-local high school known for string programs

-bulletin boards in upscale church/synogogue neighborhoods.

It depends on how badly you want to save the %30 commission from a dealer and how long you want to wait. Selling string instruments is similar to disposing of sailboats and horses (just double the time to do it...).

Also, if you have the finances to attend a fundraiser and purchase a musical instrument, maybe you could consider donating the instrument to a deserving young cellist, local high school, or college music department?

November 23, 2014 at 05:47 PM · I suspect "upscale" in this case means a modest to slightly better student instrument, in the <5K range.

You could sell it but it's a pain, and you'd be competing directly with whatever dealer donated it to the raffle in the first place, which is bad form. I would suggest donating it to a university, public string program, String Project, or youth orchestra. Get a receipt listing the value of the cello (probably the retail price from whatever dealer donated it, or what the individual donor paid), and write it off your taxes.

November 23, 2014 at 06:59 PM · Stacy, maybe this is a naive or simplistic question: what does your husband want to do with the cello?

December 20, 2014 at 04:44 AM · I thank you all for the responses! I will contact the resources mentioned above. He would like to sell it. However, donating is not out of the question at all. Ultimately it was an impulse purchase. He was moved by the piece of music that was being played on it during the auction. I am attempting to save the poor cello from a life of collecting dust in his office.

The Cello is an AC1

Level 1 Artisan Crafted Cello

MSRP- $9999 .00

December 20, 2014 at 12:39 PM · Shops absolutely DO NOT make "1000% profit" on violins. That would be too absurd to even address except that there are people reading this.

Please, don't listen to Philip.

December 20, 2014 at 02:57 PM · Maybe not a s general rule but Chinese violins can be inported for £400 in the UK and with some tarting up sold for in excess of £2,000 which is a 400-500% markup.

December 20, 2014 at 04:55 PM · If you decide to donate it, I can't think of a better program than Young Strings which is sponsored by the Dallas Symphony.The program supports string music education for minority students, who would otherwise not be able to afford lessons. I currently have 2 students at Baylor who graduated from the program and will be getting degrees in string music education.

Young Strings lessons and instructions are free. Participants also receive mentoring, performance opportunities, chamber music instruction, concert tickets and support for summer studies at prestigious camps and institutions. An instrument loan bank provides students with quality instruments if they cannot afford them. For more information, email Carolyn Jabr at, call 214-871-4083 or visit

December 20, 2014 at 06:17 PM · While it may sometimes be possible to extract large markups on factory Chinese violins, a GOOD setup might involve new pegs, new strings, new bridge, new soundpost, planing the fingerboard, adjusting the upper nut, some sound adjustment, etc. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Even the high-quality German factory instruments I used to work on would need most of these things, so these need to be factored into the true cost for the dealer.

Sure, there are probably some dealers who do next-to-nothing.

December 20, 2014 at 06:43 PM · MARKUP DOES NOT EQUAL PROFIT!!!!!!!!! Somebody seems inclined in nearly every post here to preach about how evil markup is. I'm guessing they've never ran a business that sells ~20 instruments per month. Mark those up only $50 and try to make a living. Apparently staff wages, business rent/mortgage, inventory tax, business license, import fees, bathroom supplies etc don't exist.

How much money does it take to pay all those expenses and still put food on the owner's table? I suggest anybody preaching about the overpricing of instruments brush up on their math skills. Yes, there are some overpriced shops, but I'd wager that there are many more that find it a struggle to stay in business.

December 20, 2014 at 07:02 PM · Points taken, and they are probably valid.

However, I know people that get a £400 violin and repace the pegs, soundpost, bridge and tailpiece and strings - about £300 worth of work, and sell for £2,000 plus - so there is £1,200 profit. That's 250% - 300%

OK, if a bussiness they will have other costs, but some just work from home.

I'm only saying this because even at £2,000 plus these can be decent instruments. Comparable to £6,000 new instruments. I've played on a few new makers fiddles in the UK that were priced at £8,000 + and thought them pretty poor from a sound point. I wouldn't touch them at that price (even a quarter of that price!)

But although we have one or two great makers in the UK, the rest are not worth a lot!

December 20, 2014 at 11:19 PM · I'm acquainted with Sarah a little bit, and am inclined to say that she isn't hurtin' for brain power.

She may not always deliver her opinions with a capitulative curtsy, but neither do you. ;-)

Edit: Sorry, the post I was responding to has been removed.

December 21, 2014 at 01:00 AM · Why the knee-jerk mudslinging?

A million dollar Strad was also once carved from a few dollar's worth of wood as well, so what's your point? Even in China, there is s fair bit of work that has to go into making a decent instrument. If the shop is successfully selling them for $9,999, let's assume that they sound rather nice, otherwise they wouldn't be selling them for that much.

The original poster is asking for the best venue for selling it, not the pros and cons of import trade economics.

December 21, 2014 at 01:41 AM · Depending on your tax bracket, using that $9.999 MSRP (if you can document it) ss s baseline (and knowing what the market "used" new instruments is like, you may fare best donating it to an appropriate organization and taking the federal and state tax deductions for the MSRP.


December 21, 2014 at 12:07 PM · Sellers can only set prices the market can bear. If you know where to look, you can always buy a cheap decent Chinese instrument and fit your own pegs, bridge, sound post and reshape the nut and fingerboard. Takes about 10 hours of work for a violin if you know what you are doing. And if you are good at this sort of thing, you can set up your own business and start undercutting all the businesses that have "absurd" markups.

December 22, 2014 at 06:23 AM · Contrary to popular opinion, shops do make 1000% profits occasionally when they buy something cheap enough, fix it up, and sell it at a fair price. For instance I just bought a beautiful czech violin for 70$ at a pawn shop put $80 in materials and a few hours labour and sold it wholesale to a dealer for $750, if I had not been hard up for cash it would have eventually sold for $1500-2000 in my shop, but at the more expensive dealers shop it might go for around $3000. This is what Philip is calling a $1000% markup, but actually when I figure in parts and labour, its only about a $350% markup,600% markup if I could sell it retail in my shop.

On the other hand I bought another violin on ebay, a Hopf, for $350, put about $60 in parts, $250 in labour, and because I needed money wholesaled it for $500, a loss, basically, if I sold it myself retail I might make $800, but I could easily wait two years or even more for the sale, you do the math on that one.

A business is run averaging all the profits and losses together, and that one violin you made 1000% profit on might be the only profit out of multiple sales, A healthy business is set up to make a 100% profit, or double your investment, and your labour is basically free, so next time you accuse violin shops of ripping you off make sure you get your facts straight.

December 22, 2014 at 08:20 AM · Also, what some people are calling an outrageous markup is actually a fair price for the dealer or luthier's knowledge and skill. It takes knowledge and experience to discern which pawnshop or eBay violin is worth fixing and which is really junk.

December 22, 2014 at 08:25 AM · Also I forgot to mention, out of your shop "profit" you have to pay all your shop expenses, tools supplies, rent, insurance, utilities etc....

December 22, 2014 at 03:17 PM · 1. It's Skreko. Shrek is a giant green ogre! :)

2. My math says 1000% profit and 200% profit are very different.

3. I apologize for letting my frustration get the best of me, but the perception that most violin shops are swindlers is misinformed. Yes, there are some shady dealers out there, and yes, it is technically possible to make 1000% profit on a single instrument, but it's rare for the many reasons others described.

4. A cello absolutely is merchandise. I don't understand this attitude that because music is enjoyable, no one should ever profit from the skill, talent, hard work and years of experience that it takes to create either the music itself or the instruments. An iPod is enjoyable and recreational, but it's still merchandise and people profit from creating or selling it. Same for any other number of items that people are willing to pay a fair price for.

December 22, 2014 at 11:34 PM · Another point is 1000% "profit" is not profit at all, its called gross income, profit is what's left after you take all your business expenses, acquisitions, losses on other instruments out of your gross income.

December 22, 2014 at 11:35 PM · duplicate

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