Real or fake

February 17, 2017 at 10:51 PM ·

I inherited a violin from my 94 yr old grandfather. It was his father's before him. Inside it says Caspar da Salo in Brescin 1575. Not sure if its fake or real. Was just wondering if I should insure it. Has 2 cracks that I'd like to get repaired too.

Replies (26)

February 17, 2017 at 10:58 PM · I think it's a copy. Get it in playing shape (is it worth the money?) and see how it sounds.

February 17, 2017 at 10:59 PM · looks like a very cheap fake with what may be a soundpost crack, may not be worth the cost of repairs.

February 17, 2017 at 11:15 PM · It's junk. Hang it on the wall for a conversation piece.

February 18, 2017 at 12:23 AM · Thanks for your comments and putting it in a shadow box and mounting it on a wall was always my plan. Seeing as it was my great grandfather's it means more to me then whether or not it is real or fake!

February 18, 2017 at 03:20 AM · Most likely not the original, but why are we so dismissive?

G-grandpa played this violin and probably had some fun.... could still be a decent party fiddle.

It looks long and heavy from that angle.

How many mm is body size? Yes, it does have a SP crack, but is it glued or not? How does it sound?

if the crack is stable, get a decent bridge and a set of pure gut strings. Draw some sound if you dare.

February 18, 2017 at 03:55 AM · the black spray paint is coming off the end of the fingerboard, I would look for another play fiddle

February 18, 2017 at 04:27 AM · The chinresst looks like an "Original Stuber" made in Germany at least 50 years ago. They've been made in Asia for the last 30-40 years and NOT to the same specifications. To get one to the original dimensions these days you have to pay to have it hand made - over $100.

Is it possible the "wear" on the end of the fingerboard is rosin dust?

If yu are going to display it get rid of the metal tailpiece and fine tuners and replace with an original wooden (ebony) tailpiece. It will ooh better on the wall.

If you are not going to play it, don't spend the money for repair - unless you know a competent amateur who will charge you $10/hour. The top has to come off to fix those cracks and they have to be braced internally.

February 18, 2017 at 05:36 AM · I think that Stuber chinrest is made from old, exfoliating Bakelite, and not wood. I wouldn't use it.

February 18, 2017 at 06:00 AM · No proper appraisal can be done over the internet.

So, take it to a luthier; most will be happy to tell you their opinion, free of charge, on authenticity and whether they think it's worth investigating further and fixing it. Chances are of course it's a turn-of-the-century workshop copy, but shouldn't be dismissed because of a blurry photo.

February 18, 2017 at 11:38 AM · Since there are maybe 50 genuine ones, and half a million fakes, I don't think you need an expert to tell you its a copy.

February 18, 2017 at 12:59 PM · The "wear" at the end of the fingerboard is indeed rosin dust. I get it every time I play, but I am careful to clean it off after every session, together with the rosin dust that settles between the bridge and fingerboard.

Cracks, or splits, in the top table aren't uncommon in older violins (100+ years old), and must always be repaired. It's not an inherently difficult task but needs a luthier's skills.

Important rule: Never clean a violin with anything other than a dry cloth. If a liquid or waxy cleaning or polishing agent gets into a crack or split it's going to make it ten times more difficult to glue the repair. Cleaning up an old violin that obviously hasn't been looked at for years is a job that is best left to the skills of a luthier or other qualified repairer.

February 18, 2017 at 02:28 PM · Fake or not, inexpensive or not, it's still an antique violin with a family history. If nothing else it is worth preserving as such.

Take it to someone qualified who can look at it and give you an idea of value as is, repairs needed, cost of repairs, and value if repaired. THEN you can decide how you want to proceed.

Comments such as "it's junk" - based on an internet evaluation by someone who hasn't seen more than the photo you provided isn't enough to base a decision on.

I wish I had some tangible souvenirs from my family - unfortunately they lost everything during WW2. They were lucky to get out with their lives...

February 18, 2017 at 04:01 PM · You can have fond memories of your grandfather and great grandfather without hoarding stuff and taking it with you everywhere you move (unless, of course, you inherit the Van Gogh). In the end all the stuff you accumulate holds you back.

If you really want to get it repaired well, you're looking at upwards of $1,000 (easily more than $2,000 if you live in New York or London), and then the resulting market value of the restored violin would be about half that. A school wouldn't take it as a donation as they can purchase a violin in much better shape for less than the money it costs to get this one to playable condition. If your brother got the antique model train set and you got this, I would feel cheated.

February 18, 2017 at 04:13 PM · I chuckled when I read Andrew's post. I actually think it would be great if the chin rest turned out to be more valuable than the rest of the violin.

And Trevor, if you get rosin on your fingerboard then you're using too much rosin. Remember, you're only supposed to rosin your bow once every seven or eight years or so...

February 18, 2017 at 11:24 PM · How does preserving one violin automatically equate to hoarding?

February 19, 2017 at 12:29 AM · Mohr, hard to say. If one has one or more month-old "number twos" sitting around, they might be a candidate. ;-)

February 19, 2017 at 01:40 AM · I'm glad someone else pointed out the offensive"it's junk comment". I registered on this website cause I'm from a small town in Ontario and I'm not even sure if I can find anyone locally to repair it and just wasn't sure where to go to find out anything about it. The violin probably hasnt been played in about 10 yrs, just sitting in the case. Looks to be about 23 1/2 inches from top to bottom

February 19, 2017 at 02:19 AM · Has value as a decoration, but not much beyond that.

February 19, 2017 at 09:44 AM · Here are some suggestions in Toronto:

February 19, 2017 at 10:37 AM · Its not really junk, it might be a decent student violin after being repaired, its just that the value of the violin after being repaired might be less than the cost of the repairs. With the sentimental value it may still be worth fixing for you.

This is the kind of violin that might have sold in the Sears catalogue for around $20 in 1900, now as you know if you look through the 1900 Sears catalogue $20 is quite a bit of money, it might buy you a cheap sofa, or a dresser.

February 19, 2017 at 12:32 PM · At my shop, if it doesn't need a soundpost patch, you're looking at around $250 for the cracks and another roughly $200 for general set up, soundpost, bridge, level fingerboard, polish varnish, lubricate pegs, European strings(Tonica or Dominant).

The visible crack 1/4" to the right of the bridge would not classify as a soundpost crack but the other crack, which is right in line with the outside foot of the bridge would classify as a soundpost crack if it extends all the way up to the bridge, which I cannot tell from the picture.

February 19, 2017 at 07:47 PM · Paul, I get the rosin on the finger board when I start re-rosining after a few years. It stops depositing after a few weeks.

February 19, 2017 at 08:08 PM · I think old instruments like these are most amazing and charming. It doesnt mattet what is in the label.

If i were you, i would repair it and play it (maybe changing the case for sth more sturdy, though)

February 19, 2017 at 08:08 PM · I think old instruments like these are most amazing and charming. It doesnt mattet what is in the label.

If i were you, i would repair it and play it (maybe changing the case for sth more sturdy, though)

February 19, 2017 at 08:21 PM · Laura,

The first question I have to ask is: Do you play a violin?

Like others have said, family instruments can be interesting and sometimes surprisingly good playing instruments. I play one of those myself. I probably put more into restoring it than it would have cost me to purchase another instrument but the act of bringing a family instrument back to working condition and playing it has its own rewards.

Your suggestion of putting it in a shadow-box is a nice way to honor the family but that was the reason for my initial question - musicians want to play their instruments, not hang them on the wall as display art.

If you don't play you might want to consider fixing up the instrument and learning how to play. Or, if you do play, it could be a good backup instrument or one you donate to a student who can use a violin.

February 19, 2017 at 09:16 PM · Laura, how far are you from Toronto?

I would be happy to introduce you to my luthier here in the city.

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