Customs around shopping for old violins...

March 4, 2005 at 06:39 AM · Please forgive this question if it seems naive, but I am an adult student, who has only been practicing for 6 weeks or so.

Are there some standards procedures/protocal for shopping for violins particularly older ones. I've notice there are violins of all ranges from $500 to $30,000 at the local Violin shop. With many in the $2,000 to $8,000 range.

The other day I noticed some one purchase a violin and the merchant automatically took %6 off with out prompting.

Is haggling a general or accpeted practice in Violin Shopping? If so what's the general range of deviation from list price?



Replies (13)

March 4, 2005 at 06:46 AM · I always haggle for bigger purchases at locally owned stores.

March 4, 2005 at 01:04 PM · When you haggle, what do are usually able to win in terms of a discount? 5%? 10%? 20%?

For example if a violin is offered at $6,000, might I expect to pay $6,000? $5,800? $5,500 or even $5,000?

Thanks is advance for your time and thoughts.


March 4, 2005 at 01:53 PM · There is only one kind of violin salesman that I would consider haggling with, and that's a shop I would not enter in the first place for the purpose of buying a violin. First of all, even as an intermediate player, I would have somebody with me who will be able to assess the quality of the instrument I'm considering, and advise me. The luthier we deal with is a master craftsman, highly trained in his craft and in his art, and a violinist who gave professional performances in his day at one time. He is rightfully proud of the instruments he has produced, and has a deep respect for those he has acquired. If I would out and out "haggle" as though shopping for the cheapest tomatoes, he would be deeply insulted on a number of levels. I don't go around buying instruments every day, but I'd ask those who do so more often - isn't it a case of a more gentle kind of negotiation, and isn't there sometimes a spontaneous offer from the seller himself as witnessed by the 6% discount? I understand from another forum that there can be some exaggerated prices and such, so it also seems to be a case of caveat emptor.

One note about "older violins". Unlike most commodities, violins don't necessarily depreciate with age. They may even have a greater value (they often do?). Though a badly made violin, when you first purchase it, might still give the hope that it will eventually have acquired its best sound - when it is older you kind of know its limitations if it's been played a lot and still sounds bad. That one might go down in price for being older, but who would want it?

March 4, 2005 at 02:34 PM · I bought my 'old' violin at a price which was $300 less than the listed price. It wasn't a common practice. I told the owner that it was my birthday & the violin was my birthday present. :)

March 4, 2005 at 03:52 PM · The last violin I bought was listed at 1000. I haggled it down to 800. so...20 percent discount...pretty good.

March 4, 2005 at 09:24 PM · You don't necessarily haggle like they are tomatoes. Instead you make an offer. Do your research on comparable violins that you might like just as well. Then make a reasonable offer. This puts the ball in their court. If they counter, you're in the game. If they say their price is firm then take a coffee-break to decide whether you really want it at that price. They just might have a counter for you by the time you return. Sometimes, they will take your offer right away. Othertimes, there will be a counter. Rarely is the price firm, it all depends on whether there are other customers showing interest in that particular violin, how long it has been sitting there, and how much they really want to sell it. I usually don't haggle on the counter if it meets me half-way, or I might move onto services, like a free rehair if it is a bow, or free touchup, new setup etc. If I had gotten a particularly good deal, like they take my offer, I usually don't ask for any freebies, and I might buy some strings, accessories or a case at list price to show I'm a serious customer. Hope this helps.

March 5, 2005 at 02:59 AM · Good post, Clare. Another thing to consider--many shops have instruments on consignment. If you are interested in a consigned instrument which has been sitting in the shop for quite a while you may be able to offer a lower price, through the shop, to the actual owner. I bought a violin in this manner once, and the owner agreed so quickly that it made me wonder if I could have snagged it at a still lower price. It was unlabeled, but a good-sounding instrument, maybe a little tough to put an absolute value on. I gather that both the seller and I felt good about the deal.

March 5, 2005 at 03:20 AM · Inge, nobody's going to be insulted. The price of everything is negotiable. If they act insulted lower your offer.

March 5, 2005 at 05:07 AM · Perhaps it's the word "haggle".

March 5, 2005 at 05:55 AM · Come on down to Harv's used violin shop... We're slashing prices left and right! You need a bow? We've got bows! You need music? We've got more tunes than you can carry in a bucket! We've got Stradillacs, Guarraris, and Jaglianos! With our full service warranty, you can be assured you're getting more than just italian firewood. In fact, the only flames you'll see are on the beautiful maple backs of these fine instruments! Come on down and let's see you drive away in a brand new 300-year-old fiddle today!!!

May 12, 2011 at 12:59 AM ·

This is an old thread, but I'm also wondering what range of price negotiation is considered reasonable...

I was flabbergasted when I found out that my violin shop is charging between 64% and 83% more for a ubiquitous German factory violin than shops such as Potter and Johnson Strings.  I really want to support my local violin shops - I appreciate their services and that they allow me to try as many violins in the shop and at home. I also believe that dealers should be able to make a decent living selling instruments... I don't mind paying a premium for good in-person services and customer support, but I cannot bring myself to pay nearly double for that privilege.  I can trade in my old violin and get 100% credit because I had bought it there, but I would still be ahead financially if I keep my old violin and buy from one of those East Coast shops that also offer 100% trade-in and in-home trial . I'm wondering, is it out-of-line if I make an offer that is 30-40% off the list price and still trade-in my instrument at the local shop? Thanks in advance for your answers!

May 12, 2011 at 04:58 AM ·

Ask and ye shall receive!

May 12, 2011 at 05:18 PM ·

German factory instruments vary a lot. I suppose that if a dealer has the skill to pick out the best ones at auction he can get away with charging more. Who knows. If the setup is better maybe that justifies higher prices. But I agree that it is confusing when some dealers typically ask GBP£450 for a German factory instrument, some go for double that.

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