I have been trying out a Carlo Bisiach at my local violin store. I was amazed and blown away by the clarity, depth of tone, and color. I had searched around the archives on V.com and I could'nt find much information.I was wondering if it is worth it, as the violin is priced at around $80k.
Any information would help a lot.
According to Tarisio, the top auction price for one of his violins is around $60K...auctions are wholesale, so $80K from a shop is not surprising. There is more information in his wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Bisiach
If you were blown away, I'd say buy it. It's only money, right?
It's disconcerting that there isn't a whole lot of information on Carlo even in Eric Blot's book "Liuteria Italiana 1860 to 1960 Volume 11-Lombardia e Veneto".
I'm not surprised about $80k which is something like €67k in Europe. One of the three finest instruments (by far) I was able to try yet was a Carlo Bisiach. The price tag was not far from yours (€65k), and it definitely wasn't far from the Giuseppe Antonio Rocca it shared the shelf with. (Both instruments regularly played until only a few months ago.)
I've never played a Carlo Bisiach, though I've tried a few Leandro Bisiach violins that I've liked (Carlo's father).
I've never tried a Carlo Bisiach either, but I did try out a Giacomo and Leandro (II) Bisiach violin not long ago and was pretty impressed with it. I was even more impressed with another violin that had a much lower price tag on it; the Bisiach ended up in 2nd place by the time I got around to making a purchase. Personally, I would try other violins and make sure that this is absolutely the one you want.
If you're thinking of it as an investment then make your decision according to your assessment of the market value now and in the future. If it's sound you're interested in then there's no reason why 80k would buy you more or less than a violin at 20k or 150.
"I was wondering if it is worth it..." or to say something similar to the above post by Martin Mcclean, it probably depends on what you mean by "worth it." Probably one of the least desirable Strads in poor condition that few people want to play, for ten times the price has a better resale value. Does that make it 'worth it'?
A little update on the Bisiach:
"Value" for a normal mortal like me might include resale value (and therefore depending on documentation of provenance etc.), beauty, sound and playability. For a young professional targeting on a soloist career, playing an instrument with a "name" may be helpful to draw attention and thus contribute some "extra value".
I was going to say make sure you have a good certificate for the violin as there are lots of fake Bisiachs out there.
Do you have it for a trial already?
For an instrument of this value, you should have no problem getting a two-week trial, and there may be a strong argument for a four-week trial. (Neither a shop nor an individual owner with a consigned instrument is going to balk at a longer trial unless for some reason someone else is wanting to immediately look at it.)
Thanks Lydia for the helpful input.
Is there any more advice from you guys?
Having a violin by Bisiach family is one of the best early 20th century Italian names you can have as an investment, especially if the tone and response is desirable. Carlo's instruments definitely have a particular style in the making as he worked on his own, compared with his father Leandro Sr, who employed and taught many of the best 20th century makers. There are some instruments I wouldn't say are fakes, but they are certainly influenced by other hands and came from the Leandro Sr. workshop, much like the Vuillaume workshop a century before. He also experimented with a lot of different models.
The violin is really responsive and there is a wide range of tone. The label reads, " Carlo Bisiach Di Leandro Milanese , fece in Firenze l'Anno 1948. " There is his signature, and a stamp that says CB
At this price range, isn't it necessary to have a certificate from a dependable evaluator?
He said he had a certificate on it from Leonhard.
Oops. Missed that part.
The Bisiachs were excellent makers and perhaps the most important violin making family in the late 19th and early 20th century in Italy. My Guadagnini was repaired by Leandro Bisiach in 1890. There's a pencil inscription inside with his hand writing.
I'm an amateur who indulged in buying a violin even more expensive than the one you're looking at, Andrew, and it pretty much makes me happy every time I take it out of the case. It's really a joy to play, even if it's also sometimes more challenging to work with. So I figure it was totally worth it, and the appreciation over my lifetime is a bonus.
I believe that the violin will also lead me to new heights that I have never experienced, and it will be a great teacher for me. I hope I still like it at the end of my trial ;-).
By the way Lydia, what violins do you have and which is your favorite?
I've owned three violins and tried a lot of instruments. My current violin is a JB Vuillaume. I used to own an Enrico Marchetti (modern Italian, late 19th century). And I have a Rafael Carrabba (contemporary American, made under Carl F Becker's direction) from my childhood.
Lydia next time HH is in the area you should try to arrange a grouping of regional JBV owners to compare instruments -- blind test, HH plays, JBV owners listen. That would be amazing. I bet she would do it, and I bet you could find half a dozen willing owners. Luthier could inspect them and talk about differences in how they're made, and a nice article could come out of it for a magazine like Strad.
I think that I have learned quite a lot from this thread, and I think that the best way is to try out more violins from different shops and luthiers. I will be in San Francisco and New York soon for business, I think that I will have time to visit a few violin shops there. Any recommendations for me?
I just feel like trying more before I take the violin out for trial, so I can get a good comparison.
Hah, Paul. There are a couple at shops in the area currently, I think, and at least three local v.com readers who own JBVs. :-)
Thanks Lydia and Thomas for the helpful advice.
My next step is to try other makers from around the same time period. What do you guys recommend?
Carlo Oddone? £54000 is the record auction price, retail will be more obviously. There's something spontaneous, individual and stylish about a nice Oddone.
I agree Martin.I had one for about a year made in 1898.It had a sweet "chewy" core to the sound with an orangy yellowy varnish put on thickly.Loved it...
I would recommend not restricting yourself at all. Violins are very individual. Furthermore, even though you have tried violins from a number of different makers, and didn't like them, it actually means next to nothing about whether or not you might like a different instrument from the same maker.
Sorry for budding in so late, but If I was buying an old violin I would also ask for a thickness report on top of the condition report.
Is $80 k worth it for the Carlo Bisiach? That is the store's asking price
it's not cheap, I would buy it if it's in great condition, an exceptional example of the maker's work and from his best working period. One at Bromptons sold for $50000 back in 2016.
The label reads, " Carlo Bisiach Di Leandro Milanese , fece in Firenze l'Anno 1948. " There is his signature, and a stamp that says CB
Prices of violins in this range are definitely negotiable, and you should try to negotiate if you decide you want this violin. People with instruments on consignment might be particularly willing to negotiate if the instrument has sat without selling for some time.
If you're paying top retail price for an instrument it probably isn't realistic to see any financial return on you money within the next decade or so. However if you love it, enjoy playing it and appreciate it for what it is then that is an investment in itself. Only you can assess how much you appreciate it!
I do agree with Martin above, that if you are expecting a return in the short run, you most certainly will not make a profit, let alone getting what you paid for it back. A dealer will sell at the highest price they can not leaving any room for profit. This is understandable as they are responsible for the instrument down the road if something happens that is not the buyer's fault. They are also accountable for selling the violin with the right description and attribution.
Martin I had to give up the Oddone since I couldnt sell my Johannes Cuypers at the price I needed in order to get the Oddone.I finally got my teeth into a 1925 Ferdinando Garimberti in mint condition.This was all done in 1997.Has it been a good investment? I would say it's as good as my RRSP and has helped my career somewhat.I'll find out when I toss in the towel and sell it in 9 years.
I think old French bows have been a better investment than the violins since they are much more fragile than fiddles with a higher rate of attrition.I had buy a less expensive violin in order to concentrate on bow inestments(Charles Peccatte,Prosper Colas and Jean Joseph Martin).
Yes I do agree that old French bows are a better investment as they tend to break irreparably, more often than violins do and indeed I had made a note of this a couple of decades ago, so today I'm proud of my bow collection that includes a Sartory, a Voirin, a J.J. Martin, a Simon Fr. among some lesser French ones. Most proud of them all though I am of my newly acquired Jacquot violin that I picked up for a song a few months ago. I cannot put it down. So good it is and in excellent condition.
Peter, I wish you every success with your investment. It sounds like you are winning in all regards. One of my clients had a Cuypers on loan. He loved it but reluctantly accepted that he was at a point in his career where nothing less than a guadagnini would be a sufficient calling card!
In some ways, because buying a professional-class violin generally means purchasing something that will hold or increase its value over your lifetime, what you're mostly deciding is the price point you're buying in at. You're getting the use of the violin "free".
Thanks everyone for the deep and meaningful advice!
That's $87000-99000. For this amount, it should suit your needs for the rest of your life and then some.
Did you buy it yet?
Thanks Martin.As with others on this thread, I figured I would rather play on a portion of my retirement and enjoy it fully then just a bunch of numbers in an investment (GICs ,RRSPs,index funds etc.).
Paul: No, I'm getting it probably in June or July. Its not on trial yet.
What do you mean? In craftsmanship? I'm inclined to think that anyone who can't see the differences in workmanship should probably not worry about it when purchasing the violin, and focus strictly on the tonal properties.
So a Carlo Bisiach, Ferdinando Garimberti or even a JB Villaume might not be worth more decades from now?
..........."So a Carlo Bisiach, Ferdinando Garimberti or even a JB Villaume might not be worth more decades from now?"
..........."So a Carlo Bisiach, Ferdinando Garimberti or even a JB Villaume might not be worth more decades from now?"
My reasoning is the same as Hendrik's.
True Hendrick.Nobody has a crystal ball.I was thinking of selling the Garimberti in the East Asian market.
We just won't know until we both sell our instruments Lydia.I agree with you that great sounding instruments will always be in demand.Thats what attracted me to this instrument as it will some other buyer in the near future.Good points Lydia and Hendrick.
It should be pointed out that collectors dont just collect Strads down to JBVs.The semi modern Italians from the early 20th century have always had a strong following
My Turin-made violin sold recently to a collector. I'm not worried about the market today. I'm worried about what it will look like in 30 to 40 years. Maybe 20 years, if I decide in my older age that I'd prefer a 7/8ths to a full-size.
Was that the Marchetti Lydia?
Yup, it was. Took more than a year to sell.
I played on a lovely one at Shars in 1997.It had a beautiful "growl" to the sound.Real cool maker...
I once tried a Carlo Bisiach at an auction showing. It sounded beautiful and had a kind of unforced intensity and red-blooded quality. I liked it more than the Strad that was being offered at the same auction. A knowledgeable colleague of mine who was there felt the same way and said that there was something strangely thrilling about it.
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