For Sale: Howard Needham Violin

August 10, 2018, 4:18 AM · Hi all,
First I want to thank Laurie for creating such a wonderful place for violinists to share thoughts. Around 2008 I began a search for a new violin. I was fortunate to own an old Italian from my high school days, but it was one of those reclamation jobs and required constant repair as a result of structural instability.

Partially through I came to realize we are in a golden age of violin making. I ended up trying violins by Terry Berman, David Burgess, and Peter Greiner. I was having a hard time making a decision, and on I heard about Howard Needham and how some studio musicians in LA claimed his fiddles were better than anyone else's.

I was able to meet Howard in person when he made a visit to NYC to see the Berlin Phil. He is a wonderful man and I consider him a friend at this point. I got to try his wonderful fiddle, and pulled the trigger and commissioned a Del Gesu. It is a wonderful instrument, very easy to get around, and can produce pure sweet tones in Mozart, and sound angry high up on the G string for that D in the Saint-Saens.

Alas it is time for me to let the instrument go. If you are interested in the instrument, and want to know why, please contact me. Howard is currently charging $35,000.

Replies (17)

August 10, 2018, 5:46 AM · Howard is such a nice guy. He visited me some years ago.
Edited: August 10, 2018, 7:02 AM · I would like to come and visit your shop sometime Mr. Manfio to see your beautiful violas and drool over them!
August 10, 2018, 11:41 AM · Jeff, it's quite a long drive. ;-)
August 10, 2018, 9:22 PM · I have some interest, but the PM seems to not be working.
August 11, 2018, 12:21 PM · Make sure the violin is supplied with a reputable appraisal/certificate, violins like this are commonly faked.
August 11, 2018, 12:58 PM · I'm sure Mr. Needham himself will have made sure to let the violin come along with a certificate of authenticity when Chris bought it. At least the luthiers I know and who are selling in the 20k+ region do so.
But even such a certificate could be faked easily, even much easier than a violin...
August 11, 2018, 1:13 PM · Buying from a private party or less than reputable dealer presents a higher risk, sometimes very much so.
August 11, 2018, 2:02 PM · I would invite interested parties to call Howard himself to confirm the authenticity of the violin. As part of the recent servicing, Howard provided a letter for insurance purposes attesting to the value of $35,000.
August 11, 2018, 7:12 PM · Given that Howard is very much alive and active, I wouldn't worry too much about authenticity of a violin bought directly from the person who commissioned it. Howard can no doubt vouch for it, and if it's missing its certificate, provide a new one.
August 11, 2018, 7:40 PM · It's a good thing I already bought my violin because my kids are getting toward college and pretty soon I will be eating ramen noodles or dog food to avoid bankruptcy. LOL
August 12, 2018, 6:09 AM · The following threads are probably worth bumping. They made great reading at the time. (Where did those ten years go?!)

August 13, 2018, 9:26 AM · Thanks Martin! Those were the threads that initially got me so excited to meet Howard. So nice to read through them again. I have played many fiddles including a couple of Strads, a couple of Guadagnini’s, and some Del Gesu’s and while I can’t exactly claim my Needham bests them, the fact that it competes in their weight class is testament to Howard’s talents...
August 13, 2018, 10:38 AM · Certificates are so easy to fake these days (vastly easier than producing a convincing fake violin), that I no longer bother with them. Records of financial transactions, (verifiable though the banking institution), are much harder to fake. So when dealing directly with a maker, I'd recommend asking the maker for information sufficient to follow that financial trail, rather than a "certificate".
August 13, 2018, 1:53 PM · Maybe what you need is an initial proof-of-sale packet that includes but is not limited to the certificate, that can accompany the violin in its future journey through owners.

I've got paperwork across a chain of owners starting in the early 20th century for my antique violin, which is kind of cool as a historical artifact, beyond the importance of a chain of provenance.

Interestingly, my contemporary violin is pictured in a book on 20th-century makers, which has made life easier, even though I didn't get a certificate when I bought it (direct from the maker's master, shortly after the maker finished his apprenticeship).

Howard is my local luthier (he does great adjustments) and so I've gotten a chance to play several of his violins, both briefly and on short loans. They're excellent contemporary violins. Note that he's getting better with time, though, so if you had the option of $35k for an older one, and $35k for a new commission, there'd be a significant chance of the new one being noticeably better.

August 13, 2018, 7:41 PM · You're more than welcome Chris. There's certainly no doubting Howard's talents and craftsmanship. It is worth noting that Howard himself has always acknowledged the role Geary Baese played in his ability to build successful instruments.
Coincidentally, the same threads that led you to Howard also led me to study with Geary. He's an extraordinary teacher and violin maker himself.
Best of luck with your sale, I'm sure that it's a great instrument.
August 15, 2018, 3:23 AM · I realize I should have made this explicit in my original post. I live in NYC (Manhattan upper east side). If the interested party is not in the NYC metro area, we can discuss the possibility of shipping the instrument safely for evaluation. Howard has taught me how to do this for the periodic checkups he has performed on the instrument.
August 24, 2018, 3:08 PM · Fantastic maker, comparable to the very best ones here in Europe. Good luck with your sale!

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