Ever actually found a gem that was thought to be a VSO?

Edited: October 2, 2019, 2:17 AM · With pseudo-Strads and antique junk that can be found for sale, ever run across a bona-fide high-value, high-quality instrument where the seller didn't know what they had?

Replies (27)

October 2, 2019, 3:02 AM · I do remember reading a story in the “odd spot” in the Melbourne Age of a pawn shop somewhere in the US that was thinking of instituting a rule that people bringing in musical instruments be required to demonstrate that they could play them .
They had paid someone a paltry sum for a violin. Turned out it had been stolen, and was worth a Lot .
When we were discussing ridiculously expensive violins, my teacher told me he was talking to someone who said he had a Strad. He nodded politely, as he thought that extremely unlikely.
He discovered later, that was indeed a Strad, that he had stolen.
October 2, 2019, 3:53 AM · I play one.
It says “Gasparo da Salo 1595” inside. It’s most probably a German or Hungarian violin from the late 1800. Looks like a vso, the body being of strange proportion, rather short fingerboard and diagonally crooked F holes. Also the neck is not completely perpendicular, but it looks like design fail, rather than age induced fail.

After almost a year of playing it I can verify it’s a true gem. It’s like an amplifier - if you treat it right, it has a huge concert like sound that reaches everywhere. But if you suck it just makes you suck more and louder.

October 2, 2019, 4:24 AM · Is that the one you were posting about last year that you just had to have because it had such an effect on you? If so, good to know your instincts were right

Edited: October 2, 2019, 9:33 AM · I may have come across something myself yesterday. Someone had listed for sale a OLD VINTAGE VIOLIN so I checked it out and bought it for $60 to practice repairs on. It has very bad top cracks and they drilled a hole in the scroll through the peg box so it could be hung up for show. I do believe that it is a real ETTORE SIEGA & FIGLI anno 1914. After all the repairs are complete I may possibly have it appraised. Well see...!!
October 2, 2019, 11:09 AM · I think those were made in Germany, I see them on ebay from time to time
October 2, 2019, 11:34 AM · @rosemary
That’s the one. Itks magical still after almost 1 year. I fixed the crack (turned out to be much more than that), the instrument is tight, loud and full of expression. I am extremely happy with it.

I also promised to myself I’d learn Bach’s 2nd partita which I did. Chaconne alone took me 4 months. I am in heaven.

October 2, 2019, 11:48 AM · Well Lyndon, I'm hoping that is not the case and it's really from italy but I'm no expert. :)

Exact label reads:

Anno 1914

October 2, 2019, 11:55 AM · Well I checked and the genuine ones are quite valuable, definitely not something you should attempt to repair your self, I thought I read that they also imported German violins, but maybe I'm thinking of another maker, show it to an expert, and make sure its not just a fake label, those are very common with Italian violins.
October 2, 2019, 11:58 AM · Rule number one, when you're trying to learn violin repair, always start on recognized cheap violins as your initial efforts are going to devalue, not improve the violin.
October 2, 2019, 12:04 PM · Thanks for the advice Lyndon. I definitely agree with you on that if the repair isn't done correctly it will definitely devalue the instrument for sure. I've been repairing for some time now and have done some pretty advanced restoring and repairs. This will be the first time I'm grafting a piece o wood into the back of the scroll tho to fill the hole they drilled. So I guess that's what I meant by practicing. Haha... I finished my first violin 2 weeks ago :) very exciting :)
October 2, 2019, 12:11 PM · You're still not qualified to be working on a $20,000 Italian violin, heck I don't even consider myself qualified for that and I've been in this business for 20 years, You don't fill the drilled hole, that's a historical feature that you leave alone. Show it to an real expert, and see if its genuine, and if it is find a way to get a really experienced top professional to work on it
October 2, 2019, 12:52 PM · Lyndon you don't know me at all and can only make the assumption I'm not qualified. I wouldn't say the same to you because I don't know you or what your capable of doing. As far as the Violin being worth $20,000 I sure shit hope so! But even if it is I'd still do the repairs myself because there is nothing I can't repair on a Violin.


October 2, 2019, 1:01 PM · fools rush in where angels fear to tread
October 2, 2019, 1:22 PM · if you can't make your crack repairs literally invisible, like my expert friend does, you're not qualified to be working on a $20,000 Italian violin.
October 2, 2019, 1:22 PM · Too many men are afraid of being fools
October 2, 2019, 3:19 PM · Not necessarily VSO related, but I overheard a conversation about a violin in orchestra last week. Someone’s partner found a genuine Maggini violin in an antique shop, for less than £1! This must have been years and years ago. Anyway, the back and sides are genuine Maggini, but the top I think has been replaced or something. I thought that was really cool. Maggini violins are really something, and I love how they look, especially with the double purfling. Not that looks defines sound, but you know, I’m impressed either way!!
October 2, 2019, 8:14 PM · I once bought a violin and bow together at a flea market for $100--they were both in bad shape, but I could see even then that the bow was something. My in-laws were scandalized that I didn't even try to bargain the seller down but I felt guilty enough as it was because it was clear to me that the seller had no clue about what he had.

I had the violin fixed up and it was serviceable; I gave it to a younger family member. The bow....ahh, the bow. I put a few hundred dollars into it (it needed to be recambered, needed a new winding, obviously needed new hair), and the last time I had it appraised (probably 15 years ago now) it was worth $1500. I really should get it appraised again. It's a very nice bow and I use it for symphony concerts sometimes. It's a known German maker, the exact name escapes me right now and I can't look at the bow b/c I had a leather put over the brand to protect it. It's very playable, not quite as good as my Voirin but certainly better than my JonPaul Avanti.

October 3, 2019, 4:30 AM · Mary Ellen - is it odd that a violin that wasn't much to write home about would be paired with a great bow?
October 3, 2019, 7:07 AM · I don't know that "gem" is the right word for this one, but it's a keeper.

I seem to accumulate oddball fiddles. One, which gets a surprising amount of public play, is an unlabeled, amateur-made, weirdly porportioned thing. I paid a couple hundred for it, and all the owner (a guitar player) could tell me was that it "was made in Maine by some old guy in his garage". I found it shrill and took it to a luthier to see if he could do anything. The first thing he did was identify it as basically baroque (yes, I'm sure he didn't say 'broke.') I'd love to know what, if anything, the maker used for a pattern.

Anyway, I had a decent setup done on it and the miserable, essentially useless pegs replaced. Pro Artés and a cheap-but-decent sandalwood(!) bow dial the 'shrill' back to 'almost obnoxiously bright', which turns out to be just the ticket for a lot of the material I play in noisy beachfront bars.

I can't say it's my favorite fiddle, but it's one of my more interesting ones.

October 3, 2019, 7:19 AM · Scott, maybe more unusual than the reverse. But I have no idea how the seller had paired them up. He may have found them separately himself and “bundled” them for sale....he very obviously knew nothing about violins and bows other than that they went together.
October 3, 2019, 7:27 AM · Lyndon, let the man wreck his antique Italian violin if he wants! What's it to you? LOL
October 3, 2019, 8:18 AM · Thank you Paul :D
October 3, 2019, 8:19 AM · I will post pictures of it when it done. Then you'll see how wrecked it is...
October 3, 2019, 8:29 AM · It's amazing that one day on this site on my first post and two people that don't even know me or my skill level are so judgemental.

Have a nice day.

October 3, 2019, 8:53 AM · Perhaps enlightening for some :-)


October 3, 2019, 9:37 AM · @Matthew Atria:

I have a copy of your “violin repair guide” book! I’ve had it for years. Having read your website, I’ve made the link. Although, your publishing name is different? Anyway, it’s a great book, and has come in handy!

October 3, 2019, 9:43 AM · Zilpah, That is so great to hear. It is actually my fathers book but the website is mine. I'm so happy to hear you found it useful and thank you for the kind words. I will let him know :)

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