Purchasing an Italian violin with the budget of $15,000

July 28, 2020, 7:41 AM · Hello, I am new here but already found many insightful discussion here. I am currently looking for a violin for my daughter and found this Mario Gadda violin from Corilon’s catalogue. Would like to consult opinion from the forum whether this appears to be a good choice and well worth the money?

https://www.corilon.com/us/violins/mario-gadda-mantova-modern-italian-violin

Replies (64)

July 28, 2020, 7:49 AM · I would assume that your daughter has tried several instruments in this price range. If not, I strongly recommend shopping around before purchasing an instrument like that (hopefully not online). I've written an article about shopping for an instrument that may help. Check it out here: https://adbowsllc.com/2017/02/19/shopping-for-an-instrument-part-1-of-2/

Regarding that particular violin, I'm sure it's great, especially if your daughter has tried it against several others and absolutely loves how it sounds and feels. I would also recommend getting the instructors input.

Edited: July 28, 2020, 8:11 AM · $15,000 is a very low budget for an Italian violin. Those instruments tend to be priced much higher than instruments of comparable quality from other places. I’d be looking at a modern American violin in that price range. Actually, I bought a 2018 Cison a year and a half ago for just over that price, and I’m very happy with it.

But nothing substitutes for trying instruments out.

July 28, 2020, 8:13 AM · Thanks Anthony for the useful advice, appreciated
July 28, 2020, 9:44 AM · It is very nice to be able to have a relationship with the luthier who made your instrument, or the local shop you purchased from. Of course it isn't always practical, or you fall in love with something else. But pro musicians are not buying much right now, and famous makers who normally have a wait list have instruments to try, and pricing will be better than it was last year. Shop locally, shop regionally - you may be pleasantly impressed with what is available in that price range.
July 28, 2020, 4:20 PM · Isn't Mario Gadda notorious for using other people to make "his" violins??
July 28, 2020, 6:07 PM · Does Raphael Klayman still have an Italian violin or two for sale? I think if they were good enough for him they'd probably be good instruments. Made by Vittorio Villa I believe. Not sure whether $15000 will get the job done though.

On the Italian violin price scale, $15000 is the "student model."

Edited: July 28, 2020, 7:03 PM · I don’t think price always goes hand in hand with quality especially for instruments under $50,000. You’ll find this out quite quickly if you try instruments out at various auction houses and dealers. Sometimes the $50,000 French violin can sound a lot better than a $100,000 Italian violin. There are some excellent instruments by Honore Derazey (who worked with Vuillaume) that are priced in the $10,000-$20,000 range, which sound better to my ear, compared with some $50,000 instrument, by a modern maker like Joseph Curtin.
July 28, 2020, 8:22 PM · I think a good Honore Derazey usually retails for quite a bit more than $20K nowadays?
Edited: July 28, 2020, 9:08 PM · Andrew, I’ve seen some excellent Derazey violins, at Tarisio, sell for less than $20,000 in the last few years. At some dealers, you will probably pay a lot more for a Derazey.
July 28, 2020, 8:55 PM · Vowels cost money in violin land. A Fettuccini or Testosteroni gets a premium out of the gate before anyone knows how good it is.
July 28, 2020, 11:22 PM · Sending an inexperienced buyer to an auction house for "bargains" is totally irresponsible.
July 29, 2020, 1:06 AM · It’s actually very good advice. Tarisio is an excellent auction house and you get to try many top instruments side by side and educate yourself during the process!
July 29, 2020, 1:27 AM · The time to go for an auction house bargain is after wasting a lot of dealers' time. Then you have to take the risk of coming to a decision about a particular violin on the basis of very short experience. On occasions that I've seen young players try out auction house violins with their mothers in attendance I wonder how they can possibly be confident in their own expertise.
July 29, 2020, 1:39 AM · Thanks all for the valuable advices. Now I am hesitating among the 3 choices below and would appreciate opinion which one would be more worth of the cost?

1880 Honore Derazey
https://www.corilon.com/us/violins/fine-violin-jean-joseph-honore-derazey-workshop

1991 Franco Albanelli
https://www.corilon.com/us/violins/italian-violin-franco-albanelli-bologna?number=corilon1435

1975 Luigi Lanaro
https://www.corilon.com/us/violins/italian-violin-luigi-lanaro?number=corilon1404


Edited: July 29, 2020, 2:35 AM · Comparing all of the violins you posted, Gracie, the Gadda looks very interesting and is at a good dealer price. Tarisio just sold a Mario Gadda in February for $10,000. I used to play on a Gaetano Gadda (father of Mario). Really great, powerful violin. If this violin is anything like that one, your daughter is in for a treat. The dimensions of the Mario Gadda also look comfortable to play on (355mm back). I would of course recommend that your daughter try it in a hall or large room and perhaps have a couple of other instruments to test it against before you make a final decision. The Derazey you posted from Corilon is rather large in size (363mm back). Larger instruments like that are harder to play on for people with petite builds (I’m not sure how your daughter is built). I play on an instrument from time to time that’s 370mm which is roughly 14 1/2 inches. I don’t have any issues with it because I’m over 6 foot tall and have long arms (someone told me I should be a violist because I’m big) but some of my friends who are smaller have issues with larger instruments like this. So do take into account instrument dimensions when shopping around because they do vary in size.
July 29, 2020, 2:44 AM · Hi Nate, thanks for the comments. I do agree that size matters. My daughter is 5”4, a smaller one should fit better. I checked with the dealer, who told me that the Mario Gadda is a workshop instrument rather than handmade by MG himself. So I am hesitating whether it still worths the price.
July 29, 2020, 4:00 AM · You're beginning to discover some of the complexities of the violin business!
July 29, 2020, 4:36 AM · Gadda workshop might even be finished German violin, not worth $15,000!!
July 29, 2020, 4:43 AM · Hello Gracie, are you located in Asia by any chance? Just guessing from your name. I can understand why you might not want to buy locally (especially since travelling is out of the question during this crazy year). Prices are often very high in this range in Asia.

If you are in the west I would still highly recommend trying out violins in person, as it is so difficult to predict how any violin will act as a tool from photos online, regardless of the providence (violins by the same maker can vary and the setup/condition matters a lot too, this is individual to each violin). That being said, the Derazey you linked to is larger than the normal range for a violin and thus would not be ideal for a petite person.

If you still would like to try violins shipped online, I would also recommend Martin Swan violins. In this price range good quality German and Czech violins are very undervalued as performer's instruments.
https://www.martinswanviolins.com/

I think an important point is that, at this price range (and higher), the cost of the violin does not really reflect how it performs as a tool, but rather antique value (which depend on providence and connections to famous violin schools) and then quality . Antique Italian violins in this price range owe a lot of their value simply to having a connection to Italy, but will usually have lower quality than an antique French violin in this price range, which will in turn be more expensive than a similar quality antique German or central European violin, or contemporary violin. That's just how the market works.

I would also note that, as you've discovered, violin makers almost never toiled alone and many old instruments in this price range are some sort of collaborative (workshop) instrument. There are more expensive, higher quality Mario Gaddas but they all suffer in value from being probably workshop instruments. Derazey also operated a huge workshop. Instruments showing his individual hand are valued more highly and can be great instruments, as Nate mentioned. I play on one of these :) But it is quite a different animal from a workshop Derazey violin, which can still be good - but probably not as good.

July 29, 2020, 5:12 AM · Hi John, you are right spot on. I am currently in Asia and due to the Covid situation, it is not easy to travel abroad.Otherwise I really love to try it out in the shop. And local dealers here appear to be very tricky, price high and without any certificate, so it's bit of challenge to get something authentic at relatively fair price.
July 29, 2020, 5:27 AM · Corilon and Martin Swan are good reputable dealers to look at and not outrageously priced IMHO
July 29, 2020, 6:13 AM · Hi Lyndon thanks for sharing your view , appreciated
July 29, 2020, 7:27 AM · Violins longer than 360mm are harder to sell than violins closer to 355mm.
July 29, 2020, 7:55 AM · Hello Gracie,
I'm by no means an expert, but I bought my violin in a close price-range less than a year ago and stopped by at Corilon, so I decided to chime in anyway. Coming from Germany, I'd agree that Lyndon is right about the prices, at least when it comes to Corilon - prices differ vastly by country (in Europe), but independent German luthiers whom I've talked to agreed that Corilon's prices are not much higher than they should be. You're not likely to find a steal there, either, but on the other hand, it is probably one of the safest bets when trying to buy an expensive instrument online, since they're more of an actual firm, legally speaking. I've been there a year ago and they had a nice selection of instruments, not breathtaking, but definitely a couple of valid choices. The problem is that I, personally, can't say that all of them were on the same level, which makes it hard to recommend any of their violins without having you try it out beforehand. There are luthiers where I'd feel comfortable doing so, but with Corilon this isn't the case. The good news is that I did order one of their violins to try it out, and it was a good experience, overall. You have to be aware that you'll have to pay the full price, essentially buying it, and will have 30 days do try it out once it arrives at your house (though I'm not sure how the system works internationally), and while it was a little stressful communicating with them when I decided to return the instrument after trying it out thoroughly, I let it slide because it was, of course, a disappointment to them that such a lucrative deal had been cancelled. Nevertheless, the return worked out just fine, as far as I'm aware, so it's a risk that might very well be worth taking.
Apart from that, I'd definitely agree with what somebody mentioned a couple of posts back: I strongly recommend extending the search to French, German and Czech violins, at least, as well as looking at the countries that surround Germany, because the prices can be very different. Having tried dozens of violins, I would argue that antique violins from different countries seem to follow fundamentally different approaches to tone (surely with exceptions), and it is a question worth exploring. I went into my search being ignorantly sure that I'd never by a French violin and finished my search realising that I preferred French violins the most consistently right now. And there definitely are great German and Czech violin makers that present a better value, musically speaking, because they're not as sought after as their Italian counterparts.
Best of luck to you and feel free to ask if I've missed any valuable information!
July 29, 2020, 9:05 AM · good post!!
July 29, 2020, 9:59 AM · Hi Gracie,

You've received some good advise from this post. Just to add my .02 cents; should you decide to buy from Corilon, check if they can ship the violin with a case - especially since your target violin budget seems to be around the 14k-16k Euro range. Whether they will charge you extra for the case or not is something you may want to discuss with them. Normally, they will ship the violin in a hard cardboard box shaped like a violin case. I know because I bought a violin from them recently. In my case, I just didn't think about asking them for a case. In my experience, it took Corilon 2 days to prep my violin, then another 2 days for the violin to arrive at my doorstep. The violin was very well packed, and all I needed to do was tune the violin, made sure the soundpost was intact, and the bridge was in the correct upright position (which it was when I inspected it after the violin arrived).

I also agree with other posters not to limit your violin selection to a specific provenance only. Also, sound is very subjective. Therefore what may sound good to you, may not sound good to another. Or your preferred violin sound, may not be the preferred violin sound of another. In my case, I already have a Leandro Bisiach (Italian), and a Scott Shu-Kun Cao (USA) violin. But I now prefer the sound of my cheaper 19th century Vogtland violin that I got from Corilon. So go figure...lol. IMHO, old German violins are underrated.

Good luck to you and your daughter on your violin search. May you both find a violin that your daughter will enjoy playing and thrive with.

July 29, 2020, 10:16 AM · My violin was made in Poland by Topa. It is valued at around $14000. I bought it for much less, but that's a long story that centers on the sterling integrity of one particular individual. I agree that there are good violins being made almost everywhere in the first world, including central-to-eastern Europe, the US, Canada, etc.

Buying a violin is one of the deepest circles of hell in the Inferno (relative to, say, choosing a rosin or a chin rest, which have their own shallower circles). I'm now convinced that Dante, as an Italian poet, wrote his famous allegory in reference to violin-playing.

July 29, 2020, 10:32 AM · Hi Ben, thanks for the insights which are very helpful. Your experience echoes what Corilon staff told me. I almost placed the order however encountered a problem with payment that their website currently does not accept credit card. May I ask how did you pay?
Edited: July 29, 2020, 11:36 AM · Hey Gracie, the payment was a bank transfer, but it had to be done in person since it was such a huge sum.

EDIT: Sorry, I just realized that I was not the Ben you were referring to, but maybe the answer is still useful to you, so I'll leave it up.

Edited: July 29, 2020, 12:01 PM · Rule of thumb, best sound for the money German, good sound for the money French, worst sound for the money Italian, you pay huge premium for Italian that has little to do with actual quality, but if you're looking for snob appeal, Italian is definitely the way to go!!

For instance $15,000 can buy you almost the very best German maker, but $15,000 will only buy you some of the cheapest if not worst Italian makers.

July 29, 2020, 11:59 AM · Hi Gracie, I'm based in the US, and Corilon offered me 2 payment options:

1.) PayPal
2.) Bank/Wire Transfer

I chose PayPal even though they had a service fee added to the price because in my opinion, paying through PayPal (which charged my US credit card) will offer me better protection financially.

And because I am based in the U.S., the conversion from Euro to US Dollar did not exactly follow the US price reflected from Corilon's website. I think I had to pay a little more in US Dollars for the violin. My bank also charged a foreign exchange fee, but I was able to reverse that with them.

So my total price was basically:

Violin + PayPal Service Fee + Shipping = $

I'm excited for you and your daughter. Hope you get your violin. If you're comfortable, do share with us what violin you and your daughter finally decided on getting.

Edited: July 29, 2020, 12:39 PM · I would recommend Paypal too, I ordered a whole bunch of violin supplies from a sheister in India, and after 5 months and no delivery I contacted Paypal and filed a report, they were able to seize the money from his Paypal bank and refund all my money, two months later the supplies arrived, with the order all mucked up so I payed him for the things I had ordered that were supplied correctly, he still contacts me and wants me to order more. Anyway the point is Paypal does offer fraud protection, but only if they are able to recover the money from the fraudster's bank account.
Edited: July 29, 2020, 2:02 PM · I have heard there are bad or at least mediocre Stradivarius out there. Choosing to have your daughter play a number of “Gaddas” to see how they sound because you’ve heard they are good seems reasonable. Dropping 15K just because it has that name without playing them seems like a really bad idea. And that’s without, as has been said, accounting for personal use (orchestra, chamber, solo) or personal taste (bright, dark). As a parent I would not buy anything the teacher had not heard. And it’s important to remember that like a car, the moment you walk out of the shop, you are likely at wholesale value. Unless you are at a violin shop that has a 100% trade in policy, which is common in the States.
And I also believe in blind tests, teacher or person listening shouldn’t know anything about the violin. None of us are able to separate that information while judging.
July 29, 2020, 3:24 PM · I think when people say a Strad sounds bad what they mean is it only sounds as good as a $20,000 French violin
July 29, 2020, 5:25 PM · The problem with buying from a dealer with trade-up policy is that then you're always buying from that dealer. They've got you then, and they will have no inclination to negotiate. Also when your child becomes the next Ray Chen, you better hope that particular shop has a selection of priceless Italian antiques. My point is that it can work well for a while, but eventually there will be a ceiling, and your last purchase will be on you to sell, and guess what? That was the most expensive one. Except for the Strad.
July 29, 2020, 9:48 PM · Price does not always equal value in the sketchy and opaque dynamics of the fine violin market. The intersection of supply and demand fails to result in the correct price because there are so many subjective factors and market inefficiencies involved in violin valuation. Just find the violin that's best for you with respect to sound quality and playing comfort and forget the false prestige of labels, country of origin, or maker.
Edited: July 30, 2020, 3:36 AM · Curiously, I watched a video called The Art of the Violin where Perlman says that Oistrakh played on a bottom rung Strad proving that it's the musician not the violin that produces the sound (interesting choice of base level, though!). Having played a plastic oboe, I don't find it difficult to agree. Having said that, I was under the impression that the Russian government owned 15 Strads, and Oistrakh had first choice of any of them.
All I have is an 800USD Gewa factory fiddle, and I am happy with it, apart from the G string above 4th position, and I haven't ruled out my culpability there. So I believe Lyndon.
In the next 6 months I will buy the last violin I will ever own. It will probably be a 3 000 USD German one. My teacher knows a restorer.

You also have a problem in America where if you put a 30 000 USD pricetag on an object worth 3 000 USD, a lot of people think it's worth 30 000 USD. You have too much money - it leads to status symbol inflation. I've seen this in a couple of unrelated TV programs. Good luck with your next $100 000 bow!

Why am I butting in? Just reading Menuhin's autobiog, and it's mysterious. At age 4 he wants a violin and his parents are given 800USD (worth 10 000 USD now). They spend half on a car and half on a violin. Then 4 years later Menuhin gets his first ever Italian violin, a 7/8. So the 400USD (5 000 now) in 1920 was probably spent on a 3/4! There's clearly an unspoken back story there. I can imagine they might have bought a 4/4 on advice that it was a worthwhile investment, but a 3/4, for a 4-year-old's first? (this whole anecdote is complicated by the fact that violin prices have probably risen faster than monetary inflation. Also, whereas the websites are saying 1200% between 1920 and 2020, in Britain it's about 4500%)

I could have started a new Menuhin thread, but I didn't want to. Thought I might be able to shoehorn everything in here!

July 30, 2020, 9:24 AM · If you pay attention to the country of origin, you are paying for the country of origin. There is a subset of violinists who like to say the phrase "my Italian." And then those with less cash to flaunt get to talk about "my French", and then down the line of country of origin.

There were and are some great Italian makers, obviously. And some dreadful ones. Buy a violin your kid likes and stop looking at the labels.

July 30, 2020, 9:39 AM · Advertising makes people think that Belgian chocolate is better than anyone else's. It isn't.
Edited: July 30, 2020, 12:38 PM · Gordon, I had a couple of violins that were troublesome on the G string above the octave harmonic. The problem was solved with string changes. I found that Larsen Tzigane strings solved the problem. It was also solved with other strings (EP Gold or Thomastik Vision sets) when I topped them with a Thomastik platinum-plated E string. But right now two of these violins are the best they have ever been with a full set of Warchal Timbre strings.

Belgian chocolate IS great, almost as good as SEE'S! DARK CHOCOLATE!

July 30, 2020, 9:58 AM · Belgian chocolate is the best, under at least two interpretations: the top one and the averaging one. For the top interpretation, there are no better chocolates than those by Pierre Marcolini (one of the top Belgian chocolatiers). As to the averaging interpretation, in any Belgian supermarket you can buy chocolate bars of their run-of-the-mill brand and it will still be very very very decent chocolate :-)
Edited: July 30, 2020, 10:20 AM · I like French cooking chocolate best.

My repeated use of "USD" looks ugly, but I'm always worried about confusing American dollars with Australian ones.

Edited: July 30, 2020, 11:44 AM · "USD" is good!

One of the best violins I have ever played (about 10 years ago) was from a Chinese maker, bought in China for $1,500 from the maker by the owner who handed it to me to try while we were playing some chamber music. It had an antique finish and when I played it I thought it was a great old Italian since I have played on violins by Antonio Stradivari, Andrea Guarneri and Amati as well as newer ones by Stefano Scarampella (which I owned for a while) and Enrico Rocca and it vied with the best.

I had an internet acquaintance (via maestronet.com) over 20 years ago who had played the violin collection at the Library of Congress and thought that his teacher's violin made by a Baltimore luthier (German-born and trained) sounded better than the Strads and Guarneris there. I have a violin made by that same that same Baltimore maker and the last time I had work done on it I had a chance to play it in the same room and at the same time as I played a 1698 Stradivarius and an Andrea Guarnerius and still was able to go home without jealousy.

If I were looking to purchase a violin (which I am not and will not - I'm just too old now) I would look first at those made in my native country (USA) and I would check out amateur makers as well. While a professional maker has to charge about $100 or more per labor hour to earn a living and cover expenses, the amateur-made instruments I have bought and know about were sold for about $10 per labor hour. I also have the spec sheets on them from the maker covering every dimension and thickness and every electronic measurement made (2-3 pages per instrument). This maker won a competition prize for tone for one of his early violas at the only competition he ever entered but has now retired after making instrument #101 (including 12 violas and 3 cellos) all sold except for violin #1 and #101 and his "Messiah."

He is not the only maker who started out making for fun!

HOWEVER, I have to add that the first Strad I ever played on, 57 years ago and insured at the time for $150,000 (one that had been owned by virtuoso Olé Bull) was unbelievable - what it could do with vibrato sounded and felt like a flight to Heaven. I did not have enough chops to get it as far as it felt it might go or enough time, in the few minutes it was under my chin. That has been the standard to which I have compared violins ever since. I think it is a good idea for a violin purchaser to have an experience like that, something that sets a benchmark of sorts.

July 30, 2020, 12:02 PM · Gordon, it's really simple. One is dollars (or USD if you want to abbreviate) and the other is dollarydoos (which one does not shorten).
July 30, 2020, 1:43 PM · Gracie has made clear in her post that she wants something authentic. To this end she has abandoned the essential element of music and that is sound.

As many people have stated, it is very important to play the instrument, and to compare it to other instruments. Making these comparisons, side by side, in the same room, in the same session is the standard way of going about it. Oftentimes, after having selected the pick of the litter, one then takes it home on approval to give it an even more thorough testing.

It is possible to shop by mail, if you have several instruments shipped to you. However, at a certain level, it is all but necessary to go to a well stocked store and try them there.

It also goes without saying that if you cannot distinguish between the instruments aurally, then you should obtain the assistance of someone who can, such as a teacher.

Gracie, you mentioned that the local shops were overpriced, etc. Does your daughter’s teacher approve of any of the local shops? If she does, and it is safe to visit the shop, it is still worth going there, preferably with the teacher, and trying the violins. Even if you do not buy one it is an educational experience. You could make a small purchase such as string, if you feel you are taking advantage of the shop by trying the instruments.

Each instrument is unique. One cannot shop intelligently based solely on maker, country of origin, etc.

July 30, 2020, 3:27 PM · THE most important thing to consider is to find a trustworthy dealer. Second is condition of the instrument. Third and of course the most important in certain respects is sound.

I was well served by John Montgomery in Raleigh NC who found my Amati and my wife's Cappa violin. Also a classical violin by Scheinlein and a Simon bow. He also helped me buy an English violin by Thomas Kennedy. The instrument was purportedly by Vincenzo Panormo, but he did a considerable amount of research through experts in the field and I got a great sounding instrument for very little money including a certificate from J&A Beare.

He was and is all about condition of an instrument, asking a fair price and providing great service to his clientele. John is entrusted with the care of the instruments in the Smithsonian Institution and I also believe the Library of Congress.

By the way, it took him about a year to find my Amati, but I was willing to wait.

Edited: July 30, 2020, 6:54 PM · I agree with Gordon, Valrhona for me (Guanaja).

Bruce we're local to John, he is a very fine luthier...very fortunate to have him and Jerry for our local shops.

July 31, 2020, 12:16 PM · Micheal Berger wrote

"Gracie, you mentioned that the local shops were overpriced, etc. Does your daughter’s teacher approve of any of the local shops? If she does, and it is safe to visit the shop, it is still worth going there, preferably with the teacher, and trying the violins.
_________________________

Maybe, maybe not. There is still a widespread practice of kickbacks to teachers whose students purchase an instrument from a particular shop.

July 31, 2020, 12:58 PM · I understand that the American Federation of Violin and Bowmakers consider it to be unethical to offer commissions to teachers who send a student to their shop. I think that it is the responsibility of the teacher to make sure that the only kickback they might receive is directly from the buyer and possibly only for the time spent in investigating possibilities for the student.

I have made it very clear to the dealers I have worked with that I do not expect to receive a commission and will look elsewhere if that is the way they do business.

The first experience I had with this is when, as a student, I bought a nice French bow from Moennig. I asked Moennig for a discount which he gave me. However, my teacher at the time Ivan Galamian was not happy that he had not received his cut of the deal because I asked for the commission to defray my cost of the bow.

I have actually never asked a student for compensation for assisting with a purchase and feel very good about that decision.

July 31, 2020, 3:52 PM · "I understand that the American Federation of Violin and Bowmakers consider it to be unethical to offer commissions to teachers who send a student to their shop."

China is not in America...

Edited: July 31, 2020, 4:48 PM · Galamian certainly wasn't unique. A sleazy practice. I wonder if conservatories now make that against their codes of conduct.
July 31, 2020, 5:00 PM · I have always thought kickbacks to be unethical and I have never taken one.
July 31, 2020, 5:11 PM · :yay!:
Edited: July 31, 2020, 8:05 PM · I agree with Bruce and Mary Ellen. Teachers making large commissions off of instrument sales are unethical. One of my teachers at the Manhattan School of Music talked pridefully about receiving large commissions from a NY dealer on instruments his students bought and was very upset I didn’t consult him when I purchased a beautiful new instrument I loved (I wonder why...). There are also teachers now at the big 2 conservatories accepting cash in exchange for spots in their classes. But that’s another subject altogether...
August 3, 2020, 6:43 AM · One more question regarding purchasing from a dealer, would you negotiate on the price or just take it as it is? The question of whether an instrument well worth of the money sometimes can be quite subjective, particularly with the sound apart from the basics, e.g four strings sound of equally volume, clear high pitch and solid low pitch etc.

The problem with our local shops are there are limited selection of “old” violins , and most are freshly made by local luthiers. I would like to have something which has a bit of heritage and can hold the value( don’t expect it to appreciate much, but at least don’t depreciate over time).

August 3, 2020, 7:33 AM · As to whether your dealer is prepared to haggle, I can only suggest you ask him. Strangely, the sound of the violin has little or no bearing on the price! Pedigree and condition is all.

I also recently entered the antique violin market in the hope that my money would at least be safely deposited without too much depreciation, but now I'm somewhat wiser I've realised that this can't be relied upon. Although many dealers will guarantee your money back should you decide to upgrade the violin with them in the future, if after a few years you should sell to another dealer I very much doubt your investment would keep pace with inflation.

August 3, 2020, 7:36 AM · Commissions are not unethical if they are honestly and fully disclosed up-front to the potential buyer(s) by the dealer and the teacher before the sales process starts.
August 3, 2020, 12:00 PM · Disclosure helps, but the system being disclosed will not necessarily lead to a better purchase.
Edited: August 3, 2020, 3:17 PM · Just remember (or at least learn) what happened to the price (i.e., market value) of classic instruments during the 1930s as a result of the Great Depression.
August 3, 2020, 2:18 PM · George,

Even if disclosed, there is a power dynamic with the teacher and student. A teacher can insist on a student upgrading, or there can be a worry that choosing a different violin will cost the teacher a commission and cause tension. Any kind of commission is unethical in my opinion.

August 3, 2020, 2:22 PM · "Just remember (or at least learn) what happened to the price (i.e., market value) of classic instruments during as a result of the Great Depression."

Some ostensibly objective studies have pointed out the tendency for good violins to outpace inflation and equity markets. Leaving aside the tiny number of transactions to document this, most of them cheerfully forget entirely about the 1920s, when prices started going sideways for a few decades. It took a while after the War before wealth became plentiful enough to start chasing luxury goods as is going on now.

Edited: August 3, 2020, 3:14 PM · I sold two professional quality violins in the past three or four years. Both took over a year to sell. I made a little money on one and lost quite a bit on the other (it had been sold to me with a certificate that no other appraiser was willing to substantiate, so I bought it as an Italian and sold it as...not an Italian).

My advice, buying an instrument as an investment is very risky unless you are either buying a new instrument from the maker (or from a dealer who works directly with the maker) so there is no question of provenance, or you have an iron clad certificate from one of the top names in the business and a solid provenance as well.

Even with the best possible provenance, violins are the absolute opposite of a liquid investment and the better the price you are hoping for, the longer it will take to sell one. The main people making money on instruments in my experience are the dealers.

If you're buying an instrument to play, buy what you like and can afford, and don't get hung up on "Italian" or "antique" or anything else. Italian violins in particular are often priced way over violins of similar quality from France, Germany, England, or the U.S. In the student market, the high-end Chinese violins can be quite nice but any time you are looking at shop-made instruments, they can vary quite a bit even among violins at the same price point.

August 3, 2020, 6:57 PM · Over at Maestronet.com forums there is much interesting discussion about Mario Gadda. Even with a very reputable dealer, this maker is one with a very dubious reputation. Instruments with his own certificate could be made by him, by his workshop, or people with no connection to him or to Italy. I will echo what others have said: we are living in a time of truly excellent makers, all over the world. Superb instruments are being made that out-perform questionable antique violins, at a fraction of the price. I understand the desire to have an Italian violin by a well-known maker, but I am not sure this is the one to put your money on...
August 4, 2020, 12:27 AM · I have ruled out the previously mentioned Gadda piece. Was also looking at some French violins too but found they were not cheap either.


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