Instrument value

November 10, 2017, 2:23 PM · I'm looking to buy a new violin and I'm trying to decide between an old french violin with a Millant certificate or a new violin from a well respected maker. Both violins are about the same price. I prefer the old violin, but I am concerned that the value of the violin may not be worth it based on internet searches. There are not many listed and those that are listed are far lower on auction sites and on other seller sites. I don't know the condition of the online listings but the one I am interested in is in mint condition and from a well known dealer in the area.

Should I be concerned about the value of the old violin and instead go with the new maker violin? Is my concern valid? Ultimately I don't want to pay far more for a violin and not be able to recoup my money in the future if I sell or trade.

Replies (16)

Edited: November 10, 2017, 2:51 PM · If it were me, I'd get an independent appraisal of the older violin if that is the one I preferred but was concerned that it may be overpriced. Having an appraisal in hand would be an asset in negotiating a lower price, if the appraisal comes significantly lower (greater than 10-15%). Many factors of course comes in pricing an instrument vs another and you have to judge for yourself if the extra cost is warranted. You mentioned already condition. It may have a particular superior tone and playability compared to others from the same maker etc. (and does according to you have a particularly good sound). Keep in mind that you possibly stand to loose 20% on the resale/trade of the new instrument through a reseller/auction also.
November 10, 2017, 3:13 PM · "I am concerned that the value of the violin may not be worth it based on internet searches. There are not many listed and those that are listed are far lower on auction sites and on other seller sites."

For one thing, you have to compare apples to apples, something difficult to do with one-of-a-kind objects like violins. Auctions are not like retail sales, and entail more risk. The violin you're looking at may be in better condition (or not...). Can you bargain for the older violin? How much money are we talking anyway? $10K $50k? Is it enough to warrant worrying about it if you like it?

Can you post the maker and price asked?
Otherwise, I think there's only so much anyone can tell you.

November 10, 2017, 3:22 PM · The old one I'm looking at is $16k, for a Pillement. I haven't negotiated price at all. My concern is that auction prices vary widely, starting in the hundreds of dollars to maybe 5k. Again, condition and certificate of the online ones is unknown. I found one on an online store in good condition at under 3k.
November 10, 2017, 3:26 PM · At those prices, I think it comes down to which one you like better, but definitely try to haggle on the price--if they only paid a few thousand for the violin they would probably come down quite a bit on price instead of losing the sale.
November 10, 2017, 3:34 PM · Auction prices for the modern violin you're considering will vary widely as well, assuming any have ever appeared at auction. If you love it, and it's affordable, you should get the violin you prefer. Buying from a retailer is very different from buying at auction. Auction requires snap decisions. What can you get for 16K at auction as opposed to 16K at retail? How good are you at picking out great violins? ;)
November 10, 2017, 4:31 PM · Auctions and retail sales are apples and oranges. There is a lot of risk involved with buying an instrument at auction that you're not taking when you have a chance to inspect the violin and take it out for a trial week. The dealer needs to make money on the sale to stay in business.

I have no idea what a fair price is for this particular instrument but you can't go by the auction sales.

November 10, 2017, 7:04 PM · Thanks for the responses. My question isn't about buying a violin at auction, it is the price disparity between online sources including auctions that concerns me. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear about that when I posted originally. Auction prices I've seen are varied but generally under 1k, online dealers under 4k roughly. I understand that there are many factors involved, including condition and authenticity, but the wide delta between online and at a dealer for a mint example just has me concerned about the future resale value of the instrument.
November 10, 2017, 9:06 PM · You know nothing about the condition of the auction violins if even the authenticity. Then on the whole a higher auction price is about half of full retail.
November 10, 2017, 9:08 PM · Searching the maker on Google, it looks like his bio states that it was probable that he was running a workshop making lines of instruments at varying degrees of quality. That would explain the unusually wide range of prices at auction. Auction prices are typically half of retail price, by the way.

What shop is selling it, and will they offer 100% value on a trade-in in the future? Violins aren't very liquid, and in this $15k-$20k price range there is an abundance of contemporary instruments, so anything in this range may be hard to sell if it's not clearly better than other instruments in this price range.

November 11, 2017, 2:44 AM · The antique will probably have a better resale value than the modern.
November 11, 2017, 2:42 PM · Who's the respected maker?
November 11, 2017, 5:33 PM · Pillement.
November 11, 2017, 8:20 PM · Pillement is the old one, comparing against my first choice modern by Melanson
November 12, 2017, 9:37 AM · Here's another option: if you like the Melanson, try to play some other Melansons first. The reason I say this is that a few years ago I played a Melanson I regret not buying. It really was a great-sounding and playing violin. However, more recently I played one that didn't do it for me. It really depends on the particular violin. He's a very respected maker--I wouldn't be surprised if the resale value compares favorably to the older French.

November 12, 2017, 11:25 AM · I agree. I've tried about 5 Melanson violins now, including two he brought with him to the VSA convention. Surprisingly they are all good, but with some very noticeable tonal differences.

Another question that came to mind is if you buy a violin from a respected maker who charges X and ten years later charges X+Y, does your ten year old instrument resale value also increase accordingly? I'd think an older violin's value wouldn't correlate in the same fashion as a modern maker violin.

November 12, 2017, 7:36 PM · I tried the two Melansons that were at this weekend's VSA convention. I thought they were both nice, but not as much to my taste.

For a living maker, his older instruments might or might not be worth as his newer instruments, depending on whether the older instrument is at the same level of quality as his current work.

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