One way or another an antique violin has made it into your possession. Once you have gotten over the initial buzz that it is not an original Stradivarius, you settle into dealing with the question of just what do you have? And what is it worth? And how do I find out the answer to these questions?
In modern times, the first step is to realize that you are blessed to be living in the age of the greatest research tool of all time, the internet. Up until now you would have been dependent on your local area’s violin enthusiasts for information and pricing for your instrument. A novice’s ignorance and the local expert’s control of information were used indiscriminately to take advantage of the uninformed in the past.
Now you can spend a few hours on the internet and find out about the violin market, browser search whatever clues are on the inside and outside of your professional cello for sale and see multitudes of pictures of violins. There are many sites with old and antique violins for sale for you to compare your violin with. Your initial research should include reading through these sites to get an understanding of what your violin is. In the process you should come to understand a few things about the violin market.
First is that you have probably found a diamond in the rough. It may be cracked or broken or in a state of disrepair. It may cost a little or a lot to get it to salable condition and price.
Second is that it can take a long time (sometimes years) to find the person who will pay you full market value for your violin. For the discriminating buyer it can take as long to find the violin that they are suited to as well.
If you want cash for your violin and want it now, you will get a very low price compared to full market value. This is because those who will market it may have to hold it in inventory for years so they will only be willing to pay wholesale price. If it is in disrepair the price for your violin may be discounted at a retail level by those who buy violins, fix them up and then sell them. It is only fair that they buy them cheap as they will do a lot of work, have the expense of marketing the finished violin and will need to make a profit for their efforts.
You will also get some very confusing information and signals from those in the violin marketplace. It is a very diverse market and everyone has an opinion. They have varied opinions on what is a good violin, who makes good violins, who is good at repairing violins, what are the best violin accessories to add to a violin and any other facet of violins that can be open to more than one opinion. And all of these opinions are put to you the novice with great bravado by self appointed experts.
If it sounds like it is a challenge, you are beginning to understand that this little violin windfall will be a challenge. It is not easy money by any means. You may even find that for just one violin, it will hardly be worth the effort to try selling it. To even get an accurate reading on its value should cost you money. If you still want to pursue finding a value for your treasure, there is only one thing to do. You need to find and honest and qualified luthier to appraise your violin. We will now address the questions of what is such a luthier and how do I find such a person.
Luthiers (builders and repairers of stringed instruments) do not have Luthiery college or university courses. They work as understudies of reputable luthiers for years to gain the knowledge and experience from the previous generation of luthiers. So a luthier’s credentials are under whom he studies and for how long. However, the most important facet of finding a good luthier is by reputation. So when you want to find a good luthier the best place to look is on the music grapevine in your community. Ask at local music stores, ask local teachers and check with local junior and senior philharmonic orchestras in your community. I cannot say that big cities are the best place to find good luthiers because many are drawn to small communities. There are state, regional and national luthier associations and they have lists of members. They offer and take courses, have seminars and offer ongoing information on their sites so this may be where you will find a luthier close to your home base. Once you have found one, you should expect to pay to have your violin appraised. This is a luthier’s way of making a living and they cannot do it for free any more than you can work for free.
There is one thing that you should know about violins as you head into this process. The bottom line for value of violins is the sound. For someone to look at your violin and appraise it without ever seeing and playing it just does not work. A violin can look like anything someone wants to create. The proof of how good a violin is its sound. The proof of how good a violin is its sound. The proof of how good a violin is its sound. I wrote that 3 times at the conclusion of this article because that is how important sound is to the value of your violin.