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MikeP

Two completely dissimilar appraisals of a nice sounding Violin

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Hello Maestonet group, I’m a long time reader of this wonderful forum but never registered nor a poster. I’m a violinist and just love everything about this wonderful instrument.

What brings me to posting is recently a good friend of mine bought a violin solely on sound, he’s tried lots of instruments in violin shops and this came across him from some unknown source. He didn’t pay much ($2,000). So when I saw it, it has a nice varnish, the violin is light and very easy to play, probably the easiest playing instrument I’ve played. It bears an Italian label “1945 Vittorio Bellarosa”. I told him it probably isn’t the correct label but what do I know about violins.

This is the interesting thing; I told him to bring it to the violin shop to get an verbal appraisal just in case 1. It’s really an Italian fiddle and 2. What their overall opinion is. So I went with him to one shop and while waiting for the appraiser we went into the trial room and we tried a good 8 fiddles in the 10K – 30K range and none sounded as nice as this unknown Bellarosa. By this time the owner comes in and looks at the violin and says this is a nice fiddle can I borrow it for a sec. He disappears and comes back 5 minutes later and states, I hope you know its not a bellarosa but it’s a very nice instrument and wanted to offer $7K for the instrument if we wanted to “trade” it. I asked if its even Italian and he said NO maybe Czech or bohemian.

After this I told my friend it sounded a bit fishy let’s get it appraised at another Luthier shop in the area, we went there and the guy looks at it 2 seconds and sais this is a dime of dozen fiddles that are worth nothing. We were shocked how can one place want 7K for it the other says it’s worthless?? I told him if its so worthless why don’t you compare its sound to any of your $20K fiddles and we will see. We got the response that sound is NOT a factor in a violin’s price…

So here I would like your professional opinions on this instrument since I can’t believe 2 places gave completely black & white appraisals of this instrument. If this is truly a worthless instrument I don’t understand how it can sound so nice, be so easily played and be worthless??

Thanks guys….

Ps: If you guys require more pictures please let me know....

Mike

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Sound is not supposed to be a factor in the appraisal of an instrument. In the simplest terms, the sound of an instrument is fragile and subjective. The bridge gets bumped, moves, and the violin's sound degrades, does the value go down? Or the instrument needs a soundpost adjustment, do you lower the price? By how much? If a string breaks, is the violin worth 25% less ;-)? How do you deal with the situation where one person loves the sound but the next person doesn't, which value applies? You get the idea.

In real life a better sounding violin is easier to sell and some violin shops may bump up the price. But only within the bounds of the category.

This reminds me of a customer who brought a badly damaged violin for repair to my shop. The damage was caused in an accident which was covered by insurance. This musician wanted me to appraise the instrument at five times it's (normal) appraised value because he said 'it sounds like a Strad'. I suggested that if it sounds like a Strad maybe it should be appraised at a six figure number....at which point his eyes were opened.

Oded Kishony

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I have recently started to play and didnt wanted to spend much money. I went to a guy who buys lots and lost of trade instruments, fixes them and sells them.

I went through the fiddle, eventually picking what he said was actually "cheapest", spent perhaps 300 bucks together with repased Ipe bow.

Here comes the catch - I found a teacher , went to lesson and the teacher "is it tuned?", took it and said "the sound, wow!" - She then tried her aparently fine french old instrument, which sounded only very slightly better.

Aparently sometimes one finds a gem.

Jaro

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Sound is not supposed to be a factor in the value of an instrument. In the simplest of terms, the sound of an instrument is fragile. The bridge gets bumped, moves, and the violin's sound degrades, does the value go down? Or the instrument needs a soundpost adjustment, do you lower the price? By how much? If a string breaks, is the violin worth 25% less ;-)? You get the idea.

In real life a better sounding violin is easier to sell and some violin shops may bump up the price. But only within the bounds of the category.

This reminds me of a customer who brought a badly damaged violin for repair to my shop. The damage was caused in an accident which was covered by insurance. This musician wanted me to appraise the instrument at five times it's (normal) appraised value because he said 'it sounds like a Strad'. I suggested that if it sounds like a Strad maybe it should be appraised at a six figure number....at which point his eyes were opened.

Oded Kishony

Hmmm… Quite the opposite, sound is supposed to be a factor in the value of an instrument (at least to rational beings) but generally is not. Yes, we know the market is such that pedigree is far and away the primary factor in valuation, but one should be careful to distinguish what is and what should be. In an ideal world, a buyer would take a stellar Craske over a dog Cremonese in a heartbeat, and let's be blunt, if it were not for the potential return on investment, all buyers would.

As far as depreciating a violin's value because the sound is degraded due to a bumped bridge or post, I say why not. If you are selling something, it should be at its peak performance when a customer tries it, and if it is not, then the price should be less. It is a fundamental truth of commerce.

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"Czech or Bohemian" looks like a good call, but a dealer offering $7,000 for the instrument sounds strange. I wouldn't have thought the retail price of an instrument like that could be over $3,000 at the very best.

That is, if one abides by the normal standards of the violin market...

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"Czech or Bohemian" looks like a good call, but a dealer offering $7,000 for the instrument sounds strange. I wouldn't have thought the retail price of an instrument like that could be over $3,000 at the very best.

That is, if one abides by the normal standards of the violin market...

It was 7K to be used for a "trade-in" with one of their intruments in the shop, i didnt get a outright price... I assumed he would list it over $10K but this is why I posted why in the heck would the other luthier mark it as "scrap" wourthless? these were reputables Luthier shops in the area...

I figured one of them is not telling the whole story here....

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It was 7K to be used for a "trade-in" with one of their intruments in the shop, i didnt get a outright price... I assumed he would list it over $10K but this is why I posted why in the heck would the other luthier mark it as "scrap" wourthless? these were reputables Luthier shops in the area...

I figured one of them is not telling the whole story here....

OK, as a trade-in price it sounds a bit more realistic - but only a bit. The other assessment is the opposite extreme - to me it looks like a very nice trade fiddle, certainly not "scrap". The sound issue muddies the water a bit - it is not unusual to find very nice-sounding Czech or Bohemian trade instruments, and if some judicious interior work had been done on it in the past, it may well sound much better than what its "market value" would suggest.

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It was 7K to be used for a "trade-in" with one of their intruments in the shop, i didnt get a outright price... I assumed he would list it over $10K but this is why I posted why in the heck would the other luthier mark it as "scrap" wourthless? these were reputables Luthier shops in the area...

I figured one of them is not telling the whole story here....

++++++++++++++++++++++

The value of a violin is the money you receive from the buyer without any other condition.

A trade-in as suggested by the shop only complicates the matter because you still have to come up with some cash of $3k or more.

How much is your violin worth?

It is easy to find out if you ask the shop to sell it for you. (le by consignment) . Not until it is sold, you never know what it is worth.

Both shops had some idea how much they could get for the violin, because they do have experience in sales. A firm price is never for sure

How can they tell you same story that you think they are honest even they themselves are not sure of the price(until it is sold) ?

I have a particular violin. If someone offered me $3k a few years ago, I would not sell it (I thought I discovered a gem). Now if someone offers me $500 I would be gald to sell it.

It hard to know why my sentiment has been changed. I think buyers would have this kind of feeling too. " I have to get it" ---feeling. They offer you very good prices

with a fear that they may lose out. Price is not a fixed thing.

Your violin has hardly much of wear. I do not know if it is a plus.

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Sound is not supposed to be a factor in the value of an instrument. In the simplest of terms, the sound of an instrument is fragile and subjective.

Oded Kishony

I think it's just the opposite: Sound is the primary factor in the value of a violin. In the simplest terms, the sound of a violin is built into the box which cannot be easily copied by others. Strad and GDG built the near magic boxes which produce the type of sound generations of players wanted. It is the sound which propels the price of these instruments, not who make it.

The violin appraisers are not qualified violin players; they are in no way to judge the sound. In the low end of instruments made in the 19th C and on, the price is determined by when and who made it. This is where the appraisers come into play.

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It sounds to me like you're looking for reassurance. That it's not a Bellarosa? And that it's not worthless? Right?

It's hard to tell for sure from photos, but it looks to me like a nicely made new fiddle. That's based on total lack of dings and varnish apparently in new condition (as far as I can tell from photos). It's possible that it could have been revarnished, but the odds are against it. So it's not worthless and probably not a Bellarosa. When he said "worthless", I would think he meant in relation to a rather expensive master-made Italian violin.

If you really need a valid appraisal, you'll probably have to pay someone for an opinion in writing. Typical fees are not cheap, but may be helpful for insurance purposes. Or you may just wish to go with the receipt, assuming it's from a qualified shop. Remember what you paid for our opinions.

There are such anomalies in violin prices, especially from the second and third worlds, that you could indeed get something that sounds pretty good for a modest price. Tell your friend to just enjoy the fiddle.

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I'll second the part about 'just enjoy it'. The scroll is indicative of other Bellarossa violin pics but the edgework outside the purfling is rather daring. On my screen it looks in these photos as if the plate is channeled and rises to a peak at the edge instead of being rounded off. That's unique.

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If your friend paid $2k for that, he probably did quite well, but as other people have suggested, I completely agree that it looks like a well made Bohemian violin, probably made around 1900 and certainly nothing to do with Vittorio Bellarosa. A trade in of $7000????? I am surprised that dealer is still in business...

I personally see no ressemblence in the scroll with any Bellarosa I've seen.(or any other parts)

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I agree with Peter... looks quite serviceable, but not like an instrument I'd put $7K into.

GMM and David T.: The issue of appraisal & sound has come up many times. Here's a quote from a reply I made at one of those times.

"A well made (classic arch, classic design, first class materials) has the best potential to sound well, however, it may or may not (sound well) the day it visits the appraiser.... or be to the appraiser's taste."

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Something not mentioned-

Trade in the violin at the $7,000 value for a violin that has a price tag of $10,000 (that day) but is worth ...perhaps $1,000?

Enjoy the violin and don't worry about these two "events".

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Something not mentioned-

Trade in the violin at the $7,000 value for a violin that has a price tag of $10,000 (that day) but is worth ...perhaps $1,000?

Enjoy the violin and don't worry about these two "events".

Phew, I was thinking that, but didn't feel I should dare say it... :)

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how about this:http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&item=290284361346

Sorry, I could not resist.

Oh no - (GROAN)

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"Czech or Bohemian" looks like a good call;

++++++++++++++++++++

This is a Czech violin. (see photo on left) , very flat at the edge.

It does not resemble the edge of what MikeP's violin.

Of which the channel is quite deep.

Does MikeP's violin resemble a Juzek violin ? ( I may agree that thought, but the color is not right)

+++++++++++++++

(continued)

A fine modern Chinese violin (see photo on right) I am confused because none of these violins has label Thank the previous owners.

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"This is a Czech violin. (see photo on left) , very flat at the edge.

It does not resemble the edge of what MikeP's violin.

Of which the channel is quite deep.

Does MikeP's violin resemble a Juzek violin ? ( I may agree that thought, but the color is not right)"

Not all Italian violins look like Stradivari

Not all German violins look like Klotz

Not all Austrian violins look like Stainer

Not all French violins look like Lupot

Not all Czech violins look like Juzek.

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I hope that we are now all in agreement that it is impossible to base the price of a violin on it's sound?

That it's obvious to all that evaluating the sound of a violin is elusive and that people have individual preferences?

That the sound of a violin is fragile and impermanent , degrading with aging strings, misplaced soundpost and a bumped bridge.

Oded

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"This is a Czech violin. (see photo on left) , very flat at the edge.

It does not resemble the edge of what MikeP's violin.

Of which the channel is quite deep.

Does MikeP's violin resemble a Juzek violin ? ( I may agree that thought, but the color is not right)"

Not all Italian violins look like Stradivari

Not all German violins look like Klotz

Not all Austrian violins look like Stainer

Not all French violins look like Lupot

Not all Czech violins look like Juzek.

++++++++++++++++++

I agree all you said above. Now I am totally confused.

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"it is impossible to base the price of a violin on it's sound"\-Oded

Not all Italian violins look like Stradivari

Not all German violins look like Klotz

Not all Austrian violins look like Stainer

Not all French violins look like Lupot

Not all Czech violins look like Juzek\-Jacob

These kind of facts should be pinned on this forum for all users to see and hopefully understand.

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I hope that we are now all in agreement that it is impossible to base the price of a violin on it's sound?

That it's obvious to all that evaluating the sound of a violin is elusive and that people have individual preferences?

That the sound of a violin is fragile and impermanent , degrading with aging strings, misplaced soundpost and a bumped bridge.

Oded

Now that you put it like that... :)

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I hope that we are now all in agreement that it is impossible to base the price of a violin on it's sound?

That it's obvious to all that evaluating the sound of a violin is elusive and that people have individual preferences?

That the sound of a violin is fragile and impermanent , degrading with aging strings, misplaced soundpost and a bumped bridge.

Oded

++++++++++++++++++++++

The price of a violin cannot be based on sound alone. Other things are involved, indirectly such as the name of maker, easieness of getting the sound out,

its look (varnish, color, condition). How eager the buyers want it. How eager the seller want to rid of it. The knowlege of the buyers

and sellers. The level of the players who happen to be able to afford. These factors play more important roll directly.

One example in mind. If a violin of maker A for $200k it is not likely to see another violin of maker A sold

for substantiallly less. (A market factor).

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