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Modern maker value


zefir68
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I've played thousands of instruments, and think that in general, the better known makers deserve their reputation, as well as the prices.

If you don't think so, lets put your $200 violin alongside some in a hall, and see what the audience thinks. :)

There are actually very few people making a full-time living as makers (not counting the factory workers). Most have some kind of a"day job", maybe violin related. Even if one has sufficient demand to be full-time and get reasonable prices, it's not a great strategy for getting rich. :)

A young lady need a violin for a concerto. The conductor it not like her violin, a Bisach, a bit strident.

The conductor lend her my $200 who then brought it her teacher Itzhak Perlman. He loved it.

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A young lady need a violin for a concerto. The conductor it not like her violin, a Bisach, a bit strident.

The conductor lend her my $200 who then brought it her teacher Itzhak Perlman. He loved it.

You might be right, although a Bisiach might not be the toughest comparison. I'm curious, aren't you? Let's put it alongside some other stuff and see what happens. We might all learn something. :)

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There are actually very few people making a full-time living as makers (not counting the factory workers). Most have some kind of a"day job", maybe violin related. Even if one has sufficient demand to be full-time and get reasonable prices, it's not a great strategy for getting rich. :)

I've seen statements like this before and I don't doubt it is true but I'm curious as to what "very few" means. I know of two makers who I am certain make their livings only through making. I know them personally and each of them has made more than 500 fine instruments. I can think of around ten more who very likely only do making (I don't know them personally so I'm not absolutely certain). David, how many makers do you know who make their livings only through making? No need to name names or quote prices.

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I've seen statements like this before and I don't doubt it is true but I'm curious as to what "very few" means. I know of two makers who I am certain make their livings only through making. I know them personally and each of them has made more than 500 fine instruments. I can think of around ten more who very likely only do making (I don't know them personally so I'm not absolutely certain). David, how many makers do you know who make their livings only through making? No need to name names or quote prices.

Jeffrey and I discussed this once on the phone, and I think we came up with something like 17-20 in the US. There are many who have name recognition as makers, but do lots of other stuff too.

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Don't forget to factor in the glitz quotient. Individual makers are not immune to the need for marketing. The easiest way to look at this is the difference between "real" value and "perceived" value. In the violin world, real value might be based on the quality of construction, appearance and sound (in that order, sadly). Perceived value is based on things like how well known the maker is, how well that maker markets her/himself, how many colleagues are playing that maker's instruments and/or have a high opinion of them, etc.

That adage "something is worth whatever a ready, willing and able buyer is prepared to pay for it" is very largely based on perceived value, and less on real value.

The guy who started the "Sizzler" chain is quoted as having said "...you don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle." A good example of this is the advisability for a relatively new touring soloist to play something with a high perceived value, even though they may also own a contemporary violin by a living maker that they prefer.

It may be an unfortunate truth that those who are truly great at making are not their own best marketers -- it's a different skill-set, and -- maybe more importantly -- a different mind-set.

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I've played thousands of instruments, and think that in general, the better known makers deserve their reputation, as well as the prices.

If you don't think so, lets put your $200 violin alongside some in a hall, and see what the audience thinks. :)

There are actually very few people making a full-time living as makers (not counting the factory workers). Most have some kind of a"day job", maybe violin related. Even if one has sufficient demand to be full-time and get reasonable prices, it's not a great strategy for getting rich. :)

I know two violin makers whose wives are systems administrators. So that is another alternative if you want to be a violin maker. Marry someone who will support you.

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Even if one has sufficient demand to be full-time and get reasonable prices, it's not a great strategy for getting rich.

I see you have taken the path of judging to rake in the serious cash. :)

Then there was the full-time violin maker that won $10 million in the lottery. When he was asked what he would do now, he replied, "I guess I'll just keep making violins until it's all gone."

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Seems like there are VSO's available at every price point. At most regional

violin shops where they have a wide variety of new and gently used instruments

retailers seem to have them priced as if they know what they know what they have.

A good violin dealer functions much like a good certified car dealer. Everything

on the rack is ready to play and in top form. Sometimes there are concessions

in price over modifications and repairs. I favor trying instruments without regarding

the price to find the sound I want. I set that one aside to find one in my price range

that is a match. A bargain is discovered or I walk better informed for my search.

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I guess all this is true but if a professional maker wants to keep going on I suppose there must be a minimum price (namely the price of the wood and the working hours). Let's say 150 hours at minimum wage of £5/h is £750 added to £100-150 for the wood and set up that would make it £850-990. Can you really make a living as a maker (supposing you're working on your own) selling violins for less than that?

If you tenfold the hourly rate and triple the price for materials etc I think you will be at a reasonable estimate, some £8000-£9000. Then maybe assume at least ten new violins a year, make it fifteen to get at a reasonable income. There is need for some setup work, meeting customers, some marketing travels and meetings too.

I think a price of say $15-20000.- is quite reasonable. I would guess not many makers are able to make 15 a year. But some may have some support, and they need to be paid..

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I guess all this is true but if a professional maker wants to keep going on I suppose there must be a minimum price (namely the price of the wood and the working hours). Let's say 150 hours at minimum wage of £5/h is £750 added to £100-150 for the wood and set up that would make it £850-990. Can you really make a living as a maker (supposing you're working on your own) selling violins for less than that?

i agree with you. i think its a hard life if you are not famous or an obvious genius . 150 hrs is roughly 3 work weeks for me. though i'm sure it is possible to make a fiddle in under a month, it sure doesn't sound sustainable. not unless you were Stainer or have helpers.

you'll have to make and sell one fiddle a month just to feed yourself and barely make it to the next month, provided nothing serious ever happens to you, like hacking off a thumb etc.

and if you have a family, to make £1000/mth (is that just under US$1500?) is not enough to pay rent, buy gas, keep usable tires on your car, pay bills and the kids fed and attending school.

tools, maintenance/breakdowns etc have to be accounted for, not to mention travel, insurance and buying off the in-laws and taking martial arts class to fight off creditors and the re-po man. a large machete by the front door can only do so much.

thus if the point is to make a living, than the price of a new instrument has to provide life (style) support. and it surely has to be augmented by doing multiple bad repairs at 2 in the morning and the occasional furniture work or floor installation or plumbing or manning the hot dog stand.

*gee* sucks to be at the bottom of the food chain.

how do you get to the top to get some air?

brrrrhhh

r

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It's extremely hard to make a living in any aspect of the classical music genre. I think it is even harder, from what I have seen from all the posts, to make a living as a maker. Aside from the great perks of chatting up stewardesses and waitresses :) (I wish there was a thumbs up emoticon)

To extend the question of modern violins' worth: what if I had bought a violin from "trafiat" in 1990 for $10,000. H/She goes on to great acclaim and in 2010, the latest output fetches $25,000. Is my violin worth $25,000 on the open market?

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It's extremely hard to make a living in any aspect of the classical music genre. I think it is even harder, from what I have seen from all the posts, to make a living as a maker. Aside from the great perks of chatting up stewardesses and waitresses :) (I wish there was a thumbs up emoticon)

To extend the question of modern violins' worth: what if I had bought a violin from "trafiat" in 1990 for $10,000. H/She goes on to great acclaim and in 2010, the latest output fetches $25,000. Is my violin worth $25,000 on the open market?

Only if a buyer forks over the cash for it. :)
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To extend the question of modern violins' worth: what if I had bought a violin from "trafiat" in 1990 for $10,000. H/She goes on to great acclaim and in 2010, the latest output fetches $25,000. Is my violin worth $25,000 on the open market?

I think that $25,000 would be where the pricing for the fiddle would start if you took the fiddle to a dealer and asked to have it sold for you, if that's the price the maker is currently getting for his fiddles. Of course, if you wanted it sold in a hurry, then the dealer, consulting with you, might price it for less. If, over time, it didn't sell at that price, then the price might go lower. Maybe a potential buyer might negotiate a lower price. In other words, you might start at $25,000 as justifiable, and adjust as your patience and potential buyers' interests dictate. There is no official number. But the price the maker is currently asking might be a reasonable starting point in the pricing.

I have a bow by a contemporary maker that I bought for X amount some dozen years ago. I was interested in selling it, and took it to a dealer I respect to find out what it might sell for. I assumed the bow would sell for about the same X amount I paid. The dealer's answer to pricing it, however, was that he would call the maker to find out what the maker was currently asking for his bows. I got the impression that the dealer anticipated some appreciation in the price, some price greater than X.

So, yes, it's possible for a living maker's work to sell for more than what you paid for it some years earlier, maybe as much as his current work, if there's a willing buyer.

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I recently sold an Espey bow I'd had for over ten years to a friend who "just had to have it". I don't remember exactly what I paid for it, but sold it for the price Espey currently charges, which was a good deal more than I paid.

The only problem is that I can't replace it. I wound up on Espey's wait list, and I'll probably never see another bow. :) This bow was the first installment of a quartet I commissioned (in the early 90s, I think), and the only bow I ever actually received.

With that in mind, did I charge too little? I guess so! I think this is one example of something being worth considerably more than the maker charges. The buyer was a long-time friend though, and as it turns out, that bow was used for the audition which resulted in a Cleveland Orchestra position, so at least I can feel good about that part. :)

I've also owned some violins (and currently have one commissioned) from some well-known and rather pricey makers, so obviously, I think they're worth it.

Dang, I wish I hadn't sold the Carl Becker when I did. I think I got about $15,000 for it, and now they're going for something like 50K plus.

Guess I better hang on to my Roger Hargrave for a while longer.

Roger, are you, like, really old and feeble yet? toetap.gif Or do you at least engage in some high-risk behaviors?

Have you had a chance to use that sky-diving parachute I sent you?

No pressure, no pressure, just asking..... :)

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OK. There are so many angles this subject can be approached, I'm sure there's a capacity for a dizzy spell...

So.. Let me approach it from an appraisers standpoint.

An evaluation of value related to replacement of an object should be viewed in the light of "the best appropriate market". I think we can all agree to remove Ebay from that group in most (almost all) cases.

What the best appropriate market is depends on the object. In many cases, this would be retail shops that deal with the type of instrument or bow in question... In other cases, if the maker is living, it might be the maker themselves (waiting lists), in other cases, (especially if the provenance is an attraction, or if a public sale is a requirement) a good auction house.

When properly appraising an object, the appraiser must use a system... One recommended/accepted system is a "work file". If there is ever a reason to appear in court concerning a valuation, the appraiser had better have one.

A work file includes observations associated from inspection, market data (sales history), how the present work compares to other works by the maker and/or other makers, what a living maker might be charging for a new and similar item, etc.

What one finds is not always what one expects. There are some living makers who charge more for their work than I feel, based on resale history, than can be regained in the marketplace (I tend to decline appraisals like that). Other makers (including a very active one on this board) have, at times, charged less for their new work than some of their old work was selling for. Hopefully that was temporary, and they adjusted their prices... but I'd think that's an enviable position to be in. :) There are makers who produce instruments or bows that are, and have been, of a very consistent quality level, and others who's older work is not so great, but have raised their own bar. There are some makers who have built reputations well, and a few who have ruined their reputations.

If an appraiser does not consider the factors above, they are essentially presenting an un-substanciated opinion... Dangerous. Also not really a service to an owner, or in the case of a market value (for resale) appraisal, the buyer or seller.

Cheers all.

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Guess I better hang on to my Roger Hargrave for a while longer.

Roger, are you, like, really old and feeble yet? toetap.gif Or do you at least engage in some high-risk behaviors?

No pressure, no pressure, just asking..... :)

Man, I've told y'all before that listing high risk behavior on your websites would be a good marketing move....

:-)

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