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ANITIX87

Tips/Resources for Selling Violin? (~10K dollars)

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We all know the unparalleled feeling of finding "the" violin. Well, a couple of weeks ago, I did: I went to a shop and found a beautiful instrument that has exactly the sound I am looking for. Therefore, I want to upgrade. I'm looking to sell my current instrument to set up the right financial situation. My violin was made in 1998 by Raphael Le Cointe (who then went to Cremona). I have an insurance appraisal for $15,000 and his instruments have sold for upwards of $20,000. I'm hoping to get 10-12K to offset the cost of the upgrade. The violin is in suberb condition: it's more a solist's instrument (powerful, bright, direct, and responses). However, and I am playing much more orchestra and chamber stuff now, so it's not the right sound for me anymore (I'm looking for something warmer and less penetrating).

I've read a bunch of old threads (from this site and others) on various tips for selling violins and the different options one has (consignment, auction, private sale, shop sale, trade-in, donation for tax break, etc). However, I think I'm stuck at the point where only a private sale is a realistic option, despite the difficulties that come with trying that.

Consignment: I can't afford to buy the new violin and put my current one on consignment, because the up-front cost is too high (and I don't want to get trapped in a scenario where my current instrument doesn't sell for years). On the other hand, I can't put my violin into consignment and be left without an instrument to play while I wait for it to sell.

Auction: I think an auction would yield far too little money. I've contacted the bigger auction houses (Tarisio, Bromptons, etc) and they don't seem interested in a modern NY instrument.

Trade-in: The shop where I found the violin I love (a reputable shop in the USA) assessed my current instrument for a trade-in. The luthiers there confirmed it is well-made and in very good condition but they required the vice-president's approval. He, for whatever reason, declined the option to trade the instrument, even though I would have paid a significant net cash difference. The shop won't tell me why they weren't interested (they want to charge me for a "verbal appraisal"), even though I think this information would help me.

Donation: quite simply, my income is too high since I file jointly with my wife, and the tax break I'd get for donating, even at the insurance appraisal value, isn't worth it.

Shop sale: I can't imagine a shop or luthier will just buy my instrument from me to add to their inventory if I'm not buying a new instrument from them.

PRIVATE SALE: This leaves me with private sale. I have reached out to old teachers, fellow musicians, a couple of youth orchestras in the area, and some other resources. However, this has proved futile so far as I am finding that potential buyers have an inherent trust in shops (it's understandable: it gives an impression of legitimacy in case something were to go wrong).

I'm looking for tips, resources, or even contacts anyone might have on how to get word out about my instrument and find a student who is looking to upgrade. I believe my current violin is perfect for an advanced player, especially someone looking to move into a fine instrument and continue studying solo repertoire (something like a promising high school student or early conservatory student).

I have also listed my violin on Reverb.com: https://reverb.com/item/31296574-fine-violin-american-hand-made-4-4-size-raphael-le-cointe-nyc-1998

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It's insured?  Have you considered a trip to London?  There's this sarnie shop in a train station..........  :ph34r:;)

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As GeorgeH said. Else, I'd say consignment is still the best option even if you have to wait a while for the sale to happen. So much so, that if I was in this situation, I would probably sell my car and get a cheaper one; or re-draw some money on my home loan. A private sale for anything in that price category will be extremely difficult and would most likely happen within a narrow circle of people/ relationships that you would have checked out already.

 

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I'm in a somewhat similar position, with a 1997 violin by a virtually unknown Italian maker to sell. He has one recorded auction price of £3300, whereas I couldn't find any auction records for le Cointe. After two fruitless years on consignment with a dealer who was confident he could get me a net return of £4000 (eventually..), it's now up for auction with Amati with a reserve of £2000. That would almost cover my 22-year-old outlay, but still seems like a bitter pill to swallow. C'est la vie.

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16 hours ago, ANITIX87 said:

Auction: I think an auction would yield far too little money. I've contacted the bigger auction houses (Tarisio, Bromptons, etc) and they don't seem interested in a modern NY instrument.

I would suspect they might well be interested at the right price tag, but may have sensed a bit of an expectation gap.

I have seen many auctions for modern living makers where the auction price was a fraction of what these makers ask for their instruments. That seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

 

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12 hours ago, Violadamore said:

It's insured?  Have you considered a trip to London?  There's this sarnie shop in a train station..........  :ph34r:;)

Yeah, it's insured. It's a shame I'd get more money to spend on an upgrade if something catastrophic happened than if I sold it to someone who wants it and would appreciate it.

11 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Is the maker still alive? If so, contact him.

Yes, he is, but he no longer makes instruments. I've been in contact with him since I bought the instrument. I've asked about him buying it back but since he doesn't make anymore and doesn't have a waiting list of any kind, he didn't seem interested.

9 hours ago, Guido said:

As GeorgeH said. Else, I'd say consignment is still the best option even if you have to wait a while for the sale to happen. So much so, that if I was in this situation, I would probably sell my car and get a cheaper one; or re-draw some money on my home loan. A private sale for anything in that price category will be extremely difficult and would most likely happen within a narrow circle of people/ relationships that you would have checked out already.

 

Yeah, consignment is just tough financially. If I invest 12-15K on an upgrade and my violin sits in a shop for years, that money is tied up until it sells. The market is leaning towards darker instruments and my current one is a bright, penetrating soloist's instrument, so I'm at even more of a disadvantage.

7 hours ago, matesic said:

I'm in a somewhat similar position, with a 1997 violin by a virtually unknown Italian maker to sell. He has one recorded auction price of £3300, whereas I couldn't find any auction records for le Cointe. After two fruitless years on consignment with a dealer who was confident he could get me a net return of £4000 (eventually..), it's now up for auction with Amati with a reserve of £2000. That would almost cover my 22-year-old outlay, but still seems like a bitter pill to swallow. C'est la vie.

Yeah, I paid $8,000 in 1999 (which is about 12K today) so I'd hate to get less than 8K for it, and I don't think it would fetch that at auction.

6 hours ago, Guido said:

I would suspect they might well be interested at the right price tag, but may have sensed a bit of an expectation gap.

I have seen many auctions for modern living makers where the auction price was a fraction of what these makers ask for their instruments. That seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

 

Tarisio said the instrument is too modern. I haven't contacted Skinner yet. The other big houses in London aren't practical for me since I'm in NY.

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I think you should keep looking until you find a violin you like AND a dealer willing to take your violin in trade. As with buying a car, try to negotiate the price of the violin before mentioning you want to do a trade. You probably also need to temper your expectations about how much you can get on this violin through a consignment or auction.

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1 hour ago, WartimeConsigliere said:

 You probably also need to temper your expectations about how much you can get on this violin through a consignment or auction.

...and trade.  Most good dealers have policies that protect clients who have purchased instruments in the past by supporting the at least the original purchase price and possibly allowing for some reasonable appreciation in trade. Loyalty is a good thing to reward in business.

Since the OP did not purchase the instrument from a dealer, I would imagine any trade he receives will be subject to 1) If the dealer wants the instrument, and 2) If they do want it, what would be the cost of buying one straight out (dealer/industry, auction/wholesale price/wholesale, etc... In other words, the price they would be willing to pay for it as an addition to their inventory) and the resulting expected profit at sale.  

Unless the instrument the client wanted was jacked up in price to cover these situations (and then one might start to wonder how "good" the dealer actually was), I doubt "pre-negotiation" of the price of the new fiddle before introducing the trade would make much difference (because of factors 1 & 2). It certainly wouldn't with me.

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Very much in agreement with Jeffrey.

With us, if you're a new customer you might get a generous trade-in deal or a discount, never both ... 

With existing customers we offer a full upgrade policy. This actually acts as an incentive for us to keep our prices reasonable, since we may very likely have to buy things back at that price when our clients upgrade a few years down the line.

With new customers, it's true that most people who are buying a violin are also selling a violin. For reasons which are blindingly obvious, we are likely to be even more disaffected with the proffered trade-in than the person who wants to dump it on us. 9 times out of 10 it goes into auction and sells for less than the nominal trade-in price. So in effect the trade-in is a discount.

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43 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

...and trade.  Most good dealers have policies that protect clients who have purchased instruments in the past by supporting the at least the original purchase price and possibly allowing for some reasonable appreciation in trade. Loyalty is a good thing to reward in business.

Since the OP did not purchase the instrument from a dealer, I would imagine any trade he receives will be subject to 1) If the dealer wants the instrument, and 2) If they do want it, what would be the cost of buying one straight out (dealer/industry, auction/wholesale price/wholesale, etc... In other words, the price they would be willing to pay for it as an addition to their inventory) and the resulting expected profit at sale.  

Unless the instrument the client wanted was jacked up in price to cover these situations (and then one might start to wonder how "good" the dealer actually was), I doubt "pre-negotiation" of the price of the new fiddle before introducing the trade would make much difference (because of factors 1 & 2). It certainly wouldn't with me.

The other factor that often makes it difficult for a dealer to take an instrument in part-exchange, is if he owns the fiddle he is selling, and you are trading up too, or if he has that on consignment too. This is the slippery slope that can land one in prison.

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I don’t really have anything to offer, although if you think the sound as is isn’t as desirable, you might consider trying to change the set up to be a little more gentle and warm.

I frequently encounter instruments that are deliberately set up to be as bright and penetrating as possible, which is a sound I don’t care for. Just maybe you could make your instrument a little bit more desirable if you would change the set up a bit?

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43 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

The other factor that often makes it difficult for a dealer to take an instrument in part-exchange, is if he owns the fiddle he is selling, and you are trading up too, or if he has that on consignment too. This is the slippery slope that can land one in prison.

True, as history has proven... 

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Just curious, what is the cost of the one you want? Significantly more?  Most prices are negotiable. Perhaps you are closer than you think and dont need  to immediately sell the old one.

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Go to your bank, ask for a personal/bridge loan and purchase what you want and work on selling what you have. 

What will you do if someone wants your violin but doesn't have the money up front and wants you to take their violin in trade toward your instrument so that they can afford to move up?

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If you have owned it for 20 years, then you have essentially paid $400 per year for the violin.

If you are a working musician, you should have been able to depreciate the instrument to get a tax break against your income (which would have paid for the violin by this time). If you depreciated to zero value, then whatever you sell it for now will be a 100% capital gain on your taxes. I don't know if there is a way to claim a loss for taxable purposes if you sell it below some fair market value. Talk to an accountant.

Now, I realize that none of this is particularly valuable now in helping you raise funds for a new violin, but it points out that expensive violins are capital equipment for working musicians that can be depreciated for tax purposes, and should be accounted for accordingly. 

https://www.local802afm.org/allegro/articles/how-to-depreciate-your-instrument-to-reduce-taxable-income/

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On 1/24/2020 at 11:54 AM, WartimeConsigliere said:

I think you should keep looking until you find a violin you like AND a dealer willing to take your violin in trade. As with buying a car, try to negotiate the price of the violin before mentioning you want to do a trade. You probably also need to temper your expectations about how much you can get on this violin through a consignment or auction.

That's my plan. I'm not in a rush to sell or buy. I'm going to keep looking if I can't find a private buyer. My expectations for consignment or auction are VERY low, which is why I haven't pursued them as preferred options.

On 1/24/2020 at 1:10 PM, Jeffrey Holmes said:

Unless the instrument the client wanted was jacked up in price to cover these situations (and then one might start to wonder how "good" the dealer actually was), I doubt "pre-negotiation" of the price of the new fiddle before introducing the trade would make much difference (because of factors 1 & 2). It certainly wouldn't with me.

Right, I am absolutely being transparent with all shops and telling them I'm hoping to do a trade, and being up-front with my budget. It don't want to waste their time or mine, or risk falling in love with an instrument only to have them tell me they won't even consider a trade-in.

On 1/24/2020 at 1:28 PM, martin swan said:

With new customers, it's true that most people who are buying a violin are also selling a violin. For reasons which are blindingly obvious, we are likely to be even more disaffected with the proffered trade-in than the person who wants to dump it on us. 9 times out of 10 it goes into auction and sells for less than the nominal trade-in price. So in effect the trade-in is a discount.

Right, the math makes total sense to me on why shops are hesitant to do trades unless they really want the violin and I'm certainly not asking for both trade value and a discount. I'm working with reputable shops so I trust their pricing. Only one place I've gone to raised a big red flag (they offered me the full insurance appraisal value for my instrument and were willing to sell me a violin at the same price (so I would have paid net $0) for a "1760 Maggini copy which should be worth around 45K but has extensive repairs so we're selling it for 15K." Although I absolutely loved the sound, my research and consultation with the online community seemed to suggest it was a 1900s German trade instrument which had suffered some major issues.

On 1/24/2020 at 1:53 PM, jacobsaunders said:

The other factor that often makes it difficult for a dealer to take an instrument in part-exchange, is if he owns the fiddle he is selling, and you are trading up too, or if he has that on consignment too. This is the slippery slope that can land one in prison.

Not sure how prison could possibly be involved. I understand shops won't take a trade on a consignment instrument because they'll lose too much money (so I don't even bother looking at consignment violins), but if they were to do it, it wouldn't be a crime as long as they paid the consignee his or her price.

On 1/24/2020 at 2:10 PM, PhilipKT said:

I don’t really have anything to offer, although if you think the sound as is isn’t as desirable, you might consider trying to change the set up to be a little more gentle and warm.

Yeah, I've explored that route a little bit. I took it to my luthier who replaced the soundpost and moved it, replaced the bridge with a thicker one, and suggested Obligato strings. Those things helped but it's still not quite what I'm looking for. He said the best thing to do would be to re-graduate the instrument to bring our more resonance but he wants $4,000 to do it, at which point I may as well upgrade since there's no guarantee the re-graduation will work.

On 1/24/2020 at 3:02 PM, deans said:

Just curious, what is the cost of the one you want? Significantly more?  Most prices are negotiable. Perhaps you are closer than you think and dont need  to immediately sell the old one.

The one I wanted was $9,500. In and of itself, not a huge number, but not money I can just put down and be stuck with two instruments.

On 1/24/2020 at 3:30 PM, duane88 said:

Go to your bank, ask for a personal/bridge loan and purchase what you want and work on selling what you have. 

What will you do if someone wants your violin but doesn't have the money up front and wants you to take their violin in trade toward your instrument so that they can afford to move up?

I've considered the personal loan side of things, but it doesn't solve the problem of potentially being stuck with two violins. The issue isn't the money, it's having capital tied up in a second instrument that's sitting in a shop waiting to sell (and may risk being there for a long time). If someone comes to me and wants trade value, I won't take it (unless they happen to have a violin I really like). I realize that's a double-standard, but I'm not a shop looking for inventory, either.

On 1/24/2020 at 5:17 PM, GeorgeH said:

If you have owned it for 20 years, then you have essentially paid $400 per year for the violin.

I'm not a working musician, purely recreational.

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The OP states that your income is "too high."  Having said that, it is reasonable to infer that you aren't necessarily starving or struggling if you are looking at a $20k instrument.  You also state that the instrument that you want is from "a shop."  

So...the question begs, why not ask the dealer if you can make payments?   Keep the existing instrument and put it up for consignment.  Eventually, someone should buy it.  Then pay off the remaining balance.  

Or, as someone else mentioned, get a bank/third-party loan.  I don't really see the issue unless you are a starving musician in desperate need of an upgrade, but that doesn't seem the case as the existing instrument sounds like a great instrument.  Just play a little softer in your chamber group until you can get this other instrument.  

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29 minutes ago, violinnewb said:

Eventually, someone should buy it.

You're right: budget isn't inherently a problem but the line I quoted above is what's stopping me. I'm a recreational violinist: I play in one community orchestra with weekly rehearsals (6 concerts/year) and very occasionally do chamber stuff. There's no way to guarantee that someone will eventually buy my violin, so tying money up in an up-front purchase (that I could otherwise invest) if I can't get rid of the current one isn't something that I can justify at my level and frequency of playing.

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On 1/27/2020 at 9:06 AM, ANITIX87 said:

He said the best thing to do would be to re-graduate the instrument to bring our more resonance but he wants $4,000 to do it, at which point I may as well upgrade since there's no guarantee the re-graduation will work.

I question the ethics of re-graduating an already good violin by a known maker. 

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3 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

I question the ethics of re-graduating an already good violin by a known maker. 

The ethics? Why would it be an ethical question?

I get that it may not be a valuable or worthwhile thing to do as it can't guarantee results, but I'm curious what ethical issue you have with it.

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10 hours ago, ANITIX87 said:

The ethics? Why would it be an ethical question?

I get that it may not be a valuable or worthwhile thing to do as it can't guarantee results, but I'm curious what ethical issue you have with it.

Irreversibly and unnecessarily altering an historical object.

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23 hours ago, ANITIX87 said:

You're right: budget isn't inherently a problem but the line I quoted above is what's stopping me. I'm a recreational violinist: I play in one community orchestra with weekly rehearsals (6 concerts/year) and very occasionally do chamber stuff. There's no way to guarantee that someone will eventually buy my violin, so tying money up in an up-front purchase (that I could otherwise invest) if I can't get rid of the current one isn't something that I can justify at my level and frequency of playing.

If your current violin is made by a known Cremonese maker and a very good violin, I would consider that an "investment."  As such, I would say that your reasoning is somewhat off unless you are talking about having a nice chunk of change right now for day trading and turning a quick buck.  

I'm not trying to dissuade you one way or another.  I was in a similar situation, but not in the stratosphere of tens of thousands of dollars.  I play a little more than you state that you do currently and I found a gem of a violin that the owner was willing to give me for pennies on the dollar.  It still meant I had to shell out some money.  It also meant I had to sell mine.  I ended up selling mine on craigslist for about 30% less than I would have made on consignment contingent upon someone buying it.  Later, I found the violin at a music store for a 40% mark up! lol.  Moral of the story, just be patient selling.

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10 hours ago, ANITIX87 said:

The ethics? Why would it be an ethical question?

I get that it may not be a valuable or worthwhile thing to do as it can't guarantee results, but I'm curious what ethical issue you have with it.

You already stated that the violin was made in 1998 by and in "superb condition."  The ethics come into play where a luthier says to re-graduate the violin because re-graduation, if I am not mistaken, is not simply changing the set up, it is irreversibly changing the composition of the violin itself without guaranty that it will sound better.  Many people in the trade might think why?  The likely answer is, for money.  It is unnecessary to perform or even suggest performing this type of work on a violin which you have appraised for $15,000 and in superb condition. 

If the story that you told is complete, and without any further information, I would agree that this suggestion is unethical.

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