There are a lot of parts that come together to make a violin. If any of these parts are poorly made, playing the instrument will be a struggle.
In this article, we’ll discuss how are violins appraised, so that you can guarantee that your instrument is of high quality.
Typically, you get a violin appraised by handing it to an appraiser, an expert in the craftsmanship of violins.
Using their knowledge, an appraiser attempts to determine the origin of your violin and how authentic it is by examining several elements of the instrument. This includes the label, the quality of the craftsmanship, and the type of wood.
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What Is a Violin Appraisal?
A violin appraisal is where you give your instrument to an appraiser who examines its design, the varnish used on the wood, and the materials it’s made out of.
By inspecting those elements, the appraiser can determine how much your violin’s worth and whether it’s authentic or not.
How Much Does It Cost to Appraise a Violin?
There’s no fixed price to violin appraisals. After they’ve determined how much it’s worth, appraisers usually ask for a percentage of the violin’s price.
That’s why you’ll see that the cost of violin appraisals can range from $35 to $200.
Of course, the cost of a verbal appraisal will be different from a written one. For example, if a verbal appraisal costs $60, a written one might cost 100$.
Keep in mind that the appraiser will charge extra if you want to add your bow to the appraisal.
What Do Violin Labels Mean?
If you look inside the left f-hole of your violin, you might find a label inside.
It’s a piece of paper that tells you when your violin was made, who made it, or how old they were at that time.
The reason we said “might” is because some violins don’t have labels. If the instrument sustains any damage, the label might get unhinged. Some labels are taken out to increase or decrease the value of the instrument.
Unfortunately, because labels aren’t that reliable, any violin maker can stick whatever label they want on their instrument.
You’ve probably heard of all the fake violins that include a Stradivarius label so that they’d have more value.
How Do You Know If a Violin Is Authentic?
To examine the authenticity of a violin, an appraiser compares the characteristics of the instrument to the work of the maker mentioned in the label.
If the craftsmanship of the instrument matches the work of the maker, then the instrument is authentic.
If seeking an appraiser isn’t an option, there’s still one thing you can do to determine whether your violin is authentic or not.
We’ve already established that violin labels aren’t reliable to determine the quality of the instrument. But, you can use them to determine its authenticity.
When you look at a Stradivarius, you’ll see that Antonia Stradivari only printed the “1” in the date of the violin. The rest of the date was hand-written.
So, if you get your hand on a Stradivarius, whose date isn’t written in the same format, then it’s fake. Also, if the label says “Made in Germany,” it’s fake.
How Do You Date an Old Violin?
The most common answer you’ll get is to check the label of the violin, but we’ve already established that it’s an unreliable method.
Your best bet would be to ask a violin dealer or a luthier. These people are professionals. They’d check the quality and state of the wood and the craftsmanship of the violin and give you an estimation of the violin’s age.
To be safe, try to ask more than one luthier. That way you’ll guarantee that you’re getting an accurate estimation.
Are Certain Brands More Expensive Than Others?
As with any other product, some violin brands are more expensive than others. We would thoroughly recommend staying clear of the very cheap, mass-made Violins found on Amazon.
Of course, there are a lot of factors that determine a violin’s monetary value. Let’s see some examples.
Mendini is a violin brand made by Cecilio, a popular musical instruments manufacturer.
This brand is known for offering cheap violins. You can buy one for as cheap as $99.99.
Be careful, though. With Mendini violins, you get what you pay for. So, don’t expect a refined instrument that has a crisp sound.
While both Cecilio and Mendini violins are made by the same manufacturer, the company assigns their best workmen to the Cecilio brand.
Whether it’s design, materials, or sound, Cecilio violins surpass the Mendini by a long shot.
Of course, the quality of the Cecilio violins is reflected in their price, as they’re more expensive than the Mendini violins.
While the company has been around since 1887, it started making violins in 1997. It’s still new to the violin world, so you’d think that their products aren’t that refined. That’s not true in the least.
Yamaha will provide you with high-quality violins that are suitable for both professionals and beginners.
While they’re more on the expensive side, their prices aren’t unreasonable. They offer good value for money.
A Yamaha violin can cost $378 to over $10k, so you’ll have a lot of options to choose from.
Guarneri del Gesù
You don’t have to be a violinist to know the name, Giuseppe Guarneri. He’s considered one of the greatest violin luthiers in history, alongside Antonio Stradivari.
His violins are celebrated and sought by every musician around the world. They’re known for their rough designs and resonant sound.
Giuseppe Guarneri’s violins are sold for millions of dollars. One of the last violins he made, which was in 1741, is estimated to be worth $16 million.
The Carrodus and Ex-Kochanski Guarneri are estimated to be worth $10 million each, which only speaks for the quality and originality of his work.
Now we’re talking about the big boys.
Stradivarius violins are some of the most expensive instruments in the world. They can go from $1.5 million to $20 million.
A Stradivarius is every violinist’s dream.
Stradivarius violins are believed to be superior in every measure, whether it’s craftsmanship or sound quality. A lot of studies have been conducted to discover the secret to their superior sound.
In fact, Itzhak Perlman, a world-famous violinist, thought that he was going to die after only playing three notes on a Stradivarius. Of course, he understands music better than most people, so might’ve been exaggerating to convey how enchanting the instrument truly is.
Nonetheless, that should give you an idea of why a Stradivarius is such a special instrument.
Is There an Era Where Violins are More Expensive?
No doubt you’ve noticed that the last two violin brands in the previous sections were the most expensive. They were also the oldest.
Does that mean that old violins are more expensive than modern ones?
The short answer is not necessarily. The only factor that can determine a violin’s worth is its craftsmanship.
However, upon close inspection, you’ll see that some of the world’s greatest violin luthiers lived in the 17th and 18th centuries.
During their time, Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri took the craft of making violins to its peak form. That’s why their violins are worth millions today.
So, yes, the violins they’ve made in their time are more expensive, but it’s not about the era. It’s about the luthier.
Keep in mind that there are other factors that make their violins so expensive.
For example, only a handful of Stradivari and Guarneri’s violins have survived their time. That would make the ones that did survive far more valuable.
This factor wouldn’t have made a difference if it applied to an unknown violin luthier.
How to learn to appraise a Violin?
There are two ways to learn violin appraisals.
The first is to seek an expert or take a course that teaches you how to observe violins to determine their worth. Often Violin appraisers will have years of Violin-making experience, and appraising Violins will come naturally.
The second way is to spend your life studying the craftsmanship of the violin, the anatomy of wood, and the history of famous luthiers. You also need to spend your days looking at violins and comparing them to each other.
Pretty simple, isn’t it?
Where to get a Violin appraisal
You can get an appraisal by finding a violin dealer or appraiser nearby, booking an appointment, and, have them look at your instrument.
If no violin appraiser is available, you can go to the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers’ official website and contact an appraiser there.
You can also find a trustworthy website to get an online appraisal. You’ll be asked to provide a lot of information about your violin and submit pictures of it from different angles.
Violins are intricate pieces of work, so you have to take good care of them.
The best way to know how much your violin’s worth is to give it to an appraiser. They’ll be able to determine its age, how authentic it is, and how much it costs. You can also find an online website that offers violin appraisals. Don’t trust the labels because they can be easily forged.
You’ll see that different violin brands have different prices, so choose your instrument, not based on price, but on quality.
If you want to learn violin appraisal, you’ll have to spend years studying many aspects of violin craftsmanship.