The cost of a violin can range from $50 to millions of dollars. Some violins deliver an annual increase in value of 14% whereas other violins lose value as soon as they are purchased.
With a typical good quality violin costing around $3000, it’s very important to consider the future value of the instrument and how to properly care for it. Within this article we discuss whether violins appreciate in value, what types of violins and how best to treat them.
Typically high quality violins produced by well-known makers will hold or increase in value. The average increase in value of a good quality violin is around 6% per year. However, poor quality and mass-produced violins are likely to lose value immediately after being purchased.
Is Buying a Violin a Smart Financial Investment?
A violin is generally a good financial investment if you get a top-tier instrument and you’re willing to wait for the long run.
After all, the return of investment (ROI) in violins is around 6.2% after a holding period of 40 years. Meanwhile, the annual ROI for stock and bonds is around 16% and 3% respectively.
However, in some cases, you might get a lucky break with a rare violin that increases in value rapidly.
Take the Stradivari Lady Blunt, for example. In just one year, its auctioning price went from $3.6 million to $15.8 million!
Are Violins a Good Financial Asset?
Yes, the right violin can be a good financial asset since the market for violins seems to be highly independent of other financial assets.
Unlike liquid accounts, a violin with a high appraisal is more likely to hold its worth against inflation.
However, buying a fine musical instrument and storing it away without using it would be a poor choice.
Many collectors and investors loan out instruments. Musicians get to use the violins and cover the maintenance fees. Meanwhile, the investor enjoys appreciation in value later.
Not only is the violin going to appreciate in value, but by loaning the instrument, you’re effectively turning it into an income-producing asset.
How Much Do Violins Cost?
A typical entry-level student’s violin can range between $200 and $500. For children, prices can be even lower.
Advanced violins, around grade eight standard, can aim for hand-finished pieces starting from $600 and up to $3000.
The price range for antique violins goes up to six and seven figures.
There are other financial considerations aside from the Violin itself. A bow for example will often be in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Here are other considerations:
- Case ($50 – $200)
- Extra string sets ($50 – $200)
- Rosin ($20)
- Tuner ($25)
- Stand ($30)
- Shoulder rest ($20)
- Mute ($15)
Is It Better to Buy Used Violins?
The quality of violins is determined by their craftsmanship and materials. Whilst there are many excellent quality brand new violins, some old violins can produce a marvelous sound. Some older violins can cost far more than new, and vice versa.
It’s therefore important to analyze the overall quality of the instrument rather than assuming a new violin will be superior to a used violin.
For many students who are still new to violin playing, buying an inexpensive violin could be wise. Beginners are unlikely to notice a significant difference in sound quality and therefore an expensive violin may be unnecessary.
Typically a good quality violin will hold its value. However, cheaper poor quality violins (particularly those mass-produced in China) will not hold their value. This type of instrument should be avoided as it will sound poor, and will lose much of its value after it is used.
How Much Do Violins Appreciate in Value?
On average, you can expect an annual increase of 3.7—6.9% on high-end musical instruments. This appreciation rate is higher if the piece belonged to a famous violinist or maker.
Circling back to the Lady Blunt, this Stradivarius held an annual growth rate of 12% over 40 years.
Which Sort of Violins Do Appreciate in Value?
A bench-made violin with seasoned wood and ebony tailpieces is the kind of instrument that appreciates in value over the years.
With that being said, age isn’t a value determining factor by itself for musical instruments. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean that it’ll sell for a fortune.
Do All Violins Appreciate in Value?
Certainly not. A great majority of the lower quality violins available on the markets now will devalue with time.
In some cases, the appreciation in value can be deceiving.
Say you got a violin for $1,000 in the 1960s. That was a significant amount of money back then, so the quality is supposedly higher than average.
Now, you try and get an appraisal, and the instrument is estimated at roughly $10,000. When you factor in inflation, the violin only held its value, and didn’t appreciate at all.
Which Violin Makers or Brands Increase in Value the Most?
Violins by well-known makers are usually the most expensive. That’s mainly because the piece is treated as a rare antique. The higher the demand, the more expensive the violin gets.
Here are some violin makers with a particularly high rate of appreciation:
- Marco Cargnelutti
- Sam Zygmuntovich
- Benedicte Friedmann
- Daniele Tonarelli
- Gonzalo Bayolo
- Ulf Kloo
- Antonio Stradivari
- Nicolo Amati
- J.B Guadagnini
- Giovanni Pressenda
- Stefano Scarampella
- Carlo Antonio Testore
- Antonio Gragnani
What Is the Cost to Properly Maintain a Violin?
Taking good care of your violin will make all the difference in its performance.
Generally, the annual rate for standard coverage is around $200.
You’ll still need to maintain your violin regularly. Otherwise, any sign of negligence to the instrument could void an insurance claim.
Dry air can crack the timber and turn the tone into a harsh resonance. We get that this sounds like a myth, but it’s true!
A bit of humidity in the air helps expand the wood and open up the arch. However, you have to balance the moisture content since damp wood is a big no-no.
It could be worthwhile to get a room hygrometer. If the air is too dry, adjust a humidifier to 45-55%. You can also get some two-way humidity packets to put inside the case.
For most people, it’s possible to store a violin within the house if areas exist where the temperature remains constant. If the house experiences fluctuations in temperature, it may be worth specifically heating the area where the violin is stored. This cost will vary depending on your electricity provider.
Casing and Display
One common mistake is when people buy the wrong case size just because it’s cheaper. Take your time getting the right fit. You might need a silk bag to go with it too.
I’d recommend storing your violin in a silk bag within your hard case. Silk bags cost around $15 whereas a hard case may cost up to $200.
The silk bag protects the wood from changes in humidity and temperature. Plus, it also keeps dust away from the violin’s strings.
Cleaning and Repairs
Violins need wiping after every use to remove fingerprints and dust. You’ll need high-quality rosin, a microfiber cloth, and a chamois to preserve the grain of the wood.
Every now and then, wooden instruments benefit from a visit to a professional luthier, but for small cleaning jobs, you can save money by doing it yourself.
Ask the local, reputable luthiers near you for their price estimates, and go with whoever fits your budget. Here’s a list of routine violin repair jobs to consider:
- Varnishing touch-ups
- Re-gluing the fingerboard
- Replacing the Endpin
- Rework the peg holes
The price will vary based on the work required.
How to Know How Much a Violin Is Worth?
Evaluating musical instruments can be tricky. However, it’s all about the materials, craftsmanship, authenticity, and sound quality.
- Check the Design
Many entry-level violins have four fine tuners on the tailpiece. Meanwhile, a bench-made violin has only one peg for the top E-string. That’s because fine tuners can restrict the sound quality.
The neck-to-body proportions can also give away the making era and the skill level.
- Know Your Materials
Seasoned wood raises the price of any wood instrument significantly. Check the grain all over for framing stripes.
Higher-quality violins use ebony for fingerboards, chin rests, and tailpieces. That’s an easy way to judge the value, too.
- Examine the Craftsmanship
A cheaper violin isn’t carved out but pressed into shape. You can tell that the purfling is painted when you take a close look at the seams.
You need to pick a transducing tonewood violin with inlaid purfling. Check for defaults like a crooked bridge or a cracked neck.
- Test the Tone
Play standards on each string like the seventh position. Listen closely for wolf tones and try to get a sense of how open or closed the violin sounds.
If you still feel lost, compare the tone to different violins in the same environment. A high-quality instrument should be effortless to play.
- Look for a Label
When you look inside the f-hole, you might be able to spot a label with the maker’s name and date of creation. Famous brand makers increase the value of the violin exponentially.
However, you have to be careful with fake labels. Like any other antique out there, it’s possible to sell dupes as authentic pieces.
- Confirm with an Official Appraisal
Professional appraisals can pick up on the subtle inconsistencies that the untrained eye might miss. The glue type, the paint accuracy, and even the label calligraphy are all telltale signs.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to take the violin to multiple dealers to get an average estimate.
Do violins appreciate in value? Not all of them, but the good, bench-made ones normally do.
If you enjoy fine classical music, investing in violins can be worthwhile. Just make sure you’re investing in authentic pieces and that you’re not neglecting them.
There are several ways you can loan out musical instruments if you aren’t a violinist yourself. This way, the violin is well-loved, and you get to keep the return on investment.
Don’t forget the importance of a good-old sound test. You can fake a label, but you can’t fake a great sound.