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Violin/violin's worth and cost for restoration


QUESTION: I played violin as a child and teenager.  I acquired my grandfather's violin who received it from his grandfather.  It needs some TLC (new strings), refinished, but is structurally sturdy.  I have all the pieces.  The label on the inside is Giovan paola Maggini brefcia 1695.  I was going to lend it to a friend for continued lessons but then considered checking it's worth.  Thanks for your time.

ANSWER: Hi Bridget
There is no way without seeing the instrument in person or at least by looking at some high quality pictures in detail, to tell if it is real or not. Given that, the chance that it is a real undiscovered Maggini is very doubtful as someone by now would have recognized its quality and told someone in your family. However, if the label reads as you have typed it here, it is a copy and not a good one at that as Maggini died in 1633 and he also abbreviated his name as Gio. on his labels and they are rarely dated.  The only way to be 100% sure is to take it to a violin shop for an appraisal. If it does have any value, "refinishing" it would destroy any value that it might have. Most of the copies have exaggerated arching which makes them sound poorly. I would get it looked at to see what repairs are needed, get an evaluation of value and they will give you an estimate of repair costs. Real ones can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, while most of the copies are basically worthless to a value of a few hundred dollars. A few of the better copies can be worth up to a few thousand dollars.

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QUESTION: What is the best way to locate a local expert regarding violins?  I have a friend who plays in the symphony.  Would that be the best route?

Nebraska is a big state. Most major cities have violin shops, this site lists two - and this very respected expert is in Omaha - Mark Womack
Tel: (402) 827-9270
And of course do ask your friend what violin shop they use.


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David Lashof


I can answer questions on violin, viola, cello and bass making, repair and maintenance as well as supply general violin value ranges and information on instrument makers’ assuming the instrument's as labeled. I don't give values for modern makers as many of these modern makers are yet unknown to me. I can only give you feedback based on what information you give me, and no authority on the instrument can know every maker's work that ever lived. I have access to many books on makers and auction prices on over 25,000 makers, as well as having 36 years of experience with selling and appraising violins. Without having the instrument in hand, any estimate over the internet is just a guess as the label inside an instrument is more often wrong than right, so just having that information is not very useful. Pictures can sometimes be helpful but only so much, as the "feel" of the instrument along with small clues in workmanship and varnish cannot be seen in pictures. Any pictures should be high quality close-ups of the top and back. Additional photos of the front and treble side of the neck are also useful. It is always best to have an instrument seen in person at a violin shop that does appraisals. I can also provide advice on bows, rosin, strings and other string instrument accessories. As I am now retired, I have no bias towards selling anything; I only wish to share my knowledge and experience by providing information for those that may be getting confused by misinformation, misdirection or conflicting statements. (While I have seen many thousands of instruments and have performed numerous appraisals; if I have not evaluated an instrument in person, any information I set forth in an opinion is just that, an opinion based solely on what you have provided. Thusly, no financial decision should be based on that opinion, but rather, further investigation should be performed by having the instrument examined in person.)


I am a retired violin maker and repairman with 35 years experience having worked in Chicago and Maryland at 5 different violin shops and music stores including the first violin repairman at William Harris Lee in Chicago, the head repairman at Weavers Violins in Maryland, and in my own shop of 25 years. I have made 160 instruments and have restored countless professional level and student grade instruments. I am an accomplished violinist having performed with semi-professional as well as amateur groups although I haven't played for years and mostly stay away from questions about playing. I have taught violin making and restoration to about 20 students; three of which have gone on professionally and now have their own shops. I know violins from playing, selling, repairing, making and teaching.

Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

I graduated from the prestigious 4 year Chicago School of Violin Making in 1981 under Master Violin Maker Tschu Ho Lee. I also studied with violin maker Willis M. Gault in Washington DC from 1973-75, who was the former owner of the oldest known example of an instrument from the modern violin family, an Andreas Amati Viola.

Awards and Honors
2008 Chester Petranek Award for service to the music community. ASTA award for service. Top All Expert in Violin for 2014 and 2015.

Past/Present Clients
I have worked with many professional musicians from DC area Symphonies as well as players from all over the US. Here are just a few, Leonard Slatkin - Former conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. Doris Gazda - Nationally renowned string specialist and composer. Bernard Greenhouse, Tanya Anisimova - Internationally renowned Solo Cellists. Jody Gatwood, Mark Pfannschmidt, Lori Barnet, Doug Dubé, Judy Silverman - National Philharmonic Orchestra. Robert Blatt, David Hardy, Glen Garlick - National Symphony Orchestra. Eddie Stubbs, Brendan Mulvahill, Nate Leath - Professional Fiddle Players. David Basche, Pat Braunlich, John Knudson, Romano Solano, Ed Ferris, Fred Lieder - freelance musicians.

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