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Violin/Giovanni Baptista Swietzer


Top view of grafted neck
Top view of grafted ne  

Side view of grated neck
Side view of grated ne  
Hi David.  1st thank you with identifying my last violin. You have taught me a great deal in a short time.  It was a Caspar Da Salo but you identified it as a Maggini due to its dimentions.  Found an Luther here down under and he confirmed your suspicion.

I seem to have acquired another insrument (sufferring Violin Acquisition Syndrome ATM).   Its labeled:-

Now my research indicates that there were many copies made in pre WWII with similar labels.  I also found out that Switzer didn't open his own shop until 1825.   I would say this is one of the early pre-WWII jobs...But there are two unusual items ofinterest here.  1stly there seems to be a repair to the instrument and there is a second label which reads:-
I am assuming that this is a repair label from 1893.
2ndly this one has a grafted Neck.  From what you taught me last time this may be indicative of pre 1820.   

Do you have any thoughts on this.  I ahve included some photos.  Has a nice sound to it regardless.  I'm going to have to stop buying these.  Its getting to be an obsession. :-)

Kindest regards

Unless you misspelled the last name and used the wrong first name, I find no reference to any makers by the name you have given. There was of course a JOHANN BAPTIST SCHWEITZER and I think that is what you are referring to as the rest of the label would match. The photos are not nearly enough to distinguish between a real one and a copy. As for the graft, other reasons like breakage are reasons to graft a neck.  A graft is not a sure sign of an old instrument but rather not having a graft is a sure sign of a newer post 1820 instrument. I grafted one on a new instrument for someone that needed a thicker neck.  The other thing is that, and I can't get a clear enough view in the photo) with the copies and other inexpensive old factory instruments, the graft is often faked. A fine knife line is drawn and then some black is rubbed into the line during the varnishing period. They are usually not that hard to tell if you look closely and the grain of the wood is exactly the same on both sides of the line. They also often did not draw the line in on the inside of the peg box wall. The copies of Schweitzers abound and tend to be worth in the $500-1500 range. The copies are mostly 19th century so a repair label of 1893 also would work.


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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.

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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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