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Violin/Is this violin worth the price in its condition?



I am newer to violins and I am looking into buying a violin on a tight budget. This AV5SKU 4/4 violin sells for nearly $1000 new, but I found this one on craigslist for $150. However, it had been cracked on the top on the lower bout, but according to the owner, was professionally repaired. He sent me pictures of the area of the crack, which I can show you.

Thanks for your help! I definitely appreciate it!

Hi Praise,

Thanks for your question.  In general, I recommend steering away from this sort of 'mass market' fiddle.  Of course, I haven't seen this particular instrument.  And, I admit that I'm a bit of a violin snob.  So, keep that in mind, when reading my advice.  

The trouble is that if a violin is not setup by a professional, it's likely to have basic problems, like the strings not being the correct height off the fingerboard or the correct distance from each other.  (Regardless of the actual quality of the build, which on this one is also likely to be poor.)  These sorts of issues, affect the tone quality, but more importantly, they make the fiddle hard to play.

I'm guessing that this violin is probably fairly closed/nasal in tone.  It's unlikely to have a good setup.  It probably has steel strings (which sound terrible) and the nut and bridge are probably fitted for steel and won't accept better strings without being adjusted.  I could go on and on.  

If you're looking for a cheap instrument, this might not be a bad deal.  But, it's going to be difficult to play this well, and I'd advise you to save up for a better instrument, from a reputable shop.  This isn't worth $1000.00, in my opinion.  It might be worth $150, but I wouldn't let one of my students learn on this instrument.

Good luck!

Jim Fisher

P.S. Regarding the crack . . . I'm guessing that the crack is over the soundpost.  If so, that's one more reason to stay away from it.  Instruments that are not properly setup, often have posts that are too tight, which in turn causes the belly to crack.  (Cheap student instruments also frequently have posts installed too tight on purpose, in order to prevent the post falling over in shipment - after all who cares about the sound quality or possible damage to the instrument after the sale is made, right?)

If it was professionally repaired, you should not be able to see it, at all.  If it is visible, then it was not repaired well.  (I doubt it was repaired well, simply because a proper repair would likely cost more than the instrument is worth.)  And, I'll also point out that soundpost cracks are very difficult to repair well, and even when they are they instrument is usually permanently weakened.  The belly must support enormous pressure at that particular point, and at the same time must vibrate freely.  The post must also fit well/flush to the top, which is tricky if there is a crack or patch there, or if the post has started to work it's way through the wood.  

If it's a crack anywhere else, I wouldn't worry so much, so long as it does not buzz.  Good luck!


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James S. Fisher


Please Note: For an accurate appraisal of your instrument's value or history, I must advise you to take it to a local luthier or string shop for an evaluation. It's really not possible to do this with any accuracy via email.

However, I am happy to answer other questions about violins, bows, violin playing, and violin/bow repair. I can also talk with you about what bows, rosin, strings, cases, shoulder rests, etc. might work best for you and your particular instrument. (There are some great new products on the market.) I've taught violin and fiddle playing for the past 18 years and will answer questions about playing and technique.


I've been studying the violin for over thirty years. I started teaching in 1996. In addition to my training at Lebanon Valley College and at the Violin Institute, I handle violins, bows, and customer questions of all sorts on a daily basis in my shop - J.S. Fisher Violins,


I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Lebanon Valley College, as well as certificates in violin repair, violin maintenance, and bow rehairing from the Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

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