Violin/Violin Appraisal


QUESTION: Karl Knilling, purchased in 1998 for 400 dollars.
Label says, made in Germany, 8KT, No 15652
Not excellent condition but good.
Would like to know worth and age

ANSWER: Hi Maxlyn

Without seeing it I wouldn't be able to say its age as the serial numbers for Knilling instruments are all over the place but is was most likely made after around 1980.  I can tell you that it is the Etude model probably made by the Klier Co. and that it currently has a list price of over $1200. Being a small, 3/4  size, as well as being  a student factory instrument, it looses much of it's value when used. Since I haven't seen the instrument, the current market value is a guess, but with a little research, I have seen them for sale from $200-400 so yours is probably in that range. In this quality level, looks means everything, so if it is cosmetically in poor condition it will be on the low end of that range.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Full Violin
Full Violin  

QUESTION: To be honest, I haven't used it in the past ten years.  I kept it out of attachment and some hope that I would someday pick it up again, but it never did.  Yet, I also understand there is no way to prove that it hasn't been used.  I'm going to include some images now.  The only damages it has it two chips on the corners.  In these images, it's missing the G-String, which I plan on replacing before I sell it.  Just thought I would include some pictures.

Hi again

The violin is indeed from the 80's, thanks for the pics. If you used it or not in the last 10 years really doesn't mater, what its condition is both cosmetic and maintenance wise is however. As mentioned before, cosmetic issues really make a big difference. The corners which are expensive to repair, the strings (all should be replaced), the bridge and instrument needs a good cleaning and it appears that the bow needs to be rehaired. All of these repairs will cost between $150-200 and so I put the current value around $275-325. What you need to realize is that what you are competing with is what this same instrument fixed up and warrantied would sell for in a retail situation and that would be $450-500.  


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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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