You are here:

Violin/1736 Stradivaris violin


I have a friend that owns a 1736 Stratvarius Violin.  It is in pristeen condition.  The case is a little frayed around the edges and the bow is in great condition.  It was played in many symphonies in NY and other upstate cities by his mother, grandfather and great grandfather.  I will get a picture of it as soon as possible.  We live in a small town about an hour from Pensacola, FL and 2 hrs from Mobile, AL. PCould you please recommend or tell me how to find a reputable appraiser?  We would be very grateful.  The violin is beautiful and he inherited from his family's estate but, he has no musical talent or knowledge about these things.  That is why we need your expertise help.  Thank you so much. Marcia McCall.

Hi Marcia

There really aren't any violin shops that I know of in that region. The best places are in the big cities like New York, Chicago and some others, but lots of violin shops exist outside of the big cities.  Members of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers would be a good start - . Here is also a directory of many of the US violin shops -   

As you may know, there are only around 650 real Strads still in existence and other than a handful of lost ones, they are all accounted for. On the other hand, there are literally millions of copies, some very good ones but most are not.  The lessor quality ones are very easy to spot even in photos, but the things we look for are difficult to explain without actually pointing them out.  Sometimes it is very easy just from the label.  Often the copies have many mistakes on the labels or are printed on more modern equipment and paper. Here is some info on Stradivari labels -

Let's start with some pictures before we send you a long long way. If you prefer, you can send me pictures directly to since AE only allows two at a time.  What works best are close up shots of the top, back, front and side of the scroll and of the label.  I know it may be difficult to photograph the label, but if you can have an assistant shine a flashlight into the instrument from the other side that usually helps. Try to make the photos as high quality in clarity as I may need to zoom in a fair amount. Also let me know if the color of the violin in the photo is close to the real thing. Color can be a big indicator.

If you send the pictures to me directly rather than thru AE, please remind me what the subject matter is as I communicate with lots of people every day about instruments and the great majority are about Stradivari labeled violins.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]