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Violin/JTL violin with hairline crack


I just noticed my violin seems to have developed a small hairline crack starting on the bottom side opposite the chinrest and proceeding up towards the soundpost. I like how it sounds when played, but not sure it would be worth the $ to have it fixed? There are 2 paper labels inside. One says JTL with an emanating lyre. The other label reads Copie de Gaspar de Salo in Brescia with the number 7 in the lower right corner. Is the violin worth more than the repair would cost ($400ish to have the top removed) if it were in proper condition?
Thank you for your help!

ANSWER: Rebekah

This question would be much better asked of the person that would do the repair who has already seen the instrument (based on the repair estimate you gave). However, JTL made lots of different models of instruments and without seeing it, I can't be sure.  The #7 and the Copie de Gaspar de Salo in Brescia label do coincide with a JTL catalog listing from 1912 where it was for sale at $18.50.  Today, instruments of that quality usually sell in the $1000-2000 range. But without seeing it, I could not be sure of anything.  I can't imagine that you could buy a new violin for $400 that would be as good as almost any grade of JTL violin, even the lowest ones.

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JTL Gaspar de Salo violin
JTL Gaspar de Salo vio  

QUESTION: Thanks for your quick reply! The estimate was a result of quick phone inquiry of what might be required to repair a hairline if top removal were necessary. I do need to visit the luthier so he is able to assess exactly what my options/repair cost would be.

I should have thought to attach a pic w/ my original inquiry. I imagine previously repaired cracks would affect value as well? The repairs were done prior to my ownership. The violin has a repaired crack in the same area (right of the saddle)extending from bottom to f-hole on the top, as well as another (I think it was a repaired hairline?)on the lower back extending up from the chinrest clamp.

The pic shows the hairline just to the right of the long repaired crack on front. I can send more pics if that would be helpful in making a more accurate determination. Thanks again!

Hi again

Without seeing it in person I can't be absolutely sure, but I think the "old crack" is actually a fake crack, done to make the instrument look old when new.  The instrument itself looks to be in the middle of the value range - probably in the $1200-1500 range. Unfortunately pictures just don't show enough for a real close evaluation for value.  Because the "new" hairline crack is sinking, I am sure that the top will need to come off for the repair to be done properly.  The good news is that if properly repaired it will not cause any devaluation.  

FYI, the new crack is in a location that is sometimes caused by pressure from the bow holder in the case.  So unless you know how it cracked, check that out, you certainly don't want to go through the expense of a repair, only for it to be damaged again.


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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.

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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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