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Violin/Hopf Violin Appraisal


I inherited a violin that once was my great grandfathers.  I know nothing about violins and am looking for someone to appraise.  I can send photos, which I'm sure would be needed, however, if there is someone you could refer me to in the Mpls/St. Paul area, I could bring it there.

The instrument has HOPF in block letters stamped on the back just below the neck and also inside.  From reading your forum, I know the Hopf family usually included the first name or initials with the last name, so do not believe this is an original.

It was brought from Norway when my great grandfather immigrated to the US in 1912.  My intent is not to sell it, but if it has value, I want to be sure it is preserved properly.  If there are any guidelines you can offer for storage, it would also be appreciated.

Thank you

Hi Steven
Your best bet is to take it to a local shop and I can highly recommend Andy Fine - in St. Paul.  We were in the same graduating class in violin making school, so I know him well and respect him.

It is probably just a copy, but some of them can still be nice and be worth something, many of these were made in the late 1800's.  

Just keep it out of extreme heat or cold and if it has been sitting for a long time, a few weeks or months more won't make much difference. If it not going to be played, then the strings, bridge and tailpiece should all come off so that they are not loose and hitting the instrument, the old bow hair should also be snipped off as it is attractive to the carpet beetle.  It should also not be stored under tension for long periods of time. If it is not going to be used, the only other thing that should be fixed is if there are any cracks. The longer a crack stays open, the harder it is to repair. The same goes for any loose edges of the top and back.  If the neck is loose, just leave it.  Obviously if it will be repaired, everything needs to be done and there would be a possibility that things on the inside might need some attention as well.

Say hi to Andy from me.


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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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