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Violin/Information regarding violin maker


Hi, I recently bought a violin for my son, for which I paid $6000 for from  a reputable violin shop. This was an upgrade for his previous Jovani violin. He tried a few violins before settling on this particular one as he loved the sound. However, we have not been able to find out anything about the Luthier  of this particular violin. The label says Bignami Bertolini fecit Reggio Emilio 1959.  I was wondering if you would have any information regarding this, as all my efforts have come up with a blank. I am just hoping that the violin is indeed worth the price paid. The fingerboard was loose and other small adjustments were made by a Luthier in Glasgow recently, but he, too, said he had never heard of the name on the label. It does have a superior sound to the Jovani model, with a rich ringing tone. Perhaps that should be enough?

Hi Astrid

I too have never heard of or cannot find any reference to a maker named Bignami Bertolini,  that doesn't mean that he didn't exist. I will tell you that the name Bignami is a known last name for a maker in Italy in the 50's and there was a maker named Angelo Bertolini also from the 50's who used the "... fecit Reggio Emilio" as part of his label. As I said, there could be a real maker by that name but my suspicion is that it is a made up name. I have not seen any 1950's era Italian instruments sell for as little as $6000 in a long time unless they were in poor condition.  The violin could still be worth the price, even some fine quality German instruments from the 50's are worth over $5000. It really will depend on the quality of the workmanship.  So unless it turns out to be a modern Chinese instrument made to look Italian, I suspect that you are ok. I am sorry that I can't give you any more information or quash any misgivings that you might have.


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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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