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Violin/joseph guarnerius fecit cremonae anno 1736 IHS


I read your response to another person's question about a copy of a joseph guarnerius fecit cremonae anno 1736 IHS.  My father had one and I am purchasing it from his estate. You said in perfect condition they are worth a few hundred to $2500.  My father's is in very poor condition and they are charging me $200 which seems high for something it that poor of condition.  What are your thoughts on what the price should be for this.  I was told the Bridge needs to be replace, needs new strings, cracks in wing (f hole), pegs need to be reworked, wood separated at ribs (purfling). No graft at neck and finger board is not ebony wood.  Wrong finish, scroll is dinged.  $200 seems expensive.Thank you.

Hi Theresa

It is really not possible for me to answer this very well since I can't see the instrument.  It is not just the condition but the actual quality of the instrument itself that sets the value range. Even if it were in mint condition, the value range could still be a few hundred to $2500. All grades of these instruments were produced. when made they sold for $2 to $50, those $2 ones are generally worthless today.  

Obviously all the repairs needed will detract from it's value, but even coming up with a cost for those repairs is difficult to impossible without actually seeing the instrument. The issue with the "wood separating at the ribs (purfling)", is difficult to understand the actual problem but could be $20 or $1000 to fix. Without at least very detailed pictures, I could only make a wild guess as to costs. The other repairs could easily be $200-500. So on the low side it could cost around $200 to repair the instrument or $1500 or more on the high end. The only way to really be sure is to have it looked at in person.  

Often times the values given to things for estate purposes is relative not to actual value but to perceived value. They may or may not have had anyone with any actual violin experience look at the instrument, often times it is just a general appraiser.  So in the end it may really have more to do with what it is worth to you to have your father's instrument in lieu of having that much in cash. So you need to decide if it ends up not being worth fixing up, is it worth it to you to tie up $200 in the memory of having your fathers violin and making a display of it for your enjoyment.

I certainly understand that in this case you probably can't get a more professional evaluation of it prior to the purchase, but weigh your options and I would recommend making a decision
based on it not being worth repairing.  


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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.

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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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