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Violin/HOPF violin. Is mine worth saving?


QUESTION: I am looking at an unlabeled violin with the HOPF name stamped on the back.  It has a very warm sound despite the large crack under the tailpiece running up to the center of the violin. I assume it is a copy, but I am curious since it does sound pretty good.  It has corner blocks on the inside (I assume real ones). It was turned in to a violin shop in Ithaca NY nearly forty years ago and has been played very little since. Is there any way to tell if this is a "real" Hopf or if it is of a quality truly worth saving? Thanks!!!I can upload pictures if that will help.


I would be glad to look at pictures but they may not help. The best way of course is to have it examined in person at a violin shop.  There were at least 17 different makers with the name HOPF and several of them branded their name. There are also hundreds of thousands of copies, I get almost as many HOPF inquiries as I do Stradivari ones. There is not a huge difference in value between the copies and the real ones that branded HOPF on their instruments.

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hopf back
hopf back  

hopf front
hopf front  
QUESTION: David!  Thanks so much.  Here are two pics. (It's as many as are allowed!) Probably nothing unusual, but I would appreciate it if you don't mind taking a quick look. Any insight is most welcome. Thanks again!!


Hi Jen

It appears, as I suspected, to be one of the copies.  However, it also looks like the instrument has been re-varnished at some point.  This makes it harder to tell and at the same time destroys much of the value if it were authentic. Based on the workmanship, I do think this is a copy and I would put it as late 1800's.  In it's current condition, I would suspect that the value is in the $500-1000 range.  


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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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