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Violin/K Hofner Strad-copy Violin Questions

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Label Scroll F-hole
Label Scroll F-hole  

front and back
front and back  
Hello,
I have a Karl Hofner Stradivarius-copy that I recently purchased with the hopes of learning to play the violin. I would like to know its age, approximate value, and any other interesting information you may know of concerning this violin and its maker. Also, I would like to know your recommendations regarding the cleaning and polishing of this violin. To date, all I have done to this violin is dusted it, put on new strings and a chin rest, and adjusted the bridge (by paring the wood to lower the G string height at the end of the fingerboard down to 4.75mm and the E string to 3.75mm.) (Please excuse the fretted fingerboard applique abomination. This was my mandolin-playing-wife's idea! It is made of a flexible plastic that adheres to itself without adhesives and causes no damage to the neck.)

Kindest Regards,
Bob

Answer
Hi Bob

Your instrument is one of the factory Hofner instruments.  I can't tell exactly what model it is but it looks to be of the quality to fit into the $300-500 price range. It is certainly not made by Karl Hofner himself but was made between 1921 and 1949.  Based on it's appearance, I would put it in the 1940's. (Czechoslovakia was created in 1921 and Hofner moved to West Germany in 1949) Wikipedia has a good amount of information on the company - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%B6fner  

Hofner is a company that has also provided hundreds of thousands of instruments "in the white", as in unvarnished, to supply many shops with instruments that were then varnished and labeled as instruments from that shop.  If you look up the name Rudolf Doetsch, that is one such label that used the Hofner instruments up until around 10 years ago.

As far as cleaning goes, see my web site at http://violininformation.webs.com/instrumentcare.htm#816214358

As soon as you can, wean yourself from the "frets".  When held properly, you should not be able to see your fingers, so the "frets" can actually hold you back from learning and advancing properly. Learn to use your ears to hear the pitches and adjust accordingly.  There is no point to having your fingers learn muscle memory if they are in the wrong place.

Your bridge height seems ok although it might be able to be slightly lower if using steel strings.  If those are Helicore strings, which they look like, it could go down by another 1/2mm.

Good luck

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David Lashof

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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.)

Experience

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.

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Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

Education/Credentials
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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