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Violin/approximate value of my stainer copy violin

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Question
Hi, David,
I own a vintage violin that is a copy of Jacobus Stainer.
I bought it online from a guitar store thinking it was a 3/4. I didn't want to return it due to shipping fee. I took it to a luthier had it checked out. It had an open seam near the end pin. He fixed that for me. I also had him changed the tail piece and chinrest so it fits me better. I also had a new bridge and sound post cut and fitted.

The violin had been "sound adjusted" by Giuseppe Virzi in New York which he called it "violin acoustheory restoration, he also rehaired the bow; apparently the violin owner also purchased a lifton alligator case. The sound adjustment, bow rehair, and case cost $150 in 1952. It seemed like Giuseppe Virzi had glued two pieces of wood to adjust the sound, one equilateral triangle that is about three inches high, and a half one cone shape that is about 3 inches long - with the thick end, about 3/4 inch wide, attached to the side of the violin. Both pieces surround the sound post. The first luthier would not touch the sound post thinking there might be a crack, but I checked and checked and didn't see any signs of crack.

I don't think this is a high end violin, probably just a beginner violin; however, I am curious how much would it cost. your opinion of its general value is much appreciated.

Answer
Hi Kim

The quality of different Stainer copies is all over the place, so without seeing the instrument it would be impossible to give a value. Some are basically worthless while others could be worth several thousand dollars. Pictures may not help as they don't show all of the criteria for a valuation. As far as the Virzi sound adjustment, that certainly hurts it's value as anyone that might be interested in the instrument may have to have that reversed and that could be $500 or more in additional cost.

My best advice is to have it seen in person so an estimate for the removal of the Verzi device. A value range of the instrument, once restored, should also be able to be obtained at the same time so that an informed decision could be made.  

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David Lashof

Expertise

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.

Organizations
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.

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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