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Violin/E.Robert. Pfretzschner violin


Hi, I rescued a violin and bow from being destroyed, I have had it refurbished and it has a lovely tone. The label inside says E (or A)Robert Pfretzschner 14th February 1927 made in Dresden...I am trying to identify the best way to sell it, I paid £400 for refurbishment. Thanks for being here ; ).

Hi Maureen

There is no listing anywhere for an E or A Robert Pfretzschner. There might have been a G. Robert but I have only seen one listing with no price, so I don't know if it was real or a typo - and that site is known in the business for it's errors. There was an E. R. Pfretzschner, but those are all commercial instruments from the 1960's to 90's.

As far as selling it, you first would need to determine what it is so that a proper price can be set. Here are some possibilities.

When you are ready to sell your instrument, you have many possible ways to do it. For the purposes of this, I am assuming the instrument is in good condition and that you are not trading it in for another instrument (for that it is best financially to go back to where it was purchased).

So do you, sell on an internet site like Ebay or Craigs List, sell it through your teacher or the local bulletin board, through a pawn shop or music store or go to the violin shop. It may depend on the condition and price point. If when you got it new, it was under $500 or so, any of these is as good as another but keep in mind that you will probably only get about 40% of what you paid. If it was one of the very low priced instruments from some non-instrument internet place like Ebay or Amazon, it might not be worth anything as a resale - often these are just disposable violin-shaped objects and cost more to make playable again than to replace.

When dealing with better instruments between $500 and $2000, the violin shop may not be your best option. They will typically pay around 50% of what they would have sold that same instrument for. Now, if you purchased the instrument from that violin shop, they may pay you more since they were the ones that made the profit the first time around.

No one will pay you for the profit that the other guy made. As an example, if you spent $1000, the violin probably had a list price of $1200-1500. The shop made $300-400 profit as that instrument cost them $600-700, which wasn't all profit. They had to pay for the instrument and have it sit on their shelf for a while and possibly pay the bank interest on the loan that they took out to buy that inventory. They have overhead like, rent, utilities, salaries, insurance, they take instruments back in trade and have warranty service costs. They will not pay the profit the other store made which brings down that $1000 to $600, they also may need to do minor repairs plus they are investing their money on the chance they will find a buyer. In addition, why would they pay you for a used instrument the same as what they could get a new one for.

For the same reasons, an individual will often pay you more for this level of instrument. They are not thinking about the stores profit and they don't have overhead costs. You can typically get around 70% for your instrument.

Going above the $2000 price level, you will usually do better with the violin shop, as the market base goes way down as not many people will be interested in spending that kind of money from an individual. Also, since the shop will warranty and take the instrument back in trade later, these services are very desirable.

One last bit of information, if you can afford to wait for the sale to go through, you can make more of your original costs back if you sell the instrument on consignment. This means that the store will take your instrument, insure it while they have it, show it to customers, do repairs as necessary, and when it sells pay you the agreed upon amount. Typically the store will take 20%. Repair costs will be part of the original contract and will come out of the stores profit unless otherwise arranged or you pick up the instrument, then you will have to pay for the repairs.


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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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