Sell Your Stradivarius ASAP

(Photo: ZakVTA)

Does it make sense that we have gotten worse at making violins over the last 300 years, when we have gotten so much better at making just about everything else? Not really. Finally there is some experimental data on the subject, and it doesn’t look good for those who pay top dollar for fancy old violins.

(Hat tip to Dean Strachan)


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  1. Chris McCracken says:

    I don’t know much about violins, but I do know guitars.

    Cheap, modern instruments don’t have the build quality of gear from the 50s or 60s (at least the reputable brands of the time). But it is true to say modern handmade gear is as good or better.

    The biggest difference is – as Raymond alludes in the top comment – is materials. The woods available now are quite different to what was available as little as 20 years ago. As species become endangered or expensive, we start using different woods.

    The other thing, which Raymond also alludes to with his drying comment, is the wood age. Wood sap crystallises over time. This can take 50 years in some cases. It is well documented that this changes the sound of an instrument and is very difficult to do any more quickly.

    As for whether the violin is worth the money, I don’t know. I don’t play violin. I can tell you I have played a few vintage guitars that people paid tens of thousands for. Some I liked. Some not so much. I can’t say I would pay that much for them, though.

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  2. YX says:

    I wonder if this logic apply to art… or if we should treat Stradivarius more like art than functionally.

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  3. balint says:

    I concur that age does not define quality of an instrument alone. However, I cannot accept the article implying that historic instruments are overpriced. Pricing is based on scarcity for sure in my interpretation.

    So do not buy a Stradivarius, unless you are a collector.

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  4. Paul says:

    Seems a moot point. Dr. Levitt should point out that only very wealthy people buy antique violins; which applies to no one I know. Additionally, for folks to remove human emotion and psychology from art (or any other hobby for that matter, such as baseball card collecting) wouldn’t make it much worth doing. All sounding virtually the same, wouldn’t you prefer the instrument with emotional or sentimental value? A generational hand-me-down, or a brand new one? Even on a discounted shelf-quality being even-one would expect that you pick the item with emotional value. This article seems more of the class warfare strain then about quality of instruments. More about the jealousy of the nations wealthy? I say bravo to those who can afford such exquisite pieces-play on Yo Yo Ma!

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  5. linda wright says:

    a friend of mines father was in the d day invasion of france some how aquired it and sent it back home i have seen it and herd him play the cotton eyed joe with it he is interested in selling it if the price is rite

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  6. Jay Eugene says:

    Well let me spread some hope.. My mother “god bless her soul”! Passed away from cancer. She was pretty wealthy.. When starting to get ill she started selling everything to support kemo, surgeries.. Cut to the chase.. She told me whatever happens I’ll never sell what was in this burnt up case that was wrapped in an old quilt.. It never dawned on me that she would even die! Well she did.. And some time passed and I had remembered what she said about whatever was in that quilt.. I unraveled the quilt and it was a Stradivarius that survived some horrific fire.. The case was burnt but when I opened it there it was.. Being a person who’s carved wood, oil painted and has pretty good background with antiquities am blown away… Its from the 1700’s.. And intact… I really am not looking to get rich.. Just would like the right person to end up with it.. I’m a pretty simple, reasonable guy.. Make an offer..

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