Spending versus Investing

So you decided to buy a violin. Good, but where do we start?

First you should allocate for it a specific sum of money. One can buy a good violin (or a bad one) in nearly all price brackets.

Your task will be to buy an instrument the look and sound of which you like and which will increase in its value say, over 5 - 7 years.

If your budget wouldn't exactly allow you to go for a Strad of Guarneri del Gesu, first you should start thinking about is what you shouldn't buy. Any "commercial" or factory made (mass produced) instrument even if it is old wouldn't go up in price any time soon therefore better to be avoided.

Violins with multiple or several major cracks or other structural problems, regardless of age you better give a miss. Cracks have a tendency to open from time to time. Usually it happens when we don't want it, like just before important concert etc. And if cracks open one by one over short period of time your violin is going to spend more time being fixed than being played. And guess who's going to pay for repairs?

Of course, the best option for you would be to buy old Italian violin in great condition, second best being an old French instrument of a known maker and third - good old English. There are a few good 18-19th century Austrian, German and Eastern European makers as well.

Many 20th century Italian makers have become an excellent investment and their prices have risen exponentially in the last 30 - 40 years or so.(And keep rising!)

And reputable modern makers would be a good idea to acquire. The sound of their instruments is often excellent, their condition perfect and (surprize, surprize!) they also go up pricewise as prices for materials and labour costs increase with time. Some makers become well known and prices for their instruments jump up.

When you're searching for this "special" sound you may want to ask yourself some questions like

How well this instrument carries the sound? Is it powerful? How quickly it responds to my bowing? Is sound in "piano" range as focussed as in "forte"? Is the "timbre" of this sound the one I like? Is it even on all strings and in all positions? Is G string rich and E rings well? Is there some sweetness in sound?

The list can go on and on. And the more you want from your violin (viola, cello) the more you should be prepared to invest when buying it.

In our next "Tips of the month" we'll be looking more closely at some investment quality stringed instruments producing countries of the past and present, schools within these countries and cities within the schools.

In the meantime - happy hunting and "a presto!"