Why Buy a Vintage Violin?

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A vintage violin is an antique instrument usually over 100 years old. These instruments have some value due only to their age.

Other things to consider in their value are condition, finish and tone.

A vintage violin in good condition will have very few scratches or dings in the finish and all parts, except the strings, will date to the time it was made.

Vintage violins are used and old violins from specific time periods. Older the violin the costlier it gets. Vintage violins cost lot more than new ones. There are many shops around the world which repair and sell vintage violins. Each and every year a number of old violins are discovered and are brought in to the open market. Some famous instruments of the 17th and 18th century are now sold for millions.

Vintage violins are beautifully designed and are usually made of high quality materials. They acquire historic value over their product value. All Vintage violins are usually found to be in very good playing condition. Many violinists believe that vintage violins are better than the new ones. Most famous vintage violins are old German, French or Bohemian.

Many companies offer vintage violins through their online sites. They provide pictures of each violin they have. You can choose through age, country, model or price. Many let you bargain. You can pay through credit card, Pay Pal or through money order. The instruments are shipped usually within 2 days. Most companies provide 2 to 10 days approval period. You can return the instrument if it does not meet your expectations.

Selecting of a vintage violin needs much more attention than playing it. Always look for violins in good playing condition, never buy one with lots of cracks and repairs and easily breakable parts. Good vintage violins are available from $200. Some famous affordable instruments are 1700s Tyrolean violins (around $2500), 1920s Nippon violins (around $350) and Old American fiddles (around $275).

Vintage violins need much more attention than new ones. They are more sensitive to changes in weather, bumps, and humidity. Most vintage violins need frequent replacing of worn-out parts. Well maintained Violins always provide excellent value for money, and time never diminishes their market value.

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While an authentic Stradivarius violin may be the most expensive and sought after violin's in history for many reasons, it's because of this that many reproductions have been made. Early on some violin makers would try to reproduce a Stradivarius violin with reasonable success and this process has continued for many years. Various theories exist to try to explain these magnificent instruments and one theory states that during the time that Stradivari was building his violins, that there was a small ice-age which caused tree growth to slow and therefore resulted in dense wood and there is some evidence to support the theory. Whatever the case, the quality of these instruments in so well known that even the word “Stradivarius” is used to describe when something is the very best in it's field.

Since the time of the originals in the 1600's and 1700's makers of fine violins have tried to make violins of competing quality and many have been quite successful at doing this. Buying a reproduction Stradivarius is completely acceptable and should not be viewed like buying a “knock-off” as this is not the case. What violin makers have realized is that they can learn a lot from the techniques used to build Stradivarius violins and in a Stradivarius Reproduction violin, the maker had tried to the best of their ability to build a high quality violin.

In terms of value, a vintage Stradivarius reproduction violin can still have significant value, however will not be worth nearly as much as the real thing. As an example, in 2005 a reproduction Stradivarius built in the 1920's by Heinrich Roth sold at an auction for over $3,000 which goes to prove that even a reproduction can have a reasonable value. Other examples of valuable Stradivarius reproductions include models made in Germany, France and Italy sometime in the past 100 years and built by violin makers like Hermann Beyer and Ernst Kreusler. At auctions, these instruments still regularly see $500 or more for each instrument and often more.

With unmatched quality, a Stradivarius violin is the ultimate instrument for any violinist to have the chance play, but for those who may never have the chance to hold such a piece of musical history, a reproduction Stradivarius will serve them well. With so much learned from the original maker, yet not fully mastered, a vintage Stradivarius reproduction violin is a great addition to your musical instrument collection or also beneficial for first time violinist's who want to learn on the best without spending a fortune.

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Classical Violin or Baroque Violin

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Vintage violins from various time periods come in two main types which have distinctive physical attributes and therefore produce slightly different sounds because of the physical differences. The two main types of vintage violins are the Baroque Violin and the Classical Violin which date back to their respective time periods which are often used to describe the artistic styles of that day.

Baroque Violin

A Baroque violin dates back to the Baroque musical period dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Music compositions had become very detailed and elaborate, which in fact is what the term Baroque can be translated to mean. Famous composers from this time period include; Bach, Handel and Vivaldi to name just a few. A Baroque violin is built with a short neck, bridge, fingerboard and tail piece and originated during the Baroque period. Over the years as violin styles changed, some companies continued to make Baroque violins which had a much more relaxed and natural posture than later violins, and they are played more to the front of the violinist, rather than the side. A baroque violin is unlikely to have chin or shoulder rests and the bow is thinner at the tip and is often straight.

Classical Violin

Later in the 18th century, as violins gained wide acceptance changes were made to the violin that would distinguish it from its predecessor. The neck of a classical violin is thinner and they also include smaller heels and the new design allowed for more use of the left hand. Another noticeable quality included a newly angled neck, which now had an incline that bent slightly backward whereas earlier violin necks were completely straight. The difference in the incline was first introduced in France, Germany and Northern Europe and was first noticed in the late 1700's. The classical period itself dates back to the mid 1700's to the mid 1800's and includes notable composers like; Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

Depending on just how old the vintage violin that you are purchasing is, it may be styled in either a Classical or Baroque styling, which will impact the way that the instrument is played. In the past two decades a new appreciation for the Baroque violin has emerged as appreciation for this time period in general has peaked and as evidence of this term Baroque itself only started to be used to describe this time period in the 1940's.

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Vintage Violin Buyers Guide

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Purchasing a violin to learn to play on or to replace your current violin can be a confusing task. With so many brands, stores, models and prices ranges to search through, it can easily be overwhelming. While today there are a number of great quality new violins, buying a vintage violin offers many benefits including: superior construction, superb sound and quality materials. A good quality vintage violin is not like a used car; They do not become junk after several years of use, but can easily work perfectly for hundreds of years. There are a number of vintage violins still in use today by some of the best violinists in the entire world, that date back to the 1600's and 1700's.

While most violinist's won't be purchasing a vintage violin of this caliber, there are still many reasonably priced, good quality vintage violins available for sale today. Below are a few items to look for when shopping for your next violin.

Set a Budget

The budget is important to set early as it will establish what type of instrument you will be buying. For several thousand dollars, a vintage violin with incredible sound and quality, made by a famous violin maker can be purchased. However for most violinist's that play on an amateur level, many models can be purchased for a few hundred dollars and maybe even less.

Decide on Size

Vintage violins come in a number of sizes including full size, otherwise known as 4/4, ¾, ½, ¼, 1/8, 1/10 and 1/16. Each size is designed for different sized players from adult all the way to the 1/16 which is great for young children. A full size violin works for those with arm lengths of 23.5 inches while the smallest 1/16 size is for children with arm length of 14-15 inches, or a child between the age of 3 to 5.


While Italian and French vintage violins are of the highest quality, it does not mean that a violin built elsewhere will not produce a quality sound. Often quality is in relation to price, but for an investment of a few hundred dollars, a reasonably good quality vintage violin can be purchased.

Whether you are an experienced violinist looking for an upgrade to your current violin, or a first time violin student, vintage violin's offer the flexibility, quality and sound that will suit almost anyone.

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Vintage French Violins

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Among vintage violins, models that were built in either Italy or France are perhaps the best quality violins. In particular one town in France has turned out some great quality violins, while at the same time offering value as compared to violins built in Italy. Mirecourt, France located in the north east part of the country is known worldwide as a hub for string instrument building and it has been this way for many years.

One legend not yet proven claims that it all started at the beginning of the 19th century when an Italian trained Luthier moved to Miercourt and began building violins. With his knowledge of building Stradivarius violins in Italy, he set out to build similar violins, however the truth is, violin making had been an important part of the community for many years when it was learned from the Germans. Regardless of it's origins, during the 18th and 19th centuries the popularity of violins made in Mirecourt grew and they became known as quality violin makers, second of course to Stradivarius.

Of the more notable French violin makers, Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume is one Luthier often thought of as a leader in building fine stringed instruments. Vuillaume is credited with building over 3000 after himself being trained by notable violin maker Francois Chanot. Vuillaume was so skilled at building violins that looked much like Italian violins that at the time, it was difficult for many to distinguish the difference.

Nicolas Lupot was another famous Violin maker who worked in Mirecourt after learning from his father. Often called “The French Stradivarius”, Lupot was so gifted that he was asked to build stringed instruments for King Louis XVIII, but Lupot died before he completed the order. His legend lives on in Mirecourt, with a street having been named after him.

French violins are said to have “superb tonal properties” and for those with a smaller budget, they make a great alternative to a higher priced Italian vintage violin. For professional violists or those just starting out with their first violin, a French made violin is perfect for the task. Often known for their durability and beauty, many fine examples of vintage violins that were built in Miercourt exist, many which are older than 100 years old. While you may spend thousands for an Italian made violin, French made vintage violins often can be found in beautiful condition for much less than $1000.

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The Ultimate Vintage Violin

   Posted by: admin   in Vintage Violins

It would be nearly impossible to discuss vintage violins without ever mentioning the Stradivari family who were instrumental in building some of the best violins ever built. The Stradivarius violin had it's origins in Italy in the late 1600's when Antonio Stradivari started store and started to make instruments. His earliest violins were not the best quality but as his skills were developed, he was able to build incredible violins from 1698 to 1720. A number of different kinds of woods including spruce, willow and maple which were treated with minerals like borax, potassium and vernice bianca went into each one of these incredible musical instruments.

While it has been said that a Stradivarius has a unique sound, many blind tests over the years have proven that Stradivarius violins sound the same as other high quality violins on the market today. Still, many notable violinists like Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, James Ehnes and Lisa Batiashvili regularly use Stradivarius instruments in their performances.

For vintage violin collectors today, owning a Stradivarius is a status symbol for sure since only 700 of these rare instruments were ever created, even though it's somewhat common to find a violin labeled a Stradivarius. A real Stradivarius can go for anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars, to over $3.5 million which was paid in 2006 for a Stradivarius violin called The Hammer. This is the highest price paid in a public auction for one of these violins, but private vintage violin sales are rumored to be higher.

Unfortunately like other sought after items like expensive art pieces, keeping them safe is always a concern to their owners. Even still, many Stradivarius violins have gone missing over the years and many remain lost. Some do eventually get discovered if they are part of a large ring of thieves, but quite often they remain missing for many years and traded on the black market.

If you wanted to see one of these incredible vintage violins today, many collections are on display around the world in museums and music venues. For example the 1666 “ex-Back” Stradivarius is displayed at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England while another called “Hellier” is on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

With such a long and fascinating history of building high quality violins, Stradivarius is certainly an item to be sought after and respected by its owners and all musical instrument collectors everywhere.

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