Hellmich Violins

How do the price differences of instruments come about? What is the value of an instrument?


What I think about 39,99€ violins should be no secret after my last blog post at the latest (more here…). But what makes the difference between a €10,000 violin and a Stradivarius that trades for several million?

The “mystery of the Stradivari” as many call it, I do not want to roll up at all in this article. Let’s rather philosophize about the differences that justify such an immense price range in instruments.

At this point, do you still think that any instrument for say 100,000€ has ten times the sound compared to a 10,000€ violin? You can guess. I wouldn’t be asking this question if the answer wasn’t somewhat sobering.

Sound and price are no longer in proportion to each other, starting at about 5000€. But there are hard facts independent of sound to justify a value.

  • How old is the instrument?
  • Was it manufactured in single-item or series production?
  • Can the instrument be assigned to a school (Vogtland, Mittenwald, Cremona…) or even to a specific builder?

The note in the instrument often gives little information about the actual origin. Slips were produced by machine, in mass production, especially in the mass industry, and the name “Stradivari” was attached to millions of Saxon factory violins in the process. For the layman, stylistic, structural details are often difficult to assign to a school, but an experienced luthier can provide at least a rough indication based on the construction, varnish and shape, and also sets the prices of his instruments according to these criteria.

If the upper points are clear, the quality of the work and condition determine whether the instrument is placed in the upper or lower price segment. As soon as an instrument can be assigned to a specific violin maker, this is usually significantly more expensive and acquires collector status.

This brings us to the exciting topic of the history of a violin. The more accurately it can be traced who the previous owners of an instrument were, the more expensive it usually is. Violins with “curriculum vitae”, which ideally have belonged to a celebrity, are particularly highly traded. I have to disappoint you, however, with simple violins without a well-known luthier’s background, even the best, most complete history does not help to increase the value.

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