How to Get a Violin Appraisal

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To you, playing violin is everything. The ability to perfect the concertos of the great composers or even craft your own music is priceless. While you probably couldn’t put a price tag on how playing the violin makes you feel, a violin valuation could give you some idea of how much your instrument is worth. If you’ve ever wondered how much your violin is worth, it may be worth seeking out a violin appraisal.

What is a Violin Appraisal?

An appraisal of your violin is where an instrument expert (sometimes even a musician themselves) determines the worth of your violin based on physical attributes like design, the wood it’s made out of, how the fingerboard is crafted, and the type of varnish used on the violin. Some appraisers may even weigh the bow of the violin. While it may seem silly that an appraiser has to look that closely at a violin with an Amati or Stradivari label, it serves its purpose.

Unfortunately, many lower quality brands, (particularly back in the day), would make lower quality violins and stick a premium label on the violin to make people believe that they were purchasing a Stradivari for an excellent price. However, they weren’t purchasing a Stradivari at all. During the violin valuation, an appraiser with a trained eye will be able to analyze different attributes of your violin in order to determine which company actually made it and where it was made. The provenance, or where the violin was crafted, can also affect the value of your violin. If you have a certificate of authenticity, you should bring that too.

How to Get a Violin Appraisal

If you want to get your violin appraised, there are different steps that you can take. The best route that you can take is to find a violin dealer, or luthier, in your area, as they will have the most expertise when it comes to determining the value of a violin. It should be noted that you need to seek at least a couple of different appraisals from different violin dealers in order to make sure that you’re getting an accurate figure.

Certain violin manufacturers and experts will also do appraisals online. Manufacturers like Amati offer online appraisals where you can upload photos of your violin. If you’re having trouble finding a violin appraiser in your area, try looking at the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, Inc. for a list of licensed dealers.

Why Do I Need a Violin Valuation?

While only you can decide if you truly need an appraisal, it is highly recommended if you rely on your violin as a source of income or it holds deep personal value. Instrument appraisals are mainly used as a means of proving the value to your insurance company in order to have your violin insured. If your violin were to be lost, stolen, or destroyed in a freak accident, you could rely on your insurance company to cover the losses.

However, if you don’t know how much your violin is worth, an insurance company is not like to show mercy. Many luthiers will actually help you file claims with your insurance company, which is an added bonus of getting your violin appraised.

Some musicians also like to get their violins appraised for authenticity. While your grandmother may have said her violin was from Stradivari, only an expert can make that determination. Sometimes, you may not be a musician at all and are trying to get a violin appraised for something like an estate sale. Some violin dealers may buy the violin outright but will be happy to provide you with a reasonable starting bid for your violin if it were to go to an estate auction.

Dealing with insurance companies is never fun, especially when it is tied to something you love so much. However, knowing the history and value of your violin can make or break the type of payout you receive.

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Bobby is a viola player who currently lives in Seattle. He has been playing viola for over 20 years in various orchestras.


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