Without knowing all of the criteria involved, violin pricing is difficult to understand. Any respective instrument’s value will fluctuate depending on the labor put into it, the price of the accessories used—even the reputation of the workshop plays a role. And when it comes to rare and antique instruments (or instruments made by renowned luthiers), these concepts become even more abstract. The purpose of this article is to provide information on the value generally placed on instruments in stores. It will give you an idea of how value translates in terms of cost. Price of violins in a violin-maker workshop Violin prices are constantly fluctuating. Here are some insights into understanding how the market works.

The price of Chinese violins

Far from the heavy, shapeless things that were shipped over from Asia not so long ago, Chinese violins have become vital nowadays. They combine competitive pricing with solid craftsmanship. Whether made in factories or in artisan workshops, these instruments have many advantages that appeal to students, amateurs and even to professionals. To guarantee their quality, the best Chinese violins are always adjusted and assembled in lutherie workshops after being shipped to Europe. Upon arrival, the pegs, fingerboard, and nuts are added. Next, the bridges and sound posts are specially carved for each instrument. Finally, the strings and accessories are selected.

Price of Chinese violins
In recent years, Chinese violins have offered exceptional value for the price.

The quality of instruments manufactured in China varies significantly, so do be careful. The main goal of these manufacturers is to flood the market with low-cost instruments and accessories. Quality is not always their top priority.

If you purchase an instrument in a non-specialty store (online or in the store), what you will get is an instrument straight out of the box. It will be less expensive, but this is simply because it has not yet been examined by a professional luthier. In some cases, this type of instrument is not even playable and you will just end up needing to return it.


Why do violin prices vary?

Instrument costs can deviate significantly depending on the quality of the instrument and on the conditions in which it was manufactured. Most importantly, it is the time that the luthier spent on the assembly and preparation of the violin, viola or cello that should be taken into account. Once aware that the preparation of a violon is the most critical step in terms of tone quality and ease of play, we may think twice about skipping over this crucial step.

Additionally, when it comes to violin preparation, you may notice that there are variations in price between violins from the same manufacturer. This is not necessarily a sign of fraud. It does however draw attention to the complex set of criteria involved within the walls of each manufacturer.


Why select a Chinese violin?

To put things simply, this is an easy solution to getting a great value for the price…that is, if the work has been done properly. It is for this reason that if you’re looking to buy a brand-new instrument, a Chinese violin would probably be the best option.

It should be noted that Chinese violins are often available for rent or for rental-purchase. However, one of the biggest drawbacks is that they can be relatively difficult to resell (especially the smaller models) and their worth will be significantly lower than prior to purchase. In other words, we can consider that a Chinese violin loses nearly 40% of its value as soon as it is purchased. What’s more, “disposable” instruments that can be bought on the Internet at rock-bottom prices are simply impossible to resell.

Nevertheless, there are several Chinese brands that have a good reputation. Brands such as Kaiming Guan and Passion Tradition are easier to resell. If you have to justify the value of the instrument, it will work in your favor to have bought from a reputable luthier or workshop. It is even better if you can produce a certificate of authenticity or a certificate of value.

The price of European violins

Instruments are still manufactures nowadays in European factories and workshops, particularly in Romania. These instruments are quite similar to their Chinese counterparts in terms of quality; for better or for worse.

I would add that for the same quality instrument, the price of these violins is still higher than their Asian counterparts (although this could change in the next few years).

price of old violins
Just because a violin looks used doesn’t mean that its value decreases.


Price of antique violins

There are many antique violins that have stood the test of time and are still usable today. Whether manufactured in factories, in workshops or by a master luthier, these instruments are all considered antiques. It’s an investment that will not depreciate, even if the price at purchase seems steep. Each and every antique instrument has its own unique history and spirit. We can find a little bit of everything in this category of instrument, even violins with good tone quality despite their low price. But on the flip side, we can also find among them expensive instruments with poor tone quality.

Classifying violins

Every antique string instrument that passes through the doors of our workshop can be classified into one of the categories we will discuss below. Although I am referring here to violins, this information can also be applied to violas and cellos. Bear in mind that each of the below categories can have overlap with other categories in terms of price range and quality. So even though this way of ranking is theoretically from lowest to highest in terms of quality, instruments from the higher categories can inversely have lower value than instruments belonging to a lower category. On the other hand (and even if this doesn’t always hold true), quality control standards do not necessarily impact the instrument’s overall sound quality.


Factory-produced violins

The vast majority of violins ever made were actually intended for beginners. They are very inexpensive, which implies of course that cheap materials and minimal work were put into them. These instruments simply have no artistic value. They are usually thick, sturdy, and in terms of tone quality sound like screeching banshees.

Usually made from dull wood, the ebony of the pegs and fingerboard is simply painted on. The varnish is often opaque, sprayed-on and breakable. Some of them are even missing blocks and linings. Sometimes the bass bar is even carved directly into the body of the instrument. 

Contrary to popular belief, many of these instruments bear the Stradivarius label. But it doesn’t take an expert to recognize a knock-off that didn’t actually come from Italy.


Trademark violins 

A step up on the quality scale are violins which proudly bear the trademark of their maker. In this category, the price can significantly vary depending on the selection of wood, varnish, parts and production methods. The best ones may have been crafted by hand with thickness that creates great tone quality. Even if the majority are finished by hand, there are still many instruments that are made by a machine. Even so, these instruments often are proudly tagged with a “Hand-crafted” label.

Workshop-made violins

Each and every one of these instruments received the maker’s undivided attention (some more than others) during construction. Although it is possible that the violin was made from start to finish by one luthier, instruments generally are made by several artisans. Each craftsman is experienced and works under the guidance of a master luthier who is there to guide the creative process. It is the master luthier that will dictate the materials to be used and which classic models to follow. Once finished, these violins are considered the product of the master luthier. They will thus bear his or her label even if he or she only briefly contributed to their creation (by assembling pre-cut parts or by simply applying varnish on bare-wood instruments, for example). This is why the master luthier’s work sometimes gets confused with that of the apprentice.


Violins by lesser-known luthiers

These instruments are first and foremost the authentic work of thousands of luthiers whose names are humbly printed on the labels of their violins. They are like messages in bottles, tossed out into the oceans of time. 

These violins, which are often very well made, offer musicians the opportunity to enjoy a real work of art at a reasonable price. Of course, the artistic aspect of these instruments is quite subjective, as they could have either been made by an amateur or by a highly trained professional.

For the connoisseur, the quality of the work that went into the instrument will dictate its value. However, the tone quality of the instrument should not be overlooked.

Price of master violins
The price of violins made by master luthiers can reach dizzying costs, even nowadays.

Violins by master luthiers

These violins are authentic productions made by renowned “master” luthiers. They are recognized as such due to their professional experience, reputation and artistic flair. Winning competitions in the field also helps master luthiers distinguish themselves. The sound quality of their instruments and consistency in their work are also important elements of the job.

The price of violins by the great Italian masters can be mind-boggling. To find out more on the topic, you can read on in the article below:

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Antique violin pricing

To begin, here is a list that reflects the pricing of antique instruments that can usually be found in France. However, their value will vary significantly depending on their origin, their brand, and their overall condition. This chart provides merely a rough estimate. Prices shown here are for violins in perfect aesthetic and playing condition. It is possible to find damaged or unassembled violins for much lower prices. However, they are not necessarily in proper condition to be played.

  • €650 and up for a 1/4 violin
  • €700 and up for a 1/2 violin
  • €800 and up for a 3/4 violin
  • €875 and up for a 7/8 violin
  • €900 and up for a 4/4 student violin
  • €1500 and up for a 4/4 mid-level violin
  • €3500 and up for a 4/4 master violin

Price of violins from contemporary luthiers

It is important to note that the pricing of contemporary luthiers around the globe can greatly vary depending on their reputation and geographical location. Italy has a particularly important reputation, as it is the birthplace of the famous Stradivarius violins. It is for this reason that Italian luthiers will alway sell their instruments at a higher price point than their Romanian counterparts. Additionally, violin makers based in the countryside do not have the same operating expenses as those based in the city. This can have a direct impact on the price of the instruments.

The luthier’s reputation is mainly due to the number of years they have worked in the field and how many distinctions they have won.

As for the truly renowned luthiers, some are so popular that they have orders for several years to come. The cost of these instruments can exceed $40,000. In Europe, it costs on average €10,000 for a custom-made classical violin.

At Lutherie d’Art, my violins are custom-made and entirely handcrafted in my workshop. Each instrument is made with the musician’s needs in mind. The intention is to allow each client to reach their full potential. That is why the price can vary depending on the model. For more information, I suggest you check out the page dedicated to the making of my customized instruments.


Violins prices in our online store

Now that you have a handle on how violins, violas, and cellos are priced, you can go ahead and check out my online shop, where you will find many different types of instruments.

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