Frequently Asked Questions

What is it, and What's it Worth?

We get photos of strange and wonderful stringed things and we get requests for referrals to competent and honest appraisers. There are many resources to draw upon, but you need to take the responsibility for finding the right person or people who can help you. Most places, be they violin shops, guitar shops, individual makers, dealers, or other music shops, will appraise instruments for a fee, unless only a couple minutes of someone's time is involved and only a verbal appraisal is given. To find the right shop or knowledgeable individual, the process is the same as for finding a competent repair person. (See answer to that FAQ) Keep in mind that “what it's worth” depends on whether you're talking about market value, that is, “What I can sell it for to a private party,” or wholesale market value, that is, “What I can sell it to a retail store for,” versus, replacement value, that is, “What it would cost me to replace the instrument with another just like it or comparable one if it were stolen, lost, or destroyed?”

A couple of warnings: Beware of anyone who immediately offers to buy your instrument. There are always people who are less than scrupulous in their business dealings. Your best insurance against predatory business practices is to get more than one opinion about your instrument and, of course, be careful who you approach in the first place. Talk to musicians, teachers, other instrument makers.

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