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Laurie Niles

A Value Judgment

April 14, 2006 at 9:18 PM

So I've been discussing with quite a few people my big crush on the ItalianEnlarged view of image

Our very own Michael Avagliano reminded me of something that many people have told me: "The violin does have antique value -- in fact that's all that it has. The sound of an instrument, no matter how amazing, cannot factor into the price because it's subjective in nature (you love it, but someone else might not)."

Like deductions for a skater in the Olympics, there's a long list of items that cause mark downs in a violin's antique value: a base bar crack, a soundpost crack, a crack in the back (very sinful; the one I'm looking at has an intact back), over-polish, parts that don't match, and unnamed maker, falling on your tush while performing a triple lutz....

[By the way, Avagliano had some news of his own: he just had opened up his own violin shop, called Summit Fine Instruments, in Summit, New Jersey. This is after the shop where he used to work, Machold Violins, moved from New York to the Fine Arts Building in downtown Chicago.]

Another person I talked with was one's pioneer members, Emil Chudnovsky, who was kind enough to talk to me even though he was at a restaurant with his fiance.

"So what's the make of this violin?" he asked, "Ah, my mom had a Gagliano. She loved it."

I said that a number of people had advised that I could find the same sound in a modern instrument. He mentioned that he has played on a number of very fine-sounding modern instruments, in fact, most recently on an excellent modern violin by Howard Needham.

"When it's at its best, it has the timbre of an old Italian instrument and the resonance of an amplified modern fiddle," he said.

"I've seen some of Zygmuntowicz violins that put to shame anything anyone says about modern instruments, many of them are everything you might want to hear in an old or modern fiddle."

We talked about the fine modern instruments that are out there, and also the older one in my hands.

"There are many dealers that would say if it's not pristine, it's a bad investment, but if it's a good players' instrument you should seriously consider it. It's difficult to find a violin you are truly in love with."

"I think I have one I truly love, right here," I said.

"Well, just make sure they let you play on it for at least two weeks," Emil advised.

"I've been playing on it two months," I said.

"TWO MONTHS? And you're still in love with it?" Emil said. "Buy it!"

From Linda Lerskier
Posted on April 14, 2006 at 9:27 PM
I could have gave you the same advice. Okay, maybe not... But the BUY IT part at least.
From Maura Gerety
Posted on April 14, 2006 at 10:00 PM
GO FOR IT LAURIE!!!!! it sounds like you've really found your soulmate here!!! (the violin, I mean.) If you're in love with someone, person or violin, don't ever let him/it get away!!! :)
From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on April 14, 2006 at 11:04 PM

It's time. Sell Robert and buy the violin.

From Ray Randall
Posted on April 14, 2006 at 11:09 PM
Hock your first borne and buy it.
From Julie C.
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 12:08 AM

Buy! :)

From Neil Cameron
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 12:56 AM
Laurie, if you buy it, can we all come and have a play of it so we know what something good sounds like?



From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 3:52 AM
Spill the beans sister. How many samolians for this banjo?
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 4:54 AM
The vote is unanimous, Laurie. Buy it. Then we'll all visit you to hear it.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 5:14 AM
Now now guys. Robert and both of my kids are priceless!
From Karin Lin
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 5:25 AM
Hee hee...funny to have both husband and wife weighing in on the matter. :)

I'm one of the most frugal people in the world, Laurie, but true love is true love. Go for it!

From Louise Pallet
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 12:19 PM
Buy it this sounds like true love and might never come again,louise P
From Michael Parry
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 1:18 PM
So, how much does it cost?...we can keep a secret, can't we...

I kind of feel in love with an Andreas Guanerius 1697 on loan recently. The price tag is $500K AUS, lots of money. Buying would be hard. I play a modern American instrument of Gregg Alf which I find as good...but not quite as expensive. Maybe you can find a sponser, or a company with a bit of money to spare. I know of someone who approched a bank over here and convinced them to buy a J.B Guadagnini....there is always hope,


From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 3:15 PM
Mine's not that much! It is under 100K because of the skater devaluations. It's a real nowhere land, when it comes to price. The really fine old ones tend to be more than 100K. But for under that, an old Italian instrument would have some compromise. And yet, it's still so much money, one wants to feel that it is a sound investment when looking at the violin as an object. What a conundrum!
From Maura Gerety
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 4:11 PM
Buy it, buy it, buy it! Pay in installments if you have to!! This is true love!!!
From Ray Randall
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 6:14 PM
Okay, then don't sell your first born and husband to get the violin. Rent them!
From Sydney Menees
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 6:49 PM
C'mon Laurie! It'll do you good! Buy it!
From Patrick Wong
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 10:41 PM
Laurie, have you tried any other violins in that price range or is this the only one?
From Patrick Wong
Posted on April 15, 2006 at 10:47 PM
Sorry just read your last post about trying 10 others :)
From Kelsey Z.
Posted on April 16, 2006 at 12:47 AM
Good luck with the decision making, Laurie! If you get the instrument you could do a concert and have admission go towards the purchase of the instrument! I bet any members in the area would love to come and hear you!
From Jennifer Leong
Posted on April 16, 2006 at 4:59 AM
Laurie, I hope you get the violin.

Perhaps if we all sent Laurie a contribution in appreciation of how much enriches our lives, she would have an easier time deciding. Robert, can you set up an online donation system, or should I express my gratitude by snail mail?

From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 16, 2006 at 6:10 AM
Oh you guys don't need to do that. But you can tell your friends about, since more readers generate more good karma for everyone on the site. Really, my conversations, e-mails and comments from members have given me a great deal of perspective. I'm just as grateful for this community as everyone else!
From Ray Randall
Posted on April 16, 2006 at 8:36 PM
Laurie, can you make a short two minute recording with this violin and post it so we can hear how wonderful you make this instrument sound?

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