Do Contemporary Instruments Hold Their Value?
Value of modern fiddles may be the most controversial topic for someone
who makes, sells, or buys fine stringed instruments
Scrooge McDuck might snicker, but it’s a lot of cash to you—enough to buy a car or make a down payment on a house. Instead, you’re spending $15,000 or more on a violin crafted by a well-respected contemporary luthier. You know it’s a good investment in your career—the instrument feels good and sounds even better. But financially, what are you getting? What will your fiddle be worth in 10, 20, or 30 years? Is it reasonable to expect to sell or trade that instrument for about what you paid—or more?
“It totally depends on the maker, of course,” says Claire Givens, who has been
in the business for more than 30 years as owner of Claire Givens Violins in Minneapolis. “But if you’re buying a new instrument from a talented and well-known maker, I think that’s a pretty solid position to be in for the future.”
Prices for fiddles made by contemporary luthiers have not dropped, even during the worst recession in modern history. “The market is really stable for contemporary stringed instruments,” says David Bonsey, director of the fine musical instruments department at Skinner Auctioneers. “Generally, I think they represent a great value for musicians.”
Contemporary American luthiers, in particular, are increasingly well regarded by buyers around the world, especially as the price of old Italian instruments has soared far beyond the financial reach of most string players.
Yet many observers caution musicians against regarding a contemporary instrument as a stock that can be liquidated at need. The reality is more complicated.
This article, "Do Contemporary Instruments Hold Their Value?," is part of the Strings Archive, which you can access with a paid site subscription.
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