How to sell my violin?
September 21, 2005 7:49 PM   Subscribe

How should I sell my violin?

(I'm posting anonymously so it doesn't look like the answer is "on metafilter!")

So I just had it verbally-appraised at Shar and they told me:

1. It's a high quality student violin that's worth, ballpark, $1000.
2. It has a label that says John Juzek, but the label's an obvious photocopy.
3. It was made in Germany in the '80s.

I don't really want to pay to sell it; I've tried Craigslist but no bites (not surprising; the Craigslist where I live isn't that active). I'm thinking about Auctiondrop, but I don't want to pony up the $20 for "Premium" service and the $1 minimum scares the shit out of me. I've long since lost contact with my old violin teacher. Suggestions?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total)
I'm assuming Shar didn't want to buy the violin. Did you ask the people there if they had any suggestions as to how to sell it?

There's always ye olde eBay, too.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:12 PM on September 21, 2005

You're in a place that has a craigslist, so you're way ahead of the game. Print up signs with tear-off tags. Put them up in every music shop and music school and college and university music faculty and anything else that has anything to do with strings at all. Advertise in the local paper. Post to your local forsale Usenet groups. You're a couple weeks late for the biggest student-instrument buying season of the year, back to school, but that doesn't mean there aren't people still looking.

A $1000 student violin isn't so expensive an instrument that a parent wouldn't pick it up for an intermediate-serious student, but keep in mind that appraisal value and sale value will differ by a bit (maybe ask a bit above, and accept a bit below). I bought a $1500 double bass with my own cash in high school; you just have to connect with someone looking for one, and the way to do that is make sure everyone who might be interested knows it's available.
posted by mendel at 9:43 PM on September 21, 2005

Post flyers @ a local music conservatory / music school? Any big university/state school should have a music school, even if it is less than hoity-toity.

on preview, what mendel said.
posted by misterbrandt at 9:46 PM on September 21, 2005

(Curious: Was that $1000 including the bow? It doesn't really change my answer either way though.)
posted by mendel at 9:49 PM on September 21, 2005

eBay. Why limit yourself to a more closed market?
posted by anagrama at 3:34 AM on September 22, 2005

Because Auctiondrop takes 30%?
posted by Tlogmer at 5:42 AM on September 22, 2005

My friend works at Sam Ash and they give pretty good prices for used gear, and you can walk out with the cash in only a few minutes.

That being said, I would definitely do eBay if I were you, as that's probably the best way to maximize what you could get for it, but make sure you pack it really, really well.
posted by ducksauce at 7:40 AM on September 22, 2005

Depends on who wants to buy it. I take it you live in the US. The usual outlets are taking out a for sale want ad and hoping for students in school orchestras. Otherwise, contact local violin dealers and music shops and see if they will offer it for sale on commission. Try publicizing the violin for sale among groups like bluegrass clubs or Irish music bars.

$1000 for one of those old German fiddles is not too bad, I suppose. Zillions of them were made in Barvarian factories from 1880-1930 and sold in the US through the early Sears catalogues as cheap school violins. A lot of them sit in garages and attics and show up at flea markets. European and Japanese violin buyers drool at the treasures you can find in US flea markets.

The wood used in them is a lot better than a lot of the wood used in many inexpensive (Chinese and Romanian) factory fiddles. However, depending on the fiddle, it may have aged past its prime (as one of mine definately has) or be a prime candidate for rebuilding (which I had done to yet another of my old German factory fiddles.)

Mind you, I play fiddle for a living, I own about eight of them (I'm not even sure... I've got four here with me, and a few more loaned out or at my parents house in the US.) I have never payed more than $100 for any of them, but then, I eat flea marklets for breakfast.

But selling fiddles is like selling turkish carpets: the item is as valuable as you can talk it up to be. I have heard beyond their prime Amatis that sounded like crap. I sell a lot of instruments, usually cheaply because some are to nice people, but I did sell a $200 fiddle to a buyer for $800 this year, simply because I could.
posted by zaelic at 7:59 AM on September 22, 2005

I sold my violin through a luthier/violin shop a few years ago. I was selling it without the bow and it needed some repairs.The cost of the repairs was about $300 on a $800 violin, so I opted to get rid of it and buy a new one instead. Because I didn't want to get the repairs done before I sold it (waste of time) I ended up at the shop that both repaired violins AND sells violins. I dropped it off in July, they took my information, and in September I got a cheque for about $350 ($800 - $300 - commission)

If you don't mind paying commission, it's SO much easier to have someone in the business sell it for you. I tried selling through ads before I ended up at the store, and it was just way too much work for not getting any responses.

Your violin sounds like something that parents would love to buy for their kids as a starter. Unfortunately the school year has just begun (and with it the rush on student violins) but even throughout the year people might want to trade their rental for their own, and if you sell through a store (that also rents out) you'll reach those people.
posted by easternblot at 10:44 AM on September 22, 2005

If you could get in to Shar's, I"m assuming you are in SE Michigan. Hewitt's Music in Dearborn was still selling string instruments on commission the last time I considered selling my viola.
posted by QIbHom at 11:50 AM on September 22, 2005

Alright, I was the anonymous poster. I took it into Auctiondrop after all -- they'll send me a cheque in about 5 weeks; I'll let you guys know what happened.
posted by Tlogmer at 10:42 AM on September 27, 2005

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