Violin/Expert Profile


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Expertise

I can answer questions on violin, viola, cello and bass making, repair and maintenance as well as supply general violin value ranges and information on instrument makers’ assuming the instrument's as labeled. I don't give values for modern makers as many of these modern makers are yet unknown to me. I can only give you feedback based on what information you give me, and no authority on the instrument can know every maker's work that ever lived. I have access to many books on makers and auction prices on over 25,000 makers, as well as having 36 years of experience with selling and appraising violins. Without having the instrument in hand, any estimate over the internet is just a guess as the label inside an instrument is more often wrong than right, so just having that information is not very useful. Pictures can sometimes be helpful but only so much, as the "feel" of the instrument along with small clues in workmanship and varnish cannot be seen in pictures. Any pictures should be high quality close-ups of the top and back. Additional photos of the front and treble side of the neck are also useful. It is always best to have an instrument seen in person at a violin shop that does appraisals. I can also provide advice on bows, rosin, strings and other string instrument accessories. As I am now retired, I have no bias towards selling anything; I only wish to share my knowledge and experience by providing information for those that may be getting confused by misinformation, misdirection or conflicting statements. (While I have seen many thousands of instruments and have performed numerous appraisals; if I have not evaluated an instrument in person, any information I set forth in an opinion is just that, an opinion based solely on what you have provided. Thusly, no financial decision should be based on that opinion, but rather, further investigation should be performed by having the instrument examined in person.)

Experience in the area

I am a retired violin maker and repairman with 35 years experience having worked in Chicago and Maryland at 5 different violin shops and music stores including the first violin repairman at William Harris Lee in Chicago, the head repairman at Weavers Violins in Maryland, and in my own shop of 25 years. I have made 160 instruments and have restored countless professional level and student grade instruments. I am an accomplished violinist having performed with semi-professional as well as amateur groups although I haven't played for years and mostly stay away from questions about playing. I have taught violin making and restoration to about 20 students; three of which have gone on professionally and now have their own shops. I know violins from playing, selling, repairing, making and teaching.

Organizations

Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

Education/Credentials

I graduated from the prestigious 4 year Chicago School of Violin Making in 1981 under Master Violin Maker Tschu Ho Lee. I also studied with violin maker Willis M. Gault in Washington DC from 1973-75, who was the former owner of the oldest known example of an instrument from the modern violin family, an Andreas Amati Viola.

Awards and Honors

2008 Chester Petranek Award for service to the music community. ASTA award for service. Top All Expert in Violin for 2014 and 2015.

Past/Present Clients

I have worked with many professional musicians from DC area Symphonies as well as players from all over the US. Here are just a few, Leonard Slatkin - Former conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. Doris Gazda - Nationally renowned string specialist and composer. Bernard Greenhouse, Tanya Anisimova - Internationally renowned Solo Cellists. Jody Gatwood, Mark Pfannschmidt, Lori Barnet, Doug Dubé, Judy Silverman - National Philharmonic Orchestra. Robert Blatt, David Hardy, Glen Garlick - National Symphony Orchestra. Eddie Stubbs, Brendan Mulvahill, Nate Leath - Professional Fiddle Players. David Basche, Pat Braunlich, John Knudson, Romano Solano, Ed Ferris, Fred Lieder - freelance musicians.

What do you like about this subject?

My life, since I was 15, has revolved around violins and violin making. I especially enjoy sharing my knowledge and have always liked working with students to get them the perfect violin regardless of what the price range is. Even in retirement I continue educating by providing a free information only web site at http://www.violininformation.webs.com to provide factual and unbiased information.

What do you still hope to achieve/learn in this field?

I try to keep up to date on instrument values, advances in string instrument acoustic studies, new instrument repair and restoration techniques as well as the new accessories that come on the market.

Something interesting about this subject that others may not know:

Violins are collectibles and are priced by Who made it, When it was made, Where it was made, the Condition and lastly the Sound. This may seem odd since you purchase an instrument for its sound, but because the Condition and Sound are subjective while the Who, When and Where are not. So a poor sounding Stradivari will still be more expensive than a better sounding violin by a lesser maker.

Something controversial or provocative about this subject

There have been unethical practices in violin making and sales, specifically the falsification of instrument pedigrees and kickbacks that some shops pay and some teachers demand to recommend a violin from a specific shop. For the buying process to be truly open, no fee's can be paid to someone for recommending an instrument and the teacher should be paid for their time by the student.

Average Ratings

Recent Reviews from Users

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    K = Knowledgeability    C = Clarity of Response    P = Politeness
UserDateKCPComments
michael11/02/161010Thank you very much, you just solved .....
Crystal11/02/16101010 
Gustavo Camps11/01/16101010 
Gustavo Camps11/01/16101010 
Gustavo Camps11/01/16101010Very fast response, very polite

Recent Answers from David Lashof

2016-11-20 Karl Knilling Stradivarius Model of 1792:

Hi Tristan     Karl Knilling instruments are commercially made factory instruments mostly from Germany  and Czechoslovakia. This was probably made in the late 1980s to 1990s. Typical values are in the

2016-11-02 Authenticity of maker:

Hi Michael    The sheer number of Bertolini instruments tell us that they are a workshop instrument, there is no evidence of an actual maker.  The primary violin maker reference bible, that of William

2016-11-01 Origins of a Violin:

I would agree and I have seen it before but I just can't put my brain on it and it doesn't show up in any of my research. I will keep thinking on it, sometimes it pops into my head but since I don't have

2016-11-01 Origins of a Violin:

Hi Gustavo     The violin looks late 1800's German, probably the Saxony region. Could you take a closeup of that mark on the button, this picture is too blurry when I  zoom  in.

2016-10-29 best violin E-String:

Hi Crystal    This is a bit difficult to say without actually playing the instrument my first recommendation is to ask your local luthier about this as they can actually play your instrument and make recommendations

 

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