Can You Hear the Difference Between a Cheap and Expensive Violin?

Why are some violins so expensive??? I went into Peter Prier and Sons in Salt Lake City, where I put to the test a violin I bought off of Amazon for $62, and an antique Italian violin for $285,000. Scroll down for answers on what makes these instruments worth so much.

The first song I play is Hallelujah, and the second is AC/DC “Thunderstruck”.


Thank you to Daniel Prier!

Supply and Demand: One reason the value of an antique Italian violin is so dear is because there are so few of them left, and they are no longer being made. Simple economics dictates that when there is a demand but little supply, value increases.

The Quality: Musicians have long believed that the antique Italian violins are superior to other violins in quality and sound. It’s believed that cooler temperatures from the 1200s to the mid 1800s contributed to a denser tree bark, making the wood that was used in constructing these instruments of a higher quality and offering a better acoustic.

They’re Fashionable: Owning an old Italian is a status symbol in the world of music, thus increasing its legend, value and price.

The Condition and History of the Instrument: Any of these violins are between 100-300 years old, making it an historical icon as well as an instrument. If the instrument is also in excellent condition, the value increases.

Vincenzo Panormo (1794) – $130,000

By the 1770s Panormo was a skilled maker, producing instruments largely on an Amatise model. He was one of the earliest makers outside Italy to adopt the Stradivari model, which he appears to have developed during his time in Paris. His work, generally described as English despite his Italian origins, is among the best in the history of British violin making. The transition of British makers away from the use of Stainer models in this period was due in no small part to his influence. More on Panormo:

My favorite: Giuseppe Scarampella – $185,000

SCARAMPELLA, Giuseppe Born 1838 Brescia, died 1904 Varese Italy. Son of Paolo Scarampella, below. Pupil of Nicola Bianchi in Paris. Worked for Luigi Castellini in Florence 1866, succeeding him as curator of the Cherubini Museum. Very highly regarded maker of Stradivari and Guarneri modelled instruments, with a distinctly personal interpretation. Inclined to overall heaviness, sometimes the arching a little over-full, with little relief at the edges. Scroll rather flat carved and a little bulky, but complementing the overall style of the instruments. Fine dark red or golden varnish, and good materials, often making use of local maple. His work is commonly reproduced and sold fraudulently. More on Scarampella:

Carlo Antonio Testore (1700) – $285,000

Milan circa 1680-1760. Son and pupil of Carlo-Giuseppe. Amati and Guarnerius models. His own model is large and heavy of aspect. The sound holes, after the Guarneri manner, are very open. Thick yellow-brown varnish. Excellent instruments. Apart from the label, an eagle is branded.

For more info on Carlo Antonio Testore:

ROB LANDES is an award-winning violinist who started playing the violin at 3 years in Orem, Utah. Born to a large musical family, Rob gave his first solo recital at 10 years old, performed in the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on the Disney Channel with the Disney Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra, and founded a piano trio that performed actively throughout his teenage years. Rob has won first prize at numerous music competitions and has soloed with the Utah Symphony, Utah Valley Symphony, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, BYU Philharmonic, and BYU Chamber Orchestra. As a first violinist of the BYU Chamber Orchestra, Rob performed in more than twenty cities throughout central and southern Europe, and as concertmaster of the orchestra, gave a concert to a sold-out audience in New York’s Carnegie Hall. Rob was awarded full scholarships to attend Brigham Young University and Rice University where he earned a Bachelor’s in Music and Master’s in Music, respectively. While studying at Rice, Rob began covering rock and pop music, and upon returning to Salt Lake City after graduation, began playing with a looper pedal which he uses to create intricate and stunning arrangements of today and yesterday’s most popular music Rob recently won the award for “Best Instrumental” at the Utah Music Awards for his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

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