Handmade musical instruments

Bowed String Instruments – Long Term Investment Opportunity

Nikolai Tambovsky

Today, the market has a large quantity of instruments – cheap, expensive, factory-made, and hand- made. Thanks to modern computer-driven technology, bowed instruments can now be replicated, creating a surplus manufactured at a cheaper price point. In contrast, older violins, violas, and cellos from the 20 th century and earlier made by professional luthiers are rare. These instruments have an advantage in the market because they are made by hand and are not replicable since their makers have passed away. As a result, they keep their value in their originality and character of the maker embedded in the instrument. Insomuch that six of the ten most expensive musical instruments in the world today are violins and violas.

According to a study by economist Katheryn Graddy of Brandeis University, from 1850 to 2009, the price of violins rose an average of 3 percent a year (adjusted for inflation). If we examine other historical data over an extended period of time, we see that violins show roughly the same yield as government bonds. Furthermore, in last two years COVID has brought significant changes to the economy and the value of money but has not affected the bow instrument market. The violin market has been and continues to be stable – even better than that of the art market as a whole.

Investing in an expensive instrument or bow is first and foremost the purchase of a safe asset that can protect your money from depreciation. Valuable antiques and works of art, if properly stored, cared for, and/or used, do not, as a rule, become cheaper. If you were to buy a violin made by a famous master today, in five years you will see that you can sell it [at a profit] because the market value of the instrument will grow by at least 15-20%.

Twentieth- and twenty-first-century instruments can be priced between $10,000 and $50,000, and vintage violins from the seventeenth century, made by violin makers such as Stradivari and Guarneri, can fetch millions of dollars. All bowed stringed instruments are an investment asset just as reliable as other antiques or art, and market experts advise to treat them with the same regard.

Another benefit of buying violins as an investment is the fact that it is better for the instrument when it is used. That's why we see old and rare violins that are purchased often ending up in the hands of famous musicians or aspiring talented violinists. The price of a rare violin consists of three factors:

  • The craftsmanship of the instrument,
  • The quality of the wood from which the instrument is made
  • The sound produced by the instrument

A study published in 2017 found that the three above are related: the higher the quality of the wood and the craftsmanship, the better the sound.

If you do decide to invest in an instrument, you can do so through a dealer or through auctions. Unfortunately, most major auction houses, such as Sotheby's and Christie's, have given up selling musical instruments at public auction, so there’s a need of help from a professional - not just a music expert, but an experienced and well-known master on the market. Nikolai Tambovsky, Master Luthier with 50 years of experience, can help you find and purchase a truly good, rare and, most importantly, authentic instrument.

Services provided at Nikolai’s shop, Tambovsky Strings, include:

  • Rare Instrument Sales: Violins, Violas, Cellos, with the provision of a certificate.
  • Appraisal of rare and rare bowed instruments.
  • Providing insurance documentation about price and condition of an instrument.
  • Advice on the purchase of a violin with a forecast of its valued growth.

Consultations can be provided by phone, Facetime, e-mail, Viber, or by visiting our storefront.


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