January 11, 2012


Hewn From The Mountain Music Cafe5801 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Crestwood, KY. 40014

Is It Really Worth Something? 

There are so many old musical instruments that are found in attics, closets or old estates, or some that have been passed down from generation to generation. Most of these instruments are, to say the least, not in very good playing condition; some have almost completely disentregated due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. These relics pop up during routine housecleanings, relocations, estate and yard sales everywhere. When these items are brought to my shop, I will hear the same type of questions asked each time: Is this worth anything? Are you able to fix this? Looking at and restoring these old instruments have become the better part of my business and is one of my favorite things to do.  A lot of time is spent researching vintage instruments and assessing their values.  It's rewarding to see the shock on people's faces when they find that 'Grandpa's old violin' is actually worth way more than they had ever expected. Even though each situation is unique, there are some basic things that everyone should know when they are considering what to do with these space and dust collecting relics. 

You will sometimes see these items at yard sales, or at an online or estate auction in their rickety old cases selling from anywhere between $15 and $75, and depending on their condition, this is exactly what they're worth. However, if the same instrument is restored to a solid, well adjusted playing condition, it may be worth many, many times as much. The fact is, an old instrument that is repairable (and most are) is more sought after by  performing musicians than new, 'fresh from the factory' ones for many reasons. Here are some important ones:

Old instruments are like old cars: worth very little when sitting out in a field rusting, but when restored, they have great value. But, just like old cars, they will need consistent attention thereafter. People who invest in vintage cars, know that they increase very little in value when they are just put away in storage. They know that these cars need to be taken out and driven on a regular basis, always being 'well-lubricated'. It is no different with vintage instruments. When I lived near Washington, D.C., I would visit the Smithsonian Museum to view the cases of old Stradivarius era instruments. The museum actually has a staff of musicians who play and perform with these instruments on a regular basis. They know if they do not do this, the instruments will very rapidly begin to lose integrity. 

So, this is the bottom line: The future of Grandpa's broken old violin can go two ways: 1.) Put it back in the closet, and don't do anything. The result will be that the instrument will continue to deteriorate until it looks so bad that you will want to throw it away, or sell it at a yard sale for $5. -OR- 2.) Bring it to me to find out the true restored value of it. Make the investment, and have in your possession something that will actually appreciate in value more then most stocks or CD's. But here's the catch: If your newly restored instrument does not get put in the hands of someone who will PLAY it and MAINTAIN it, then it will rapidly begin to depreciate in every way.  So please consider who will take on this responsibility BEFORE you bring it in to me. 

Here are some of my notable recent projects:

And Now, The News:

New & Interesting Items:

. . . and that's the news!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Music Shop

- Tom & Karen

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