Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

I just inherited a 100 yr old fiddle?

So on my wife’s side of the family, I am the only one who plays music. So when a great uncle recently died in rural Nebraska, his father 's violin was part of the estate. Since I noted interest in the instrument it came my way.

So the fiddle is in pretty bad shape but the sound post is still in tact and it has a one piece back. The inside inscribe says "Franko Ruggeri anno 1699’ and “Repaired by Joseph H. Cannot, London 1896” It seems to be a German late 1800s copy of a Italian 17 th century model. So the local violin store says it can be brought back to life for $1500. Pricey and inherited from my wife’s side of the family, but played professionally by wife’s great great grandfather. My daughter seems interested in the thing. Part of me wants to restore it it, at the very least I will play it, andI think it would be very cool to keep it in family. (And I always want a fiddle)

Are the top/sides and neck intact?

I’d get a second quote. $1500 isn’t sneezing-at money. Also, I’d ask those that know, “is it going to be worth it to repair it?” I might ask around to see if there is a guy or gal who is considered “the” guru. I know when it comes to guitars, I wouldn’t want just anybody tackling a project like that. I want the person who makes magical things happen with wood.

With all that said, I played violin as a kid. I haven’t kept up with it or gotten back into it (yet). However, I am around them enough through my fiddle playing buddy to know, if it’s a nice violin, $1500 is not a huge amount of money. To purchase a “nice” violin, the local violin builder/repair guy says you will be looking at $3k and up. I am thinking it well could be that if you restored it, it might be worth significantly more than what you will have in it. And all of that ignores the fact that it was played professionally by someone in your family many generations ago. I don’t know that we have enough info to make the call, but I am leaning towards “go for it.”

By the way, if you think picks are expensive, wait until you start looking at “nice” bows. From what I have heard, they make a world of difference in tone though. Pro level bows are graded as they are made and priced accordingly.

Oh yeah I think I’d do it IF I found someone I trusted to repair it correctly and IF the repaired instrument’s value would at least be close to the money you’ll have to put into it. Very nice predicament to be in. Keep us posted if you decide to have it done. Wish you could show a pic or two.