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I'm buying this violin from a violin player. I inspected the label inside it and I found Suzuki Anno 1981.

Here is a picture of it:

enter image description here

Which means that it is 34+ year old.

I'm a guitarist but I don't know if this is really the manufacturing date or something else.

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    In my opinion Anno leaves no room for interpretation. It could theoretically be the year of a major maintenance, but I doubt it. Anyway 34 years is a completely unremarkable age for a violin, I would recommend to focus on more interesting properties like sound, opinion of a violin player you trust. – guidot Dec 18 '15 at 13:11
  • Thanks for your comment, "Anyway 34 years is a completely unremarkable age for a violin" i'm not sure if i understand your statement, do you mean that 34 years is not enough to consider a violin an old one? could you please give more details? – Marwen Trabelsi Dec 18 '15 at 13:54
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    He probably means that the age is neither a good thing or bad. For quality instruments, even guitars, 34 years for an acoustic instrument is just getting started. Especially if it was well-cared for. I have a rather unremarkable (read: nothing fancy or collectible about it) violin from my Great Grandfather that's over 100 years now. I think coming from the world of guitar (when a mint 1950's Strat is worth the average cost of a home) is the confusing part here. – user6164 Dec 18 '15 at 14:44
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    "average cost of a home" yeah yeah try buying a cello or violin from a Strad-class luthier of the 18th century :-( . OK, seriously, cost of 50's electrics is due more to "collectibility" than playability or sound quality. Solid-body instruments really don't change with age, unlike any wood-based hollowbody instrument. – Carl Witthoft Dec 18 '15 at 14:50
  • So very true! There are plenty of components to solid body instruments that just aren't recreated effectively or possible in today's world. And there are plenty of people out there willing to disprove the fact that solid wood doesn't change with age. – user6164 Dec 18 '15 at 15:22
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The label means that the instrument was probably made in 1981. The thing to keep in mind about violin labels is that they are frequently dishonest. In this case, the label claims that the instrument is a mid-quality brand, and not too old. That means there is a high chance it is the original label, and that it is honest because there would be relatively little profit in counterfeiting it. A string specialty shop can usually tell you on the spot if your instrument is worth much.

If your label said Stradivarius, or Guarneri, or had a date over 150 years ago, it would almost certainly be fake. Those labels starting appearing in large numbers in the late 1800s, and have been in production ever since.

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My guitar is older than that and nothing special. My violin is from 1820 and not all that special, either, coming from an area known for mass manufacture of violins a few generations later. My principal accordion was built in 1960. Naturally, all of them had needed some servicing while in my possession.

In modern times, it is customary to run through a number of possessions in the course of your life. Really good instruments, in contrast, tend to run through a number of players in the course of their existence. Quite a few instruments by old masters were given names of their own and have a known history of owners and players.

Violins don't "play through". Strings need changing, fingerboards need honing and eventual change, tuning pegs need to get replaced eventually, sometimes the bridge fails, sometime the soundpost needs replacement and, depending on whether soundpost replacement is done timely, the cover of the instrument may need to be worked on.

Depending on the instrument, all of those works may be worth doing or not. But principally violins and their cousins of the string family are built to last indefinitely when cared for properly. All of the parts that might wear are replaceable at moderate cost and effort.

That's different to some woodwinds with mechanics that wear out. While they can be replaced as well, their contribution to the value/cost of the instrument is larger and the material of the instrument is less contributive to its sound than with string instruments. So something like "an old clarinet" or "an old flute" is not coveted for its sound qualities but rather for its antiquity. Violins are different in that regard as the wood is an essential part of its sound. And these days, slowly grown and well-aged wood is harder to come by than centuries ago. Even if you don't subscribe to worship of the old masters.

  • The point about wood is quite valid. "Old growth" always seems coveted, and the over-harvesting we've done in the 20th century has really hampered old growth in current instruments. Let alone wood species wiped out or nearly wiped out by over harvesting.Brazilian Rosewood, for example in guitars is very very rare and pretty much impossible to get new now. It's sound is unique to itself and vintage instruments were all made from it. It's already a property of what makes older guitars sound the way they do. – user6164 Dec 18 '15 at 15:28
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    You are right. It is all about the wood and how old it is. – Neil Meyer Dec 18 '15 at 17:15
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My violin was from 1928, and although it has above average sound quality and volume, and its about 9,000 dollars, that's the lower end of violins. They can be, as someone said, more expensive than a house, and my former teacher played a loaner violin once that was valued at 4 million dollars. Violins can get expensive, but 1981 is nothing too desirable, so yes, 1981 is most likely the manufacturing date, and 34 years is very young for a violin.

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