Violins by famous makers such as Stradivari, Guarneri, Maggini, Amati, or Stainer had numerous followers and imitators. Often a disciple placed a facsimile label in his violin to acknowledge or honor the master whose model had inspired his work. Also, commercially made instruments often bear facsimile labels to identify the model of the product. Copies made after 1891 may also have a country of origin printed in English at the bottom of the label, such as "Made in Czechoslovakia", or simply "Germany". Such identification was required by United States regulations on imported goods.
The presence of a label with a famous maker name or date has no bearing on whether the instrument is genuine. Thousands upon thousands of violins were made in the 19th century as inexpensive copies of the products of great masters of the 17th and 18th centuries. At that time, the purchaser knew he was buying an inexpensive violin and accepted the label as a reference to its derivation. Catalogs from the period show that these instruments were advertised for less than $10. As people rediscover these instruments today, the knowledge of where they came from is lost, and the labels can be misleading.
A violin's authenticity (i.e., whether it is genuinely the product of the maker whose label or signature it bears) can only be determined through comparative study of design, model, wood characteristics, and varnish texture. This expertise is gained through examination of hundreds or even thousands of instruments, and there is no substitute for an experienced eye.
Advanced Tips / Care and Maintenance
Tips on care and maintenance
NEVER do home repairs (or for that matter, trust your instrument to a repairman whose primary qualification is that they "PLAY THEM"), "PLAYING THEM" is NOT sufficient training to be able to "FIX THEM": one false move can destroy the value of your instrument. We strongly recommend, whenever possible, that all repairs be done by a Trained professional.
Violin Sizes with Chart
Violin Sizes by Arm Length
Violins come in 8 different sizes: 4/4 (also called Full size), 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16. 4/4 size being the biggest and 1/16 size being the smallest. All adults, regardless of their size, use the 4/4 violin. There is another uncommon size, 7/8, usually used by a professional violinist who wants a full-size violin sound but whose hand might be a little small for a full size violin. Historically.violin makers would make violins just a little smaller than full size to accommodate these musicians.
Young Person's Guide
Young Person's Guide to String Instrument Care
Protecting Your Instrument - Don't leave it in extremes of temperature or humidity. Never in the car trunk on a hot day! Always set it in its case. Close it securely before picking it up. And don't leave an instrument or bow in an open case on the floor - or on a chair for the careless or absent-minded to sit on or knock off. For cellos, beware doorways.
So, you found a Strad!
" I receive numerous e-mail messages every month from people who have inherited or purchased a "Stradivarius" violin. I will not tell you that it is not the genuine article. That would be unethical and foolish of me, but I will share some information with you to help you judge your course of action.
How a Violin Works