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Nippon-made violin needs to be restored

Jun 17, 2017 - 6:54 PM

OlHobo

Australia

1 posts
Joined Jun 17, 2017

Hi everyone, I found a Nippon made violin at my grandparents place. It looks like it would need quite a bit of work to be restored and I was wondering whether it is worth spending money on? Can anybody help?

Jun 17, 2017 - 8:41:21 PM

58 posts
Joined Aug 26, 2016

 

"Trade Mark / Made In Nippon" fiddles would have been made between 1896 and 1921. { McKinley Act of 1896 required labeling of country of origin for imports, amended in 1921 to require the English spelling of country of origin} most were probably imported during WWI when European imports were understandably at an ebb.

Were "student" grade instruments.

I have one that is well built, with Japanese maple and presumably indigenious spruce. Mine is a bit on the strident and nasal side of things, but plays well. [Dominant strings (steel are even more "strident")]

Wouldn't expect that they are  worth more than a few hundred dollars at best in good shape.

Found mine at the local "Take it or Leave It" [Dump] sans pegs, tailpiece, bridge, soundpost, but in good physical shape [no cracks or seam separations]. I put a set of Knilling Perfection Pegs on it, cut a new bridge and soundpost... new tailpiece and strings. I do my own work so in parts and strings I probably have less than $200.00 into it and it is fine for a take to cabin or camping fiddle.

OOPS!!!!!! Just noticed that you are in Oz!!!!!!! Would still expect that the time period of manufacture would be similar, even though you all wouldn't have given a Tinker's Damn about McKinley's rules..... The Japanese most likley used similar labeling in yours as for those exported to the States.
 

Edited by - michaeljennings on 06/17/2017 20:55:01

Jun 19, 2017 - 8:13:17 AM

Rowdy

USA

31 posts
Joined Oct 16, 2016

Pictures would help us figure that out, but consider doing the restoration yourself...an already built fiddle, even in rough condition, does not require fancy tools to restore.  You mostly need the motivation to do it yourself, a few hand tools (begged, borrowed or stolen) and probably a few inexpensive spare parts widely available and competitively priced on the internet.  Limited to fancy restoration information is also all over the internet.  Its not a Strad, why hand it over to a retail shop; its an heirloom with far more valuable family history than resale value. Almost any level of limited restoration will probably improve on what you have now.Give it some thought.

Jun 19, 2017 - 9:40 AM

3154 posts
Joined Sep 26, 2008

quote:
Originally posted by Rowdy

Pictures would help us figure that out, but consider doing the restoration yourself...an already built fiddle, even in rough condition, does not require fancy tools to restore.  You mostly need the motivation to do it yourself, a few hand tools (begged, borrowed or stolen) and probably a few inexpensive spare parts widely available and competitively priced on the internet.  Limited to fancy restoration information is also all over the internet.  Its not a Strad, why hand it over to a retail shop; its an heirloom with far more valuable family history than resale value. Almost any level of limited restoration will probably improve on what you have now.Give it some thought.




But also know many a fiddle has been ruined by this sort of approach, if not physically, then certainly cosmetically.

Jun 19, 2017 - 4:06:19 PM
likes this

2240 posts
Joined Oct 6, 2008

I have a Nippon instrument and my experience with it is similar to Michael's. I bought it on eBay for cheap, paid an excellent luthier about $200 to get the most out of it he could (it needed bridge, etc.) and it's a decent enough instrument. It's a little harsh and doesn't have much depth, but it's perfectly good for playing old-time fiddle tunes. It looks like all the other Nippons I've seen.

Then I have a very brown violin that I'm told is a Nippon and it is night and day different from the other one. It has a solid feel and it has a nice mellow tone. It doesn't cut through in a jam but it's a delight to play at home. I've never seen another instrment like it.

If the fiddle you found doesn't need major work--just the basics for set-up--and you have a little money you'd like to spend on it, I'd say go for it! You might find you really like it. :)

And, if you don't, someone else might. I'd take my eBay Nippon over a lot of starter fiddles that would likely sell for about the same.

 

Jun 25, 2017 - 7:06:38 AM

798 posts
Joined Jan 25, 2008

"It looks like it would need quite a bit of work to be restored and I was wondering whether it is worth spending money on?"

You've got a lot of variables there! The Nippon instruments came in all different grades and qualities, and "quite a bit of work" covers a pretty wide range. I will say that I has a really very nice Nippon, that I put quite a bit of restoration work into, and it was a wonderful instrument. The interior and exterior workmanship were both excellent. The Spruce on the front was some of the nicest that I've seen on any instrument. Having the right strings on it can make a big difference on the sound (I like Zyex). A good luthier would be in a better position to tell you how much restoration would cost, how it might turn out, and what it might be worth at the end.

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