The High Value of Musical Instruments: From Guitars to Stradivarius Violins

TLDR From expensive guitars to million-dollar violins, high-end musical instruments can fetch prices that surpass the cost of a car or even a mansion. While craftsmanship and reputation play a significant role in the value of string instruments like violins, studies suggest that the high prices of antique instruments may be more about branding than superior sound quality.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Musicians often pay the equivalent of a new car for their instruments, but there is a class of musicians who have instruments that are far more valuable than a car, even the price of a mansion.
01:36 Today we will be discussing actual musical instruments that are designed to be played and purchased for the purpose of performing, excluding gimmick instruments and instruments with value due to previous ownership.
02:58 High-end musical instruments can range from a 1957 Fender Stratocaster guitar for $35,000 to a custom-built Dumbbell Guitar Amplifier for $160,000, while instruments like triangles, marimbas, timpanies, trumpets, tubas, trombones, clarinets, and oboes can also be quite expensive.
04:28 String instruments, particularly violins, violas, and cellos, can be significantly more expensive than other instruments, with prices ranging from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, and this is largely due to the craftsmanship and reputation of luthiers like Antonio Strativari from Cremona, Italy.
05:59 Tests have been done on Strativarius instruments to determine why they produce their unique sound, with theories including the wood coming from trees that grew during the little ice age, the instruments being soaked in a chemical bath, and good craftsmanship, and the value of stringed instruments has radiated outward from the Strativarius workshop.
07:18 In studies conducted with violinists and audiences, it was found that both highly trained musicians and listeners preferred newer violins over Strativarius instruments, suggesting that the high value of these old instruments is mostly due to branding.
08:46 Despite evidence that Strativarius instruments don't sound any better than new ones, their prices continue to rise, with one violin selling for a record $15.9 million in 2011 and a viola with a minimum bid of $45 million failing to find a buyer in 2016, leading to the possibility that these instruments may end up in museums rather than in the hands of musicians.
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