Why are violins more expensive than pianos? – How Hard Is Violin

If you were a private piano owner in the 1950s and 1960s, your cost of buying a model was probably about 12-14 percent of the price of a piano as it is today, with a value to the owner of $1000-2000. And that was without your getting a warranty. But in 2005, violins rose in value more than guitars by 8-10 percent, while guitar prices increased by 16-17 percent.

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What happened? Well, in 2007 a big part of the answer is that “in the market” and “the environment” drove up the price of violins significantly, and those changes in what were supposed to be “good” markets caused it to increase more-so than in “bad” markets. Since violins are also a music instrument, we must conclude that the price increases did in fact cause the instruments to be “worth more” to those who got the instruments in 2007.

What’s more, it seems certain that the music market, in general, is very flexible. So an instrument that wasn’t worth more in the early ’70s might be still worth more tomorrow, or today, etc. So we cannot simply state that it was “price discrimination.” It was a combination of factors: (1) the market in violins was unusually flexible, and (2) there was some degree of market structure that allowed a relatively large (and by far largest for music instruments) number of violins to appear to “trickle up” like seeds into the garden of the market place. If the same things happened (and they did), violin prices could and did rise sharply in the decades leading up to the recession.

Now in fairness to the people who want to reduce the economic growth of the rich, or increase the economic growth of the poor, or increase the economic wealth for more-than-half of the world’s population, the fact that instruments for “all” social classes have been rising in value means that one has to ask questions about their actual economic significance. But if one also is willing to accept it that violin makers were doing something positive with their production, then we have to recognize that this is an issue where they should expect to share a “fair share.”

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