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About Authenticate LA

Authenticate LA started essentially with a question.

LA Violin Shop owner, Owen Lee, remarks, “I wondered why Los Angeles with its incredible diversity didn’t have many experts and resources for fine instruments.

Los Angeles is home to an incredible community of talented musicians, world-class orchestras such as the LA Phil, and prestigious music programs offered at USC and the Colburn School; yet, LA musicians often insist on traveling to the East Coast for instrumental purchases and authentications. Why should you have to leave Los Angeles to get an expert opinion?” That question and curiosity culminated in LA Violin Shop’s partnering with a team of internationally recognized instrument and bow experts for our first annual Authenticate LA Exhibition.

We at Los Angeles Violin Shop are incredibly pleased to announce our continuing partnership with our experts (Jean-Jacque Rampal, Jean-François Raffin, Jonathan Marolle, Yannick Le Canu, and Sylvain Bigot). The 5th Annual Authenticate LA  will be held in January 25-27, 2024.

“We love the diversity of dealers, musicians, and collectors who come to the NAMM Show. We strongly encourage those interested to visit the Los Angeles Violin Shop and meet these experts.” Owen Lee”.

Call us today at 213.471.2124 to reserve an appointment for Authenticate LA. If you are not located in the greater L.A. area but are interested, we are happy to discuss shipping arrangements for your instruments and bows, for authentication.

Why Authenticate?

The violin today exists in essentially the same form as it was in the mid-16th century. The violin family’s versatile nature has encouraged tremendous advances in violin technique and artistry for centuries. For instance, the names of Paganini and Heifetz still thrill us when we listen to such powerful compositions and recordings. In orchestral music, the violin family still plays a significant role in contributing to the color and texture of the ensemble. The instrument has outlasted numerous musical periods and remains relevant today. However, perhaps it is precisely because the violin family is recognized and appreciated around the world, that the stringed instrument trade is often susceptible to deceit and fraud.

Historical Mis-labeling

“Mislabeling of instruments goes back nearly as far as the violin family itself, as chronicled by the legendary Hill family dealers in their book Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work (London, 1902). In 1685 a court violinist petitioned his employer, the Duke of Modena, for relief as a victim of label fraud. Tomaso Antonio Vitali purchased a violin bearing the label of the great Nicolo Amati for the sum of nine pistoles, only to find that behind the master’s label was that of his pupil, Francesco Ruggieri. Ruggieri’s instruments sold for a mere three pistoles at the time.

‘Your petitioner has consequently been deceived by the false label and appeals to Your Most Serene Highness…’ the victimized violinist implored”.

Shrader, Erin. “An Insider’s Guide to Violin Labels.” Strings Magazine, May 2006.


Instrument and Bow Authentication is a process that addresses three issues surrounding the authenticity of an instrument or bow:

First, where was the instrument / bow made? (Countries or regions and cities)

Secondly, what is the year during which it was made?

Finally, who was the maker of the instrument / bow?

To confirm these three attributes, the authentication experts may employ several different techniques. The authenticity of an instrument or bow (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.


Our team of experts draws on years of unrivaled knowledge and expertise to offer authentication, certification, and valuation services that are recognized worldwide.