With the end of the school year coming soon, you may be wondering how to sell your viola. Whether you are trying to sell your viola at a store, online, or trading it in, you want to make sure you get the best price and deal with an honest buyer.

Selling your viola can be a difficult process if you don’t know where you can list your viola for sale or find buyers. While there isn’t a lot of information on the Internet about how to sell your viola, we hope this guide will help you determine how and where to sell a used viola.

Are You Renting Your Viola?

Let’s start off easy. If you are renting your viola from a local music store or online, such as from Shar, you should simply be able to return the instrument by either going to the store or shipping the instrument back. Rental instruments usually have a set contract for 3-months, 6-months, or a year so returning the instrument after these contracts expire is expected. Additionally, many music shops, including Shar, offer credit for buying a viola or upgrading to a larger size. You can see our post on renting a viola to learn more about how credits usually work.

Before You Sell

Before you sell your viola, you need to prepare yourself and it for the sale. This means knowing what price you should sell the viola for and getting it ready to show off to potential buyers.

Research the Going Rate

Before getting an appraisal for your viola, you should do some initial research to determine at what price violas similar to your are selling. Shop around CraigsList and eBay to find prices of violas in the same condition as yours. This step will help you understand a ballpark estimate of what the equipment is worth in its current condition — and it’ll tell you what you stand to earn if you improve the condition of the item. You may find out that $20 in repairs can fetch you a selling price that’s higher by $200. Or, you may decide that it’s simply not worth selling your equipment, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort.

Clean and Repair Your Viola

Before you advertise your viola for sale, make sure you polish and clean it so that it looks presentable to potential buyers. This includes: cleaning the strings of rosin, polishing the instrument, and vacuuming out the case.

Additionally, you should make sure you take care of any repairs of the instrument such as cracks, scratches, or missing parts.

Doing so will ensure you can obtain the highest possible price for your viola when you sell it.

Get an Appraisal

Before you sell your viola, you should understand how much your viola is worth so that you can get the best price possible when you are selling it. There are a number of ways to get your viola appraised. The simplest way to get your viola appraised is to take it to your local music shop.

Local music shops deal with instruments every day so they have a good idea about how much your viola is worth. They can even write you a formal letter of appraisal which you can show to a potential buyer or even use when purchasing instrument insurance.

If you have no nearby music shops that will appraise your instrument, you can search for a nearby appraisal using the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers database or Appraiser Association website. Just enter your location information and these websites will show you a certified appraiser in your area.

Most appraisers will either charge a percentage of the appraised value of the viola or a set fee based on whether you want a verbal or written appraisal.

Some typical fees for viola appraisal are as such:

Appraised Value Verbal Written
Up to $2,000 $35 $70
$2,100 – $10,000 $60 $95
$10,000+ $85 $120

How to Sell Your Viola

The typical process of selling your viola involves understanding the value of your viola and then finding a place to sell your viola. Here we’ll walk you through the steps on how to sell your viola.

Selling or Trading in a Viola to a Music Store

One of the easiest ways to sell a viola is to take it to a music shop that specializes in string instruments. Since music shops sell violas frequently, they are likely to buy your viola for a fair price.

When you go to a music shop, make sure that you bring your written appraisal or have a price in mind at which you would like to sell the viola. This way you have a baseline for negotiating the selling price of your viola.

Negotiating is key. Music shops are very willing to negotiate with you on price, especially if you act respectfully to them or are a great customer. Read some articles and blogs about negotiating before you go. Lifehacker has a great article on how to negotiate anything.

Another way to negotiate the sale of your viola is to ask for a trade-in. If you are looking for a larger or higher-quality viola, trading it in can get you a better selling price. Just like when you are trading in a used car, music shops are much more willing to give you a higher price if they have a guaranteed sale of the more expensive instrument.

Selling a Viola on Ebay

Selling your used viola on eBay, the largest online auction house, gives you a great option of selling your viola online to anyone in the world. Buyers can even bid on the price they are willing to pay for your viola. To get started selling on eBay read their Musical Instruments Selling Guide and start selling today!

Before you list your viola on make sure that you take a high-quality photo of it and post a detailed description. This will let people know what condition the viola is in and what exactly they are getting. Your chances of selling your viola on eBay increase significantly if you follow these two rules.

Selling a Viola on Craigslist

If you’re interested in selling your viola locally, Craigslist is a great option. You can list your viola for sale and communicate with individual buyers who are interested. If a potential buyer wants to check out the instrument before making their decision, they will usually live close enough to you to visit.

The main thing to watch out for with Craigslist is scammers. Make sure that a potential buyer really has the means to pay you and either pays you in cash or using a Cashier’s Check, especially for more expensive instruments.

Again, you will want to make sure you provide great images and a description of your viola for sale to convince potential buyers that your viola is in good condition.


Hopefully, this guide helped you evaluate potential ways to sell your viola. Listing your viola for sale is an important step and you want to make sure you don’t get ripped off. If you have any questions about the sales process, feel free to leave a comment below.