Looking for a restorer in London

February 26, 2018, 3:40 AM · I found an old violin in my parent's house, most likely an early '900 German copy of a Steiner, that need some extensive restoration. The violin will be for my daughter, who is still a beginner and is now about to move from the 3/4 to the full size. Can anybody point me to a restorer in London? A basic google search showed me too many names ... any help is welcome, thanks

Replies (7)

February 26, 2018, 4:39 AM · Guivier's in Mortimer Street W1 is a good place and they'll give you a candid opinion as to whether "extensive restoration" is an economical proposition. A few months ago I acquired a couple of Steinerish violins at auction for £100-200 each and did my own restoration job. During the course of preparing one of them for a little reglueing the tailpin block became dislodged and I was obliged to take the front off in order to replace it. At the end of the process both violins made a noise although not a very nice one. I put them back into auction and was quite pleased to be only about £20 out of pocket after costs.
February 26, 2018, 5:01 AM · I've had good dealings with Bridgewood and Neitzart, though never met them in person.
February 26, 2018, 11:31 AM · I would not go to the BIG London shops. They either outsource their work to very talented repairers but then charge a big fee on top, or their fees will see your wallet severely depleted. I very strongly recommend Michael Shakespeare in Blackheath. He does top notch work for the big dealers but does not charge the Earth.
Stay away from the “Bow Butcher” ex Hill maker, Mathew Coltman.

Cheers Carlo

February 26, 2018, 11:42 AM · I can second Michael. He'll also tell you if you're wasting your money (which you probably are - I got the T-shirt).
February 26, 2018, 11:47 AM · Thanks all, I appreciate the suggestions. The very first step is in fact understanding whether it's worth restoring it ... I'll let you know the outcome!
February 26, 2018, 11:55 AM · Carlo's right, for a Stainer copy, you don't need to pay Genuine Stradivari repair prices, which is basically what the big shops charge.
Edited: February 27, 2018, 12:12 AM · Bridgewood & N. seem one of the honest operators covering the normal levels of the market. A friend had a good experience of setup work at Stringers, and for all I know they are still good though that particular luthier has moved on.

The Hill-trained maker Colin Nicholls in the Northwood area also has a good reputation for setup and I used him once for a viola, and he advised me on a German violin which was not worth fixing. He has no shop and no website AFAIK: some luthiers seem to get enough work by word of mouth not to need one, but you should find his number online maybe in the Strad directory. For fixing up some of those less good Stainer copies which can be fairly horrible you probably need an amateur who is not charging commercial rates.

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