Violin shops in MD/DC/VA/ area

March 18, 2008 at 05:29 AM · I am looking for my new violin between $15,000 and $20,000. (maybe up to $25,000 and preferably a old violin)

I already know potter's violin but also would like to know any other dealers in Rockville(MD)-Baltimore-D.C or even new york,too.

Thank you!

-Jacqueline

Replies (44)

March 18, 2008 at 07:38 AM · Jacqueline:

There's Roger Perrin In Baltimore, whom I have heard good things about. Weaver's is down near Potters -- or are they the same place? I'm not sure.Check the web for "House of Weaver."

In northern Virginia, there is Brobst violins, which has a large selection in your price range.

There are several shops in Philadelphia, including Moennig, Vintage Instruemnts, and Helmuth Keller. Also there is David Minchie (Not sure of spelling), who tends to specialize in instruments somewhat lower in cost that the others.

Kevin

March 18, 2008 at 08:27 AM · Weaver's and Potter's are closely related. They share buildings and staff. Weaver's is for instruments $10,000 and up.

I also recommend Lashof's in Gaithersburg. Their stock is smaller than Potter's, but they more than compensate by their excellent staff who give very well informed and personal advice.

March 18, 2008 at 01:23 PM · Try Machold's in Philadelphia, near Curtis. I had excellent experience with them.

March 18, 2008 at 01:27 PM · Isn't Machold's in Chicago?

You might want to visit David Bromberg in Wilmington, very easily reached between Philadelphia and D.C. right off of I-95. Christopher Germaine also has a small shop near Curtis in Philadelphia.

March 18, 2008 at 01:57 PM · There is also Brobst in Alexandria, VA.

March 18, 2008 at 02:47 PM · I also thought Machold was in Chicago...maybe you are thinking of Moenings?

Try Michael Weller in Alexandria VA. I worked with him when was in Philly many years ago and he was great. NSO players love him too.

March 18, 2008 at 03:13 PM · Pauline:

Thanks for the explanation! I knew it was something like that.

Marina: I do think you are thinking of Moennig. They are right in Rittenhouse square about 2 blocks from Curtis. Machold used to be in NYC but they closed that office and set one up in Chicago in the same building as Bein and Fushi.

One other one in the Philly area is Wamsley violins in Haddonfiled, NJ.

Most of these people have web pages and you can get an idea of what they have in certian price ranges. Moennig's seem to like to be mysterious about their invetory, but it is usually pretty good.

Kevin

March 18, 2008 at 04:43 PM · I second Perrin in Baltimore. It's my favorite violin shop!

March 18, 2008 at 07:31 PM · Extra benefit to Bromberg's shop---Delaware has no sales tax, which will save you a large chunk of $$$ at that price level. I bought my violin there---I'm very happy with it and the shop.

March 18, 2008 at 09:26 PM · The best modern violins for that price range are not in shops. What you need to look into are the makers that are within that price range. For less than 20K you are looking at: Scott, Widenhouse, Chaudiere, Croen, and to me the best out there at any price--Needham. After having played so many violins from so many shops I really doubt you will find anything that can compare to what these award winning makers make, espcially Croen and Needham. I would list a few more, but your price range is bellow them, though I do not think it matters much because to me Croen, Widenhouse, and Needham are top of my list.

Yes it means a waiting list, but when spending that kind of money a waiting time seems more than worth it.

Good luck!

March 19, 2008 at 05:52 PM · Jan - What is the waiting period for a Croen or Widenhouse violin? I know that for a Needham, it is a year.

E Smith - Have you tried a Germaine instrument?

March 19, 2008 at 03:56 PM · Weaver in DC area- is the official american dealer for Laura Vigato- my daughter's violin. Lovely instrument- in your price range. David Mitchie is in Philadelphia - great selection of fractional instruments.

We tried a Christopher Germaine instrument( his shop is in the same builiding as David Mitchie's) -not impressed. Good luck!

March 19, 2008 at 05:53 PM · michelle - Thank you for the opinion on Germaine. I admire your straight talk, "not impressed". Further eveindence that we live in an era of candor? I agree that David Mitchie seems not to have very many full sized instruments, not at the moment any way.

March 19, 2008 at 07:18 PM · I visited Brobst a few years ago and was very pleased with what I saw there. I only bought a bow, but tried several instruments. They were very patient and had no problem with me playing on pretty much everything. I was there for probably 4 hours or so.

March 19, 2008 at 07:45 PM · Ihnsouk, Germaine has moved to a new shop a few blocks away on Spruce (I think). We were there in December for an adjustment but did not audition instruments. If you are looking for an instrument it might be worth a trip to Bromberg because, as mentioned above, there is no sales tax. We've bought an instrument and several bows from Bromberg.

Other shops in Philadelphia are Keller's and Vintage. We have been to Keller for an adjustment, but not auditioned instruments and never been to Vintage. Germaine seems to have won several awards, for what it's worth. We've bought a lot of instruments from David Michie, but my sense is that she specializes in fractionals. We did get some violas from him which have a great sound for the relatively low price, particularly a Chinese-made 2004 Erdescz (sp?) copy, somewhat smaller than a real Erdescz.

But this is a bit off topic for the original post-er, sorry!

March 19, 2008 at 11:10 PM · E. Smith, Thank you. We sure went off topic here, didn't we? We've been to Vintage instrument. It is an interesting place. We got a great bow at a good price there. They have many, many violins for any price range.

For the original poster, I should add Howard Needham is in Annapolis, not far from DC area.

March 19, 2008 at 10:06 PM · You should also try Gailes Violin Shop in College Park, MD. My old violin teacher works there, and they are great! Ask for Karl Schneider.

March 20, 2008 at 01:01 AM · FWIW, I've dealt locally with Potter and Gailes, and found both shops to be worthy of my trade. I've also had Michael Weller work on one of my violins; he's a wonderful luthier and very helpful.

Further afield, I've dealt with Fred Oster at Vintage Instruments in Philly, though not for a violin. He sold me a mandolin that was so fine I forgot to badger him for a discount! No one was more surprised that I, when I realised what I hadn't done.

There's a fellow in Rockville who does mostly ebay sales as "Violins On Line". I believe he'd be amenable to a face-to-face, if you arranged an appointment. He seems to have some very nice stuff.

March 20, 2008 at 05:30 AM · I've not been to Bromberg. Is his selection good? I think he used to operate out of Chicago.

Kevin

March 20, 2008 at 11:48 AM · I went to Bromberg's shop looking for an older fiddle in the $1500 - $2500 range, and he had about 8 instruments to show me---the one I bought was a bit more expensive, but it had a gorgeous sound and was in excellent condition (note on service---they re-bushed the pegs for me a few months later at no charge). He also had some nice lower-end Chinese instruments that I thought were good value for the price. I didn't play any higher-end instruments, but he does carry them---I'm told he's known for having a good selection of American violins.

They're very nice people there. Bromberg himself opened the shop just for me on a Sunday because I was coming in to shop from out of town.

March 20, 2008 at 02:12 PM · About Bromberg, a few years ago we were shopping in the $10-$20K range. He had a large inventory, and to our surprise, the instrument we liked best was a new instrument by his in-house luthier, one of the least expensive we auditioned. His in-house person did great adjustments, although he has since moved to a prestigious house in Chicago, so I don't know who is doing adjustments now. David Bromberg is also the largest importer of French bows to the US (I read that somewhere), for what it's worth.

March 20, 2008 at 06:02 PM · I'm hoping to visit shops in the areas you mentioned in about 2-3 weeks (on my way back from tarisio auctions). I would love to visit Broimberg's shop but have not been there as of yet. I can say that I enjoyed Vintage Violins and Moenning's in Philadelphia very much.

I found a number of fine bows at Vintage and it is is a fascinating place. They do not ship either bows or instruments for trial, unlike most other major (and minor) shops, however so it may be inconvenient. However, I have a theory that their inventory may get less attention (and contain more good playing stuff) than some other shops. Just a theory.

March 20, 2008 at 07:51 PM · "I forgot to badger him for a discount! "

I didn't forget, but it didn't do any good! So don't feel bad. A couple years later it was actually worth what I paid, so all's well that ends well.

March 20, 2008 at 08:25 PM · There are violin shops that will mail out instruments on trial?

March 20, 2008 at 08:34 PM · Most of them do. It is better to visit in person if you can. That way you can try many instead of one or two the shop sends you. We just got back from Moenning after trying about 30 violins, none stuck out. The experience at Vintage Instrument was similar. I have to wonder how likely it is for anyone to like one or two that comes by mail.

How's Broemberg compared to Moenning or Vintage? Do they have as large a collection of instruments?

March 20, 2008 at 08:56 PM · I'd also be interested in how Bromberg compares to Moennig's for anyone who knows.

Many dealers ship on trial, as someone has said. I finally decided, along the lines of what Ihnsouk said, that it is likely a waste of time to try most instruments initially this way. If you can go to the dealer first, try some and then have those you like (or one anyway)shipped that makes sense. Else, it's a real gamble. I once had the experience of having an isntrument shipped and finding after 5 seconds that I didn't like it. The only exception might be an instrument by a maker that you have good reason to think you will like.

Also, some dealers do not like to ship very expensive instruments. This can be a funciton of bad experience they have had, the request of the seller (if it's on consignment) or the limitations of whatever insurance they have.

Most of the time, you have to pay to ship the instrument back, so it's not completely free.

Kevin

March 20, 2008 at 09:07 PM · Ihnsouk, we've been spending a lot of time at Moenning's too. Although I don't think my daughter could try 30 in a single day, more like 15. The experience is different-- I felt that David Bromberg is more of a salesman, more invested in the instruments, but maybe I'm just getting a sense of coolness from Moenning's. The experience is different for the shopper; Bromberg's tryout rooms are smaller and his place is more recently renovated. He lives on site in the building and can be very accommodating in terms of timing, etc. (At least, in my experience he was.) I've been told Moenning's isn't great for adjustments, and their downstairs personnel is snobbish. But David is warmer. I think a lot of what you're asking depends on the price range you're considering.

Also- although Moenning's is closer to Philadelphia (where Ihnsouk and I live), Bromberg's is an easy shopping trip, very close to 1-95 in Wilmington, much easier to find on-street parking. So if you are widening your net, it might be worth a trip there.

March 20, 2008 at 09:09 PM · About shipping instruments: shipping can bump the instrument around so that it needs an adjustment when it arrives. We had an instrument shipped to us once by a well-known contemporary maker, but when it arrived it sounded, er, not good. The maker asked us to take it somewhere for an adjustment, but most of the dealers I called refused to touch it. I finally talked to the in-house luthier and Bromberg's who agreed to do the adjustment. He even called the maker and the two of them talked about the instrument at some length before the adjustment. The instrument sounded a lot better after the adjustment. But while we were at Bromberg's we tried a dozen other instruments and ended up buying one of those. Which is kind of interesting, because any of the dealers who refused to adjust our trial instrument might also have ended up selling us a violin.

March 20, 2008 at 09:36 PM · What's the price cap for shops sending out instruments? I am looking for a violin in the range of the original poster, would a shop send out an instrument in that range?

I just can't imagine any shops sending out Sgarabottos or del Gesùs through mail.

March 20, 2008 at 10:12 PM · David Bromberg's shop in Wilmington, DE (David Bromberg Fine Violins) is gorgeous and he has a huge inventory. He's also one of the nicest people you'll meet in the business. I bought my wonderful old German 7/8th from him and I love it. (I'm looking for a spare 7/8th now and went down to try a few that he had but haven't gotten another one yet.) He's very opposed to shipping violins out on trial because he's concerned that no matter how well packed, they get knocked about and may not sound their best once you open the box so it's an unfair evaluation of an instrument. By all means call him to discuss what you're looking for: 302-472-6700. If you need to take the train to Wilmington, he'll be glad to pick you up from the station! Happy hunting!!

March 21, 2008 at 12:37 AM · Here you can watch Bromberg playing, with Jorma Kaukonen, formerly of Jefferson Airplane, former 70s icon, and current all-round good guy. -->link

March 21, 2008 at 12:24 PM · Jim, Thank you for the link. I enjoyed it.

E. Smith, Did you work with Dick Donovan at Moenning's? He was quite helpful with us. I agree 30 violins to try on a given day is a lot. My daughter goes through fast. After playing only a few notes, she acts as if she knows. Whether she really does or not, I don't know.

Jake, Ifshin violins has a cap at $15K. A few other shops I contacted didn't mention any.

March 21, 2008 at 01:19 PM · Ihnsouk, we worked with "Mike"-- I actually don't remember his last name. He was very nice, however. My daughter could dismiss some of the instruments quickly, but a lot of them have good attributes and it's really hard to tell. We need to bring another set of ears with us next time we visit them. We're also probably going to plan a day in NY, but these things are so hard to schedule. One problem is that she can only see how the instrument sounds under her ear and we really need another violinist in the room with us.

March 21, 2008 at 02:11 PM · I completely agree that visiting shops is much more productive than having 2-4 violins shipped from a shop unless you have in mind a specific maker whose work you are familiar with. It is both inefficient in its expense and far too limiting. Purchasing an instrument above 10K is so significant an investment that the expense of a trip to some major shops is well worth it in my opinon. I also strongly suggest finding someone else (a player, teacher, etc) with an interest in instruments who could accompany you both as a listener and a player. I hope to take a car trip to New York for the Tarisio preview with a friend (another professional) for two days followed by a day in the Philly area. By visiting the shops you may find an instrument you like from a large selection and then you can try it for a week and send it back (at your cost of course).

There is not necessarily a limit on expense of an instrument for shipping - but "shipping" an expensive instrument (in the 6 figures + range) will involve the instrument coming with a shop representative in tow.

March 23, 2008 at 05:39 PM · There are a number of Washington, DC area makers who are producing instruments that sound great, are fun to play, and can compete favorably with older instruments. These makers are also easy to work with. I recommend you contact Alvin Thomas King (Potomac, MD), David Chrapkievicz (Washington Grove, MD), John Lemoine (Wash,, DC), Michael Weller (Alexandria, VA), and Ken Fauteux (Fairfax, VA). Ray Hardy (Baltimore,MD) also makes excellent instruments, especially cellos).

Best of luck with your search.

March 24, 2008 at 12:06 AM · one of my considerations in buying a new fiddle is trying to buy close to the maker because a new modern instrument needs a lot of adjustments. Unfortunately I plan to go back to CA when my studies are done here, and Needham is on the East Coast. It really does not change things for me, but I do envy your location, which is so close to whom I consider the best maker out there. You are also close to Curtin, Bellini, and Burgess, who are also incredible.

March 26, 2008 at 08:03 PM · I truly recommend Rodger Perrin (410-539-0043) in Baltimore, Maryland. I bought my Neuner and Hornsteiner from Roger Perin, and I absolutely love it. I, having never been there, have also heard good things about Gerald Brobst (703-256-0566) in Washington D.C.

March 26, 2008 at 08:52 PM · I would hands-down recommend giving Christopher Germain a call. I own one of his violins and it continues to surprise (and delight) me every time I pick it up. His instruments have a warm, rich sound that is very difficult to find in modern violins (yet my violin also has enough clarity to be very comfortable in a large hall). My Germain seems to be capable of doing whatever I ask it to do--it's the first violin I've ever owned that is equally at home playing Mozart and Shostakovich. His number is (215)545-2500. I should also mention that Chris is probably one of the friendliest luthiers I've ever worked with--I'm quite hard on my violin and often need small adjustments, etc; and he's done an amazing job of helping to make my violin truly my own.

March 30, 2011 at 02:00 PM ·

I am the "fellow in Rockville", "Violins on Line", mentioned above. I do have instruments in the $10,000-$25,000 price range. I do not sell exclusively on line, so anyone who wants to visit is welcome. My email address is

  jvanwesel@gmail.com

.


March 31, 2011 at 12:35 AM ·

 sorry you are 3 years late.  Post was from 2008.

March 31, 2011 at 12:14 PM ·

My son's last three violins and three bows came from the Bromberg Shop in Wilmington, DE.  We live in Northern Virginia but travels to visit Mr. Bromberg's shop often.  In fact, the 7/8 German violin mentioned in the discussion might have been Brian's several years ago.  For his last violin, we searched in most of the major cities in the east coast, and ended up buying one from Mr. Bromberg.  He is known to have many fine bows of all price ranges.  I would definietely go back to him for my son's next violin or bow.

June 26, 2012 at 04:19 AM · Is the Helmuth Keller shop in Philadelphia still in business? A colleague in Chicago thought they had closed shop?

May 1, 2017 at 11:25 AM · Ludwick's House of Violin is in the Baltimore Maryland Area. He does pick and delivery services as well.

May 1, 2017 at 01:21 PM · OP posted 9 years ago...hope she had a successful search.

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