Need some care on a rare violin. Who are the best violin restorers in North East United States

April 29, 2018, 4:29 PM · My wife played for over 20 years with a rare Italian made violin from the 1700's. In its lifetime (It could have been a very long time ago) the Neck was replaced. Which we eared is not as unusual as we might think for these types of very old violin.

It needs some minor but important work, and we're very nervous due to the rarity of the violin. We're looking for a list of good names in the States of Pennsylvania and its surrounding States... we could look into.

Who are the most respected violin restorers in North Eastern United States?
Much thanks!

Replies (18)

April 29, 2018, 6:50 PM · Julie Reed-Yeboah in New York City. You'll have to negotiate a schedule. As far as I know, she's got a backlog stretching into the summer, currently.

You could also try Reuning up in Boston.

April 29, 2018, 7:45 PM · Also Frederick Oster in Philadelphia.
April 29, 2018, 8:35 PM · I have heard Tatsuo Imaishi is good. I think he might be the one who restored the Ames Strad.

First get an insurance estimate if you don't have one and get the instrument insured before you leave it with a luthier.

April 30, 2018, 3:16 AM · Thank you for the names. We'll be looking into those.
And yes indeed, this Violin has always been insured, though it might not hurt to call the insurance to make sure it is insured while it is being cared for...

Is there a difference between luthier who can fix good violin, and those who can fix antique violin? How can one tell?

April 30, 2018, 7:16 AM · You are looking for a great luthier, not someone who mostly works on student instruments. The Northeast United States has a huge concentration of such people. I will be really shocked if you can’t find several in Philadelphia and New York alone

If you aren’t limited geographically, I can recommend the luthier who works on my violins, Mark Russell in Fishers, Indiana (a suburb of Indianapolis). He is the official luthier for the Indianapolis Violin Competition.

Edited: April 30, 2018, 7:38 AM · Every city in the US with a major symphony orchestra has at least one very good very good violin repair person. If you can find out where the symphony players go you will probably be on the right track.
Edited: May 3, 2018, 7:53 AM · Sal Signorelli, who runs String Instruments, in Rochester, NY has restored many rare and fine violins - for decades. He can tell you lots of stories about concertmasters, soloists, and their violins. He was restoring a Guadagnini while my instrument was in for a repair. He takes in repair work from other fine violin stores and he is the one who actually does the repair. His store is across the street from the Eastman Music School. His web site is
April 30, 2018, 10:26 AM · In general, if you are dealing with an instrument of historical significance (anything that costs in the six figures or more), you want any non-trivial repairs done by the best restorer that you can reasonably travel to.

A badly-done repair will devalue the instrument. Moreover, delicate antiques, especially if they have been previously heavily restored (as is the case with many of them), require careful, experienced, expert work to place repairs that will be invisible, highly durable, and not tone-affecting.

Edited: April 30, 2018, 10:43 AM · I agree with Lydia. By spending a little more (maybe even a lot more) on boutique luthier services you are protecting a sizeable investment. Also if you have an instrument that is capable of sounding amazing, then you really want it to do just that, even if you are loaning it to a promising young person to play on, which seems like a good thing to do if you are not a violinist yourself. The violin faculty at the conservatory nearest you can help you find that lucky person.
April 30, 2018, 12:21 PM · I'm a little puzzled how this violin has been played upon for twenty years without (apparently) ever being checked by an expert luthier.
Edited: April 30, 2018, 6:53 PM · No need for suspicion... Rest assure the violin has been cared for many times in the past. It used to have a french polish done to it regularly, for example. But in the last decade some people have more and more raised voices against that type of treatment, as it could be doing more arm then good. Or so we were told at one point or another.

It has developed a very minor separation where the neck meets the peg box, at the very bottom. So du to the nature of the repair, I don't want to take any chances. That's why I'm looking for Luthier options to evaluate, so it doesn't end-up in the hands of a lesser specialist, or simply someone who may not feel 100% confident they can fix it in the best way possible. I'm looking for some one that can be very confident in addressing this type of issue. I don't really care too much how much it might cost. I want it to be done with care and expertise. We have a few local luthier, one good one, but I'm not sure I feel completely confident with the shop for this specific type of repair.

Thank you all for the couple suggestions. I'm definitely going to look into those and see how far they are from us...

My wife is the violinist. I'm just the helper :)

April 30, 2018, 6:31 PM · it will be interesting to hear how its fixed...
April 30, 2018, 7:01 PM · Indeed...
April 30, 2018, 7:28 PM · Yes, modern luthiers generally do not recommend French polishing as a routine thing for antiques now.

If this is just a neck reset, it's a relatively minor repair. But still, a neck reset has the potential to change the tone, so I'd pick a restorer that knows how to do this in an optimal fashion.

Anyway, Herman, antiques develop problems unexpectedly. Old cracks open, wood shrinks and expands, etc. Even if it's been under routine good care, problems will crop up. It's in the nature of the beast.

April 30, 2018, 8:05 PM · I wouldn't call a neck reset "minor." Those are expensive.
April 30, 2018, 10:50 PM · Its not the neck coming loose at the body its the neck scroll graft failing at the pegbox, try reading what he says. And yes that requires a real expert to take care of it properly
May 1, 2018, 12:51 PM · A lot of antique instruments have had their value lessened by French polishing. It used to be the norm a few decades ago, but now it's frowned upon. I wonder who made the above violin in the 1700's in Italy.
May 2, 2018, 10:48 AM · It's no Strad . . . It's a lesser known violin maker from the Milan school of violin making ;)

We'll contact a few places and see how they react, see what they have to say, before we commit to one...
The good thing about this, is that I've learned a tone myself about the frequent practices on violin changes over their life history. My wife's violin has a lot of the markers of those changes. Especially the ones that where made by the 1800s to follow the music evolution. It's fascinating...

With a better understanding, I feel a bit better about this little temporary problem. I'm looking forward to see what the different Luthier have to say...

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