Violin Shops in Ann Arbor?

August 12, 2019, 12:40 AM · I will be visiting Ann Arbor Michigan in a couple weeks, which I hear is a mecca for violin shops. Any recommendation for which shop(s) I should visit?

Replies (29)

August 12, 2019, 7:38 AM · Several very fine makers. From our board, David Burgess. Also, Joseph Curtin, Feng Jiang, and several others. Jeffrey Holmes if you want to try more than one maker’s violins. And I have heard there is a place called Shar.
August 12, 2019, 9:24 AM · Stephen has given you some good recommendations. However, your choice may depend on what your goal is in visiting the shops. If you were a bit more specific, the folks at v.com might be able to give you more precise advice.
August 12, 2019, 9:24 AM · You could visit the actually brick and mortar shar
August 12, 2019, 11:21 AM · Mark, all who Symchych mentioned are "brick and mortar", along with several others.
August 12, 2019, 11:55 AM · I know I meant people typically shop at shar music online and this he could visit they’re actually shop.
Edited: August 12, 2019, 5:21 PM · Bricks and mortar, David? Gee I thought you'd be living in a tin shack for the way you practically give your violins away. :)

Gene, if you are planning on trying violins at Shar (or anywhere else for that matter) you should call ahead.

August 13, 2019, 12:38 AM · Thanks for the suggestions! To clarify, I’m looking to try out some nice violins if possible. My main instrument is a Jay Haide violin and most of my experience has been with similar quality violins. It would be great to try out some really fine violins, either new or old. I’ll look into calling ahead at some of the shops mentioned. Thanks again!
Edited: August 13, 2019, 1:59 AM · This is slightly off topic, since it doesn’t pertain to Ann Arbor. If you go slightly west of Ann Arbor, there’s an excellent luthier in the town of Kalamazoo, MI, named Scott Tribby. He made a really great bridge for my Guadagnini years back which I still use. He’s a fine maker and does very good restoration work!
Edited: August 14, 2019, 12:41 PM · A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I've got a gal .... in Kalamazoo ...

That's an old song. My dad had it on a shellac. The first phrase is all syncopated, kind of a cool lick. It's boogie-woogie.

Nate has a luthier there. Not quite the same, I guess.

August 14, 2019, 5:10 PM · Gene, I passed through Ann Arbor just 2 or 3 days ago and visited David Burgess. It was a great experience trying 2 of his violins and having a short chat with him, not to mention just having a look at his workshop. Very nice guy to talk with. I think he was very very generous with his time and knowledge and wish I’d spent more time preparing for my visit by writing down questions beforehand. I was too busy planning and preparing for the family trip that took us by Ann Arbor. Fun note, I think I saw a couple of violin bellies and a cello top being worked on in the shop, but no sawzall. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. :-)
Edited: August 14, 2019, 5:22 PM · Sawzall's reserved for authentic Strads, and since these are rare, the tool is safely packed away to keep it from collecting dust. David wouldn't waste the wear and tear of a sensible electronic device on one of his own instruments. A matter of ecological footprint, as I guess.
August 14, 2019, 11:07 PM · I would definitely check ahead to see what's on hand. Most of the makers aren't likely to have much available, as they generally have waiting lists and ship out instruments when they're done. But it doesn't hurt to check. Jeffrey Holmes (shop is not in Ann Arbor, but very close) had a few last time I visited, and Shar probably has the best selection, although I haven't been there myself. One of my violins was on consignment there up until a month or so ago (sold), so I know they carry some great stuff ;-)
Edited: August 14, 2019, 11:58 PM · I thought Jefferey Holmes had a proper violin shop with lots of violins??? Or are you just talking about his modern violin maker inventory??
August 15, 2019, 7:46 AM · Jonathon Price is an excellent maker in Clawson not too far from Ann Arbor. Give him a call and check out some of his violins if you can! Emmanuelle Boisvert (previous concert master of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra) was playing on one of his instruments.
August 16, 2019, 8:13 AM · When I visited Jeffrey Holmes a few years ago, his shop was in his house, and I was only there to see him and chat, not to check out violins... so I have no idea how many violins he had in stock or has now. All the more reason to call him and find out.
August 16, 2019, 10:49 AM · Ann Arbor won't be as easy to find a lot of really old violins to try (at least, not the ones I suspect you mean when you say "old"), but the modern makers will take time with you.

Temper your expectations before you visit, because many of these guys have waiting lists in the multiples of years long.

August 16, 2019, 12:44 PM ·

Every actual fiddle maker or restorer I have run into in the Ann
Arbor area recently have been really decent folks, not out to screw anyone.

Perhaps it's become a "local culture" thing?

It hasn't always been that way, but I like to think that good ethics and training will eventually prevail.

August 16, 2019, 1:08 PM · @ David. Perhaps it is your proximity to Canada, one of the most polite places on earth.
August 16, 2019, 2:01 PM · Jeff, not only Canada. I've had the privilege of traveling a lot.
Jerry Pasewicz (another American) and I recently returned from a teaching gig in Australia. An Australian took us up to the continental divide for "tea", near Mount Horrible. Yes, that's its real name!LOL. It was really cold and windy (it's winter in Australia), but I will always treasure that experience, along with so many others.
August 18, 2019, 12:07 PM · Thanks Jeff.You're too kind!
August 18, 2019, 1:08 PM · Jeff, politeness comes from the top. Haven't you noticed?
August 18, 2019, 1:11 PM · Yes Jeff.Take Paul for instance.
August 19, 2019, 6:36 AM · "Perhaps it's become a "local culture" thing?"

Ann Arbor is a (mostly) affluent college town in the Midwest, so that's why.

Edited: August 23, 2019, 6:33 PM · I grew up about 45 minutes' drive from Ann Arbor. During high school I had my piano lessons there. The US midwest is generally polite, yours truly notwithstanding.
August 29, 2019, 9:56 PM · Thanks for all the suggestions! My wife and I are in Ann Arbor this week to move our daughter into the University of Michigan dorms (she’s starting her 1st year). Since we have limited time, I decided just to check out Shar’s brick and mortar shop. Michael Bean, their fine instrument specialist, was kind enough to set up a room for me and bring in about 10 different violins. I spent about 90 minutes playing all of them, and came to really like an E.H. Roth violin made near 1920’s (I think). Afterwards, my wife and I spent ~15 minutes exploring the rest of the shop. They have some nice cases on display, including a few Musafia’s. Overall it was a really pleasant visit.
August 30, 2019, 4:46 AM · This is indeed one of the nicest things to do: a visit to a decent shop, typically arranged in advanced, where the owner lets you just freely play and try some nice violins. Glad you could do this and good luck to your daughter in her studies!
August 30, 2019, 11:39 AM · Thank you, Jean!
August 30, 2019, 1:52 PM · Maybe next time when you visit your daughter in Ann Arbor things will be less hectic. Move-in is generally a train wreck of a visit. Ann Arbor is a very civilized place, there is a lot to do there. If you like nice restaurants, I recommend the Gandy Dancer.
August 30, 2019, 2:42 PM · Hi Paul - We love what we’ve seen of Ann Arbor so far. We’ve tried many of the downtown eateries and all have been good. Haven’t tried the Gandy Dancer yet, so we’ll add that to our list for next time. I didn’t realize there were so many violin makers in this area until recently. And I had forgotten Shar was here until mentioned above. I’m liking AA more and more!

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