Violin shop in the Boston area for a beginner

January 10, 2021, 9:44 AM · Hi fellow violinists,

My friend is intending to get started on violin lessons, after a long gap of 2 decades. I recommended to him that he find a teacher first with a good reputation, but he insists that he'd rather buy an instrument prior to that. Can anyone recommend to me a violin store in and around the Boston area where he could find a good beginner instrument at a fair price, a place that helps the buyer with instrument selection? And if the store has a good rental program, all the more better. Thanks in advance!

Replies (38)

January 10, 2021, 10:07 AM · Johnson Strings located in Greater Boston is a reputable place. I believe they have instrument rentals as well. You will need a car to get there if you are located in the city of Boston. Their shop in in the outskirts.

Paul Weissmeyer is a luthier in Boston at www.bostonfiddle.com. He is in Boston proper, and you can get there by subway train & walk a few blocks. Please make appt before going there. However, I am not sure if he rents instruments. I would call first.

January 10, 2021, 10:38 AM · Both logical choices.
Edited: January 10, 2021, 11:45 AM · You don't need a car to get to Johnson. There are buses that go close enough.

BTW I don't think you need a special shop for beginners. I have never met a luthier who was a snob.

January 11, 2021, 6:56 PM · Doesn't Johnson Strings have really high prices, or was I thinking of someone else.
January 11, 2021, 7:25 PM · They have high prices on their expensive stuff.
January 11, 2021, 8:48 PM · I seem to remember their prices for generic antique German production violins being extremely high, like 3-4 times what I would charge
January 12, 2021, 8:45 AM · Lyndon - I had been wondering about this. To be clear, I think Johnson String/Carriage House is a great shop. They have a nicer rental fleet than many places, which is certainly relevant to the OP. They did a setup (new soundpost, fingerboard planing and nut reshaping) on my old German violin that I'm very happy with. But I have noticed that their prices for German and French workshop instruments do seem rather high compared to similar instruments at other shops.
January 12, 2021, 9:55 AM · A lot of these really high end violin shops have labour rates approaching $150/hr. If they spend 5-10 hrs fixing up an antique violin, even a cheaper one, you can soon see how the sale price goes up to compensate for the high labour rate. That's why for beginner, intermediate violins I'm not sure a high end shop is the most cost effective alternative.
January 12, 2021, 6:06 PM · Depending on just how far out you're willing to go, in Westford, MA is Bridges & Bows. And for lessons there's the Westford Suzuki School.
January 13, 2021, 4:44 AM · i like johnson, bought couple strings and accessories from them over the year, their violin pricing does get competitive once you start negotiating.
January 13, 2021, 7:53 AM · Lyndon, I paid $3500 for an 1895 Reichert violin at Jan Hampton's violin shop in Richmond. Everyone told me I overpaid. I don't care. It's a wonderful-sounding violin with a powerful, singing E-string, and it's now my daughter's violin and she loves it too. Maybe you should consider asking more for your violins. I'm serious. Not that your clients shouldn't take you seriously already, but you know how that goes -- people tend to pay more respect to the more expensive thing. If someone sees that they can get a "new violin" for what you're asking for your old ones ...

I have found Johnson's prices to be reasonable. The last "significant" thing I bought there was two cases.

January 13, 2021, 9:16 AM · Maybe you should try running your own high priced violin shop, Paul??
Edited: January 13, 2021, 1:11 PM · No that wouldn't work. I don't have any violins to sell. Anyway I guess it's pretty obvious that I don't have any business sense. But I am guessing you probably give your violins a lot of TLC when it comes to setup and so forth and I'd be thrilled to see you profit from that. I'm not opposed to people charging what can be borne for wholesome goods and services.
January 13, 2021, 6:13 PM · unlike you, Paul, I don't believe in ripping my customers off!!
January 14, 2021, 4:23 AM · Lyndon, there is a difference between ripping your customers off, and charging a fair price for your work. If you are proud of your work , then you shouldn’t feel bad about charging for it.

Paul is one of those valuable customers that understands that.

January 14, 2021, 6:24 AM · I already charge a fair price, what do you think I am, stupid?? Its the other shops that are ripping people off.
January 14, 2021, 10:12 AM · How do you know that, if you have never run a large shop in an area where prices of real estate and rent, and the cost of living are high?
January 14, 2021, 11:50 AM · Does the Walmart in Beverley Hills charge more for basic items than any of the other Walmarts?
January 14, 2021, 12:13 PM · There is no Walmart in Beverley Hills CA, although Walmart does carry some products under the "Beverly Hills" brand name. That's the brand I buy when I want to feel a-speshull. ;-)
January 14, 2021, 12:54 PM · Living in a a high rent district does not make A Stradivari made in Germany any more valuable, what are you cuckoo??
January 14, 2021, 12:55 PM · I hope string shops don't follow the business model of Walmart. Our discussions would be filled with: "where should I buy my next violin- Johnson String, Guitar Center, or Walmart?".
January 14, 2021, 1:31 PM · God help us if violin shops start emulating the Walmart business model: pay your staff so little that the government ends up subsidizing your business through food stamps, rental assistance, Medicaid, etc.
January 14, 2021, 1:40 PM · guitar center and walmart do sell violins!!
Edited: January 14, 2021, 2:47 PM · Labor cost can cut 30% (at least) off your revenue, and this is in addition to overhead costs of maintaining a facility, etc. So these things will obviously be needed to be added to the cost of pricing a violin. A violin shop owner with less labor and overhead cost may be able sell the same type violin for a more reasonable price.

Personally, I will prefer to go to a true and legitimate violin shop whose violin prices are not too exorbitant. Before covid, my family go to Disneyland every year. Lyndon's shop is now in my list of "to go" places, and perhaps buy a violin from the next time we go down south.

Edited: January 14, 2021, 5:07 PM · A really good restorer or setup person is enough of an asset, that shops compete for them monetarily. This isn't to make the obviously false and overused cliche claim that you always "get what you pay for", but that it can be a factor in the pricing of fiddles and fiddle work. Some of these people I've met are simply amazing! (And I know the business, internationally, decently well)
Edited: January 14, 2021, 4:58 PM · I'm sure a big shop doesn't normally have their top restorer working on the student level stuff. I never claim to be working on genuine Stradivaris, but for student and intermediate level violins that I specialize in, I can certainly claim to be putting a similar quality of work into them as big expensive shops, albeit at much more reasonable prices.
Edited: January 14, 2021, 5:57 PM · I have been in situations where the top level restorer and the student instrument setup person worked in the same room, observing each others work and chatting quite a bit. ;-)
January 14, 2021, 5:23 PM · no doubt
January 14, 2021, 6:43 PM · Random thought after reading this. From an outsider (a player, not someone in THE business, but having said that someone who helps run a family non music related business.) I think it would be very interesting to visit both David and Lyndon.

To play whatever instruments either of you had available, and chat about music and business models.

If/when travel feels safe again both of you can cash in on us musician type “tourists”. I’m the second one in this thread mentioning visiting Lyndon would be on my list of go sees if I was in Cali.

Edited: January 14, 2021, 6:49 PM · Covid is putting a real damper on things right now, no indoor customers, which makes showing multiple instruments much more difficult, hopefully in about a year that will change. And outdoor acoustics are never as good as indoor with wood floors etc.
Edited: January 14, 2021, 7:00 PM · Lyndon, I truly hope in a year or so things feel much safer than they do right now. I was speaking much more into the future.

I actually feel for both you and David right now....I’m sure trying to stay safe while running such a “in person business” by default is precarious at the best of times right now.

Consider the musician tourist model though to make up for lost revenue for 2022;)

ETA: you have two interested already!

January 15, 2021, 5:30 AM · Maybe I should serve cocktails.
"Dave's Fiddle Bar" ;-)
January 15, 2021, 10:05 AM · They serve champagne in wedding dress shops!


Perhaps after a few all of a sudden upping your budget is the best idea ever!;)

January 15, 2021, 4:10 PM · Kim,I know! One of my daughters used to manage several wedding dress shops, before the pandemic shut them down.
Edited: January 15, 2021, 5:05 PM · I’m sorry to hear this! I hope she’s still employed in some capacity and is doing well . Such a crazy time we are living in.

Haha, the champagne effect might have had an opposite effect when I was dress shopping, my Mom could really belt out a few zingers after a few, lol!

ETA; when I began my search for another fiddle I brought her with me as well;)

January 15, 2021, 7:35 PM · Are you implying I should be getting my customers drunk so they might buy more??
January 16, 2021, 4:22 AM · Kim, there were times when the businesses were allowed to remain open, but there were hardly any customers because so many people postponed their wedding plans until they could have a large gathering again, or had small modest weddings instead. I imagine it was hard on those people too.

Or maybe it got a few people off the hook. LOL

January 16, 2021, 5:15 AM · Probably an increased demand for cohabitation sweatsuits. People adapt.


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