Good Place to buy a violin


Andre Isaia said: Nov 5, 2014
Andre IsaiaViolin
Bairro Bomfim Santa Maria, RS, Brazil
3 posts

Hello everyone!

I need a little help from teacher living in the NY area.
I have a family going to NY for vocations (they are from Brazil) and the parents want to buy a good medium student violin (it’s really hard to buy here in Brazil, almost all are from China and aren’t good ones).
They want a violin between $700 and $1000 dollars.
Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks a lot

Man said: Nov 10, 2014
 Violin, Voice, Viola
13 posts

Hi, Andre.

I’m not a teacher, but maybe I can help move this along a little bit anyway.

First, when you say NY area, do you actually mean NY city? Presumably, that’s what you mean, but just thought it’d be good for clarification.

Also, the $700-$1K budget is in US dollars, correct? And needs to be for the entire outfit?

Well, you mentioned not liking Chinese-made violins, but in that budget range, I’m pretty sure all (new ones) will be Chinese-made… though some might be finished in the USA or elsewhere. That’s not to say they’re all bad, but thought I’d point that out.

As for buying in NY city, instruments tend to be more expensive here than most others in the country due to higher cost of living. Also, most reputable USA shops offer a trade-in policy that might inflate the price a little(?), and such policy might not be useful to your student at all—perhaps, the family could negotiate to eliminate whatever overhead being charged for such policy, if it will not be of use.

Having said that, I did very recently come across 1 seemingly good dealer/shop in Chelsea (lower Manhattan) that seems to offer better than usual (for NYC) prices and w/out such trade-in policy. They have a website, but you can’t really shop online w/ it as it’s very minimalistic. IF the international call isn’t too expensive for you, you might first try calling them to discuss possibilities.

I haven’t actually tried nor bought any instruments from them though I did have an hour-long chat (just talking shop, etc.) w/ the (co?)owner (of ~50 years)—was going to send my nephew and niece to them, except they need trade-in policy for fractional size. I did get a set of new strings and tailpiece and some setup work done on an old 1/2-size violin for my youngest, and they were great (and charged me essentially nothing for the work itself!). They seem very honest and straightforward to work with (and seem to get very good word-of-mouth, which was how I found out about them)… though I’ve only had limited experience (plus the long chat) w/ them myself.

IF the family has enough time, another possible option is to do a phone order (once they reach NY) from the String House up in Rochester, NY—they’re a solid family business and can ship to NYC quite fast (usually taking no more than 2-3 business days after I order in the past). I find them to be the best, most reliable value around for this budget level and are very honest and kind to work with (as I’ve dealt w/ them several times over the last 8-plus years, and they also come highly recommended by a couple teachers in my kids’ Suzuki program amongst others). Maybe the family can also negotiate a little to eliminate the trade-in policy for a modestly better price in this case—the trade-in was definitely desirable to me, but probably not to your student’s family unless they often visit the USA. I would recommend speaking w/ the owner, Stephen Kanack, to work something out.

Although their site details all the instruments that are in your student’s budget range, I still would strongly recommend calling them instead of ordering online. Also, again, if the international call isn’t too expensive for you, you might want to talk to Stephen Kanack yourself to discuss what would be most suitable for your student. FWIW, Stephen’s sister apparently runs a Suzuki program/school up in Rochester as well, if that matters at all to you.

There might be other options worth checking depending on more details, but those 2 should make very good starting points…



Man said: Nov 10, 2014
 Violin, Voice, Viola
13 posts

One other thing. To give you a better idea of my own experiences w/ buying instruments (for my family), I’ve also checked many places online (and even eBay) over the years for comparison and have tried instruments (and own a used Maestro cello and a Johann Krausch violin bow) from Stringworks out in Appleton, WI:

They’re probably worth considering as well, especially since they apparently do ship worldwide. I still do prefer String House myself, but if buying directly from SW w/ international shipping works well enough, their modest trade-in policy would give them an advantage that’s probably missing for your student from most any other USA shops—if your student advances all that far, he/she should eventually want to trade up at least to their Kallo Bartok or Michael Todd model, if not better.

RE: actual instruments I’ve bought (and I’ve bought many), most are decent-to-excellent, vintage John Juzek violins and violas—mostly well outside your student’s budget range, if buying at a regular shop—that I bought off eBay several years ago when I could still find some excellent bargains on there. Those bargains are mostly all gone by now… plus I definitely wouldn’t recommend most people to buy off eBay as there are real risks even if you’re a seasoned buyer and know what you’re looking for (and can do some needed basic setup work yourself). Outside of those unusual bargains, I’ve found String House to be the most reliable, best value around, which is why I still went back to them for smaller fractionals (ie. their Tartini line) and might eventually consider a “fine instrument” from them (as trade-up) if/when one of my kids need such—my 2 older, high-school-aged kids are still very well served by the various full-size vintage Juzeks (and used CodaBow Classic bows) I bought off eBay several years ago.

And yes, I do most basic setup work myself… sometimes even cutting bridges for our fractionals if/when needed. :-)



Heather Figi said: Nov 11, 2014
 96 posts


I also wanted to recommend:

1—Potter Violin Company (

2- Robertson and Sons (

They are not in the New York area but are pretty great for shipping around the country.

Also, I would suggest staying open to models from China—some are of high quality.

Lastly, have you spent some time just looking at America Catalogs as a part of the research process? Here are some links to help with your search:


Johnson String Instrument:

Southwest Strings:

Young Musicians:

Andre Isaia said: Nov 11, 2014
Andre IsaiaViolin
Bairro Bomfim Santa Maria, RS, Brazil
3 posts

Thank you so much for all your replies.
It will be really helpful to the family.

Greetings from Brazil!

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