21 January 1900
Revised :

Regarding INSTRUMENTS, I usually have a fair selection of secondhand small to full-size violins, violas and some 'cellos. Most are "better" student quality - violin outfits from £300, 'cello outfits from £450. Most instruments can go out on approval and for the teacher to try them. Some outfits are available for hire until the student decides definitely. Most of the instruments I sell are late 19th century German and all have been set up by me. Generally speaking, the tone is superior to new "budget" instruments, but recently I have been upgrading new Chinese and Romanian violins. Even a Primavera with pegs that that fit, new soundpost and bridge, decent strings with four adjusters, and a upgraded bow is a huge improvement over the basic model. It is more expensive at £175 but many parents and pupils much prefer the improved quality. Romanian violin outfits cost around £300 depending on the choice of bow and strings. The Violin Acoustic Enhancer has made a huge difference to these new instruments. All future new student instruments will be so treated if the customer wishes: it will take about 7 days to complete.


Music shops and online suppliers have to be very competitive. Be careful if you buy a 'budget' violin outfit. What are you getting for your money? I ask, because wholesalers admit they rely on shops to 'set up' the instrument before sale. This should involve shaping and fitting the bridge (critical operation), checking soundpost position, easing pegs, fitting four adjusters, stringing and tuning. The bow also needs checking. This costs money and your shop may prefer to sell an instrument as it arrives from the wholesaler. The chances are is won't play well, and I've seen a fair number that are unplayable. How do you know if it's been set up correctly? Ask your violin teacher - he or she will know. Any decent shop should allow you to check the instrument with the teacher.






A guide to the price of repairs is helpful, but it is only a guide. I will gladly quote for repair on seeing the instrument. Typical prices for fitted spares and repairs are:















BRIDGES are hand-fitted for the particular instrument. Badly-fitting PEGS can often be improved but new ones are needed eventually.. ADJUSTERS for fine-tuning cost up to £8.00 (cello).


STRINGS I keep Pirastro Tonica, Jargar, Larsen Tzigane and Thomastic Dominant (around £55 for a violin set). Better-than-student strings include Pyramid Superior, Dogal metal and Prim strings. I keep most of these strings for viola and 'cello also. All strings can be bought separately and will be fitted if you wish.


If your instrument is DAMAGED, do remember that it probably looks worse than it is. If a tailgut breaks, everything on the instrument falls down - yet the repair cost is small. Some winters ago a 'cello came in in pieces. The mother had been rushing to get her children to school, put the 'cello down behind the car, got the kids in, and reversed. It mended quite easily because many breaks are along glued joints. If disaster strikes, keep all the pieces safely and please don't attempt a repair. The wrong glue can make a repair impossible. Slacken the strings to relieve pressure if in doubt. The strings should also be let down if the soundpost falls inside the instrument.

                   Fitted    Ebony    Sound   

                   bridge   peg set     post    


Violin             £40       £60       £15      

Viola              £45       £60       £15      

Cello              £70       £90       £20      

Double bass  £100        -          £35      

I normally keep in stock a variety of new violin CASES from £45 to £80. Most are well padded, and all are strong, with good hinges and catches. Broken bow clips cause real bother: the bow will damage the violin unless it is adequately held. Though I don't repair cases as such, I can fit new bow clips. 'CELLO COVERS cost from £28 upwards and the Hiscox glass fibre cello case costs around £260.

Because I SELL and HIRE instruments I need to BUY them, and am always interested to see potential sellers. Cheap outfits (Chinese etc) are probably better sold through Ebay or Gumtree, the difference between new and secondhand value being relatively small.



Insurance companies often need a WRITTEN VALUATION for instruments over (say) £500. They will usually accept 10% appreciation each year without an annual revaluation. Occasionally I receive instruments to realise as part of an estate. The more valuable ones (over £1000) are sent to one of the London auction houses. I hold auction prices back to 1984 from all the major European houses.

The story of a double bass, dropped on a banister rail and needing a new, curved piece of sycamore blending in and varnishing to match.
           Damaged lower bout                     A much repaired bass                  Damaged wood removed              New lining clamped in place
       Ready for the new side        2mm sycamore bent with dry heat  Strapped and clamped while glue dries  Sanded and varnished to match
  • All repairs to violins, violas, 'cellos and double basses
  • Bows and instruments part-exchanged, bought and sold from £45
  • Written insurance valuations
  • Many emergency repairs same day, overnight or weekend
  • All instruments carefully set up for ease of playing
  • Postal service within UK
Author of 'Repair techniques for Teachers' in The Strad Dec 1979.


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