Frequently asked questions

This section is always under construction (like the Light Rail in Central Sydney) but….we are happy to take some questions and may put them here.
Be bold and submit away! We will contemplate them
and answer as best we can (as time & space allows).

Why is the shop closed on a Monday? In the ‘old’ days, most orchestral musicians around the world had Mondays rostered off and it made sense for the luthiers to have the day off too. Nowdays, the contracts include playing 7 days a week ( some of the musicians never get to have a rest!) but many violin based shops still have the Monday ‘rostered’ off.

Can I get a good violin for under $200.00? If you are talking about a new violin from Aldi or eBay, no. All instruments need to be ‘set up’ meaning put into proper playing condition. As this can take the repairer many hours depending on the quality of the instrument, it is generally not economically viable to do so on low price/low quality instruments. It should be obvious; these low price instruments are not much money because they are low quality. I have had many people say to me – I’ll get little Madison a ‘cheap’ (read ‘low quality’) violin now and if he shows promise, I’ll get a better one later. The trouble is that the child (or beginner player) cannot improve as the instrument is holding them back – that defeats the purpose of the lesson. A good starter violin is around $500.00 to $600.00 – if you have a lesson a week @ $40.00 a go for 40 weeks of the year, you spend much more on the lesson ($1,600.00) than the violin. Think about it; a good instrument gives them a better chance. Apologies for my rant but after 30 years telling people this verbally in our workshop, I get a chance to tell the whole world via the Web.

I have a Stradivarius violin; what’s it worth? Well one sold for US$15,900,000.00 in 2011 but it had a ‘lot’ of history. The one you found in the attic or received from your aunt’s estate is probably one of the millions of fakes out there; possibly only worth $20.00 if you are lucky. Again, the cost of repair may be more than the instrument is worth. Your chances of finding a ‘real’ one are much longer than the odds on the Lottery or the horse racetrack. Indeed, you have a much better chance of winning the Jackpot Lottery here in Sydney than finding a long ‘lost Strad’. There are very few violins out there waiting to be ‘re-discovered”.

How long does it take to make a violin? If a maker sits at the bench for the usual 8 hours a day for 5 days a week, generally a professional maker could finish an instrument in a month (although you makers out there can contradict me if you would like!). That does not include varnishing time which may take up to 3 months. A well known prolific maker here in Sydney is reputed to have finished a violin in 12 days when he was a bit younger than nowadays – that takes a lot of gumption and sweat.

Have we got any good violin or bow makers in Australia? The list can be long – Alan Coggins has written a book on the subject that includes many living makers (it can be purchased from us for $95.00). Violin makers active include: Harry Vatiliotis; Jim Robinson; Ian Clarke; John Johnston; John Simmers; Hugh Withycombe; Rainier Beilharz; Adele Beardsmore & more! Bow makers just in the Sydney region include our Jim Ellender along with Jeffery Ellis.

Can you recommend a good repairer? Our Melbourne counterpart Alex Grant was asked this one – I can recommend Alex if you are in Melbourne and if you are in Sydney; definitely us! Let us know if you are elsewhere in the world.

I have a broken bridge; can I buy a new one? You can buy one but it will not fit. I compare this to dress making: you do not usually buy 3 metres of cloth, wrap it around yourself and then attend the Opera first night performance. You need to cut the cloth to the right design & sew it all the right way. In the same way, the bridge needs to be fitted to the instrument in question; each violin (viola or cello) has a different shape/curve and fingerboard height and they are not interchangeable. We need the instrument in the workshop to be able to fit a bridge.

How long will it take for my instrument to be repaired?  Possibly our most asked question!  If you think about it, this question cannot be answered until we take a look at your instrument; after all; we are a instrument doctor and we need to see the patient/victim before we prescribe the medicine. Problems cannot be assessed until we have them in front of us ‘on the slab’.

Do you rent instruments? Apologies, no!  We usually hear from the customer that they do not wish to commit to an instrument and want to hire until ‘Young Madison’ shows some promise. You may consider the idea that some promise usually comes out of a commitment; if you have your own instrument, there is an incentive to make proper use of it. When you rent an instrument you have the option to return it; and that is what often happens. You may refer back to our thoughts on ‘instruments under $200’.

Is there a mail order option? Yes – just call us or email. Express Post is a great service with a tracking number for us all to follow the journey from us to you over the Internet. Ordinary Parcel Post also features a tracking number these days too – it is just a little slower.

Do  you accept American Express? Again yes and we do not charge any fees for the use of any credit/charge card. And…..we still accept cash too!