Selecting a String Shop

Selecting A String Shop

There are some simple guidelines you should follow when deciding upon a string shop for renting, purchasing, appraising, repairing or supplying materials for your instrument. The world of string instruments is cloudy and filled with myths and half-truths. One way to protect yourself is to be informed about the basics and then compare what you know with what you are told.

Every business is in business to make a profit at the end of the day, but the question should be how much? There are hints and little clues that can make you aware of whether or not the business is there to provide you a service or to just make a 100-200% profit. A large chain music store with pre-packaged name brand goods with very little attention towards “in-house” service is going to suck you dry if you’re not careful. Generally, family-owned string shops work on a 35% margin[1] although there are notable exceptions. One word of advice is to try to avoid shops that seem to be negative or condescending. In general, the best way to learn more about a dealer is to ask plenty of questions.

The following table borrowed from The Potter Violin Company should give you some questions to ask your potential string shop to get the ball rolling in the even that friendly advice from your teacher or a string player is absent:

***Relative to violin only

1st choice

2nd choice


What do they charge for Dominant violin strings?

$25-$30 per set (installed free)

Over $30
(install extra)

Over $40

How long to rehair a bow?


2-3 days

Week +

Cost to fit a new bridge? (full size violin)

hand-carved to fit $50 or less

(it better be perfect) for $50-$80

“self-fitting” bridges

Take trade-ins? (sold by them)

100% purchase price

80% or less

No trades

Take trade-ins? (sold by others) *price range always a factor

maybe at wholesale (minus 20% if used)



Teacher recommends the shop?


Sort of

Not sure/no

How do they portray other shops or products?





[1] The Potter Violin Company