TAYLOR'S FINE VIOLINS VIOLIN SHOP
Inside Taylor's Fine Violins
Restorations and Repairs
People ask me if “fine violins” means I deal only in expensive instruments—not at all. By fine violins, I am referring to the painstaking care and attention I put into restoring and setting up every violin I sell. This makes them fine violins in their respective price ranges. Most of my violins are student to intermediate grade which are roughly within the $400-$2,500 price range and at the upper-end, some fine and affordable professional instruments. I'm something of a discount violin shop, pricing up to 50% less than what similar instruments sell for at some of the big shops. Some of my instruments have professionally repaired cracks. Most have wear and signs of decades of real use. I don't try to French polish or over-varnish everything just to make it look shiny like some shops do. I try to leave the natural patina from years of use and absolutely do not try to improve on violins by thinning them down on the inside (re-graduating them). Rather, I try to preserve them in every way, just as they were made by their makers. To improve a violin's sound, I concentrate on adjusting the fittings, the bridge, soundpost, neck angle, and type of strings, to their optimal settings for the best overall sound.
I am a big fan of period musical instrument performances done using original instruments of the baroque and classical eras. So, I also specialize in restoring baroque and transitional (classical era) violins that still have their original neck set up, wedged fingerboards, shorter and lighter bass bars, baroque-style bridges, and authentic, plain-gut violin strings. Some of these instruments are quite affordable, as they were made later in the 1800s. However, they are set up just like more valuable instruments from the 1700s, making them quite suitable for the budget Baroque Historically Informed Practice (HIP) performer.
I don't claim to be qualified to work on $3 million Stradivari violins. In fact, if your instrument is anywhere near that value, I would refer you to some super qualified top professionals in the Los Angeles area. To people who actually work on genuine Stradivari violins. However, their labor rate is going to be 3 or 4 times as much as mine. My specialty is doing careful, competent restorations to affordable instruments that the big shops' high labor rates would make too expensive. Typically, someone brings me their grandparents' violin to fix-up. If there are no major cracks needing repair, I can usually do a complete setup for around $200. This would include fitting a new soundpost, bridge, and level fingerboard, making pegs turn properly, and adding new, good-quality German strings. A big L.A. shop might charge over $600 for that and the violin might not even be worth that much. And, if you need more extensive repairs, like removing the top and gluing and cleating cracks, my labor rate is $50 per hour, not $150 per hour like some bigger shops.
One of the things I pride myself on as a violin shop owner is being able to offer free and honest verbal opinions, recommendations, and referrals to my customers. And, if I believe your violin might be very valuable, I won't lie to you and try to buy it from you. Instead, I can refer you to a respected, top appraisal expert, who can better answer your questions about your violin’s value and origin. I don't offer appraisals or insurance evaluations in writing, but I can refer you to a shop that does insurance valuations for a price in writing.