Fiddle Shops in London

Fiddle Shops in London

Heading to London in a few weeks time and would like to check out a few fiddles while im there. Any advice on where to check out a good selection of fiddles (approx €600 region) would be greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

Can you afford to stretch your budget at all? €600 is in the ‘dead zone’ - its a fair bit more than you would expect to pay for even the best ‘student’ violin, but ‘good’ instruments tend to start at about £1000-1200 these days. If you could stretch to £1000 you will find you have a much wider choice.

As to dealers, Beares’ is the obvious place to start, and you could also take a look at Guivier’s

And if you are in London at the beginning of March, Sotherby’s have an auction on the 9th. It’s fine instruments only - I don’t think they even have a bow with an estimate within your price range, but if you go to the viewing, and possibly arrange to play a few of the instruments, you’ll learn a lot about violins, and it should help you work out exactly what you are looking for in an instrument.

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

You might like to check out Ealing Strings http://www.ealingstrings.info/index.html. Perhaps write them an email or give them a call first, telling them what you’re looking for, as they’re a fair way out of the city centre.

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

If you happen to be near Bristol during your travels, try Bristol Violin Shop http://www.bristol-violin-shop.co.uk/. They cater for all, from beginners up to professionals.

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

If you are in London on Sunday 21st February you may be interrested in this event:
http://www.londonfiddleconvention.co.uk/

Some "Out of Town" violin shops will also be there.
I will be there with Sonic Violins - Acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments.

If buying "In town" expect to pay "In town" prices 😉

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

I would fully endorse lazyhound’s recommendation to try to get to Bristol. Bristol Violin Shop is good, there is also Cremona House just round the corner, and even the Bristol Hobgoblin usually has some reasonable fiddles, although you would be looking at the top end of their usual stock. And as someone else has just pointed out, you wouldn’t be paying London prices!

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

Yep - spot-on advice yet again from LazyH

Bristol Violin Shop is very good - and it’s just down the M4 (or hop on the 125 Paddington to B. Templemeads and you’re there in under 90 mins!)

Good Luck

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

If you’re in London on a Sunday, you could try having a look around Brick Lane Marke in the East End. There’s a lot of tat there, true enough, but you can find some real gems there as well, especially if you turn up early in the morning (the serious antiques dealers send their scouts out to grab all the best stuff before about 7am). But even later on in the day you can get lucky - I once saw a fairly nice fiddle with bow and case for £100. I didn’t buy it because I didn’t have £100 at my disposal at the time - and I already had a fiddle I was quite happy with. Anyway, even if you don’t find the fiddle of your dreams, Brick Lane Market’s a nice Sunday morning out.

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

Possibly the best violin/strings shop in London (or so people tell me, I’ve never actually been to any other) is Bridgewood & Neitzert, in Stoke Newington - http://www.londonviolins.com/

I mean, they are by no means trad fiddlers, but if it’s just the instruments you’re after, then this is definitely somewhere you should go.

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

If you’re thinking about a violin source in London such as the Brick Lane Market it is worth bearing in mind that that well-known violinist Sherlock Holmes "narrated with great exultation how purchased his own Stradivarius, which was worth at least five hundred guineas, at a Jew broker’s in Tottenham Court Road for fifty-five shillings" (as related by Dr Watson in the adventure of The Cardboard Box). So there you go.

Btw, in the late 19th century fifty-five shillings = £2.75, and five hundred guineas = £525. Today’s equivalents of those sums in respect of an intrinsically valuable instrument are anybody’s guess, but Holmes surely got the bargain of the century. I bet he was exulted!

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

Hi jmurf!

I would completely endorse lazyhound and his comments on Bristol Violin Shop. Nick is totally dedicated to looking after his customers and is totally reliable.

Ironically, just down the road at Taunton in Somerset is Glen Titmus. He restores violins and is a very fair man. He plays too so is completely in tune with your needs and requirements.

He has a great range of instruments and bows. You can find him at

http://www.glentitmus.co.uk/gt_gtvhead.html

Btw, thanks to all those who wrote on my post about how to provide information. That’s how I managed to put in this address!

Good luck jmurf! Best to everyone

Brian xx

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

According to his updated website, Glen Titmus is now operating mainly from a new address in Leek, Staffordshire, but makes regular visits to his West Country base in Dawlish Warren, Devon.

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

I’ve been to London a few times looking at fiddles and it was a real disappointment, been to Guiviers and Ealing Strings .Fiddles are hughly overpriced and I found that the shops are quite snobbish if you are not looking to spend a few grand I felt they couldn’t be bothered and there are suprisingly few shops Beares etc and Bridgewood & Neitzert,are high end shops some of these places require an appointment.BTW Ealing is definitely not in the centre of London

Posted by .

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

jmurf, I’ve just come from Bristol Violin Shop (buying strings), and they’ve got a wide range of fiddles on display in the main shop from the low hundreds up to about 2K. There are doubtless more expensive ones elsewhere on the premises.

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

"Ealing is definitely not in the centre of London"

No - I grew up there. But, if you’re on a mission, Ealing Strings is an easy journey out of town on the Piccadilly Line (Ealing Common Sta.) - about 1/2 hr from Covent Garden. London extends a long way out beyond Ealing.

You are no doubt right about Ealing Striings, doire. I’ve only ever bought a set of strings there, but I certainly got the impression that they considered themselves a cut above your average music shop. Such is the violin business, methinks.

Still, jmurf, if you did decide to go there, and you are looking to spend money, you could also visit Matthew Coltman, a maker and restorer of bows with a shop in Chiswick, about 3 miles away. http://www.matthewcoltman.com/about.html

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

London violins is definitely a good place to look, but, frankly, London is not the place to find a good violin for 600 quid.

Otherwise, open-air markets can turn up good instruments in your range. As others have said, 600 isn’t much for this market, and you’re most likely to pick up a late 19th C. German trade violin, which are pretty pedestrian as a rule, though perfectly playable.

If you’re a bit of a gambler, you’ll find the Chinese market is the place to pick up a decent instrument in your price range these days. They are making beautiful instruments which can be bought for reasonable cost. In fact, many ‘European’ violins are actually white goods (ie. pre-varnish) from China. The time of the dayglo orange skylark is long since gone…

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

Try contacting Tom Paley, at tom.paley661@googlemail.com.
He’s up in Islington, by the way.
He acquires fiddles which he has set up to their best advantage, then passes on. I asked him yesterday, and he said he has some within your price range. He’s only been playing fiddle since the ’70s’, as opposed to the guitar and banjo, which he played with people like Woody Guthrie and Mike Seeger !

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

Thanks to everone for your replies and suggestions. I’ll try a few of these places and see how I get on. Once again many thanks!!!

Re: Fiddle Shops in London

Some thoughts:

It’s true that certain of the shops mentioned thus far may not have much in your price range. I’d be surprised if you got anywhere with Beare’s, for example, since they are primarily focused on the high end of the market.

Your best option might be to hit the phones. Call up a number of the shops already mentioned, and ask them how much stock they have that might be suitable. If £600 really is your top number, make that crystal clear (at one of the shops cited above, the practice seems to be to take the price you say and bring out instruments that are up to double that number!). In any case, the reaction you get on the phone will be probably be sufficient to tell you whether a visit is worth it.

One place I would suggests is Malcolm Healey’s:
http://www.healeyviolins.co.uk/

It’s not in central London, so it would require a special trip to the suburbs (Sutton). But Malcolm is friendly and knowledgeable. I recently visited with a friend who was looking for a viola. Malcolm had plenty of stock, at reasonable prices. My friend ended up with a very good instrument which came in at £1,300, which was a lot less than she had budgeted for - and which I suspect would have cost her rather more in central London. And this after she had been trying instruments at various other places around town.

One more thought, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous: in early March there are a number of auctions taking place. Sothebys and Bonhams, for sure + and there may be others I haven’t yet heard about. You could contemplate going along to a viewing and seeing what’s what. Or take a look at the online catalogues and see if anything looks viable.

Hope that helps.
Ed.