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Viola Shop: How to Choose a Reliable Store | JSI

Purchasing a good viola is a serious financial commitment. However, for most viola players, that is only one piece of the puzzle. During their musical journey, a violist will likely buy more than one instrument, not to mention bows and accessories. In addition, there is instrument maintenance, which can encompass repair and/or restoration work.

Entering the realm of electric violas opens up a whole different line of products, with electronics, amplifiers, preamps, and more.

For many reasons, it’s best to start with a shop that can support you during your entire musical career: one with a breadth of products, knowledge, and resources to handle every aspect of the viola.

A Shop That Specializes Is Your Best Bet

There are numerous music stores that carry a whole line of instruments, of which violas may only be a small part. A dealer that focuses on just classical stringed instruments, including viola, violin, cello, and bass, will necessarily field more expertise in that arena. Viola shops of that caliber will not only understand the instruments themselves, but will have in-house resources that should include a workshop staffed with top-of-the-line craftsmen.

When choosing where to purchase your viola, “The biggest thing is the quality of the setup,” says Director of Sales and Acquisitions Matthew Fritz. “Not all shops take the time to do a full professional setup on even their intermediate level instruments. If I was looking around for a shop to deal with, I would try to find out what kind of work they do on these instruments.”

Buying a Viola Online: Shopping via the Web

There may not be a high-end shop in your neighborhood. In that case, it’s important to find one with a clear, informative, and user-friendly website that can give you the information you need. This must be supported by a well-planned shipping policy that enables you to try instruments to find the right one for you.

Make sure the shop you deal with offers insurance on shipping, and has reliable experience with the shipping process. Viola rental shops generally have an excellent grasp on shipping instruments back and forth from their location to yours.

Reputation Is Critical

Finally, search for a viola shop that stands behind its products and workmanship. What is their return policy? Do they allow you to trade up in instruments as you progress? Do they have a full viola string shop, as well as other accessories?

These days, it’s advisable for every buyer to research the reputation of a shop they want to deal with because it’s a relationship that in all likelihood will last a very long time.

Additional Resources

Carriage House Violins

Located in Newton, Massachusetts, Carriage House Violins is the instrument sales division of Johnson String Instrument.

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Whether searching for a job, learning about the "Mozart Effect," looking for a summer music camp, or choosing the right instrument string, you need look no further.

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Johnson String Project

A charitable foundation whose goal is to provide high-quality instruments to children who live in under-served communities and who are participating in El-Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts.

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Information and helpful articles about the music and instruments we love.

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