Attentive Repairs & Restorations

Backed by the experience and knowledge of our trained luthiers, Sullivan Violins offers a complete range of instrument and bow repair and restoration services.

Your One-Stop Repair Shop

Sullivan Violins is a full-service workshop offering repairs and restorations to all violin family instruments and their bows. From minor soundpost adjustments to large scale instrument repairs and restorations, our luthiers are well versed in sound evaluation and string selection and can assist you in achieving your desired sound.

Repairs & Restorations

Repairs & Restorations

Our experienced luthiers are graduates of the Chicago School of Violin Making and Ken Sullivan is a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, making us highly qualified to carry out any instrument repair and restoration. In addition to basic instrument setup and repair, we are also proficient in removing instrument tops to repair cracks, reset necks, complete interior patches, and more.

It’s not uncommon to see the tops of old instruments sagging under the pressure of the bridge and strings. As part of our restoration services, we make a plaster mold of the top and correct the deformity. Then, by pressing out the top and inserting a breast patch to maintain the original arch and intention of the artist, we are able to restore the original quality of sound and structural integrity of the instrument.

Antique & Restored Instruments

Instrument Maintenance

Instruments will maintain their sound quality and condition with regular instrument maintenance. It is a good idea to have your instrument checked out by one of our luthiers annually to check your instrument’s condition. They will check for any open seams or cracks, and any movement or wear that needs to be addressed or monitored.

A good clean and polish done by our expert luthiers will also keep your instrument from being damaged by dirt and rosin build-up.

String maintenance

Strings should be changed regularly. String life depends both on how much an instrument is being played as well as the type of string. A good rule of thumb is to put on new strings annually, more often for a professional or conservatory player, less often for a beginning player. Our luthiers can recommend strings for your instrument depending on the sound qualities you are looking for, as well as professionally install your new strings. Sullivan Violins offers a full range of string options at competitive prices.

Caring for your instrument

Taking care of your instrument at home will also ensure your instrument’s longevity and reduce the likelihood of repairs. A good case humidifier such as the Oasis or Boveda will help prevent wood shrinkage that can result in pegs slipping or the opening of seams or cracks.

Additionally, using a polish cloth to wipe rosin, dust, or dirt off your instrument will help preserve the varnish and will prevent rosin build-up on the strings that could negatively affect your sound quality.

Bow Repair & Rehairing

Bow Repair & Rehair

Bows need regular care and maintenance, including re-hairing. A quality bow will need a rehair annually; professional and serious players will need it done more frequently.

Bow rehairs

Sullivan Violins offers highly professional bow rehair services. We exclusively use premium Mongolian unbleached hair which makes a significant difference in the player experience and sound quality. We carefully control the hair volume to protect the fine internal comments of your bow.

Bow rehairs can typically be completed over 24 hours or one business day. Need a loaner? We will be happy to loan you a bow so you can keep practicing and playing while your rehair or bow repair is being completed. For long distance customers, we can provide shipping one or both ways.

Bow repairs

In addition to re-hairing, we also offer regular maintenance and bow repairs such as replacing thumb leathers and windings and replacing bow tips. When required, we perform more significant repairs such as replacing slides and buttons or splining a bow that has suffered a significant crack or break.

Not sure what your bow needs? Contact us to schedule an appointment for us to inspect your bow or contact us by phone so we can answer any questions.

Caring for your bow

Maintain the longevity of your bow at home and extend the life of the bow hair by loosening the bow hair every time you store it in your case. The length of your bow hair can be significantly impacted by heat and humidity. Keeping your bow in a humidity-controlled environment by using a case humidifier such as the Oasis or humidifier/dehumidifier will also help minimize changes to the length of the hair and any impact on bow tension. Avoid touching the bow hair itself, as your fingers leave dirt and oil that can create problems with rosin adherence.

Bringing an 18th Century Mittenwald Cello Back to Life

When asked about his most memorable restoration pieces, it doesn’t take Ken Sullivan long to recall a special 8 months in Arizona with a Mittenwald Klotz School Cello. Maybe it was a ¾ size, perhaps a ⅞, but it wasn’t the dimensions of the instrument that made it noteworthy.

This Mittenwald was a relic from the 18th century and a family heirloom that had been with the owners for generations. Over the years, various aspects of the cello had fallen into disarray, and the owners were hoping to bring new life to the antique instrument.

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Fine craftsmanship, extraordinary service, and a remarkable sensitivity to the individual instrument’s capabilities is what you can expect from Sullivan Violins’ exceptional instrument restoration service. I recently brought in an instrument that has always been special to me, given to me by my first teacher, to have a significant amount of restoration done.

I was impressed with the detail and high quality of the work, the communication about restoration options and planning and most of all, the stunning result. The sound was stronger and the violin’s optimal resonance seemed to have been brought out, and yet, the instrument had preserved the beauty of its original sound characteristics. A difficult crack on the back that had developed over time had been repaired beautifully and the instrument was strengthened. Several smaller problems of cosmetic nature had also been gently repaired. Included in the service was an opportunity to follow up to have adjustments done.

Sullivan Violins not only provides excellent luthier and store service but has also connected with the music community through genuine interest in, dialogue with, and support of musicians, teachers, students, and listeners, always adjusting to the needs of the changing times.

Pia Liptak | String Department Co-chair, The Hochstein School

Pia Liptak

Not Sure What Repairs or Restorations are Needed?

Set up an appointment to have your instrument evaluated. We will review with you what repairs are required/recommended and will provide you with a free estimate.