VINTAGE INSTRUMENTS is America's largest and most eclectic shop specializing in old and antique acoustic musical instruments. Our inventory ranges from Vintage guitars, banjos and mandolins, to nineteenth-century woodwinds and brass, and a wide range of historical instruments such as concertinas, lute family instruments, melodians, etc. Shop hours are Monday through Friday, 10am to 5pm.. If you have specific needs, please call in advance of your visit so that we may arrange for the appropriate personnel to be available to assist you.
FREDERICK W. OSTER FINE VIOLINS Specializes in instruments of the violin family. The shop carries a large inventory of fine violins, violas, celli and bows. In addition, we carry accessories ranging from strings to cases. Appointments to try instruments in the violin family should be scheduled in advance, so please call before you arrive.
Established in 1974 by proprietor Fred Oster, Vintage Instruments was originally located in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, and later moved to a historic four-story Philadelphia brownstone built about 1860 in Center City. The area known as the Pine Street Antique Row district. This building was once the home of a prominent judge, and later a school for the fine and musical arts, and a recording studio (Zest Records). In 1996 Vintage Instruments expanded to a second building, just a block away on Pine Street. This building, a lovely three-story brick row house built about 1840 became the home of The Guitar Shop.
In 2008 we moved to new premises at 507 South Broad Street, the area known as the "Avenue of the Arts". The current shop was built c.1882 for James Dundas and Alice Lippincott. It's hard to miss the building - we have one of the great Philadelphia Mural Arts Project murals on the north side wall. For news, notes, more history about the building and items of interest about the Guitar Shop, visit our GUITAR SHOP BLOG.
PHONE ORDER & SHIPPING INSTRUMENTS
MAIN PHONE NUMBER 215-545-1000.
Although we wish everyone could visit the shop, we know the trek isn't always feasible. So, we do ship instruments, but not all violin family instruments. We do ship bows up to $1,000., and violins or violas up to $5,000. We do not ship violin family instruments of greater values, and we do not ship cellos. We will only ship guitars in hard shell cases. If a guitar is advertised with a soft case (original or otherwise) and you wish it be shipped, we will provide a nice new hard shell case for shipping at the cost of the case (these range from about $100. to $150). Typically, we ship using UPS services. We ship instruments for a 48 hour approval period once we receive payment in full (check, credit card, etc.). Shipping charges are not included in the instrument prices listed. Mail order shipments within Pennsylvania are subject to Pennsylvania sales tax of 6%. Shipments out-of-state are not subject to PA state tax. Before sending payment, please call to confirm the instrument's availability and the cost of shipment.
WE ACCEPT PAYMENT BY VISA & MASTERCARD
We do not have an "online" system for accepting payment, largely because we still find that the unique nature of vintage instruments calls for a conversation with the client to discuss the individual characteristics of an instrument, as well as the client's specific needs or concerns. If you would like to pay by credit card and cannot phone us with the information, we caution that sending credit card information via e-mail is not secure, so please phone the shop. Personal checks are accepted, but must clear our bank before we will send an instrument. Cashiers Checks are also accepted--just like cash. You may also transfer funds directly to our bank (contact us for wire information).
If you decide not to keep an instrument we have shipped to you, notify us by telephone or email within 48 hours of receiving it, then ship it back to us via UPS, insured for its full value. We will refund the price of the instrument as soon as we receive it, provided it arrives in the condition in which it left the shop. The customer is responsible for all shipping charges.
SERVICES & REPAIRS
We have a small and dedicated staff, with a breadth of knowledge and experience. Fred Oster and Catherine Jacobs, as the shop owners, wear dozens of hats. The very talented Natalie Dewey is our cheerful and capable Assistant Manager. We’re dedicated to doing well what we do, building expertise in the instruments and working one-on-one with people to help them find an instrument that gives them great satisfaction. This may sound simple, but it’s a different process for every person. Vintage Instruments has long been a center for fine instruments and craftsmanship. The luthiers we work with are also independent makers and restorers. Whether you need a bow rehair, simple cleaning, tune-up, or major restoration, they are well qualified to help with your needs. Raija Eggert Tuuri, Sam Payton, John Thorell and bow maker Stephen Salchow handle violin maintenance and restoration. We do provide follow up care for fretted instruments we have sold. For all other fretted instrument projects we can help evaluate your instrument and recommend skilled craftspeople for your repair or maintenance needs.
STEPHEN SALCHOW, is the resident Maestro of bowmaking in the shop. Stephen trained with the eminent William Salchow, and developed his skills in bowmaking and restoration through many years experience in the Salchow workshop in New York City. Stephen is also a violist, having trained at the Mannes College of Music with Maureen Gallagher, Rosemary Glyde, and Steven Tenenbom. He served as principal violist of the Riverside Orchestra for six years and has played viola with the Musica Bella Orchestra.JOHN THORELL Combines a background as a musician with his work as a violin maker and restorer. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music as a cellist from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. John completed the North Bennett Street School program in violin making. He has previously worked with Kevin Kelly in Boston and Rob Gordon in Belsano, Pennsylvania. John especially enjoys making Baroque and modern instruments, as well as historical bows.
Locally, we can also
recommend the following:
Brothers Music, also known as Dave Strunk and Rich Eckhart, located in Wind Gap, PA, 610-881-4600. Specialists in the repair and restoration of fine guitars ranging from excellent new instruments to vintage Martins, Gibsons, etc.
Michael Menkevich for fretted stringed instruments: 215-288-8417
Jerry Schurr 215-576-1287 for flute and woodwind repairs
Steve Dillon 732-634-3399 for brasswind repair and restoration
Further afield, especially for specialised work, we recommend:
John Gallagher for wooden flute building and restoration of historical flutes 304-636-8688
NEW INSTRUMENTS and ACCESSORIES
We also carry new instruments in addition to our vintage inventory. These include guitars by C.F. Martin & Co., and National Reso-Phonic Guitars. We have banjos by Kevin Enoch, OME banjos, and Goldtone. Also, a great variety of ukuleles by Kamaka, Kala, Kiwaya, Martin & More.
We are happy to provide written appraisals at no cost for any instrument you purchase from us. If you have an instrument you would like us to appraise, please call to make an appointment to bring it in for an examination.
Rates for written insurance
appraisals are as follows:
Guitar: $60; $45 for each additional on the same form
Violin, Viola, Cello: $80; $65 for each additional on the same form
Bow: $50; $35 for each additional on the same form
CARE & MAINTENANCE
PICK GUARD CRACKS: One of the most frequent guitar repair question we hear about is the pickguard crack. Over time, most pickguards shrink. If you are fortunate, the pick guard will pull away from the surface of the guitar. If not, it will pull at the wood until it separates. Although usually minor at first, a pick guard crack (in fact, any open crack) should be dealt with A.S.A.P. because it will grow, detracting from the appearance of the instrument and ultimately affecting the sound and structural integrity of the guitar. A good repairer will loosen the guard to relieve the stress caused by shrinkage, then repair the crack and replace the guard.
WINTERIZING: Winter weather poses an array of problems for all wooden instruments, from guitars to violins and flutes. Cold dry air draws the moisture out of wood and causes seams to separate, braces to loosen, head joints to crack, and so on. Begin winterizing precautions in autumn. When not in use instruments should be stored in a case that provides a fairly well sealed and controlled environment. Keep string tension loose, and take woodwinds apart into separate joints to relieve problems at the joints. Use a dampit or other form of humidifier to keep the humidity in the instrument's environment above 40%, and preferably closer to 50%. Make sure that the instrument is not stored near a heat vent, radiator, or other heat source. When traveling with the instrument allow it to adjust to changes between outdoor and indoor temperature and humidity gradually before removing from the case, tuning and playing
Insurance policy requirements regarding appraisals vary. Whether you have your instruments insured through your homeoners, apartment or specialty musical instrument insurance policy, we recommend that you check with your insurance provider for specific requirements and coverage information. Regardless, we recommend that you keep clear photos and complete descriptions (with serial numbers) of your instruments with your important papers in a fire safe location.
Heritage Insurance Services, Inc., a subsidiary of St. Paul, has developed a specialized musical instruments policy for musicians, collectors, and shops. We have found them to be a knowledgeable and reliable firm. For information, contact Ellis Hershman 1-800-289-8837
SUGGESTIONS REGARDING STOLEN INSTRUMENTS
If your instrument is stolen report it to the police immediately. Even though it can be a pain in the neck, you will need this report should the instrument ever turn up. Be sure to include a full description, as well as a serial number or any other unique identifying information. There is always the possibility that the police will recover your instrument. If the instrument is relatively new, notify the manufacturer since some maintain databases of stolen instrument information. Additionally, send notices to reputable shops and repairers in your area. Some publications, such as Vintage Guitar magazine, have free classified sections where you can advertise your stolen instrument. Stolen violins should be reported to the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers and Maestronet for inclusion in their stolen instruments registry.
We are located in center city Philadelphia, on the East side of Broad Street "Avenue of the Arts," just below Lombard St; a ten minute walk south from the Suburban Station commuter rail and New Jersey transit terminus station, or a $5.00, ten minute cab ride from the 30th Street Amtrak station.
From the South: Follow I-95 North to I-76 West (Schuylkill Expressway). Exit at 30th Street. At the top of the exit ramp (first light you come to) turn right onto Chestnut Street and cross the bridge. Continue on Chestnut St. to Broad Street (4 lane street-you'll see City Hall a few blocks up on the left) and turn right. Continue past Locust, Spruce and Pine Streets. We are on the left side (East side) just after Lombard Street.
From the Northeast and New Jersey: Follow I-95 South to the Vine Street Expressway (676W) OR take the NJ Turnpike to exit 4 and follow signs for the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and cross it to the Vine Street Expressway. Exit from the expressway at Broad Street (the exit puts you onto 15th Street, which parallels Broad Street). Go around City Hall a quarter of the way and then right on Broad Street. Continue South on Broad Street, crossing Chestnut, Walnut, Spruce, Pine and Lombard. We are just on the left after Lombard St.
From the Northwest: From the Pennsylvania turnpike exit to I-76 East (Schuylkill Expressway) and follow the highway to the 30th Street exit. Exit at 30th Street and circle around the train station and turn left onto Market Street. Continue on Market St. to City Hall (go 1/4 of the way around the City Hall circle) and then go right onto Broad Street (4 lane street-you'll see City Hall a few blocks up on the left) and turn right. Continue past Chestnut, Walnut, Locust, Spruce and Pine Streets. We are on the left side (East side) just after Lombard Street.
Parking: There is metered on-street parking throughout Center City, some blocks still have the old style meters that take quarters only, but other blocks have new kiosk machines that take change, bills, and credit cards and issue a ticket to be placed on your dashboard. Just make sure you read the signs to know what the parking rules are. There is a commercial parking lot on the East side of the 400 block of South Broad Street, another at Broad and Pine Streets, also at Spruce and 15th and one at 15th and South Streets. Otherwise, the Philadelphia Parking Authority web site has useful information about parking lot locations in center city.