Vintage Instruments, Inc, on the Avenue of the Arts in Center City, Philadelphia ~ Established in 1974

OUR STORY

Vintage Instruments has long been one of America's most eclectic shops specializing in vintage and antique acoustic musical instruments. In our unique shop you will find guitars, banjos, mandolins & ukuleles, fine violins and cellos, and instruments of historical interest. Vintage C.F. Martin and Gibson guitars are a particular specialty.

Established in 1974 by proprietor Fred Oster, Vintage Instruments was a detour from his academic path. Fred was inspired to play guitar by a cousin, mandolin and five-string banjo by a buddy & the Philadelphia Old-time music scene, and concertina by an interest in Celtic music.  Vintage Instruments evolved around these interests.  Over the decades, the business has remained true to this core of specialization in acoustic music, improved by the experience of working with instruments and customers from around the world, and the new ideas they have brought into the mix.

Who We Are

We have a 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 -- violinist and opera singer -- is our cheerful and capable Assistant Manager.  Luthiers Raija Eggert, Sara Peck, John Thorell and bow maker Stephen Salchow specialize in violin maintenance and restoration.  You will receive very personal attention in our shop.  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 the greatest satisfaction for their needs and preferences.  This may sound simple, but we understand that finding the right instrument is a different process for every musician.

OUR BUILDING's STORY

Vintage Instruments’ first home was a second floor studio in Philadelphia’s  Chestnut Hill neighborhood.  In 1978 Vintage moved to larger upper-story accommodations on Walnut Street in Center City.  In 1983 the shop moved again to a four story Pine Street house built in 1860.  This building, with its wonderful four-story walnut staircase, was built as the home of a prominent judge, later served as a school for the fine and musical arts, and in the 1960’s as Zest Records recording studio.  In 1996 the Guitar Shop of Vintage Instruments expanded to a second building built about 1840, just a block away on Pine Street.

In 2008 we moved to our present premises at 507 South Broad Street, on Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts.  The brick and brownstone Aesthetic style mansion with beautiful woodwork, stained glass and period tiles was built in 1882 for James Dundas and Alice Lippincott.  With it's stately terracotta embellished facade, it's hard to miss the building.  We also have one of the great Philadelphia Mural Arts Project murals on our north wall.  For a detailed history about this building, visit our BUILDING BLOG.

Clearly, we like old buildings.  They’re an extension of our admiration for artfully crafted creations.  The sense of history in a building with unique architectural appointments makes for a great space to peruse, enjoy and listen to instruments.  We hope you will have the opportunity to visit and find an instrument that is just right for you!

Fred & Antiques Roadshow

Many people recognize Fred from his appearances on the WGBH Antiques Roadshow.  Fred joined the ranks of the Antiques Roadshow appraisers in 1996, and has had wonderful experiences traveling around the country, meeting people and helping them to learn more abut their instruments.  We’re frequently asked which instruments have been the most remarkable, so here are some of Fred’s favorite WGBH Antiques Roadshow musical instrument moments: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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