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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Lashof Violins' history?Lashof Violins' sign and store lit up at dusk.
Lashof Violins has been in our current location in Old Towne Gaithersburg, Maryland since May 2000. We were founded in 1988 and have been operating under the name Lashof Violins since 1993. Women-owned and operated, Lashof Violins has a full-time staff of professionally-trained luthiers and restorers who are also musicians.  Click Here to Learn More About Our Staff, Background, and History
Can I get directions to your store? What's your e-mail address?
You sure can! Click Here for Directions and our Contact Information.
Why do I need to leave my child's instrument at your store to have the bridge fit when other stores say it only takes less than 10 minutes to change the bridge?

Stores that say they can install a bridge in under 10 minutes while you wait (rather than having you leave the instrument for a custom-fit bridge) are probably using a product called a "self-adjusting bridge."

These thick, "self-adjusting" bridges have moveable feet and come in generic heights (extra-low, low, medium, and high) and require little expertise to stand up on the instrument.

Although there are measurements that are the standardized goal for the violin, viola, and cello, these strings instruments are handmade are not all the same in their dimensions. Here are just a few of the considerations we keep in mind when we custom fit a bridge:

  • Some instruments may have softer tops than others and require height compensation for that difference.
  • Some instruments have slight indentations in the surface of their tops from previous bridges and require extra adjustment to the feet to create a perfect fit.
  • Older instruments have begun to shrink with time and have different adjustment needs than newer instruments.
  • Some instruments have higher arching and have different sound needs. 

The bottom line is there are no generic instruments that fall into an extra-low, low, medium or high size category in violin-making. Every tree and every instrument is individual. 

A violin with pivoting, self adjusting feet.
In addition to height and thickness issues, self-adjusting bridges muffle the potential sound of the instrument. The feet of these bridges fit separately into the body of the bridge (see the image to the left).

Because of this design, the transfer of sound from the strings through the bridge to the top of the instrument is slowed; when the transfer of sound is slowed, the instrument sounds muted.

When we custom-fit a bridge (using quality bridge materials), we cut the bridge feet to match the individual instrument's top shape and fit the top of the bridge, accounting for the following: neck height, fingerboard sweep/shape, nut height, top stiffness, instrument arching shape, etc.

We also spend time customizing the bridge to bring out the best potential sound of the individual instrument. We remove mass (wood) from different areas of the bridge to bring out the lower strings/higher strings and adjust the bridge to match specific tonal requests from the player.

Well, they're only a kid, does an individually fit bridge really matter?
Let's face it, the violin is hard enough to play in tune without having to fight a bridge that is fit poorly! Especially for small fingers, a bridge that is too tall can make it very hard to press down the strings and play in tune. A bridge that is too low will constantly buzz and make it frustrating to practice the instrument.
What kind of instruments and bows do you sell? Do you sell instruments over the internet?
A close up of the bass side of the top of a violin.

We sell wood, fiberglass, and composite bows from companies like Eastman Strings, Jon Paul, Coda Bow, Arcos Brasil, Brasil Buzatto, and individual makers from all over. We sell composite bows through our website. Click Here to See Our Line of Composite/Hybrid Bows Available for Sale Online.

We sell instruments made all over the world from countries like Germany, China, France, Romania, Italy, the USA, and more. Our instruments are available for purchase in-store only. Click Here for Information about Our Instruments.
How do I pick a violin or bow?
Two hands hold a violin body.

Great question! Click Here for Our Blog Post with Tips on Selecting an Instrument or Bow.
I have heard some stores pay teachers commissions after a sale, do you participate in this practice?
We do not pay teachers commissions. It is important to us that every student has an advocate in the selection of their instrument/bow and that advocate should not be in the pocket of the store where they bring their students to shop. 

We are here to help people make music. We strive to offer transparency in our sales and, although it has upset some teachers who have expected kickbacks, commissions, or favors for coming to our store, this policy is very important to us and is non-negotiable.
Do you have recommendations for a private teacher?
Yep! Call us and we can fax/e-mail you a list of instructors in the area. You can go to the PVYO or MCYO website for a list of local teachers represented by students in the youth orchestra. *Please note: we are not affiliated with these instructors.
Click Here for the PVYO List.
Click Here for the MCYO List.
What kind of strings are on my instrument?
Two cellos surround the word strings.

We have compiled a String Identification Chart where you can compare your string color windings to the brand of string on your instrument. 
Click Here for the String Color Code Chart
How does your rental program work?
A student quality violin stands up in a violin case. A violin bow is secured inside the case.

We offer a rent-to-own program where 100% of your rent can apply toward the purchase of any rental quality instrument in our store. 

And 100% of your rent applies toward the purchase for the entire length of your contract and does not cut off after 12, 18, or 24 months. 
Click Here to Learn About Our Rental Program
There are so many rental programs out there. How do I decide which plan is right for me?
Here we go into detail of important questions to ask yourself while searching for a rental program that works best for you. 
Click Here to see our Questions to Ask Before You Rent an Instrument
What kind of Composite bows do you sell? Can I order one online?
A close up of the tip and frog ends of a JonPaul violin bow.

We carry many different brands of composite which are available for purchase online! Click Here to See Our Selection
Do you offer repairs? Is your work done on-site?
A luthier combs the horsehair on a bass bow while completed a rehair.

We do offer repairs and restoration. All repairs are completed on-site by our professionally trained repair staff.
Click Here for a List of Repairs and Prices
Do you offer appraisals?
We offer Fair-Market and Insurance Appraisals for a flat fee. Click Here for more Appraisal Information
How are violins made?
A line of chisels and gouges rest in a tool hanger.
Check out our photo diary for more information.
Click Here to See Our Violin Making Photo Diary
How do I care for my instrument?
The short answer is to keep your instrument (and bow) in temperatures where you are comfortable, typically 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity levels should be kept in the 40-60% range. 
Click Here for more Detailed Maintenance Advice.
How do you determine where a bridge should be placed?
The MENSUR ratio is the golden rule for determining where a bridge should be placed. Click here to Learn More about the MENSUR and more.
What is the best way to humidify my instrument? Does my bow need to be humidified?
Your instrument and bow are happiest at 40-60% humidity. An in-case humidifier will offer you the best protection in dry months. 
Click Here to Learn About Humidity and Your Instrument
Do you have a guarantee/warranty?
We do, indeed! 
Click Here to See Our Warranty Policy
What do your customers have to say about your shop?
We'll let them speak for themselves! 
Click Here to See What Our Customers Have to Say About Their Experiences at Lashof Violins

Help! I want to disinfect my instrument from COVID-19! What do I do?
Keep calm and follow these steps:
An infographic outlines caring for an instrument during COVID. Do not use household cleaners on instruments and wash hands often.