The shop carries a diverse 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.

The shop is located at: 507 South Broad Street (at Broad and Lombard), in the center of Philadelphia. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10am to 5pm.
PHONE NUMBER 215-545-1000.

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.

Although it would be wonderful if everyone could visit the shop, this isn't always feasible. So, we do ship some but not all instruments of the violin family. We ship bows up to $1,000., and violins or violas up to $5,000., but no violin family instruments of greater values, and no cellos. Typically, we use UPS service. Shipping charges are not included in the instrument prices listed. Before sending payment, please call to confirm the instrument's availability and the cost of shipment, and to ask any questions you might have about the instrument you are considering.

A shipment can begin on receipt of payment in full (check, credit card, etc.). The approval period for instruments shipped is 14 days. This means the instrument needs to be back in the shop 14 days after it is shipped. Otherwise, we will assume that you have made the decision to purchase the instrument.

Pennsylvania is an "Origin" state as regards sales tax obligations. Thus, shippments to PA destinations are subject to the Pennsylvania + Philadelphia sales tax of 8%. Otherwise, for shipments to other states we collect sales tax for instruments as required. We recommend that customers check with their state�s Department of Revenue to learn their obligations for reporting and remitting sales tax.

We do not have an "online" system for accepting payment, largely because we still find that the unique nature of musical 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 please call the shop. Personal checks are accepted, but must clear our bank before we will send an instrument. Cashiers Checks are also accepted. 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, as soon as possible, 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.

Frederick W. Oster Violins Blog
Our new blog highlights news from the shop, stories about instruments and restoration projects, and useful ideas for you and your instruments.

The workshop of Frederick W. Oster Fine Violins hosts a group of extremely talented luthiers and is a center for fine instruments and craftsmanship. Restorers working in our workshop include:

Sarah Peck brings diverse experience and a deep background in violin restoration. While thoroughly versed in the restoration of classical violin family instruments, she also specializes in Baroque and early stringed instruments. She has worked with Atelier Constantin Popescu, as well as Stammell String Instruments. Following a three year training program at West Dean College in England specializing in early instruments, Sarah worked with William Monical & Son.

Steve 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 combines his background as a classical cellist (and sometime rock guitar player) 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.

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.

Written insurance appraisals are as follows:
Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass: $80; $65 for each additional on the same form
Bows: $50; $35 for each additional on the same form

Winter weather poses an array of problems for wooden musical instruments. 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 the leaves start to turn color and fall off the trees. When not in use instruments should be stored in a case that provides a fairly well sealed and controlled environment. Keep string tension a bit loose, and 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

Generally, insurers rarely require a written insurance appraisal if the value of an instrument is less than $5,000. We recommend that you check with your home or apartment 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

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. 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 $7.00, 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 old style meters that take quarters only, but other blocks have new green colored kiosk machines that take change, bills, and credit cards. The machine issues 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 (just one block North the shop), another at Broad and Pine Streets, another 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.