Our Repair Philosophy & Experience
We consider ourselves first and foremost a repair shop. It is not a sideline activity for our business, but rather the core of our existence. Our extensive experience repairing stringed and fretted instruments carries over into the sale of instruments by allowing us to objectively evaluate, from the inside out, any instrument we sell, both new and used. You won’t find us using flowery language to describe instruments here. We tend to talk about the structural integrity of the instruments we sell, how they’re built, what’s required to maintain them. Wil Bremer, the primary repair person here, has made instrument repair his profession for over 45 years. Wil oversees the rest of the repair staff here.
We have a strong affinity for older instruments, and repairing them can involve a fair amount of problem-solving. The primary considerations are playability, sound and structural integrity. We have several guiding principles when evaluating and repairing an instrument. First, the more original you can keep an instrument, the better. Second, the less you have to do to make it that way, the better it is.
Instruments We Repair
We repair most stringed and fretted instruments. This includes both acoustic and electric guitars, violins, mandolins, banjos, harps, ukuleles…. We specialize in repairs involving structural and playability issues, which means everything from set-ups to neck resets. We install a lot of pickups for acoustic instruments. And if you call to discuss having your instrument entirely refinished, we’re pretty likely to talk you out of it.
Repairing instruments keeps life interesting here. We never know what exactly is going to come through the door, and each case is a little different. For example, here’s a project we did for the University of Wisconsin Russian Folk Music Ensemble. Their contrabass balalaika was becoming very difficult to play. (They’re not all that easy to play on a good day….) Repairing this instrument involved planing and refretting the fingerboard.
If Your Instrument Needs Repair
Once we see your instrument we will be able to explain in detail what your instrument needs, and then give you an estimate of repair cost and timeline. We’re frequently in the middle of multiple repairs. This means that instruments will need to left here waiting their turn for repair. That being said, smaller jobs are snuck in between the more major repairs. Many repair jobs involve multiple steps that can’t be done all at once (such as gluing, or touching up a finish). We do try to give you a good idea of how quickly we can do your instrument, and we try to accommodate your needs to have your instrument repaired on a timeline.
Here’s the sort of information we’d give you when you come into our shop, both when purchasing a new instrument as well as caring for your venerable, treasured instrument.
Yes, We Install Pickups
We carry and install Fishman pickups. Inquire about other pickup systems. Here’s more on our sound reinforcement offerings.