FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Will my instrument arrive setup?
This is probably the most asked question, even though we can't imagine anyone ever buying an instrument that needs to be setup. Most definitely your instrument will arrive setup, and most likely even still in tune! The Setup is one of the biggest things you're buying, that assurance and guarantee that the instrument will play easily and sound its best. You eventually come to find a shop's "House Setup" that you prefer, and that consistency is of the utmost importance. We put great energy and resources into perfecting our setup, and have placed links to our StringWorks Setup description on every page. We will never send out an instrument without play-testing and adjusting the post, bridge, and strings until we love the instrument, and trust you will feel the same way. It's a joy and responsibility to be able to create your instrument, and we will never take that for granted. We, our luthier, and our shipping techniques work to ensure every instrument sounds its best...because that means you will sound YOUR best.
I'm afraid to buy online!
While technically not a question, this is a common concern of string players when considering a new instrument, and so valuable to mention that we will put it atop our FAQ section. Please consider StringWorks to be what it is - a family-owned violin shop with a website, not 'an online retailer', as they are not the same thing. When you work with us, you are part of our ever-growing list of satisfied customers, and we aim not to sell you a product off the shelf and then spam you with offers for items completely unrelated to what you purchased, but rather bring you in as part of our family! One customer recently shared 'You are my eyes and ears in picking out a beautiful StringWorks cello!' and we take that responsibility VERY seriously. Our biggest pride as a company is that our customers are customers for life - they know to come back to us for advice about strings, upgrades, or even just sharing videos or photos of concerts that they enjoyed with their StringWorks instruments. Don't be scared to 'buy online', just give us a call if you prefer, or stop by the showroom! We're in person just like we are online :) Do check out our pages on 'How much should I spend on a cello?' and 'How much should I spend on a violin?' for more details.
How do your instruments compare to other brands?
We're often asked to compare our instrument lines to other shops' lines, and we typically reply that it's not fair for us to give our opinion, as it is likely biased! We've always been transparent, honest, and have never fallen into the trap of 'kickbacks' (paying teachers to sell instruments to their students) or pricing our instruments high only to allow for 'bargaining', as some would be at a disadvantage, if they didn't know that they were supposed to - or could - bargain. With The StringWorks Setup™ and our 20-plus year commitment to quality, honesty, and business ethics, the best way to compare our instrument versus another would simply be to say 'This one performs like a StringWorks Instrument!'
Are your instruments guaranteed/warrantied?
Yes, StringWorks has always guaranteed their instruments free from defects in workmanship and materials with our limited lifetime warranty. If your instrument has a defect or damage due to faulty workmanship or materials immediately contact us so we can start the process of repairing or replacing it for you.
Do you sell strings and other accessories?
StringWorks only sells our own instruments, and their cases and bows to make a complete outfit. We do not sell accessories such as strings, shoulder rests, music stands, and rosin, as we prefer to concentrate only on the quality of our instruments and bows/cases. There are many other excellent companies who carry accessories of all kinds with quick service and great prices.
Do you offer repairs and rehairs?
Yes, we have in-house luthiers, and a complete array of violin, viola, and cello repair and restoration services available, as well as bow rehairs and repairs! Come see us or contact us to have your instrument sent for evaluation.
On your 14-day trial period, when does the trial start - when I receive it or when it is shipped?
Our trial period - which is applicable to all our instruments and bows - begins the day you receive the shipment. If you decide to return your instrument/outfit/bow for any reason, please simply contact us before the trial period has ended.*
Do you 'drop ship'?
StringWorks never drop ships and feels the practice is extraordinarily unfair to the end consumer. There are many violin retailers on the web who operate their businesses through 'drop shipping' - a practice whereby the customer's order is sent directly to the distributor for shipping. The company never sees the instrument being sent, and does not do any work on the setup nor play testing, and instruments sent from a distributor are NOT intended to be played in the condition in which they are received, because the setup is very basic and of poor quality. Our instruments are inspected carefully from start to finish and not only undergo a thorough setup by a professional violin maker, but several play tests and final inspections before being put in stock, and each instrument is personally and individually selected for each customer based on their preferences - not just pulled from the shelf.
How much is shipping?
Most importantly, please know that our shipping charges only cover a portion of the FedEx costs. We never have and never will charge a premium over those costs, and actually absorb a significant portion.
We have flat rate shipping for predictability and convenience. Current rates for ground shipments within the continental US are: Violin/Viola - $22.00, Cello - $65.00, Bow - $18.00. Express and international shipping is available, of course; please contact us for details and an exact quote. PLEASE NOTE: shipments of instruments to some countries may cost more than what is charged in the shopping cart - that amount charged is the minimum, and covers many international destinations. We will notify you of any changes once we are able to secure exact quotes to your address.
The current shipping and gas situation has caused extreme spikes in shipping costs. Here's an example of a recent breakdown of the charges from FedEx when shipping a cello to Washington, for which we only charged the $65 shipping fee. We are evaluating what response must be taken, unfortunately.
How long does shipping take?
If we have the items available at the time of your order (which we would let you know at the time of your order) the shipment will likely be sent the same day if ordered before 4:00 p.m. Central Time, or the next day. Shipment within the continental U.S. typically takes 2-4 days to most locations.
Where are your instruments made?
StringWorks instruments are made in a number of countries - China, Romania, Hungary, Italy, with each of them receiving a varying amount of work in our workshops in Illinois and Wisconsin. Our Crescendo through Michael Todd lines are primarily made in China, and they receive the most work of our models in our American workshops, including the extensive StringWorks Setup™. The Kallo Bartok is made in Romania and Italy, the Marius Gyorke in Romania, and the Man Claudiu in Italy. Because of the amount of work performed on our instruments when we receive the bodies, we could, for many models, legally call them 'made in the USA'!
Do you ship to and support Military?
StringWorks is happy to offer musical support to our Military servicemen and women. Many have already taken advantage of our "traveling rental" program, so those going from base to base can still keep their kids in a great instrument. We ship to any APO/FPO in the Middle East, Asia, and beyond with great success, and it is not that expensive. Less than $50 for violins, and $150 for cello through USPS insured. We offer 5% Military Discount to all active Military, as well. It's the least we can do.
I'm not sure what instrument to purchase - how can I make the right choice?
We encourage you strongly to call or email us at your convenience and speak to one of our highly qualified sales staff. With complete knowledge of our entire product line, our sales staff are trained to give you the best advice based on your individual playing level, preferences, age, and requirements. When we have jointly decided on the best instrument for you - and bow and case in some instances - we have a staff of string players who will choose your instrument from all that we currently have available in that particular instrument line to find the one that best matches your preferences.
Do you have a payment plan? How does it work?
StringWorks wants to help make your instrument dream a reality! We have a payment plan for 3 or 5 months (3 months for orders under $2000, 5 months for orders above $2000, both at 5% interest monthly), with no pre-payment penalties.
We also offer a ZERO interest payment plan with no payments for 6 months term through PayPal credit, so feel free to call us or email us with specific questions. Longer term options are also available.
"It was really easy to use. You click the link and it connects you to the PayPal page. Once you log in PayPal added in the shipping charge and updates the total. Click submit and it's all done!"
Does a different set of fittings affect the sound of the instrument?
No, the choice of fittings is purely an aesthetic choice - while different woods will have a minute effect on the tone of the instrument due to their unique cellular structure, it will likely be unnoticeable to the human ear and items such as strings, setup, and player have a much bigger effect on the overall tone of the instrument. Choose the fitting that you like the appearance of the most - we can offer suggestions as well in terms of what fittings look best for particular instruments (such as ebony for the Kallo Bartok line or rosewood for the Virtuoso line)
Can you ship an instrument without a case?
We often ship instruments without cases, and because of our thorough and careful packing methods, the instrument arrives safe and intact nearly 99% of the time. An instrument shipped without a case is carefully padded with foam surrounding the bridge, tailpiece, and sometimes under the fingerboard just as our instruments shipped within a case are sent, and is fully wrapped in bubble wrap. It is then surrounded in a large volume of starch packing peanuts, which are bio-degradable, sealed in a durable box and sent fully insured. We want to add a comment that Evan has shared with a customer in email communication, which captures our careful packaging well: "We’ve worked with FedEx packing engineers, so the instrument is essentially floating in its case among bubble wrap and peanuts. The case doesn’t touch the box at any point, so it absorbs any impacts and preserves the instrument and setup work. "
Do you have recordings of each of your instruments that a customer can use to compare?
Digital technology does not accurately capture the subtle tonal changes from one instrument to another, particularly when the same individual is playing the instrument. You may be able to hear some slight changes from one to the other, but since overtones, resonance, sympathetic ring, and other non-measurable nuances of 'a good tone' are not reproducible on a digital file (particularly one that is downloadable and accessible), it's not to our customers' benefit to post them. The instrument lines are designed to be different from one another so we can properly capture every part of the market and each customer we possibly can, and they are also designed expressly so that the higher end levels are superior in many ways to those preceding it - that is the advantage of on-staff professional string players and professional string players designing the instruments for us. We are more than willing to talk over all the instrument lines in regard to tone with any customer, and it's helpful to have the one-on-one with the customer in order to properly describe what characteristics each instrument has, and also to concentrate on those that we feel are the best match for that customer, rather than generalize all of the tone descriptions.
Do you ship worldwide?
Yes, we ship to all nations throughout the world - shipping cost and transit time vary according to location and instrument value, and some customers will also be responsible for customs duty and/or taxes upon receipt into your country. Check your local customs duty laws as most countries have no duty charges on bowed stringed instruments.
How do I care for my instrument?
We encourage you to look at our 'StringWorks University' information found under 'Care and Maintenance 210'. In addition to what is listed, we would also caution all cellists in dry climates such as Alaska and Colorado (but including all cellists in the dry winter months) to purchase and utilize an in-room humidifier. Instrument humidifiers (those that are inserted in the instrument) are effective only on a very small scale and can drip inside your instrument leaving a water mark. We prefer the all-room humidifiers that are available for nearly the same price as two of these in-instrument varieties, with about 1000% the effectiveness. Humidity of 40 - 80% keeps your instrument top from cracking and splitting.
Do you sell used instruments/ What do you do with your traded-in StringWorks instruments?
While we do receive instruments back due to our generous trade-in policy, we rarely have them in stock very long. They are discounted due to cosmetic damage, but the demand for them far exceeds the supply at present. If you are interested in obtaining one of the trade-in returns, it may be best to register with us ahead of time so we can contact you when one becomes available, and you might also check into 'scratch and dent' instruments that are still new but have some form of minor cosmetic damage and are available at a discount. 100% trade in if purchasing a new StringWorks instrument of a higher level (same instrument, i.e. violin to violin, cello to cello), 80% if purchasing a trade-in instrument with your trade-in - all trade-ins subject to trade-in credit deductions to put instrument in playable condition, i.e. new bridge, new strings, varnish repair, etc.**
If I ship an instrument back to you for repair or trade in, how do I pack it?
IMPORTANT! The proper packing of a stringed instrument is absolutely ESSENTIAL to its safe transit, and improper packing may put you at financial risk to pay for its replacement or repair. An instrument sent back to StringWorks must be securely in its case, and enclosed in a suitable box that is filled with padding such as Styrofoam peanuts. It is highly recommended that you keep your box and packaging materials after receipt, to use at a later time. StringWorks accepts no liability for instruments prepared, packed, and shipped without these basic requirements. Please contact us if you require assistance on choosing proper packaging.
Can I try multiple bows at once?
Yes! While many shops charge a fee to try bows, we allow you to have several bows shipped to you for trial, choose what you like, send back the rest! While there is no fee for this service, you would have your credit card pre-authorized for the amount of one bow, and would pay the cost to ship the bows back to us. Bows MUST be returned in new condition, and the hair must be free of oils and dirt, or you will be charged for a rehair and/or repair on each bow that does not meet these criteria.
*if you cancel your order for unforeseen circumstances, prior to establishing a trial of your instrument, we reserve the right to charge a 10% restocking fee, particularly on instruments that are setup or finished based on your order, or otherwise not in-house at time of order
**trade in policy good only on Crescendo and Artist models for fractional sizes, all models for full size