The Potter Violin Company strives to make your interaction with the string world a positive and inspiring one. We hope that the lives we touch will retain a lasting memory of the nobler aspects of human experience. To that end, we have developed company policies which both protect your investment and also maintain a commercial framework that serves our mutual interests. As our customer, you have a right to expect the best. Our goal is to offer you the finest instruments at the most reasonable prices. We are dedicated to providing the most courteous and informative service, and prompt and hassle-free resolutions to any situations which may occur as a result of your use of your instruments and bows.
Free Shipping Exceptions - Please note that our free shipping policies, where applicable, do not extend beyond the contiguous 48 states. The customer is responsible for all shipping charges to Alaska (AK) and Hawaii (HI), as well as to/from APO or FPO addresses.
The Potter Violin Company will not share, sell, or otherwise transmit or divulge the personal information of our clients to any persons, institutions or organizations without the express, direct and unambiguous consent of those clients. We will take all reasonable and appropriate actions to protect the sensitive financial and personal information that you share with us as a consequence of our commercial relationship. We are honored that you have chosen to place your trust in The Potter Violin Company and we will do everything we can to demonstrate that your confidence in us is justified.
The Potter Violin Company Gift certificates or gift cards may not be refunded or redeemed for cash at any point after purchase. In addition, Gift certificates or gift cards will not be replaced if lost or stolen.
If you are a member of:
- MD/DC ASTA or VASTA (Local Chapters)
- ASTA National Chapter
- Federation of Musicians Local #161-710
- Federation of Musicians Local #40-543
... you and your immediate family are entitled to the following:
10% off all sheet music
10% off all teaching accessories
10% off all student instruments and bows
10% off all instrument cases and bow cases
10% off all repair work (labor only, does not include rehairs or parts)
Additional discounts on Antique Instruments and Bows. (Contact us for details.)
Free shipping on all website purchases above $100 or strings-only purchases of $40.00 or more.
For in-shop purchases, you must show your membership card before completing the sale to receive your discount. A membership number must be provided before the sale during your instrument sale appointment. These discounts cannot be combined with any other offers.
Before you shop online, please email us at with your membership information and we will send your webstore discount code by return email.
Please contact our shop to have your merchandise return approved and to receive a return authorization number. Please include the invoice number, and credit card number used if credit is due.
All repair(s) must be pre-scheduled before mailing merchandise to our repair shop. Please inform us of any time constraints for repairs.
Please use USPS, UPS or Federal Express to ship your package to our shop.
All incoming rental exchanges and trade-in instruments must be received no later than 4 weeks from when we process the transaction. If it is not returned by this date, additional rent, fees and/or late charges will apply. These additional charges do not apply toward rental credit accumulation or trade in credit amount.
Please see additional packing and shipping information on the other side of the card to ensure damage-free delivery to The Potter Violin Company.
If damage does occur: keep the original shipping box, all packing materials received, and call The Potter Violin Company immediately.
Please Do Not Ship The Damaged Package Back to Us
After we have notified USPS, UPS or FedEx of the damaged package, an inspector will contact you to schedule an appointment to inspect the item.
Watch our new video: How to Pack a Violin/Viola for Shipping
Place soft foam or tissue in front of and behind the bridge for support. (Please do not put foam on top of the bridge. The instrument may crack if there is too much pressure on the bridge.) You may insert soft foam or tissue between the center strings on both sides of the bridge as shown below.
For Violas/Violins or Cellos shipped in hard cases please use soft foam or a soft cloth to fill in any gaps between the instrument and the sides of the case to prevent any kind of movement.
Before packing a cello for shipment to us, we request that you loosen the strings on the instrument sufficiently to allow removal of the bridge. Please place a soft material such as foam underneath the tailpiece, in order to prevent it from scratching the top of the cello during shipment. The bridge can be wrapped separately and placed in a secure spot inside the case. The instrument should then be put into the case, which must be shipped in a box filled with good quality packing material. If you have received a cello from us, please use the packing material, such as the grey bags, which you originally found in the box for return shipments.
Violin (4/4, 3/4, 1/2)
34 x 14 x 8
Violin (1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16, 1/32)
26 x 11 x 8
Violin Bows (All sizes)
37 x 9 x 9
Cello (4/4, 3/4, 1/2)
55 x 21½ x 15
Cello (1/4, 1/8)
48 x 21½ x 15
Viola (All sizes)
34 x 14 x 8
The Potter Violin Company guarantees that any instrument sold by us will be free from defects in materials & craftsmanship. Instruments which have been repaired or reconditioned carry a five-year warranty for the work which was done by The Potter Violin Company. Limitations apply to issues of basic maintenance and normal usage. Potter’s Violins maintains a 100% guarantee of authenticity on all of our instruments.
All new bows and new instrument cases come with a 6-month (six-month) warranty against defects in quality and construction. This policy does not apply to used bows and used instrument cases. All antique bows may be returned for a full refund within twenty-one (21) days. Bows taken on a one-week trial and then purchased are subject to our trade-in policy only. Antique or previously used bows are sold in "as-is" condition.
The Potter Violin Company considers your satisfaction to be our TOP priority. We stand by our products, and will exchange or return any item within 21 days, subject to the following terms and conditions:
Instrument Return Policy
All new instruments or bows are backed by our 21-day money back guarantee. These items must be returned in "as new" condition. Otherwise, repair costs or depreciation due to damage may be charged and will be deducted from the amount refunded. Instruments taken on a one week trial and then purchased are subject to our trade-in policy only.
New Bow & Instrument Case Return Policy
All new bows and new instrument cases may be returned for a full refund during the 21-day return period provided they remain in new condition. All new bows and new instrument cases come with a 6 (six) month warranty against defects in quality and construction. This policy does not apply to used bows and used instrument cases.
Antique Bow Return Policy
All antique bows may be returned for a full refund within 21 days. Bows taken on a one week trial and then purchased are subject to our trade-in policy only. Antique or previously used bows are sold in “as-is” condition.
Electronic Instruments, Bows & Accessories Return Policy
All electric instruments and accessories may be returned or exchanged within 21 days from the date of purchase. The items must be in resalable condition and in the original packaging. A restocking fee of 15% may apply. Although The Potter Violin Company does not warranty electric instruments and accessories, many of the products will have manufacturer’s warranties. The Potter Violin Company does not take electric products in trade.
Please inspect your strings immediately upon receipt. Unopened strings may only be returned within 21 days, so that we may supply all our customers with the freshest possible strings. Installed strings are not returnable, unless a string is deemed defective by The Potter Violin Company and returned within 7 days from purchase. Please note: Because the tonal qualities of each instrument are unique, we cannot accept string returns based on opinions of tone.
Playonair Shoulder Rests
After a Playonair shoulder rest has been used, it is no longer returnable due to health reasons. If the rest is defective, please contact Playonair directly for their warranty information. The contact information will be on your original packaging.
Sheet music is non-refundable. Defective sheet music may be returned for an exchange, for the same title only, within twenty-one (21) days of purchase.
Media (DVDs, CDs, VHS, Software)
Unopened media may be returned for a refund. Media found to be defective must be returned within 21 days of purchase for the same title replacement only.
All non-installed instrument parts may be returned within 21 days of purchase. Installed instrument parts are not returnable unless defective; however, the defective parts may be returned within 21 days of installation, for replacement only.
It is easy to try instruments simply by calling us and arranging a shipment. Instruments under $3,000 must be paid for in full when they are shipped. These instruments can be returned within 21 days for a full refund. After this period, our normal trade-in policy would apply. Instruments that cost more than $3,000 can be sent on a one-week trial contract. You will have one week to decide either to purchase the instrument or return it to us.
Multiple trials for instruments under $3000 generally require that one of the instruments be paid for in advance while awaiting final approval. The second instrument should be returned after the first week. The approval period for the preferred instrument can then be extended for a total of up to three weeks.
It is important for you to remember that you assume full responsibility for the condition of instruments until they are returned to The Potter Violin Company. If instruments are damaged in return shipping, you agree to pay for the costs of repairs, including depreciation in value of the damaged instrument. It is very important that you purchase insurance coverage and use only our recommended shippers (UPS or FEDEX). Please examine any goods shipped by us to be sure you have received them in good condition. Please notify us immediately if you suspect that they have suffered any damage en route to you.
Shipping Policy – Instrument or Bow Trials
The Potter Violin Company is happy to ship instruments or bows for your review and approval. Please note that you are responsible for the care and condition of the instrument(s), in addition to shipping costs, both to and from the shop. A major credit card will be required to secure the instruments until they are returned in good condition and to reimburse the shop for shipping expenses.
If you decide to purchase an instrument that has been shipped to you on trial, The Potter Violin Company will cover the shipping costs for that specific instrument; shipping costs for other instruments shipped on trial will still be the responsibility of the cardholder.
Please note: We can help you greatly reduce the costs of your return shipping by issuing a shipping label via email at our commercial shipping rate.
Shipping Policy – Rental Instruments
New rental contracts and instrument size changes on existing rental contracts are subject to shipping charges. Please note that rental damage waiver insurance does not cover shipping for damaged instruments, bows or cases. Regular shipping charges also apply to instruments and bows shipped for repairs or routine maintenance.
Special rates may apply for multiple rental-contract instruments shipped to the same address. Please contact us for additional information.
Strings-only Orders Ship Free - Shipping is free for full string sets for any instrument, or if your strings-only order totals more than $40.00.
Sheet Music and Accessories orders are subject to shipping charges.
Trade-in Policy for Full-sized Instruments
We will accept any one instrument in trade at the original sales price* minus a reconditioning fee if the instrument was originally purchased from The Potter Violin Company provided that:
1 - The trade is of similar instruments (i.e. violin to violin).
2 - The trade is for another instrument of greater value.
3 - The trade instrument has been reasonably well-maintained and has not suffered any significant damage.
4 - Receipts from the original sale are provided by the customer.
5 - We cannot guarantee trade-in value towards the purchase of consignment instruments.
*Please note that the trade-in value of your instrument is based on the purchase price of the instrument alone, excluding cases and/or bows.
Instruments will incur reconditioning fees in order to bring them up to our standards for resale and warranty. If your trade is in excellent condition, you may expect the following reconditioning fees: Violin $250.00, Viola $300.00, Cello $350.00, Bass $400.00. Any exceptions to these policies are at the sole discretion of The Potter Violin Company.
Please note that: The Trade-in instrument is due back to the store at the time you purchase your new instrument. If you are a mail-order client, you will have two weeks to return the trade-in instrument to our store. If we do not receive the trade-in instrument within the two weeks timeframe, we will charge your credit card for the value of the trade-in instrument and will assume that you are keeping it. If, at the time we receive your trade-in instrument, any additional damage or depreciation is assessed, we will charge your credit card or account accordingly. Please contact the store if you have questions.
Trade-in policy for Fractional-Size Violins & Violas
A child usually changes instrument size approximately every two years. When you trade your fractional (1/8 through 3/4) violin or viola toward the next size, you can expect a $250 depreciation from your original instrument purchase price. This amount includes costs associated with restoring trade-in instruments to saleable condition. For example, if you paid $850 for your fractional Doetsch violin and you took good care of it (no cracks or scratches, etc.) you could expect to receive $600 as your trade-in allowance toward your next instrument. Cases are purchased separately and do not retain any trade-in value.
Trade-in Policy for Bows
All fractional Pernambuco violin bows (nickel level) will be given a $50 trade-in credit. All fractional Brazilwood cello bows will be credited $50, and fractional Pernambuco bows $100. This policy is for bows traded in with the instrument and in immediately resaleable condition. The credited bow must not be warped, nor have a broken tip nor worn grip. The customer will need to have those conditions corrected before the bow is eligible for the credit. The credit will be applied after the bow has been received and evaluated by The Potter Violin Company.*
All full-size pernambuco violin bows (nickel level) will be given $100, viola, $125 and cello, $150. This policy is for bows traded in with the instrument and in immediately resalable condition. The credited bow must not be warped, nor have a broken tip or worn grip. The customer will need to have those conditions corrected before the bow is eligible for the credit. The credit will be applied after the bow has been received and evaluated by The Potter Violin Company.*
All silver-mounted bows up to $3000 in value can be taken in trade at 70% of the purchase price toward a bow of higher value. Antique bows with a value higher than $3000 can be taken in trade at 100% of the purchase price, less a reconditioning fee. (Flat rate of $75 for rehair and clean up; all other reconditioning would be assessed at the time of trade-in). Any certificate (other than The Potter Violin Company shop appraisal) sold with a bow must also be returned to receive full trade-in value; otherwise the cost of replacing the certificate will be deducted.
*The policy does not include rental bows.
Viola Resizing: Trade-in Exceptions
If you are trading your viola (15" to 16 1/2") toward a more expensive viola, see the full-sized instrument policy above. If you trade your viola (15" to 16 1/2") toward another adult-size viola of the same brand, there is a $400 flat fee. (This charge is for the instrument only. You keep your original case and bow.)
When you trade your fractional (1/8 through 3/4) cello outfit toward the next size, there will be $300 depreciation from your original instrument purchase price.
For example: If you paid $2,000 for your fractional cello, you could expect to receive $1,700 as your trade-value allowance. Cases, bags and bows are purchased separately and do not retain trade-in value. Instruments that have been damaged or that require maintenance or repairs would naturally incur a higher depreciation amount. A “soundpost crack,” for instance, can cost up to $800.00 to repair, and those costs do not cover depreciation of the instrument.
Please refer to our maintenance guide to learn how take care of your instrument to reduce the likelihood of unexpected repair charges.
7/8 to 4/4 Cello Exchanges
When trading back and forth between 7/8 and 4/4 size cellos of the same brand or price range, there is a $500 flat fee. This fee applies whether you are trading up or down in size and applies only to the instrument. In most instances, you would keep your same case and bow; thereby avoiding any additional costs associated with exchanging those items.
Electronic Instrument Sales Policy
All electronic instruments and accessories have a three-week return policy from the date of purchase. The items must be in resaleable condition and in the original packaging. A restocking fee of 15% may apply. Although The Potter Violin Company does not warrant electronic instruments and accessories, many of the products have manufacturer’s warranties. The Potter Violin Company does not take electronic products in trade.
The Potter Violin Company does not pay undisclosed teacher’s commissions or referral fees under any circumstances. You should never have to ask yourself if your child’s teacher is offering you unbiased information regarding instrument purchases. For more discussion on this subject, please read “Choosing a String Shop.”
Late Payment Fees
Sadly, we all occasionally have times when there is more “month left at the end of the money” and we have put off paying some bills. While we would love to have an extended payment plan, our employees and suppliers are also on a budget. So when we need to borrow to cover a shortfall because you couldn’t pay our invoice, it costs us fees which would drive up the cost of instruments and curtail our donation programs. We feel that accounts which become delinquent should pay the small costs needed to cover their delayed payments. Thank you for understanding as we charge you 1.5% per month on outstanding balances over 90 days past due.