Best Musical Instrument Store

Geoffrey J. Seitz, Violinmaker

Stepping into Geoffrey J. Seitz's south St. Louis shop feels like an antique woodcut come to life. The violin maker and his assistants sit hunched over high workbenches and peer through magnifiers at the abalone inlay, the ebony purfling, a rosewood tuning peg. Using handcrafted knives, they shave down fingerboards, adjust soundposts and bridges and re-hair bows as piles of wood shavings accumulate at their feet. The strong smells of hide glue and custom varnish seem from another time. The walls, tables and even the floor are crammed with stringed instruments ranging from a student-model viola to a half-size child's violin, to a handcrafted cello for a music teacher to a bass ready to ship to South America. In the front are several display cases featuring St. Louis-made violins from the 19th century. As Germans fled the European revolutions of the late 1840s, many settled in St. Louis to ply their trade. Ask nicely, and Seitz will open the safe to show some of the rarer historic pieces or violins of his own making.

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