Jeffrey Holmes


My relationship with the violin started at age 8, when I began my musical studies. Later, I developed interests in woodworking and sculpture, but the violin remained an important part of my life and livelihood. Visits to violin makers were a fascination for me, and eventually it occurred to me that making and restoring the instruments embodied aspects of many of my interests, so I decided to pursue training in the craft.

I attended the Chicago School of Violin Making where I studied with Tschu Ho Lee. Assisting conservator Dudley Greeley of Evanston and violinmaker Marilyn Wallin in her Wilmette shop enhanced my experience in school. After graduation I took a position with Shar Fine Instruments in Ann Arbor assisting David Burgess in making new instruments and performing restorations. A few years later, I was asked to manage Shar’s old instrument division. My stay with the company was 17 years in total, the last eight as Vice President of Shar Fine Instruments. My responsibilities during that time included company and client acquisitions, sales, restorations, and appraisals as well as administration.

My position with the firm allowed me the opportunity to work and consult directly with many fine makers and restorers including Anton Smith, Mark Norfleet, Jerry Pasewicz and Oliver Radke. During those years, the exposure to great players and many fine instruments and bows, as well as the planning and execution of complex restorations, was invaluable.

In May of 2003, I took my leave to work in my own studio where I offer restoration, appraisal, expertise, new making and sales of old and contemporary instruments and bows. The skills I developed within the larger firm allow me the unique ability to offer high-level services on a personal level, within a small business environment. My business philosophy is a simple one. I believe that, working in a responsible manner, it is possible to help a musician to achieve his or her objectives with the integrity of all intact, whether planning a restoration or during the acquisition of the instrument.

I am an accredited member of the Appraisers Association of America and the director of the Oberlin/VSA Summer Instrument Restoration Workshop. I also served on the board of directors for the Chicago School of Violin Making and the Violin Society of America.