Top Auction Houses in London for Violins, Violas, Cellos & Bows

When it comes to purchasing fine musical instruments such as violins, violas, cellos, and bows, London stands out as the premier destination.

This vibrant city boasts a rich history of music and dealing, making it the perfect place for both seasoned musicians and collectors to find high-quality instruments. What sets London apart is its array of specialist auction houses, each offering a unique selection of fine stringed instruments and bows. Here’s a closer look at why London is the best city in the world to buy a fine musical instrument at auction, and a guide to the top auction houses you should consider.

The History of London Auction Houses

London's auction houses have a storied history that dates back to the 18th century, a time when the city was emerging as a global center for trade, culture, and the arts. The establishment of renowned institutions such as Sotheby’s in 1744 and Christie’s in 1766 set the stage for London to become a pivotal hub for auctions. These early auction houses began by specializing in art, antiques, and books, but over time, they expanded their expertise to include a wide array of collectibles, including fine musical instruments. The tradition of auctioning musical instruments in London gained prominence in the 20th century, fueled by the city's rich musical heritage and its role as a nexus for musicians, collectors, and craftsmen. Today, London remains at the forefront of the auction world, with specialist houses like Tarisio, Ingles & Hayday, Bromptons, and Amati continuing to uphold and advance this illustrious legacy.

Specialist Auction Houses for Musical Instruments in London

1. Tarisio

Tarisio is renowned for its dedication to fine stringed instruments and bows. This auction house combines the traditional auction experience with the convenience of online bidding. Tarisio's auctions attract global attention, ensuring a wide range of instruments and competitive prices. The expert team at Tarisio provides detailed descriptions and high-quality images, making it easier for buyers to make informed decisions.

Website: Tarisio

2. Ingles & Hayday

Ingles & Hayday, founded by former heads of Sotheby’s Musical Instrument Department, is synonymous with excellence and expertise. This auction house specializes in fine stringed instruments, offering meticulously curated collections. Their auctions feature instruments with rich histories and exceptional craftsmanship. Ingles & Hayday's reputation for transparency and integrity makes it a trusted choice for buyers.

Website: Ingles & Hayday

3. Bromptons

Bromptons is another leading name in the world of fine musical instrument auctions. With a focus on stringed instruments, Bromptons provides a platform for buyers to acquire some of the finest violins, violas, cellos, and bows available. Their auctions often include rare and valuable instruments, making them a favorite among collectors and musicians alike. Bromptons also offers expert advice and valuation services.

Website: Bromptons

4. Amati

Amati Auctions is known for its commitment to quality and its deep knowledge of the market. Specializing in stringed instruments, Amati offers a range of violins, violas, cellos, and bows that cater to various budgets and preferences. Their team of experts ensures that each instrument is thoroughly vetted, providing buyers with confidence in their purchases.

Website: Amati

The Appeal of London Auctions

London's auction houses are distinguished not just by their offerings but by the expertise and passion that drive them. The city’s rich musical heritage and its status as a cultural hub make it an ideal place to buy fine instruments. Buyers benefit from:

  • Expertise: Each auction house has a team of knowledgeable experts who provide detailed information about the instruments, ensuring that buyers can make informed choices.
  • Variety: London auctions feature a diverse range of instruments, from rare antique violins to contemporary masterpieces, catering to all tastes and budgets.
  • Global Reach: London’s auctions attract bidders from around the world, fostering a competitive environment that ensures fair market value.
  • Convenience: Many auction houses offer online bidding, making it easy for buyers to participate from anywhere in the world.

An Alternative to Auctions: MyLuthier

While auctions can be an exciting way to acquire a fine instrument, they also come with certain risks, such as variable pricing and the uncertainty of winning a bid. For those who prefer a more straightforward purchasing experience, MyLuthier offers an excellent alternative. Specializing in high-quality instruments, MyLuthier provides a curated selection of violins, violas, cellos, and bows without the uncertainties of an auction. Their instruments are handpicked by experts, ensuring top-notch quality and craftsmanship.

Website: MyLuthier


London’s specialist auction houses provide an unparalleled opportunity to acquire fine musical instruments. Whether you’re a musician looking for your next performance instrument or a collector seeking a rare piece, the city’s auction scene offers something for everyone. And if you prefer a more predictable and tailored buying experience, MyLuthier stands ready to help you find the perfect instrument. Embrace the musical heritage of London and discover the finest instruments the world has to offer.

About the Author

MyLuthier was started by two friends while they were studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The idea was to provide musicians with exceptional instruments at a price they can afford. We travelled Europe in search for the best contemporary makers and we’re proud of our selection and the partnerships we’ve developed.

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