In the summer of 1996, Founder Dalton Potter started a string shop dedicated to the notion that you could succeed in life by helping others succeed. By providing professional luthier services at an affordable cost and making beautiful instruments accessible, we could bring the gift of music into the home of every child.
As time went by and our clients matured into adult players, it became apparent the professional string community needed a reliable, ethical, and professional shop. Our staff of 4 grew over the past 20 years to a very competent family of 24. We made it our mission to recruit and retain the most talented, knowledgeable, and principled staff we could find. Our team of experienced Luthiers and Archetiers can provide the finest conservation and restoration services available.
In 2004, Dalton was fortunate to find Jim Kelly who rose to become Vice President and co-owner. Jim came into Potter Violins as a professional violist with extensive experience in retail management. Jim immediately recognized the potential of the growing company.
Under his leadership, Potter Violins grew from a thriving local string shop to an internationally recognized company with colleagues and partners around the world.
In 2015 we moved from Bethesda to our permanent home in Takoma Park, a historic mansion designed by Stanford White in 1890 for a notable Washington family.
Jim, Dalton, and members of the staff travel abroad several times each year to meet, examine the work of, and develop partnerships with some of the most respected modern makers and to find exceptional fine and rare antique Italian, French, English instruments and bows. These overseas connections allow us to offer a “concierge” service to musicians who are looking for a unique instrument or bow. Whether you are a world-renowned concert artist or just beginning your journey to the big stage, you will find yourself at home with the family at Potter Violins.
L. Dalton Potter
President & Founder
Over the past 30 years, Mr. Potter has built a reputation for expertise in tonal and playing adjustments to some of the most historically important string instruments in the world. His long experience in fine restorations contributes significantly to the instruments he creates from scratch, as well as the high-quality workshop instruments produced in his shop.
VP of Sales and Operations & Co-Owner
Jim Kelly joined Potter Violins in 2004 as the company General Manager. In 2009, he was promoted to Vice-President of Operations and Sales, then became a business partner, co-owner in 2012. Jim’s passion for instruments started in 1992 when he was admitted into a special program at The Hartt School Community Division, which allowed Jim the opportunity to apprentice with Edward Bontempo, a Luthier native to Naugatuck, CT. In 1994, Jim made the decision to pursue his performance degrees in Violin and Viola performance at The Hartt School, leaving his interest in violin making for a time. His principal teachers were Mitch Stern and Katherine Murdock. Currently, Jim performs with many of the best ensembles in the Washington DC area, such as National Philharmonic, The American Pops Orchestra, Concert Artists of Baltimore and The Wolf Trap Orchestra. In addition to his many responsibilities at Potter Violins, he takes great pride in searching the world for the best instruments and matching them to players of all levels.
Sales and Rental Staff
Violin & Viola Sales
Derek joined Potter Violins in 2016 and is a freelance violist in the DC area. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and his Master of Music degree from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
After earning two degrees in music at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Louis became a member of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. His career continued with positions in orchestras in Spain, Canada, and elsewhere in the United States. Upon moving to the Washington, DC area, to pursue doctoral work at the University of Maryland, he worked freelancing with various area orchestras, including the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra and the Washington Chamber Symphony. He has taught the cello at all levels for many years and has been a member of the staff at Potter’s since 2000.
Christopher Jacoby studied at the Violin Making School of America from 2003-2007. After attending VMSA, Christopher moved next door to study repair and restoration under Peter Prier. There he was lucky to begin handling and studying instruments of the great Italian Masters. Christopher has spent the last decade building instruments for discerning professionals around the world.
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What Our Clients Say
Thank you for the excellent service and in particular the kind, helpful, and competent service provided by your cello specialist, Louis. I am very happy with my upgraded cello! -Felicia…
After years of playing on a J.B. Vuillaume lent from the Library of Congress, I wanted to move to a classic Italian instrument. Jim Kelly and the staff at Potter…
Dear Mr. Kelly, Thank you so much for your help and work on my viola. It was a very generous act of yours and I appreciate that you and wor work…
Dear Potter Violins family, Thank you for hosting us for such a wonderful day of playing and learning about beautiful instruments. We are so lucky to have you in our…
Dear Jim, Thank you so much for my bow! My other one was so heavy. I was having a hard time playing with it. Thank you for the help with…
Since my daughter started playing cello in August, I have been to your fabulous establishment 3 times. My experience each time has been wonderful. Everyone is so helpful starting with…
I just wanted to say thank you so much for adjusting my violin. It took some time to adjust to Jacksonville weather, but now my violin sounds better than ever!…
Dear Mr. Potter, I write to tell you what a kind and valuable employee you have in Melanie. She has helped my son and me with his rentals since 2013,…
Jim Kelly is my “go-to” person, an adviser that I count on when shopping for violins and bows at Potter Violins. He is welcoming and personable. He can tell me…
I visited to fix minor damages to my violin before my deployment to Afghanistan. They happily took it and made these minor fixes in a jiffy with no costs. I…
Thank you so much for your help. I think I received the best service in a while. I know how busy you are this time a year, but you made…