Our Story

Potter Violins

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 to succeed. By providing professional luthier services at an affordable cost and making beautiful instruments affordable, 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 increasingly apparent that the professional string community also had need of a reliable, ethical and professional shop that would cater to their needs as well as those of their students and colleagues. 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 very finest conservation and restoration services available.

In addition to the hard-working people that helped Dalton Potter start and build Potter Violins from the very beginning, in 2004, Dalton was fortunate to find Jim Kelly who has risen to become vice president and now a partner in the business. 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.