Below you will find answers to many common questions. To see our rental FAQs, click here.
What happens to my personal information when I register online?
Your information is stored on a secure server and is password protected. However, we can reset it for you if you forget yours. Only authorized Potter’s staff can view or retrieve your registration data.
If I bought my instrument somewhere else, can I still trade it in at Potter's?
While it is not possible to guarantee the trade value of an instrument you may have purchased at another shop, it is possible that some portion of your purchase price may be applied against an instrument purchase at Potter’s.
Can we take instruments to show my son's or daughter's teacher?
Of course! We expect that your teacher will be intimately involved in the selection process for your child’s instrument. All sales under $3,000 are done as a sale in which you have three weeks to return the purchase for a full refund. If you would like an additional instrument to show your teacher, the second may be sent with you on a free one-week trial. For instrument purchases over $3,000, you can choose our free one-week trial contract or our three-week, 100% refundable sale.
If you are planning on trading in the instrument you previously purchased from us or you intend to apply for financing, we will need to know this information before we select instruments.
Do I need an appointment to see instruments at Potter's?
For instrument sales, it is strongly recommended. Our appointment policy is designed to keep you from being frustrated when you visit us. An appointment ensures that you see the largest number of instruments available and that a showroom is available to you in which to play them.
Yes! We offer our clients the opportunity to apply for financing through Noteworthy Federal Credit Union and Synchrony. Details are available in the store or on our financing page. The approval process is completed in store. Applications can be faxed securely to 301-652-7070.
When you shop our online store, you may use Paypal and choose Bill Me Later when you check out to get 6 months to pay for purchases of $99 or more. Click the banner for more information. (banner)
My son/daughter is no longer playing. Will Potter's buy back their instrument?
We cannot offer to buy back instruments on demand. We do help to support the “after-market” by guaranteeing to take any instrument sold by us in trade — even if you are not the original purchaser! We also have a consignment program.
Are there special instructions for shipping instruments to Potter's?
Yes. Please remember to loosen and remove the strings, bridge, and tailpiece and wrap them separately and pack them in another compartment. Use Fedex or UPS for shipping. If you decide to ship via USPS, make sure it is insured and you get a tracking number. We are not responsible for items that are received by us from you that are broken during shipment. Click here to view or download our Shipping & Return instructions or to see our YouTube video.
What do I do when I have to ship my instrument?
Most of the information you need can be found here, or you can call our Shipping Department with specific questions at 301-652-7070.
What is the shipping address?
Please send all packages and trial returns to:
7711 Eastern Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20912
Please include the returned item form that came with your shipment. A copy is available to print here. We need your contact information clearly printed for all boxes being received.
Are new instruments better than used ones?
Not necessarily. Often, instruments that have been played for several years have a smoother, more desirable sound. With both new and “previously-owned” instruments, regular maintenance is a must.
What about online "deals" and flea market fiddles?
While it is certainly possible to find instruments outside of an established shop, you need to be absolutely certain that you can get your money back if your teacher doesn’t approve the instrument. Sometimes a “deal” really IS just too good to be true!
What do I do first?
Your best resource is always your teacher. They are the ones who know your needs best. Perhaps you should start by renting. Our Instrument Care Guide should help get you started.
What instrument do you recommend for a player who expects to be a performance major at a conservatory?
For players who are working toward a full-time career as a performing violinist, the 4/4 instrument you and your family should be considering in order to be competitive for admission to an international top-level college music program will be priced at $15K – $20K, with the bow costing between $6,500 and $10,000.
What instrument do you recommend for the player who expects to be an education major?
The demands for performance qualities become much more flexible in this case. Many teachers own fabulous instruments and bows for which they (or their parents) paid tens of thousands of dollars. However, it is not a prerequisite for general music educators to have instruments and bows that have the response characteristics needed to land a national-level orchestra job. Many of them play on the same instrument they played in high school, perhaps with an upgraded bow. These instruments would fall into the price range between $5000 and $10,000, with the bow costing $800 to $1,500. An outfit of this level would not need to be “upgraded” during the high school or college.
What instrument do you recommend for an advanced amateur who loves to play music but who plans to earn a living in a different field?
A decent playing instrument for the serious amateur can be had for $2,500 to $5,000 and the bow need not cost much more than $500, although a serious player will be able to tell the difference and would most likely appreciate a “step-up” bow in the $600-$800 range. Please bear in mind that any instrument (or silver-mounted bow) sold by us can be traded up; if your playing needs and expectations change, you are welcome to contact us to have us help you meet your new demands.
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, and we recently purchased with her and Simon’s skillful guidance. Both Melanie and Simon, and your outstanding location, contributed to a lovely purchase morning – a fun day for both my son and me. Thank you! -Jennette D.
Parents often ask me, “What can I do to get my kid to the next level?” This one simple question incorporates so many assumptions that it is not always easy to answer. The first thing I am going to ascertain is whether the parents are actually participating in their children’s music education and supporting it […]