400 W. 37th St. Reading, PA 19606 | BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

Musical Instrument Stores in Philadelphia

Fegley Instruments & Bows is one of the most well-known musical instrument stores in Philadelphia, specializing in making, restoring, and selling finely crafted violins, violas, cellos and bows. Founded by the late James E. Fegley and his wife, Margie, we have been in the stringed instrument business since 1979.

What is a string instrument?

All string, or stringed, instruments produce sound from one or more vibrating strings, made from nylon, steel or gut, and that sound is transferred to the air by the body of the instrument (except for those that are electronically amplified).  The vibrating strings themselves are quiet, however, so they are usually attached to hollow wooden bodies or soundboards that also vibrate and allow the sound to resonate within to make it louder.

A violin, or fiddle, for example, has a soundboard (or top plate) with a bridge resting on it. Tight strings pass over the bridge and, when played with a bow, plucked or struck, the sound waves are distributed to all surfaces of the instrument, producing a louder sound. But the part of the instrument that actually makes the sound is the strings.


Musical Instrument Stores in Philadelphia

Types of String Instruments

Common string instruments include the guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, balalaika, sitar, dulcimer, lute, violin, viola, cello, double bass, and even the harp, the piano and a variety of similar instruments around the world. At Fegley Instruments & Bows, we focus primarily on the violin family of stringed instruments, such as:

  • Violin
    The violin is the smallest in the violin family of instruments and has the highest pitch. It is often referred to as a fiddle, especially when playing folk or country music.
  • Viola
    The viola looks like a violin but is about two inches longer and has a lower pitch. It is played in the same manner as a violin; it’s held between the chin and shoulder and sound is produced with a bow. Violas function as the tenor instrument in a string ensemble.
  • Cello
    The cello is quite a bit larger than the viola. Cellists sit down, holding the instrument between their legs, and rest the bottom of the cello, a metal spike, on the ground. Like the violin, they rub a bow across the strings to produce sound.


These violin family instruments are the most used bowed string instruments in the world today. While they are common in classical and orchestral music, they are also used in jazz, rock and folk music, where they are frequently amplified or made as electric instruments.

Of course, achieving excellent tone from stringed instruments is an art. Master luthiers seek out the highest quality woods, such as spruce and maple, and apply their skill and training to crafting the finest instruments.  Joseph McDevitt, Fegley’s expert luthier (and owner) was traditionally trained at the elite North Bennet Street School in Boston, and worked closely with both Marco Coppiardi, a master violin maker from Cremona, Italy, and Hans J. Nebel, a world-renowned violin restorer.

Joe continues the Fegley’s tradition of making, restoring, and selling fine stringed instruments and bows. You will find them available in a variety of sizes to suit the age, height or body length of a player.  If you are looking for musical instrument stores in Philadelphia that offer the finest quality and customer care the area has to offer, visit Fegley Instrument & Bows soon to find the instrument that expresses your love for music.