Watch CBS News

David Segal Violins: An Upper West Side Workshop Where Instruments Are Loved And Cared For

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Behind door #1C in an Upper West Side apartment building, the tenants are string instruments.

The violins, violas, and cellos are the purview of David Segal, an artisan who buys, sells, repairs, and builds them by hand.

Growing up in Israel, he helped in the workshop of his father, a violin maker himself. David took to the profession quickly.

"It was embedded in me, in a way," he said.

After training in Cremona, Italy at the International School of Violin Making, he worked in violin shops before opening his own studio in 1975.

David Segal Violins has sat in its current location near Lincoln Center since 1986.

For the musicians David meets, their violins are more than mere instruments.

"They feel that they are part of them. They feel that the violin is part of their own existence," he said.

The instruments are delicate, and he handles them with care.

"The nice thing about our work here is that there is never a repetition," he said. "One crack is not like another crack. One break of a bow or a violin is not the same as in another violin."

The same effort goes into violin construction.

"It takes about 200 hours, in my estimate, to make a violin," he said.

The time and skill required are reflected in the price—a modern violin can cost between $15,000 and $75,000.

For longtime staff member Diane Mellon, the violin's music is captivating.

"It's probably the closest you can come to the human voice, in terms of timbre, color, complexity," she said. "I think that's why people like the sound so much."

Many shops like David's have come and gone in the decades he's been working. For him, the reason for his success is simple.

"Stubbornness and wishing to continue, that's what makes me what I am," he said.

David Segal Violins
74 W 68th St #1C
New York, NY 10023
(212) 769-4559

What's something few people know about but everybody should? Whatever it is, Elle McLogan is tracking it down on The Dig. Join her hunt for treasures hidden across our area. Follow Elle on Twitter and Instagram.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.