Cardiff Violins: hidden musical paradise in the Castle Arcade

I photographed Cardiff Violins on the recommendation of one my readers. I don’t play the violin, and Cardiff Violins is slightly hidden away on the balcony of the Castle Arcade so I wouldn’t naturally have a reason to go in there… until last week when I explored it for the project.

And wow, it actually turned out to be one of my favourite shops! I don’t quite know what I was expecting to be honest, but seeing a wall of violins, cellos, violas and other stringed instruments is truly a sight to behold. And just when you think you’ve seen more violins than you ever will see again, you go into another room and see another room chock-o-block.

The current owners of Cardiff Violins (Chris and Cecile) have been there since 1993 (although they set up the business in 1984), but there has been a violin shop in the arcade a lot longer than that. Arthur Angle, whose name is displayed in a lot of the memorabilia on the walls had a few different sites in the arcade and to this day Celia told me that they get the occasional customer who remembers Mr Angle from their childhood but he has sadly been dead for many years.

The present site was a punk shop before it became home to violins, and is now doing well even amid the recession. Coming through the last recession in the 90s was tough but thankfully they made it and are still going strong today.  The shop now has an incredible 14 rooms to explore selling, repairing and setting up not just violins but other bowed instruments too, and is, according to the website one of the largest stringed instrument shops in Europe!

While I was there it was fairly busy and the phone rang several times – I’m told that naturally it gets even busier during school holidays and on Saturdays.

Although there  is a lot of stock at any one time, not all of it belongs to Cardiff Violins as they are take commission from selling on the stock of other suppliers, but lots of it is made and repaired in the workshop was just opposite the shop (unfortunately I couldn’t photograph in there due to insurance restrictions).

Anyway, in this case I really do think a picture speaks a thousand words so you’ll probably want to be getting on with looking at some now – I never realised there were so many ways to photograph a violin! If you want to know more about the shop, please visit the Cardiff Violins website and, of course, there’s more pictures over on this Flickr set.

Comments, feedbacks, shares and anything else always welcome!

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7 thoughts on “Cardiff Violins: hidden musical paradise in the Castle Arcade

  1. I am pleased that Cardiff Violins agreed to be included in the Cardiff Arcades Project and amused to note that it became one of your favourite shops. It is certainly one of mine. It is not only a fascinating business but one that understands fully the meaning of consistently good service and each of my visits in the short time I have lived in Cardiff has been a special treat.
    We are lucky to have such a willing source of practical expertise and fine instruments in the city centre, a source which is equally accessible by beginners as well as high-end concert musicians.

    • Thankyou!

      I’m glad you liked the post, I enjoyed the shoot more than I had originally anticipated. I hadn’t quite realised just how many violins there would be on offer, and indeed, just how many different ways you can photograph them.

      I’d have loved the opportunity to have visited the workshop and am saddened that I can’t due to insurance restraints – I’m wondering if there’s a way to get around that.

  2. Pingback: Cardiff Arcades Project – Cardiff Violins « Just Williams

  3. Such a nice post. I came here on recommendation of JustWilliams, and his recommendations never disappoint. Great photography – and truly, a more interesting subject than I would have imagined!

    • Hi!

      Thankyou for your kind words – and I totally agree.

      I pretty much expected that I’d be in there for a short while (especially as they didn’t want portraits) and then I’d be out again.

      Not really sure what I was thinking as it’s a massive shop and there are so many violins and other stringed instruments.

      I could probably go back tomorrow and spend another 2 hours photographing =)


  4. I bought my wife a beautiful violin here – a Chinese import that they completely re-engineer to make it really playable. It will never be a Stradivarius but it’s a fine fiddle.

    And just up the road from Folk Farm too!

    • Thanks Tim,

      Glad to hear it!

      It’s amazing what’s hidden up there, fully expect to find more wonders….

      As for Folk Farm, I’ll be visiting there asap (probably around Easter time). I don’t expect to re-emerge until Summer 😉

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