Adam Johnson grew up working at Johnson String Instrument in Newton, which his parents founded in 1976. He purchased the business from Roger and Carol Johnson in 2008, and assumed ownership of local competitor Carriage House Violins in 2013. With the combined operation constituting one of the most comprehensive violin shops on the East Coast, Carriage House Violins sells new and antique string instruments, and offers appraisals, consignments, financing, repairs, and a 50-seat recital hall available for rent.
Q. How much do instruments cost, and how do you advise customers in choosing between them?
A. Spending several hundred thousand dollars is not uncommon in the violin world. Carriage House offers instruments that range from $1,000 up to $100,000. We encourage people to play several instruments at different price points, because everyone has a unique way of playing. Our job is to help them find something that speaks to them from the choices within their budget. Violins have excellent investment value, which is another important factor.
Q. Is any special attention given to the instruments behind the scenes?
A. Violins are so nuanced that you can’t just take one out of the box, hand it to a musician, and say, “Play this.” Everything we sell is meticulously inspected and given a complete setup so it functions properly and sounds its best.
Q. Do you play an instrument?
A. I haven’t played in a while, but I’m a bass player by trade and I play a little guitar. In fact, we began selling [both instruments] four years ago because I like them so much.
Q. How did Carriage House Violins become home to the Boston Cello Society, even though it’s an independent organization?
A. It was the inspiration of two of our staff members, Robert Mayes and Maureen Wall. We had the launch party in December, and on our website is a list of musical events open to the public this month. The BCS is a great way to showcase the cello and the phenomenal cellists in the area.
Q. Are there lessons learned from your parents that you employ today?
A. My mom and dad have been great mentors to me in terms of corporate responsibility and running a business in general. They still work for the company, and if they don’t like something I’m doing, I listen. It means a lot that I could carry on their legacy in a way that makes them proud and happy.