I purchased my most recent violin from Rutman’s back in June. Overall, I was definitely happy with my visit–this is a small, intimate shop, and Ilya and his wife are very sweet. They took great care to make sure that I selected an instrument that was a good fit for me, and at no time did I feel rushed or pressured to make a purchase.
After I told him my price range, Ilya brought out five instruments and several bows for me to try (which was appreciated, but also kind of embarrassing–I was pretty rusty!) After I jammed out for a while on each of my options, he then did a blind playing test for me so that I could rate the sound of the instruments as a listener rather than a player.
After spending a few days deliberating my purchase, I ended up going back and buying a great instrument (I’m constantly getting compliments on its tone), a new bow, a shoulder rest, rosin, and a case that could probably withstand several tons of pressure. All of this, of course, was not cheap, but the prices (especially for the quality of my violin) were extremely reasonable, and my experience, on the whole, was really satisfying.