In 1947, Hans Weisshaar established the company and became the first violin maker and restorer of his caliber in the western United States. He had spent many years working with Ferdinando Sacconi in New York. He decided to follow the call of violin virtuoso Nathan Milstein, who had urged him to come to Los Angeles where there had been a desperate need for a top rate violin maker and restorer. The Hans Weisshaar firm quickly became the destination for a large, expanding clientele, including such names as Pablo Casals, Mischa Elman, Zino Francescatti, Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, Michael Rabin, Isaac Stern, Heinryk Szeryng, and Joseph Szigeti.
With Weisshaar's skilled, artistic restorations of the “Red Diamond” and “The Bass of Spain”, two instruments made by Antonius Stradivari, his reputation as one of the leading violin makers and experts spread throughout the United States and abroad. He was a driving force in keeping high standards in the violin trade and this led him to become a co-founder of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers. As a craftsman of unrivalled integrity, Hans Weisshaar became a source of knowledge for young restorers from around the world. Trained violin makers still come to expand their knowledge in fine instrument restoration by joining the firm. More than fifty restorers have passed through the Weisshaar workshops, many of whom hold prominent positions in the field of violin making.
First established on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, the Weisshaar workshops moved to their present location on Larchmont Boulevard in 1965. In the succeeding decades, professional musicians, teachers and their students, and collectors have continued to seek advice, expertise, and instruments of the great violin and bow makers.
The Manual for Violin Restoration, co-authored by Hans Weisshaar and Margaret Shipman, was a milestone for the company. Mr. Weisshaar lived to see its publication and many accolades in 1988. Upon the death of Hans Weisshaar in 1991, Margaret Shipman took over the firm she had worked with since 1970. Known in the violin field for her uncompromising integrity, she carried the firm into the new millennium and continues to be a vital part of it today.
Georg Eittinger, who was previously with the London firm of J & A Beare, has been head of the firm since 2004. He brings his own expertise and vast experience in violin restoration. In 2005, the Weisshaar firm opened a branch in Berlin, Germany.