Recent Posts

  • Guarneri model violin part 2

    In my last post about the Wilton, all the principal parts of the instrument had been made, and the body was assembled. Once the neck joint has been cut, the neck can be set and glued, then the fingerboard temporarily… Read More ›

  • 40cm viola part 3

    With the bulk of the rough work done, it’s time to move onto some of the more detailed and delicate jobs, such as cutting the soundholes, fitting a bassbar and carving the scroll. I place several location marks onto the… Read More ›

  • Viola cleaning

    Recently a client came to the workshop expecting to get some work done on the spot. I had to apologize, and tell him I couldn’t fit in any more work that day, as I already had something booked in. He… Read More ›

  • Guarneri model violin part 1

    This violin is inspired by the ‘Lord Wilton’ Guarneri del Gesu, one of the most famous Guiseppe Guarneri violins, and considered by many to be the greatest concert violin of all. The Lord Wilton was named after its 19th C…. Read More ›

  • Violin rib cracks

    It’s most common for the belly to crack, but of course cracks can potentially happen anywhere on an instrument when it suffers an accident. The ribs, being quite thin, are especially vulnerable, as we can see on this very fine… Read More ›

  • Violin belly cracks

    One of the most frequently encountered jobs which require an instrument to be taken apart, involve belly cracks. This wonderful Italian violin, made in Mantua around 1800 has suffered some extensive damage to the belly. As I’ve discussed on previous… Read More ›

  • 100 years ago today

    Today, 100 years ago, the most wasteful conflict the world has seen ended. Millions of lives on all sides were wasted. The lives of those who survived changed forever, families shattered, a generation of men missing. Countries repaying debts incurred… Read More ›

  • 40cm viola part 2

    Moving swiftly along from finishing the outline of the instrument in the previous post, it’s purfling time. The addition of the purfling greatly enhances the definition of the model in addition to providing some crack prevention, and a useful boundary… Read More ›

  • 40cm viola

    After a rather busy summer and early autumn, spent doing a lot of intense restoration work, while many of my clients were on holiday, it’s time to get back on with some making. This 40cm (15 3/4″) model is by… Read More ›

  • German violin restoration

    Another day, another client feeling very sad that their instrument has suffered an accident. Fortunately it can all be restored, but in many cases when some serious damage has occurred, it’s often the longest that musician and instrument have been… Read More ›

  • French violin restoration part 3

    With all of the woodwork taken care of internally, I can then move onto the final stages, before reassembly, cosmetic retouching and set up. As you may remember in the first post about this violin, the neck and fingerboard were… Read More ›

  • French violin restoration part 2

    My previous post outlined some of the issues which needed to be attended to. In this part I will cover the work itself. With so many things being loose, or starting to fail, taking an instrument apart can become a… Read More ›

  • French violin restoration part 1

    Eventually in the life of all instruments, there becomes a point where it is no longer useable without some interventions. It’s not unusual for people to soldier on with a poorly performing instrument, sometimes for years, before accepting the reality… Read More ›

  • 39cm viola (part 5)

    With the woodwork finished, all that remains is to pop off the fingerboard and to start varnishing. First the prep, then the ground coat can be applied. I think it’s important to have some balance in the ground coat. Many… Read More ›

  • 39cm viola (part 4)

    Last time I spoke about the viola, it was getting close to the point of assembly. I had started work on the linings, in preparation for removing the mould, the purfling was done, and the arching finished. There is still… Read More ›

  • Slab sawn backs

    Although I don’t use them often, I really like the look of a slab sawn maple back. The different method of cutting the log results in a different type of figure to the more typical quarter sawn wedges used in… Read More ›

  • 39cm viola (part 3)

    Previously, I had pretty much finished arching the back & belly. That work creates a lot of mess, and things take shape quite quickly, no pun intended. It’s the detail work that can be very painstaking, and although when finished,… Read More ›

  • 39cm viola (part 2)

    My last post covered the ideas behind making this viola, and it’s design, ending with the completion of the ribs. Once the rib structure has been formed around the mould, this is then used to set the outlines for the… Read More ›

  • 39cm small viola

    I deal a lot with Manchester’s RNCM, and over the years there has been a large increase in the number of students looking for smaller violas. While there is not really a standard size for violas, it could be considered… Read More ›