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 ›

Recent Posts

  • 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 ›

  • In the workshop

    While I am fortunate to work on many fantastic instruments, every once in a while one stands out as something extremely special. This can be for a variety of reasons, the varnish, the condition, the tone, the materials etc. This… Read More ›

  • Violin cleaning

    Quite a common job, as all the instruments I work on get cleaned as part of the work. Most players keep their instruments pretty clean, but over time, a cleaning cloth may no longer be sufficient. Rosin particularly, will begin… Read More ›

  • String vision posture pegs

    I’m sure many cellists will already know about these pegs. They are increasing in popularity, due to the greater comfort and posture improvements they can provide, due to the detachable heads. I often get calls about fitting these pegs, with… Read More ›

  • Guarneri violin part 4

    To describe my varnishing procedure would be quite boring for most musicians, so I will quickly outline some of the steps and procedures involved. The varnish I use these days is an oil varnish, which is made from colophony (pine/larch… Read More ›

  • Guarneri violin part 3

    In the last outing, I had reached the point of assembling the body. Now it’s time to fit the neck, and do the final detailing and preparation, in readiness for varnishing. When assembling the body, I’m very careful to make… Read More ›

  • A tall tail

    Although I’ve been restoring and making violins for decades, you just can’t ever say that you’ve seen it all. Quite often something will come into the workshop that just leaves you scratching your head.┬áThat was certainly the case when this… Read More ›

  • Guarneri violin part 2

    With the scroll now carved, it can be put to one side while I concentrate on making the body. As always, it begins with the ribs. Before the ribs can be made, I need to fit spruce blocks to the… Read More ›