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 ›

Recent Posts

  • 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 ›

  • Guarneri violin part 1

    The first violin of 2017 is finally under way. I don’t often start with the scroll, but in a fickle moment, that’s what I decided to do this time. It’s based on an early 1740’s Guarneri Del Ges├║, which is… Read More ›

  • Christmas leftovers

    Usually when making an instrument, there are some nice looking pieces of maple leftover as scraps. They always seem too good to throw out, but the small sizes of what is left, doesn’t really make them that useful. I’d imagine… Read More ›

  • French cello rib cracks

    A sad day for this rather nice French cello, when it was knocked over. Despite only falling a very short distance onto a carpeted floor, as you can see, the upper bass rib was quite badly cracked as a result…. Read More ›

  • Testore model violin

    Previously I’ve documented the making of this violin in several parts. Now that the varnish has had a chance to harden fully, the time to finish it off had arrived. It’s always a bit of a fight to resist the… Read More ›

  • Jones patent violin bridge

    Another patented violin accessory that promised to revolutionise the world of stringed instruments… If you look into the history of these kind of things, you will see that there have been hundreds and hundreds of attempts over the years, to… Read More ›

  • Before, during & after

    The C.G. Testore model violin I made recently, has been varnished since I last spoke about it. Now the varnish has been antiqued and left to harden for a few months to get it ready for final finishing and then… Read More ›

  • Woods of the world No.73: Turtlewood

    One of the most amazing things about timber, is the infinite variety of colours and patterns. Once the logs are cut open, the magic is finally revealed. Some woods have always been highly prized for their decorative appearance, be that… Read More ›

  • Varnish texture

    Recently I had an interesting conversation with a client about varnish texture. Clients often ask really good questions, usually by coming from an entirely different viewpoint. The question was about understanding the varnish texture, in photos of valuable antique instruments,… Read More ›

  • Blitz Sicher chinrest

    I love old things like this, but rarely do they have manufacturers markings, so it’s often left to a guess as to where they were made. No such trouble here though, with a massive logo on the underside, complete with… Read More ›

  • 15 3/4″ Viola

    After last months post about the Testore model violin I’m making, it dawned on me that I’d never got round to putting up some varnished pictures of the 15 3/4″ viola I made a while back. I used an oil… Read More ›

  • Testore violin part 6

    It’s now almost May, and winter is showing signs of finally coming to an end here. That being the case, it’s a good time to make some varnish, and finish the violin. Last time I covered carving the scroll, and… Read More ›