Building a fine violin begins with
careful wood selection. I use wood
that I've bought and then stored
for many years, including Bosnian
maple; North American red, curly,
and bigleaf maple; Alpine spruce;
and Engleman spruce. Over the years
I've developed a good sense of the
acoustic potential of various pieces
of wood. I also use computer-assisted
acoustical analysis which enables
me to quantify the wood's tonal
characteristics. Different types
and cuts of wood have a profound
effect on outcome, and I choose
woods according to how I want the
finished violin to sound (and look).
selection goes hand in hand with
my choice of model for the violin.
Again, different models bring different
qualities to an instrument, both
visual and acoustic. I enjoy working
with a variety of traditional models
in addition to some of my own.
these decisions have been made I
begin building the violin. I first
build the rib cage and then transfer
its outline to the pieces for the
back and top. These are then cut
out and the arching of the plates
is begun. For me this is the most
exciting part of building a violin.
When arching the top and back plates
of an instrument – first with
gouges, then finger planes, and
finally with a scraper – I'm
sculpting both sight and sound;
here visual and aural beauty are
the arching of the plates is finished
I turn them over and hollow them
out, but not to finished thickness.
The plates are then temporarily
glued to the rib cage, the outline
is finished following the ribs,
the purfling set in, the channel
cut, and the arching finished. I
then remove the plates and cut the
f-holes and round the plate edges.
it's time to graduate the plates.
As I graduate a plate, I meticulously
monitor its weight, stiffnesses,
resonant frequencies (tap tones),
and their shapes. When the top is
finished the bass bar is put in
and shaped, and the tap tones are
checked again. I then glue the finished
back to the rib cage, remove the
internal mold, clean things up,
and glue the top on.
I carve the scroll, shape the fingerboard,
and set and shape the neck. Then
I set up the instrument "in
the white" before varnishing,
and I play it. I also run further
acoustical tests. These data and
all those collected while building
provide me with an informational
base which adds hard numbers to
my intuitive process and enables
me to better predict outcome as
I begin each new instrument.
process follows: First
comes ground preparation, then the
ground, and then several coats of
set-up is the last part of building
a violin. Everything influences
everything: string choice, tailpiece
(weight and placement), and bridge
choice and shaping (the bridge transmits
string vibrations to the body of
the violin, acts as a filter, and
radiates sound in a specific frequency
me the instrument isn't finished
until someone owns and loves it.
As a violin maker I only do part
of the job. It's the musician who
brings the instrument to life and
enables it to reach its full potential.
current prices for my instruments
Antiquing: add $1,000.
California residents add 8.25% sales
apply to custom personalizing of
instruments. For more details
about purchasing an instrument,
please visit the FAQ
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