From jake bush
Posted March 17, 2008 at 06:05 PM
I see that there are the Chicago School of Violin Making, and the Salt Lake City one, which is the best to enroll in?
And what are ways I could prepare? I have no experience in woodworking, but I learn quickly when I devote myself to something. I am a hands-on learner, and when someone physically shows me something it makes sense, but learning from a textbook is very difficult for me.
Can any makers or aspiring makers give me advice and tell me about how to get into the field?
There are many self taught makers also, it's a tough way to learn, but it's possible, many now famous Italian makers were self taught (Capicchioni, Chiocchi, Fagnola, etc.). The best do it by yourself book is by Courntall and Jonhson.
There are many amateur makers today, and it's not a new sensation, they existed in Strad's time also, some were monks. And many Victorian gentlemen built instruments after reading Heron Allen's book.
The market today is very tough, it seems that there are just about 20 makers in the USA living exclusevely from new making, most makers do also repairs and sales, or a non related job also. You have to get a good price from your instruments (perhaps no less than 8K) otherwise it will not be able to you to compete with Chinese makers.
It takes some years to learn how to make a good instrument, we are still learning all the time.
You can see a tutorial I prepared about neck and scroll carving here:
The problem I suppose is my complete lack of experience. That neck tutorial, for example, was a little incomprehensible to me as I don't know all the vocabulary/tools/techniques, etc!
Does anyone know where I could find/purchase those books? Google is turning up nothing for me.
It's the best one. I have more than a hundred violin books in Italian, English and French, and they are not cheap, but this one is considered the best.
According to many my tutorial was much more comprehensive than the Courtnall & Jonshon book, but get the book and study it, anyway violin making is a long, long term project and good results will take time to appear, as with violin playing.
You and I share something in common, a great urge to learn the art of violin making. Given my situation, I have little choice other than to do most of the learning on my own, and a maker no less than Sam Zygmuntowicz told me that it would not be easy, but that it could be done. So, I would say the same to you. Natural aptitude will of course play a role, but nothing less than good, old hard work will carry the day.
Over the last several months I have acquired a few books, two of which I very highly recommend, "The Secrets of Stradivari" by Saconni, and "The Art of Violinmaking" by Courtnal and Johnson. Of course there are others, many of which are shockingly expensive. One book I did not learn of until the printed stock was gone was "Traite de Lutherie" by Francios Denis. Another work I would one day LOVE to own, but one that will also likely leave the market prior to my being able to secure a copy is the 2-volume treatise on the work of del Gesu, published by Peter Biddulph. A good place to go for books such as these is Amati Books (www.amatibooks.com). I got my copy of Saconni's book there, but I got my copy of Courtnall and Johnson's book on Amazon, as it was the best price. Another good source of information is The Strad, and their poster series is great. Actually, you will find that a lot of information is available, much of which can be learned online and at no cost, however as a rule published materials are probably a more credible source of information. The maestronet site is good as well. I joined a short while ago, and there are a lot of thoughts being traded on the site daily, and some of the contributors are well-known makers with solid reputations, and they come from all over the world.
If you truly desire this, it will happen. To which degree I cannot say, but I feel safe in saying that you will without a doubt find a way to weave your new-found love of violin making into the fabric of your life. Let it lead you where it will, and enjoy yourself along the way. You will meet and come to know a lot of really great people, and what could be better than this?
In some Sundays I say to my wife: "please don't let me work more than four hours today"...
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