John Newton canadian Luthier

September 24, 2010 at 09:27 PM ·

I am tryng out a violin that has just been dropped off at my local luthiers by John Newton.  Its beautiful, very even and has a rich sound that also feels like it will carry (a bit italian). 

Anyone had any experience with John's violins - there is very little on the web.



Replies (31)

September 25, 2010 at 03:41 PM ·

Our assistant principal viola here played a viola made by him. When I carved a new bridge to it I emailed John Newton and he was quite nice.

September 25, 2010 at 05:27 PM ·

hi Luis,

I've found a couple of people playing his violas in orchestras but have yet to find a violinist.  Did your vioist have any comments on his instrument?  By all means message me...



September 25, 2010 at 06:34 PM ·


I had a John Newton violin for several years that I really enjoyed playing.  It had a lot of power and a huge variety of tonal colors.  It was very responsive and never temperamental.  I would recommend his instruments to anyone who wants a reasonably priced contemporary violin.  I purchased mine from Johnson Strings and eventually traded up to a Benjamin Ruth violin which is also outstanding.


September 25, 2010 at 08:46 PM ·

This one is $10K - which according to a bio on him that I found is his standard rate for a violin.  I've been playing it most of the day and am rather besotted.  After teh French violins that I am now fairly familiar with, I think this one is more italian - rounder sound and lots of power even in piano and such a tone. 

Wish we could still upload sound snippets... :-\

September 25, 2010 at 08:56 PM ·

Poor old Dudie she must be sulking at home. 

September 25, 2010 at 09:52 PM ·

This viola was played  by Peter Pas for many many years, till he recently got the viola made by Moennig to William Primrose.

September 25, 2010 at 09:59 PM ·

Dion!  Please don't make it worse :( 

What happened was that as I improved I started to play in the upper registers more and I'm afraid that Dudie can't sing it.  I tried everything but up there he's a bit sparse - going bald I guess...

He needs to find anothe person like I was 3 years ago.  Oh.  What can I say...

September 25, 2010 at 10:06 PM ·

Thank you for the info and email address Luis - I will contact him.  Apart from anything else I'd love to hear more about the new guy in my life... Lets hope the purchase goes OK...

September 25, 2010 at 10:30 PM ·

Why you don't want to posts email addresses in forums, especially someone else's, since the consequence is separated from the judgment.  ;-)

September 25, 2010 at 11:29 PM ·

Ok, removed the email. Thanks!

September 26, 2010 at 12:35 AM ·

It didn't work anyway :(

If anyone has an updated email address for John, please message me.


September 26, 2010 at 02:18 AM ·


You can get John Newton's email from Johnson Strings.

September 26, 2010 at 06:56 AM ·

 A young woman's 'last love' confirmation

Was for a violin held with adoration

But higher registers that won't sing

And four strings losing their zing

Played the last post to Dudie's falsetto castration 

September 26, 2010 at 07:13 AM ·

Argh!!  I'm just going to have to make sure Dudie doesn't read that...

And no jokes about Gravitas either.... (think about it for a second, ok maybe half a second)

September 28, 2010 at 07:16 PM ·

I did it!  Hard to believe... a real professional instrument.

I talked to John before taking the final plunge - he sounds lovely and is living in Toronto now.  Apparently, my violin is the last instrument made from the famous demolition site beam.  Interestingly, the beam, which was used for the front plate, is Norwegian Fir.  I hope to meet John at some point, it would be lovely to see his shop...

And thanks to all at the 'Sound Post' for the lovely help and making it all so easy ;)

very, very, very excited... ee

 PS and thanks RIchard, Johnson strings did come through with the contact info. 

September 28, 2010 at 08:37 PM ·

The Soundpost in Toronto has a Newton violin( at least in April).  Very good instrument , only played it briefly as I was looking for an instrument in lower price catagory. Can't remember, think it was 10,000  (? 12,000) Canadian.

John Newton was trained by Otto Erdesz , the luthier that also trained Joseph  Curtin among others.

September 28, 2010 at 09:07 PM ·

Hendrik, I bought a John Newton at the Sound Post - but I don't think it wasn't the one you saw.  That was an older instrument - he just replaced it with the 2010.  I just checked and mine was only there for about a month (from what I heard I was only the third person to try it).


September 29, 2010 at 02:18 AM ·

Elise, what you describe seems like what really should happen when you buy a good instrument (especially in these prices)! 

Do you feel as if you had stolen (no borrowed is more polite... :) a great master's violin and fool with it at home? 

Do you feel you have a great sound between the hands but just a lack of experience on your side to manage it as you wish?

If yes, welcome to the happy violin owner's club!  You'll surely progress much with an instrument that you love so much!

All the best!  What's his name???


September 29, 2010 at 08:46 AM ·

Anne-Marie - yes and yes.  I also feel as if I am cheating!  On my other violin if you were a shade off the note you were 'off' - on this one the sound is so lovely it doesn't seem to matter!  OTOH because its so lovely you really want to get it right.

I think thats the biggest change - I adore the sound coming out of the violin and am listening to it much more carefully.  Dudie was nice, bright and clear but he was not adorable.  Gravitas has such a silken full sound I want to immerse in it. 

Since Gravitas is brand new - I was only the third person to play on it at the shop - I don't feel I have the sensation that I stole a master's violin, but I do have a very similar one - that John is a master luthier who will be 'discovered' 100 years from now.  So very much the same sentiment and I feel very honoured to have this violin in my charge.

Actually its interesting isn't it - knowing that your instrument will out-survive you and have its own 'red-violin' destiny...

September 29, 2010 at 10:33 AM ·

 "Dudie was nice, bright and clear, but he was not adorable".

Jee whiz, and after all the 'I love my violin'.  Watch out Gravitas you are on thin ice!

September 29, 2010 at 12:42 PM ·

That's cool Elise!    About the outliving issue that's true... 

I think one has to think about what will happen when one won't be there.   Because if we don't, our beloved violins will be throwned in garage sales, the attic of someone who will never play them etc and chance are that they'll just be forgotten there when they could brighten someone else's life otherwise. (especially at these prices at the beginning of the professionnal range instruments when they really can start to be interesting... for sound, technical and financial issues since they take value over the years) 

I think I'll give mine (but not during my life!) to a conservatory with an official letter explaining to give it to a worthy student (for as long as he/she plays the instrument and doesn't quit.)  And I don't necessarely mean the best in town... just someone who truely loves the violin and tries his/her best to progress.  Anyway, usually, the best ones didn't get there for nothing... They already have mom dad or sponsors to help them.  I'm rather talking of someone with potential and love of music  that has never had an opportunity to own a good violin and progress accordingly...)  Perhaps I could also think about something as "for your most serious late starter" since, as a late starter myself, I beleive very much in late starter potential and their cause!  Just that, with hard work, they'll bloom out...later... Also late teen or adult starters are mature ennough to take good care of an instrument and appreciate it.  And I also like the idea (told by a v.commie) to write along a little story of what you know about your instrument, where it comes from, where it has been etc.

Good luck,


September 29, 2010 at 03:11 PM ·

Congratulations Elise. Many happy & wonderful collaborations to come, I'm sure

September 29, 2010 at 03:44 PM ·

Dion: ""Dudie was nice, bright and clear, but he was not adorable".

Jee whiz, and after all the 'I love my violin'.  Watch out Gravitas you are on thin ice!

er, Dion, you run the danger of going Dudie's direction... Besides, your quote is out of context: the 'adorable' was specifically about his sound, not about the violin. I shed a tear after trading him in and I still have my photos and recordings.  The affection will always be there...

September 29, 2010 at 03:48 PM ·

Anne-Marie: And I also like the idea (told by a v.commie) to write along a little story of what you know about your instrument, where it comes from, where it has been etc.

Dudie had official papers from Rampal (the expert on Mirecourt violins and, yes, the son of the flautist) because his label was not from his maker (it was authentic, however, signed by another equally well known luthier's name (both Aubry and his son) who must have traded Dieudonne violins.  I wrote my name and the dates I owned Dudie on the rear cover - hopefully it will set a precedent and others will do the same.

September 29, 2010 at 03:53 PM ·

Oh and Anne-Marie and Christina - thanks for the wishes :)

And Dion -

A woman's love...

Love once, love truly

Love twice, love truly, deeply

Love trice, love truly, deeply - completely"


September 29, 2010 at 06:16 PM ·

@Elise : 

Thank you for writing an ode to Elizabeth Taylor, but you will need a few more adjectives.

September 29, 2010 at 08:40 PM · Really?

September 29, 2010 at 09:30 PM ·

@Elise ;

It is time to smoke a peace pipe. Congratulations on acquiring your new violin. I am sure you will be very pleased with the new sound and the tears you shed will not have been in vain. Nothing stays static and an update shows that you are aspiring to something better. You have moved on and you don't have to explain it to anyone. I am happy for you.

September 30, 2010 at 01:20 AM ·

Thank you Dion ;) 


September 30, 2010 at 02:27 AM ·


You are going to have so much fun finding the range of sounds available with your new John Newton violin.  You will be amazed that passages that were difficult in the past will amazingly seem so much easier with a better quality.  The instrument is your musical voice and your voice is about to mature in a most enjoyable way.  Have fun.


September 30, 2010 at 02:31 AM ·

Hi Richard - what you say is already happening - as said, I feel like I am cheating!

Perhaps the biggest delights thus far are those gorgeous double stops in the Beethoven Romance in G.  It was so hard to get a great sound before, now it seems tohappen by itself.  I think that piece will be next on my list after the Mozart with my teacher... just love it...


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