violin making.

February 14, 2006 at 12:04 AM · I am a teenager who is interested in violin making(Whether for a hobby or career). Can anyone help me out as to places that teach how to make them?

Replies (64)

February 14, 2006 at 12:29 AM · Well, as another teen interested in violin making, heres what I did:

For a first project (if there is no one around who can teach you), I suggest trying the violin kit from Stewart-MacDonald (http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Kits/Violin_Kits/Violin_Kits.html) its nice, and you can get a decent violin that way (I currently play my first violin which is from that kit). This is a nice way to start, cause it gives you a chance to get to know every part - inside and out - with fewer chances for major mistakes (nice when you're just starting). Just know that they sort of gloss over the step where you carve out the top, which is fine, but doesn't allow for quite as bright of a sound.

After that, I've now rebuilt 2 cellos, which is really fun cause of the history. But anyway, these instruments were in pieces and in need of work. So, thats another way to get familer with everything.

Aside from that, just be warned that violin making is kinda addictive, and you'll soon accquire a nice sized collection of tools...

February 14, 2006 at 01:09 AM · If you wish to actually study in the trade, there are three schools offering full time programs in the States.

The Chicago School of Violin Making (Skokie, IL)

The Violin Making School of America (Salt Lake City, UT)

The Bennett Street School (Boston, MA)

The programs are 3 years plus.

February 14, 2006 at 01:41 AM · My best friend went to the Bennett Street School on scholarship, after he'd gotten a master's degree in music performance and had several years experience in a custom woodworking shop.

February 14, 2006 at 05:21 PM · Jessica,

I went on that website, and was wondering how many of those tools are necessary to build the kit?

February 14, 2006 at 09:19 PM · Check out the International Violin company as well, for tools and parts. You can get everything from blank quarter-sawn wood, partially or fully-carved tops, backs, sides and necks, complete kits to assemble, white instruments (all they need is varnishing), varnish supplies, carving tools, pegs, fingerboards, strings, etc.

February 14, 2006 at 10:07 PM · You might find this series of photos interesting:

http://darntonviolins.com/viola1.html

February 14, 2006 at 10:26 PM · Just to add another school to the list--

Indiana University also offers a degree in Violin Making. You can also take violin making classes there even if you aren't majoring in it.

February 15, 2006 at 07:27 AM · Michael,

Thanks for sharing such detailed photos of your work: it must have taken a lot of time to have taken and prepare them, apart, of course, from making the instrument itself!

February 15, 2006 at 04:36 PM · that's really interesting. is there a listing of other violin making schools in the rest of the world somewhere?

February 15, 2006 at 10:10 PM · I am actually interested in learning to repair violins. I hope to someday start a luthier shop around here where I live. Boy do we need that. I'm guessing the best way for me to learn is to talk to a violin maker in my area right? Mabey learn from him? Mabey from books? Mabey you all have some ideas. Mabey mabey mabey mabey.......

February 16, 2006 at 09:37 PM · If you have a local luthier, definitely talk to him/her and get advice on how to proceed.

I tossed around the idea of luthiery when I was a teenager, but was too shy to ever talk to anyone about it, so never did anything with it. Finally, a few years ago I took a wonderful week-long course on basic setup and learned a tremendous amount from Hans Nebel.

Don't just rely on books to teach you how to repair stringed instruments. Find someone with good credentials that really knows what they're doing and can teach you. There are too many fiddle-fixers around that are doing more harm than good to poor ailing violins!

February 16, 2006 at 11:10 PM · Luke,

For that kit, they recommend:

Rule with millimeters (need this, one that bends is nice)

Chisels (not really needed, but helpful)

X-acto knife (needed)

Clamps (very important, its also easy to make your own spool clamps)

Drill w/ 1.5mm bit (if you want your violin to have strings, you need this)

Feeler gague (nope, paper works just fine)

Scraper blade (sorta needed - possible to do without)

Violin Nesk Angle Gague (nope, they tell you how to make one)

Files (some could be helpful)

Razor saw (I don't rember using that...)

Reamer (nope, though it can make things go faster)

Soundpost gague (nice to have)

Pencil (yep)

Binding tape (or masking tape - helpful)

Titebond wood glue (DON'T use this to attach the neck!!! if you don't want to use a melted glue, I'd suggest Gorilla Glue)

Sandpaper (lots, and lots of sizes)

Paint Brush (I found a foam brush to work better)

Lint free cloth (good to have)

Varnish (yep)

Solvent (yep)

Stain (if you want)

Tung oil (yep)

Also, I'm fairly sure that there is a luthire (sp?) school in Phoenix, AZ.

February 16, 2006 at 11:57 PM · Thanks. A couple questions.

1. Do you need the violin setup dvd, or are the instructions enough.

2. Once you have made this using the kit, would you be able to make one from scratch?

February 17, 2006 at 04:59 AM · Look at the kit, the violin is already cut and shaped with a mold. It even seems that some parts are glued for you already. It's just a kit for dabblers.

If you're serious, find some place you can study woodworking until you're familiar with basic techniques, then go to a violin making school such as Chicago or Cremona and/or apprentice yourself to somebody. I mean, do you want to be a violin maker for a living, or do you just want to mess around a little? If you study woodworking for a while, there are some summer courses in the US you might take.

http://www.vanzandtviolins.com/vn-schools.htm

February 17, 2006 at 04:57 AM · 1. Do you need the violin setup dvd, or are the instructions enough.

Nope, the instructions are really clear.

2. Once you have made this using the kit, would you be able to make one from scratch?

Given a more expansive list of measurements, you could probably pull it off. Like I said, I've mostly been doing repair work where all the shaping is finished, so I don't have the greatest of answers.

February 17, 2006 at 03:00 PM · Luke, Jessica,

Have you had a good look at the process on the link Michael has been so good as to post in his reply?

Do you honestly think you could mess around with violins, repairing?? them for a living with a kit, a DVD and some measurements?

If you are serious, you should look at the courses (three years full time = watch a DVD?)

Of course, you can have fun with the kit but as long as you don't think it qualifies you in any way.

February 17, 2006 at 03:17 PM · hello, im also a teen in the process of aquiring (sp?) the tools to build a violin. you might want to try http://www.internationalluthiers.com/ for tools and parts. Its not the same link as the other. They have books and moulds, which helps because then you have to do basically everything yourself, and you get some real violin making expierience. They have everything you would need. also, if your going to be making instruments, use hide glue, this is the best glue for the job, and is what professional makers use.

February 18, 2006 at 03:36 AM · Parmeeta,

I don't think that I ever said, or hinted that, a kit would qualify you a professional luthier. It is very true that while you can get a decent, and very special in a personal way, violin that way, you shouldn't expect to get a "fine" instrument.

Also, I guess its only fair to mention a few other things:

1) I have read quite a bit on the subject, and I talked with the local luthiers (prior to them moving). So while I don't have the knowledge that could be gained in 3 years of school, I know enough to be able to build and repair at a "hobby" level.

2) So far, the only repairs I have done have been major repairs where the instrument couldn't get worse (they were both cellos in 3 pieces). I know that I don't have the skills to do delicit (sp?) repairs on nice instruments (for example, someone ask me to repair a belly crack on a very nice violin, and it just wasn't something I was willing to do).

And yes, I agree that courses are a good idea for anyone serious about luthire. However, as a 16 year old who doesn't plan on making a living building and repairing instruments, it doesn't seem advantageous to spend the time or money on courses.

I'm sorry if this reply came off as a little harsh, that wasn't my intention.

~Jessica

February 18, 2006 at 04:59 PM · I would like to run a Luthier for a living, especially becuase the nearest one I know of is an hour away, and when I need rosin or a violin book, I have to order from shar. Thank you everyone, especially Jessica, for the help.

February 18, 2006 at 06:52 PM · Jessica,

You have clarified that you didn't mean professionally, but if you read Luke's original and later posts, I think he means to try and become a professional luthier- hence my post.

In the UK there are a couple of vocational courses of up to year in String Instrument Repair. Perhaps Luke you could scout around for those in your area.

I still go by Michael's post though---just look at what goes into building a violin to say nothing of the experience needed. Our own good Luthier is about an hour and a half drive away in another country, but we still make that journey as opposed to a "so-so" luthier who is 15 minutes bus ride away.

So Luke, if you work at being good at it I am sure will end up getting people from more tha just your area.

February 19, 2006 at 06:10 AM · If you plan to run your own shop, I would suggest Indiana University so that you can take a few business and finance classes :P

Now, in all seriousness, if you open a shop with only what you learn from that kit, I'm SURE that somebody will stone you.

Am I being elitist? Yes. I only want the best to touch my instrument, and I play a very cheap student model. (well...ok...not the BEST obviously, but the person who will do the job best in the area ^^)

Now, would you become a doctor, forgoing medical school for a DVD? How about a "your first surgery" kit? of COURSE not (please please PLEASE say you would never try this). Making, repairing, and restoring violins is a craft that requires years of study and experience, just like any other discipline. Here in the US and in many other places, we tend to look at any kind of manual labor as inferior and easier than intellectual work for some unfortunate reason. Most jobs, like luthier, upholsterer, woodworker, jeweler...ALL require dedication and study that rivals that required to become a research scientist...doctor...professor...etc.

ok, my third post of my two cents...6 cents all together ^_^

February 19, 2006 at 12:38 PM · This has indeed turned into a touchy group.

I find the skill set and approach for repair to be far different from that needed for construction. With setup and adjustment a third set. And tweeking a fourth set. Not necessarily related.

Simple test for folks wanting to make violins: Make soundpost stock quickly and efficiently. Split spruce. Should be easy. If this ends up being a difficult thing to figure out, then perhaps another field would be better.

Other related things useful in the trade and possibly offering work in the trade other than making include retail store management, marketing, and the like. I've found I like marketing as much as making things.

As far as kits go, they are really a long way from making a violin. For the feel of making a violin, carve a scroll. That's the really fun part!

February 19, 2006 at 06:49 PM · If you have any questions regarding the actual making part, im sure you will find many answers at www.maestronet.com. There are a lot of makers on that site.

February 20, 2006 at 02:09 AM · This is a heavily loaded issue. If you want to make something that resembles a violin, thousands of people have done that, but they don't get any respect (rightfully, in my opinion). If, however, you want it to really be a violin, that's a much harder problem, and to do that you really need access to people who will tell you how that's done.

There are many, many standards, both functional and aesthetic, which aren't written down anywhere, and aren't obvious. If you haven't had real training, you're chances of getting these things by self-teaching are about nil, and, worst of all, you'll never realize how far away from the real thing you are. What you do depends, then, on how low you are satisfied to set your standards. In one shop I worked in makers like this were referred to as "legends in their own mind". . .

February 21, 2006 at 12:22 AM · Michael, what is an example of these things that have never been written down? The only things I know of are basically decorative. As far as I know the functional things, like thicknessing, arching, outline, neck angle, and many other things, are either well-documented, easy to copy, or allowed a wide spread. I'm just curious. I read the Heron-Allen book twenty years ago and that's about all I know about it.

February 21, 2006 at 03:47 AM · Consider that these numbers are documented. Why is it that not every machine made violin sounds the same?

February 21, 2006 at 04:05 AM ·

Jim, you only think it's all been written down. :-) There's much more to building a violin than you can read about in any book. Do you know the sides of a fingerboard are scooped? Do you know WHY? Do you know that it's impossible to follow the standard template that pretty much everyone uses to contour the top of a board and have things come out, and, more importantly, why, and how to get around that? There's tons of stuff that's never been written down.

Neck angle and setting is just a rat's nest, starting with how various violins are distorted, and how to compensate, and why and how to compensate for differences between violins. For instance, most violin makers don't know how to set a neck straight, believe it or not. The way that's taught in school and in most books really doesn't work.

This type of stuff is why great shops have a corner on working on great instruments, and most lesser shops don't even know what they're missing. I rarely see a violin that doesn't have some obvious setup error. Come visit some time, and bring your violin, and I'll show you. :-)

I love Heron-Allen, and have about five different editions, including one of the 25 original copies of the special printing he published for friends, but really, it's a useless book.

February 21, 2006 at 04:22 AM · It's easy to believe a lot of important things aren't written down, but you say not taught in schools either? Next time I'm in Chi-town, I'll definitely say hello. I googled Heron-Allen to check the spelling, and found he was a more interesting character than I realized :)

P.S. Why are the sides of a fingerboard scooped?

February 21, 2006 at 04:20 AM ·

Do you think that any school teaches you everything you know to go immediately to the highest level of any job? Straight out of college to the top of the medical profession, or psychology, or anything? No way. Experience is where it's at. The first shop I worked in had a policy of NOT hiring violin school graduates, because they required too much retraining, and were resistant to it because they had to learn things that went against what they were taught.

February 21, 2006 at 04:23 AM · No, I don't think that, but I would assume they teach you how to make a violin. Of couse as any doc gains experience he...gains experience.

February 21, 2006 at 04:27 AM ·

They teach you the basics of how it's done, to make something that looks mostly like a violin, in a sketchy sort of way. However, from what I've seen they don't teach the subleties, the shortcuts, and how to make things really dance, both functionally and tonally. And lots of what they teach is just wrong, because few of the people who teach in these schools have ever had to establish themselves in the field as real, working makers. I've trained a couple of violin making school grads, and they're always amazed at what they didn't learn.

February 21, 2006 at 04:29 AM · Are there makers around whose work is universally liked?

February 21, 2006 at 04:54 AM ·

One problem against achieving unanimity is that you have two tiers of makers who get to vote--those who are successful and those who aren't, aside from those who are in competition with each other. Consequently, there's a serious inability to respect someone else's work, especially because worse makers don't see the difference from what they themselves do.

Then you have to discount the automatic kills that some shops put on anything that they aren't selling. I had someone in a local shop tell one of my customers recently that his post wasn't in the right place. . . without hearing the violin. The shop guy also offered that the violin wasn't one of my best, though everyone who's sold my work says it's one of the best ten or so I've made, and I don't think the shop guy has probably seen more than two of my violins, if that.

That's just an assassination attempt, pure and simple, and not unusual at all in this business. I once watched a salesman who was trying to sell a Vuillaume to someone who had another one out from another shop say "Did they say anything about the top?" When the surprised customer asked "Why, what do you see? He answered "Oh, nothing. I'm sure it's all right." Later I asked what he'd seen, and he said it was fine--he just wanted to insert some doubt about the instrument that wasn't his. That's how the business often works, so don't ask salesmen (or makers) about stuff they aren't selling (or didn't make)--it's always bad, for one reason or another!

Back to the question, though--I like Carl Becker's violins, Will Whedbee's cellos, and there's a guy in Indiana whose name escapes me at the moment who makes nice violas. I saw a Roger Hargrave violin once that I loved, and there are a couple of handfuls of other makers who do things I wish I could do. I see a lot of nice instruments around, but I don't think even my shop partner and I agree about what's good--we can't even agree on what's bad, sometimes. Asking all violin makers to agree on a list would be like asking 300 cats to go in the same direction.

February 21, 2006 at 05:00 AM · oooooo! That's nasty. If I'd been the customer I wouldn't have left until the salesman made a clear statement about the top I could check out later, or until he started crying:)

February 21, 2006 at 05:05 AM ·

Yes indeedy. I'm trying to run my shop on a slightly different model. :-) You don't make as much money, but you can sleep at night, which is worth something, also.

February 21, 2006 at 05:16 AM · I guess he could always take the violin to a shop he trusted and ask if there was anything about the top. The salesman should have said, "We used to have that violin here. It was in the basement when it flooded."

February 21, 2006 at 07:24 AM · Michael/Jim,

Thanks for an enlightening "conversation"!

February 21, 2006 at 07:27 AM · Michael, I'm getting ready to violin shop, and you are scaring the crap out of me! Are there any other tidbits you'd like to share to help me clue in when someone's trying to rip me off?

February 21, 2006 at 12:40 PM · It a blind man with mittens on shopping for a Mercedes. I'd probably buy from the maker himself, or have him authenticate it.

February 21, 2006 at 01:49 PM ·

Emily, ask around a lot about different shops, first, and try to separate out the things you hear that are just emotional responses from ones that are factual. Remember that your basic objective is to buy something real at an appropriate price, not fall in love with the shop's carpet or the salesman. Also remember that the salesman's job is to sell you a violin, so don't get too offended if he obviously tries to do that (this is something that really turns people off, for some reason, even though it's the reason they went shopping).

Avoid smooth characters who make you feel good while they're plucking you, and try not to react to things that don't mean much (not every move someone makes in a shop is de facto evil, no matter what your friends tell you :-)--look to the core of what's going on. My shop partner, who knows what's what, loves going to a certain shop because the salesman there, whom he KNOWS is a real snake, lays out the red carpet, and asks all about him, his business, and his family, making him feel good (I once heard this charcter make up for a customer, on the spot, a completely bogus family tree, attached to a lot of famous names, for the maker of a violin he was trying to sell). Cloying friendlinesss seems to be one of the traits many violin con-men have in common.

I'd say you should look for the place where people say they've been treated simply and politely and have gotten real things at reasonable prices.

February 21, 2006 at 02:24 PM · Don't fall in love with the label either. One basic thing seems to be 75% of the violins in the world have a phony label, if you didn't know that already.

Seriously, I can't think of any other kind of sale where the purchaser relies on gut feeling and trust. If you buy a car you take it for an inspection first. If you buy a house, the inspector comes over. Everybody agrees anything else would be foolhardy in those cases. What I said I would do is one way of circumventing the need to trust anybody here. If you can think of other ways to circumvent it, then you have a plan, and you have no reason to worry about getting ripped off.

February 21, 2006 at 03:31 PM · One of the key words there, Michael, is "cloying" friendliness. That's true of salesmen in any field, be it violins, cars, or refrigerators. Problem is, you can't sell someone a violin if they don't like the way they're being treated. So I can only hope my friendly manner doesn't get perceived that way.

By the way, I think the viola maker whose name you were grasping for is Mark Womack. He does make some excellent violas.

February 21, 2006 at 03:57 PM · Yes, Mark it is.

Well, people tell me I'm an unusual customer: I always remember I'm buying the product, not the salesman, and it's the product I'll be stuck with, not the salesman. So I always have as little to do as possible involving anything except the product into my decision-making progress. I do understand, however, that many people need to be massaged through the process, which I think is an unfortunate defect in their buying strategy, and sets them up to be potential victims.

February 21, 2006 at 04:41 PM · Michael A., what he might be describing is true of many good salesmen, as you imply. I've dealt with salesmen trying to sell a hundred thousand dollars of electronic components. They take you to dinner, bring you pizza for lunch, find out when your birthday is and have a party, you name it. Thing is it's impossible for them to rip you off! Parts is parts, and what they're doing is looking for an edge over others selling the same thing at the same price.

Now that I think about it, one time we did get ripped off. There was an actual shortage of a critical single-sourced chip and somebody went to a guy they knew with a reputation for being able to find things. We got a shipment of chips in and half of them didn't work. One engineer had some x-rayed and there was literally nothing inside:) Rejects that hadn't been destroyed. So go with the cloying guy, not the hard to reach guy:)

February 21, 2006 at 04:39 PM · Do you go to a violin making college and then an aprenticeship?

Also, Michael D., what violin college would you recommend?

February 21, 2006 at 04:54 PM ·

After messing around on my own for a while, I really got started through a three-year apprenticeship in restoration, in a shop. Then I moved, as a repairman, to a shop that primarily did making, and slid over into making while there. I think the way I did it is the best, because it's "real life" all the way, but such opportunities are extremely rare.

Of all the schools, the best results I've seen have come out of the North Bennett Street school in Boston-- http://www.nbss.org/home/index_flash.asp

February 22, 2006 at 12:05 AM · So you can skip the college, and just do an apprenticeship? Also, are you looking for an apprentice say, 3 yrs from now? ;)

February 22, 2006 at 12:45 AM ·

I went to college, first, and I believe everyone should. The most successful makers I know are college grads--it may not directly relate to violin making, but it gives you new strategies for dealing with things that are absolutely valuable, and that gives you a leg up on other makers. College improves your way of problem solving that will make you a better violin maker. You definitely need college.

A violin maker friend of mine, who didn't go to college, summed it up this way, which is a bit crudely put, but true "you college guys always get what you want." That's it--it's another way of saying we know better how to get where we want to be.

February 22, 2006 at 02:12 AM · Law school does well, too!

On the sales tactics front, the most amusing I've run into was the "tour guide" lady at a hazwaste place we were assessing. She took us to dinner dressed a bit differently. Then after dinner, she asked me very pointedly whether there was "aannnyyythinnngg" else she could do for me. I managed to keep a straight face and send her home. Just amazing what folks will do for a sale sometimes! What was really funny was that they were the ones I'd already decided to recommend.

I had a great salesman visit today. I'm 85% convinced I selected some rather good German bows at a very fair price. But I could have been sold. He was very good at showing his wares!

February 22, 2006 at 03:25 AM ·

It’s interesting that the discussion has gone from how to learn to make violins to salesmanship, and back... but I guess the two are interrelated. It’s no fun to have a tidy line of nice instruments you’ve produced sitting on the line and no one to buy them.

I think it’s worth pointing out that there is a rather large difference between effective marketing & service as they pertain to sales, and just plain sales.

Makers and restorer/dealers see both ends of sales and service... we deal directly with the service issues of our own products. It’s been my experience that “doing things right” brings it’s own rewards (plenty of business and good relationships with clients)... and that one must know the limits of the day. It serves no one (client or shop) to take on more than they can handle.

The sad (and I mean really sad) “kill” story Michael related shows a closed and limited mind... and someone who I assume can’t see that there is more to do out there than they can handle... There is no need for that kind of behavior.

Now, back to learning about violin making. My advice to the original poster is that if you’re interested in school training, check out the schools available in the States and consider which you feel might give the basic tools to chase your dreams, whatever they may be. School is just a modern replacement for the “apprentice” portion of training. What you do after that point is probably most important... at least that’s been my own experience. Finding the right person/shop to work with after graduation is key.

February 22, 2006 at 04:00 AM · Jessica, I do all my woodworking with a belt sander followed up by Dremel tools and a magnifier:) Why do you suggest Gorilla glue? Gorilla is great stuff but it expands and foams up as it dries. Not sure how easy it would be to take apart again either. Also, regarding the Stewmac stuff, usually you can download the complete manual from their site before you buy, to understand what you have to do.

February 22, 2006 at 04:16 AM · Jim, you forgot the hammer!

February 22, 2006 at 05:19 AM · That's on the other side of the hatchet so strictly speaking it isn't a separate tool.

Which reminds me the first rule of an instrument repairman should be "Know your limitations." Lots of them are happy to do things way over their heads. If someone wants to charge an exorbitant amount to do something, it doesn't mean he's that good. It means he thinks it's going to be complicated, possibly because he's never done it before. He may also be subtly telling you to go elsewhere. The great majority of them aren't Darnton, Holmes, or Burgess.

February 22, 2006 at 05:28 AM · Where we live, there is no luthier within an hour drive. If I started one, with my sister, it would be an enourmas(didnt spell that right) success.

February 22, 2006 at 10:48 AM · Luke, (and Michael)

isn't there anywhere near you where they offer vocational training type courses (there are some in UK colleges: www.hotcourses.com) from of 3 months to a year? It seems like a good way to get to begin the process and see whether you want/have the ability and patience to do the full-time 3-year degree.

And the prices here are reasonable enough, but I don't how things are in the US.

February 22, 2006 at 01:53 PM ·

There are some summer workshops in the US. The University of New Hampshire offers one (http://www.learn.unh.edu/violin/), and I'm doing one this summer in California (see http://www.jbviolin.com). I know there are a couple of other similar things around. I think they all depend on applicants having a certain amount of experience, already, though--no one week workshop is going to want to kill time teaching you how to sharpen your tools and what end of the knife handle to hold.

February 22, 2006 at 03:08 PM · Michael, that's not necessarily true. The one-week workshop that I went to a few years ago did just that -- we learned how to sharpen our tools, we learned what tools we needed, etc. The real basics.

Yes, it was recommended that if you wanted to get the most out of it, you should have some experience. More than one person took the course more than once, simply because the first time they were just learning to hold their tools -- and the second time, they were able to learn on a whole different level.

I took the course as a complete beginner and got an amazing amount out of it. Now, I know just enough to be dangerous... muahaha!

Still, these courses aren't cheap, especially if you have to travel to them. I was able to commute daily from home to cut down on the expenses.

Making violins is not a trade for the impatient or imprecise, so it's probably a good idea to give yourself some opportunity to find out if it really suits you.

For instance, if you have a spare fiddle to work on, try just carving and fitting a new bridge and soundpost for it, and keep in mind that in order to function properly, the bridge feet have to fit the top exactly and the soundpost must not have any gaps between it and the top and bottom. If you find this frustrating, then you might try marketing instead of making violins. If you find it satisfying, then sign up for that four-year program. :)

February 22, 2006 at 06:13 PM · Luke,

Have you any experience working with wood? Is woodworking something you enjoy? Do you mind spending hours sanding a piece of wood, by hand, to get just the right thickness and soft-as-silk smoothness?

If you have a neighbor or acquaintance who is knowledgable and has a shop ask if you could sweep up sawdust and clean the shop in exchange for learning. Find out if you do have a passion for woodworking.

As Patty pointed out, woodworking, and violin making in particular takes a great deal of patience. Take the advise of making a soundpost & bridge. Can you see yourself doing this type of detailed, meticulous work day after day.?

February 23, 2006 at 12:40 AM · I think if I were learning now, which I suppose I always am, I would pick a violin I like and copy it. Several times. For example, I like the Betts and I can get in to see it. If time weren't so pressing, I'd carve a Betts scroll or four, then take them up and compare to the original. Go and rework and redo until I think I have the best I can do. Get someone very experienced to review it. Once the scroll is OK and I can do that, I'd do a corner. A bunch of corners. Just on scraps. And arch top & back with oversize corners. Once I could get the scrap piece corners nice, I'd go ahead and finish up the plates.

I suspect working this way takes a while, but results in a deeper understanding of the instrument.

February 23, 2006 at 01:25 AM · That's a very good idea for a self-teaching approach. Once you've developed the eye and objectivity and coordination with tools to copy a scroll, you should be set to do some serious learning.

February 23, 2006 at 02:04 AM · Greetings,

one can in fact, scroll down,

Cheers,

Buri

February 24, 2006 at 12:37 AM · You have googled violin making schools etc. yes?

You might also look for organizations in your area like SCAVM. Regarding sales and such. Do you wish to make a living at this? Own a shop or work for someone? In an apprenticeship the maker needs to at least break even on your work (cover your damages?). How much labor are you willing to trade for knowledge? Are you ready to relocate? As you may have picked up from earlier posts, not all in the trade agree on everything or even most things. Do you read Strad Magazine? It was once the primere trade rag; now it caters to a wider public. Many of the better shops advertise there and publish as well. Reading a few years of back issues would be enlightening and entertaining.

March 1, 2006 at 04:04 PM · *sneaks quietly back into this discussion*

I just wanted to point out two articles in this month's Strings. One was about making an instrument from a kit. The other was about modern innovations (shape, adjustable necks and soundposts, and other stuff like that.

Jessica

March 5, 2006 at 02:05 AM · Hi Luke, Lots of people make VSO,s (Violin Shaped Objects) but very few have the talent to compete at a professional level. Have a look here;

http://s11.invisionfree.com/Stringed_Instruments/index.php?showtopic=16

and check out the Musical Instrument Makers forum at;

http://www.mimf.com/cgi-bin/WebX?15@@14@.ee6b280

This site specialises in instrument construction and there is a ton of very good advice from a lot of professional luthiers and gifted amateurs.

Regards, Tony

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