How to Talk to Your Violin Maker

Strings Magazine, April 2017. Guest Edited by Samuel Zygmuntowicz. How do your clients usually find you? My clients usually hear about me from another musician—either someone they know or someone they hear playing one of my instruments. Or possibly they may hear about me by a recommendation from a teacher. At the beginning of the process, how do you get a solid sense of what a client wants and needs from an instrument? Read more. 

The Secret to the Strad Sound

Strings Magazine, April 2017. Please answer the following:  The tone of a Stradivari instrument is deemed superior due to: extraordinary craftsmanship;  weather conditions during the growth of the trees; rare components emulsified in the varnish; magic/dragons/other. Here’s another option to add to the list: chemical seasoning, in this case, treating the wood with a cocktail of mineral preservatives. A recent study found “reproducible differences” in the chemical composition of wood from several Strads when compared to modern maple samples. Read more.

Wood Ponding: A procedure for treating the raw material for stringed instruments (PDF)

Strad Magazine, February 2015. Ponding is the term used for treating wood by placing it under water for several months. In the past, this treatment was generally held to result in higher durability, more dimensional stability and better working properties. I have been interested in the various methods of ponding wood since I began building violins 35 years ago. Read more.

Don’t Overlook the Sonic Impact of the Tailpiece Hanger

All Things Strings, June 2010. Though often overlooked, the little piece of cord or wire connecting the tailpiece to the end button of your instrument can have a significant impact on sound and playability. The material of which the tailpiece hanger is made — but more importantly, its position on the instrument — can contributed to a freer and more ringing tone, increase your instrument’s volume, and help the instrument be more responsive to the bow. Read more.

How Tailpiece Can Affect Sound and Playability

All Things Strings, May 2010. “A modern tailpiece is a marvel of engineering,” fittings-maker Eric Meyer says, “and it is very difficult to make both technically effective and aesthetically pleasing.” In other words, there’s more to a tailpiece than meets the eye. Read more.

Wood: Just the Right Piece

The wood I use comes from only a few small areas of the world, has been carefully chosen and cut, and then sorted and culled, sorted and culled, until what I begin to make a violin with is literally a one-in-a-million piece of wood. Read more.

Old Versus New

While an older instrument may feel very smooth to play and be warm and colorful under the ear, that sound may not project to the audience like a new instrument’s sound does. That smooth, mellow, colorful sound the player hears may be heard by the audience as more muddy and unclear. Read more.