All Lutherie articles

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    Historical varnishes: Beneath the surface


    The inclusion of minerals in Italian varnishes from the 16th to mid-18th centuries has long been a source of speculation. Balthazar Soulier, Stefan Zumbühl and Christophe Zindel present the first results of a long-term study showing that key answers can be found in early German recipes

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    Violin making and AI: Intelligent design


    The science of violin acoustics has encompassed 3D scanning, CNC technology and good old-fashioned tap tones – so why not AI software? Sebastian Gonzalez presents the results of a project that could help predict an instrument’s tone qualities even before it’s made

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    Herrmann bow making dynasty: An enduring legacy


    Like their close contemporaries the Knopfs, the Herrmann family of bow makers left behind a large number of bows, many of which show exquisite craftsmanship. In the second of two articles, Gennady Filimonov examines their history, their connections with the Knopfs, and several examples of their work

  • Students from SHCM
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    Violin making schools in China: The way of the future


    In the second of two articles on violin making in China, Sisi Ye examines the schools teaching the art of lutherie to young people, where tuition can last up to ten years and a grounding in music theory is essential

  • Knopf Family Tree
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    Knopf dynasty: A tangled web


    Three bow makers of the Knopf family are well known: Christian Wilhelm, Heinrich and Henry. But the dynasty comprises more than a dozen members, many of whom deserve recognition. Gennady Filimonov draws on archive material supplied by the Knopf descendants 

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    Tracing the truth: Stradivari’s early cellos


    What cello moulds were used in the Stradivari workshop? The question has long gone unanswered, despite the number of artefacts – and even intact moulds – that survive. Philip Ihle examines 17 of the cellos made before 1700 to find out how many moulds may have been used before the ...

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    Song of the gut string makers


    In 1877, Markneukirchen in Germany was at the heart of the world’s string making industry. The townsfolk were so proud, they even composed a drinking song all about it. Kai Köpp explains what the lyrics (translated into English for the first time) reveal about this convoluted process

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    Ludwig Bausch: Gone… but not forgotten


    Respected during his lifetime, Ludwig Bausch was almost unknown just a few years after his death – and his bows were considered unremarkable junk. Josef P. Gabriel reveals why the maker and his family were almost lost to history, and why his work deserves to be listed among the greats ...

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    Lutherie in China: the enterprise system


    China has become a world leader in stringed instrument making, based on a system of bulk production combined with respect for craftsmanship. Sisi Ye speaks to the heads of manufacturing firms in Pinggu, Queshan and Huangqiao to learn more

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    Behind the Curve: the evolution of the bow


    The evolution of the bow is inextricably tied up with the needs of the player, and the changing face of society. Paolo Sarri examines the development of the ‘ancient’ and ‘modern’ curves of the bow stick, dispelling a number of myths along the way

  • Figure 3
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    CT-Scanning the ‘Messiah’


    In 2016 the ‘Messiah’ Stradivari was the subject of an extensive CT scanning project. Francesco Piasentini and Gregg Alf examine the resulting data, discovering repair work in the neck, and attempt to determine how it had originally been set

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    The viola d’amore: For a sympathetic ear


    The viola d’amore is undergoing a resurgence in popularity among early music groups, with a wealth of repertoire still to be rediscovered. Rachael Durkin tracks the development of this unique instrument, examining its many precursors along the way

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    Hollywood Bow Makers: Unsung heroes of the silver screen


    Lasting from the late 1920s to 1960, Hollywood’s golden age was a boom time for musicians, and those who catered for them. Raphael Gold tells the stories of some of the era’s best-regarded LA bow makers, and reveals why their work should be better known today

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    The Lost Art of Cremonese Violin Archings


    The old Cremonese luthiers’ method of designing violin archings has been lost in the mists of time. Andrew Dipper uses evidence from 18th-century manuals to propose how they might have done it, through a system encompassing string lengths, internal forms… and a lot of mathematics

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    Giuseppe Ceruti: In the name of the father


    The Cremonese luthier Giuseppe Ceruti is often overlooked in favour of his more famous son, Enrico. Duane Rosengard examines two matching double basses by Giuseppe to discover the secrets of his making style

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    Lutherie Collectives: The Wisdom of Crowds


    Violin making is traditionally a solitary career, so why are so many luthiers and bow makers choosing to join collectives? Peter Somerford talks to the founders and members of such groups around the world to discover the benefits of pooling resources, knowledge and time

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    Stradivari violin ‘Benecke’: Unconventional Beauty


    The 1694 ‘Benecke’ violin is a masterpiece of Stradivari’s ‘Long Pattern’. Andrea Zanrè and Rudolf Hopfner take a look at this exquisite example, detailing its provenance and revealing what CT scans can tell us about its construction

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    Napoleonic Bows: French Connections


    Several violin, viola and cello bows still survive from the Imperial Court Orchestra of Napoleon III. Gennady Filimonov examines their history, and provides evidence that the so-called ‘Napoleonic-type bows’ originated with the first Emperor rather than the third

  • 14 Weird glasses
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    Luthiers and RSI: Taking the Strain


    For instrument makers, repetitive strain injuries can mean untold pain and misery – and possibly the end of their career. Luthier Cameron Robertson explains how, with the help of occupational therapist Sara Propes, he adapted his work process to guard against the problems of RSI in the future

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    The freeform style of the Vogtland’s violin tradition


    A recent research project using high-resolution CT scans is lifting the lid on the unusual construction methods behind four instruments makers of the Vogtland region in Germany