All Lutherie articles

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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

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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

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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

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    Lutherie in the Vogtland: Stars of the East


    The Vogtland in eastern Germany produced some of the country’s least known and most fascinating instrument makers. Rudolf Hopfner and Monika Lustig use CT scans to lift the lid on their unusual construction methods, and show why they should be more widely studied

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    Matched quartets: a dream commission?


    What does a string quartet look for when commissioning a matching set of instruments, and how do luthiers go about fulfilling such a project?

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    Making a Full Quartet of Instruments: Matches Made in Heaven?


    It’s both a privilege and a challenge to build a quartet of instruments that are intended to be played together from the start. Peter Somerford speaks to players and makers to discover both the pitfalls and the opportunities

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    An almost perfect success story: the evolution of Vuillaume


    Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume was the most successful French luthier of his time, but the first years of his career remain shrouded in mystery. Jonathan Marolle examines some of his earliest instruments to uncover the evolution of his technique and style

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    Vuillaume's Early Years: The Making of a Master


    Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume was the most successful French luthier of his time, but the first years of his career are still shrouded in mystery. Jonathan Marolle examines some of his earliest instruments to uncover the evolution of his technique and style 

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    Seeing red


    Madder root has been used since ancient times to provide a deep red pigment – but the process of making it remains mysterious. For the past three years Hugh Withycombe and Guy Harrison have tested different methods to get the recipe just right – and can now reveal their findings ...

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    My Space: Stephen Quinney


    The Toronto luthier gives a demonstration of his craft in a 2017 episode of the series History in the Making

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    Like Fathers, Like Sons


    This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Émile Auguste Ouchard, as well as the 40th of his son Bernard – both regarded as among the 20th century’s finest bow makers. Thomas Martin, Andrew McGill, Martin Lawrence and George Martin examine the legacy of the Ouchard dynasty, particularly ...