instrument design

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Information related to stringed instrument design
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Cello completed!

ImageThe cello that I started building way back in 2007 is finally completed and was sold. I used the opportunity to update the pictures of the building process in the 'workbench' section of the website. Here is a link to the pictures:

Cello building pics

I also did some research on the 'Davidov' Stradivari cello that I used as inspiration for the cello and here is what I found:

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Making violas: reconciling size and sound

I came across this transcription of a talk given at Lutherie2006 Conference, Newark on Trent, 13 May 2006 by Helen Michetschläger. It is posted on her website here. It is a really good and useful description of her philosopy on viola design and the particular challenges the larger instrument poses. Good stuff!


I'm particularly pleased to have the opportunity to talk about one of my main areas of interest, making violas. This is going to be a practical rather than a theoretical talk, based on my experience of meeting and working with many viola players and teachers, discussing ideas with colleagues and trying things out at the workbench.

I think that making violas is one of the most interesting aspects of violin making today. Players demand powerful and responsive instruments in a size they can manage. As there are fewer good old violas than violins or cellos, viola players are often less conservative in their expectations. This gives us as makers a wonderful opportunity to be creative; to experiment and to test out ideas.

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William F. Fry: a physicist's quest for the 'secrets' of Stradivari

This is an article by Kameshwar C. Wali that I found here. It gives a profile of William Fry - a physicist - and his efforts to understand what makes the old Cremonese violins so special. I don't necessarily agree with all of his opinions, but it is nevertheless a very interesting read, especially the part on the effect of frequency ranges on the sound.


The origin and early history of the violin remain shrouded in mystery despite much research and speculation. The instrument appeared in its present form in the early sixteenth century, predominantly in Italy. Two schools of luthiers flourished: that of Gasparo Bertolotti, or Gasparo da Salo (1542-1609) in Brescia, and that of Andrea Amati (c. 1511-1581) in Cremona. The Cremona school dominated the scene for the next two centuries. Amati and his descendants ushered in an extraordinary period of violin making, which peaked between 1650 and 1750. All the violin makers lived and worked side by side around a courtyard in front of the St. Domenico church, where they produced instruments of great beauty and exquisite sound. The most celebrated of all, Antonio Stradivari (1644?-1737), brought unsurpassed perfection to the instruments he built.

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Carleen Hutchins, innovative violin maker, is dead at 98

In the mid-20th century, when Carleen Hutchins was at the height of her career, it was unusual enough for a woman to make violins. It was even more unusual for a violin maker to conduct hands-on acoustic research, harnessing technology so that modern hands might build instruments to rival the work of 17th- and 18-century masters.

But Mrs. Hutchins did something more unusual still. Working intently and noisily in her home in Montclair, N.J., she helped reimagine the idea of what a violin could be.

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Volutes and violins: visual parallels between music and architecture

Here is a nice article by Åke Ekwall that appeared in the Nexus Network Journal. It deals with the possible design principles underlying the design of violin scrolls from a historical point of view. Nice read! (cick on the thumbnails for fullsize pictures)

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Contact details

76 seventh street
linden, johannesburg
2195
south africa

tel: 0829035832
fax: (011) 2948849

e-mail: albertus@bekkerviolins.com