instrument making

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All information related to the making of stringed instruments

The truth about spruce

I came across this article on the internet years ago. I don't know who wrote it and neither do I know if 'the truth' is actually true. But nevertheless, it is an interesting read...


Here is more than you perhaps ever cared to know about European spruce ... or what to think when someone proclaims they have a top of German (or Italian, or Swiss, or French, or Jugoslavian or Italian) spruce.

My little search for 'The truth about spruce' has been ongoing for many years, but recently took a turn when someone insisted that Picea abies and Picea excelsa were two names for the same species. I had always understood they were separate, as the woods associated with the two names were certainly (I thought) quite different. I got busy with the web, some books and spoke at length with a couple of experts. I have a better idea of what's what now, and here's what I found out.

First of all, the guy who lumped them together was right and I was out of date.

These are the three ranges of Picea abies, a tree commonly known in the US as Norway spruce.

Spruce tree distribution
The three ranges of Picea abies


Cello building photo essay

I came across the website of luthier John Osnes. He has a very nice photo essay on a cello that he recently built. Lots of pictures and information - especially the section on varnishing. Enjoy!

John Osnes


Shellac - a traditional finish still yields superb results

By: Jeff Jewitt. For more information and products, refer to Homestead Finishing Products. Copyright 2000, not reproducible in any form, written or electronic, without permission.

The article below can be downloaded in PDF format by registered users here.

To the average person, shellac probably invokes many negative perceptions. Poor water and heat resistance, difficult to apply, poor drying and low durability are all criticisms that I hear when I mention shellac to my clients or other woodworkers. While some of these criticisms are valid, many are not grounded in fact and are easy to disprove. Other negative aspects are overcome by using proper tools, techniques, and most important -- proper product.


Ageing instruments with sound


Violinists and guitarists have long known that the tools of their trade improve with age, or more specifically with actual playing time. The vibrations from playing cause subtle changes in the pliability of the wood and lacquer that cover it. That's why vintage instruments are so highly prized.

However, quantifying exactly how these changes effect the sound of the instrument has proven difficult.


Why do Stradivari's violins sound sublime?

29 November 2006 by Paul Marks

A wood preservation technique was probably responsible for the exquisite sound produced by violins of the 17th-century Italian instrument makers Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri.

Chemical analysis of wood shavings scavenged from two instruments while under repair has given fresh clues as to their exquisite acoustics.


Where a violinmaker lives

ImageThis article was originally written in Afrikaans by Schalk Schoombie and appeared in the Lééf magazine of June 2006.

Albertus Bekker knows violins inside out. His dreams are filled with shavings, glue, gouges and sensual curves in wood.


'Davidoff' cello

I am building a cello inspired by the famous 1673 ‘Davidoff’ Stradivari cello as played by Jacqueline du Pré and Yo-Yo Ma. I didn’t take pictures of the very first few steps including the making of the one-piece mold and the ribs etc, but I will try to document the building process going forward in more detail.

To see the bigger images, click on any thumbnail below. 


A Comparison of Wood Density between Classical Cremonese and Modern Violins

This article is available for download in PDF format for registerd users here.

The densities of five classical and eight modern violins were compared, using computed tomography and specially developed image-processing software.

Berend C. Stoel1, Terry M. Borman2

1 Department of Radiology, Division of Image Processing, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands, 2 Borman Violins, Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States of America

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