This is fast becoming my signature violin model! I made it for the first time last year as a commission for a front-desk player in the Hallé Orchestra; I thought it would meet her requirements, and I love its quirky charm and asymmetry. There are many aspects of the design which work especially well to create a sound which is rich and warm but also responsive and sparkly when needed.
The original violin is in the collection of the Royal Academy of Music, and I was lucky to be granted access to measure and photograph it, so each time I’ve made it I can refer back to my drawings and images.
This time the violin is a commission from a talented young player from Reading, who learns with the owner of one of my violins; she thought the quality of sound of my instruments would suit him well. Henry came to try the previous violin of this model that I made, and he and his parents were happy enough to commission one for him.
As ever, I’ve started by making the rib assembly. The ribs are strips of maple planed to 1mm thick, bent using heat and glued to the blocks which are recessed into the mould. Once all the ribs are glued into place, I fit the linings, small counter-strips of spruce which increase the eventual gluing surface with the back and front.
While the glue dries on the various rib joints, I’ve worked on the scroll. This is also made from maple.
Now it’s time to start work on the back and front. I offered Henry a choice of wood for the back, sending him photos of pieces of maple which I thought would work well both visually and acoustically for his violin. He picked this striking one-piece back, which I bought in 2018 when it was already, I guess, about 50 years old. The front came from the same source and is equally old, a lovely even-grown piece of spruce. The picture shows the outlines finalised and the arching roughly shaped.
This done, I then fit the purfling, the decorative inlay round the edge of the violin. I make this myself, a sandwich of willow between two strips of pear wood dyed black. First I cut a channel round the edge of the plates, then bend and trim the purfling to fit. Once the purfling has been glued into place, I start the work to finalise the arching, sinking a channel around the edge of the back and front with the purfling near the lowest point. This gives the definition to the edges and the lovely curves of the arching rise from it.