I’ve made this violin model regularly over the last few years; it reliably produces a powerful and rich sound with a warm G string and sweet A. A friend of one of my cello customers came to see the last one I made before its new owner collected it, and I’m happy to say she liked it enough to order one for herself. So I’ve now started work.
As ever, I start with the ribs, thin strips of maple bent round the mould. When all the ribs are glued in place, I fit the linings, small strips of spruce that will reinforce the gluing surface with the back and front.
While I’m working on the ribs, I’ve made the scroll, carved from a solid block of maple.
The violin really feels under way when I start work on the back and front. The wood for the back is maple; this is a piece of wood that’s probably older than my violin making career, which I bought from a friend. It’s a two-piece back, book-matched pieces that I have joined. The front is old spruce from the same source, with a lovely texture and fine grain lines.
I’ve started by hollowing some of the wood from the underside of the back and front; this will save me time later. Then cutting out the shape of the plates and planing the arching to close to its final shape.
The next stage is to fit the purfling, the inlay of black dyed pear/poplar/black dyed pear that runs round the edge of the back and front. First I cut the sides of the channel, then I cut away the waste wood. After that I can bend and glue the strips of purfling in place.
The second shot here shows the finished purfling corner with the edgework finished too.
I’ve now finished the archings, and it’s exciting to see the violin really take shape. This model has quite high arching, full to the edges, which helps contribute to the rich sound and warm G string.
Next I turn the plates over and hollow out the undersides. I do a lot of measuring, flexing and tapping the wood, taking wood out slowly and carefully until I’m happy with the balance of weight, stiffness and sound. It’s different for each instrument depending on the shape of arching and stiffness of the wood.
Then I finalise the f-holes which I had roughed out while working on the front thicknessing. They are gloriously unmatched and also quite widely spaced which to my mind gives the front an air of wide-eyed curiosity. With that done, the bass bar is fitted, and the ribs come off the mould, everything ready for assembling the body of the violin.
I’ve now finished the bass bar and glued the ribs to the back, so all is ready to ‘close the box’.
That done, I’ve fitted and shaped the neck, taking care to make it slim, smooth and flowing. The violin is now finished ‘in the white’ ready for varnishing.
And now the violin is finished, with coats of soft golden brown varnish.