October 2012 will mark the beginning of my fourth year making violins. That means three years down and seventeen to go on a twenty year plan. At least twenty I hope and if fortunate enough many more after that. I work alone; to this point I've made three violins, one a year. I've had no formal training or apprenticeship; I've learned this craft through hundreds of hours of research (books, DVDs, websites and articles) and much trial and error. What I did bring to this endeavor from the outset is a love for the instrument spanning some fifty years, a curious mind and an understanding of what fine craftsmanship is and the needed patience to achieve it.
In a nutshell, along with my family and community relationships, this is the essence of what I'm about. Almost every day when I'm not working to make a living, I'm involved in some way with violins. I practice playing seven hours plus weekly. Evenings in the Fall and Spring I am either beginning a new instrument or putting on the finishing touches. During winter months I work full time making violins, practicing playing technique and researching ways to perfect this craft. I'm currently searching for my own unique "voice" on the violin and feel close to the day when I'll begin sharing it with others. Somehow, mystically I sense, these different aspects will come together to make for a better whole.
In making violins my approach can be described best this way. There is never a rush to get it right. I currently make one per year, what's a few extra dozen hours going to hurt. Only the finest, traditional raw materials will be used, price is no determinant. At completion of the construction phase, the instrument is fitted with the highest quality bride available and currently I use only Pirastro Olive strings. If someone wants cheaper less sensitive strings with reduced tonal coloring, it's their choice. The instruments are molded after an early 18th century Strad. I have found and documented an arching, graduating, tap tone and mass combination that has produced an outstanding "voice" on my opus 3. Unless the "heavens" disclose a superior method I will happily continue to reproduce this beautiful instrument. Outwardly the violins are finished in a method that accentuates the spruce grain, maple flame and a few intentionally left over tool marks for authenticity. I have no desire to make perfect copies of any instruments, Italian or otherwise. I have every intention of making instruments that will suit violinist of the highest caliber in their pursuit of excellence. I believe my latest violin, opus 3, does that in spades.
I look forward to following this process for years to come: Making exquisite violins for very fine players looking for an instrument that will bring out the best in their abilities in creating their own unique "voice".
Cape Cod, MA