You might enjoy this mini documentary which fills in some background on my life as a luthier. Thanks to journalist Taylor Morton for helping me tell the story.
Pictured above is a quarter sawn willow board which will one day be destined to form the back of a cello. I encountered a cello with a willow back this fall and the unique sound intrigued me. I started thinking about willow backs and in the course of things I discovered that my usual supplier had a wonderful selection of willow wood. I was hooked. This slab showed up around the end of December. I won't be using this piece immediately as it was expensive and I need to practice with more modest willow first.
It's been an unusual winter. I haven't made a violin since the summer. Instead I:
I attended many musical events this winter and most included musicians who regularly play on my instruments. I enjoy the unique pleasure of hearing performances where I know some of the players and also their instruments. It's very special!
I've been playing the new cello since the new year as I wait for the sunny weather to arrive so I can varnish it. It's the kind of cello that keeps begging you to play more. However, there's a new design of cello that I'm excited about. It's a blend of inspiration coming from Guadagnini and Guiseppi Guarneri filius Andreae. One might wonder why I'm not planning to duplicate my most recent cello since it's incredibly comfortable to play and the tone seems to be outstanding. I'm not sure I have a good answer at the moment but it's probably several months before I get serious so I have some time to think about it. The Guadagnini inspired cello has an outline that I find contradictory and I never tire of looking at it. It appears slightly portly, yet the overall dimensions are somewhat slender.
While I was waiting for the varnish season to arrive, I took the image of a Brothers Amati viola and reduced it to 15 1/2". The last coat of varnish went on it two or three days ago, so now it's curing for a week in preparation for the final setup and adjustment. I had it strung up "in the white" for a while and the feedback from a full time violist was very encouraging.
In the meantime, I've been comissioned to make a 5-string violin. In this case, I've enlarged the outline of the Del Gesu Alard violin by about 10 mm. I was fortunate to have a Silokowski 5-string violin to measure before I started the project. This violin is scheduled for completion early in the summer.
Next on the list is a straight forward violin project. I've selected the wood from my inventory and now I'm thinking about it a bit. I will probably use a pattern of my own design as the violins made from that pattern seem to be very successful. It's always nice to have an instrument to craft while waiting for varnish to dry.