Steffen Nowak 
Maker of fine Violins, Violas and Cellos in baroque and modern style
75 Sylvia Avenue, Bristol, BS3 5BU, UK  tel +44 (0) 117 9777141





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In the workshop

Gasparo da Salo Viola with soundfiles

A new cello after Dominco Montagnan - Venice, is progressing on the bench - update soon!


An spontaneous sound sampling with RWCMD student Joshua Clarke trying a few of my violas. The first sound files of my da Salo Viola can be heard here.

Other sound samples on request.

The annual BVMA Makers' Day exhibition is this
Sunday, 12th.March - 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM
at Kings Place, (nr. Kings Cross), London N1 9AG
My exhibition is on table 18 and I will be showing my violins, violas and celli.
Looking forward to the event.
#@the_bvma #violinmaker #violamaker #cellomaker #kingsplace
New Cello after Stradivari 1712 (740mm) now available to try
Photos coming soon: new violin after Guarneri del Gesu
and Stradivari - the 2 violins are available to try now - thank you.


On the bench: a cello after Stradivari - Davidov - 'small model'


Viola after Maggini 16 1/4'' 413mm Now available to try - please enquire

Violin after Gaspar Lorenzini available to try in London - please enquire


At the 2022 BVMA Makers' Day at Kings Place.
My Stradivari B-form Cello (740 model) was also played by Neil Heyde of the engaging Kreuzer Quartet's in their lunchtime concert.
This slightly smaller model with a comfortable string length of 680mm
does not need to shy away when compared to the just slightly larger standard models as could be heard in the concert.

My violins and violas were also appreciated by the many musicians who enjoyed trying many instruments, meeting and chatting to the many makers present.

Thanks also to all visitors and hard working volunteers for making this a day to remember.


I'd like to invite you to my forthcoming exhibition at:
The BVMA Makers' Day: at Kings Place, (nr. Kings Cross),
London N1 9AG,
Sunday, February 20, 2022. 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM

My exhibition is on table 18 and I will be showing a range of my violins, violas and celli.
I would be pleased to welcome you, and any friends, colleagues or students of yours.
If there is interest to try a particular model or Viola size please get in touch prior as I won't be able to show all my available instruments.

FREE to attend and open to the public this is the event of the year for anyone interested in the modern making of violins, violas and cellos. With 55 tables of exhibitors and makers and a fantastic venue in central London, this is an amazing chance to meet the maker of your dream instrument. Come and chat, view, hold and play the instruments made by some of the world's foremost makers. Listen to a selection of the instruments being played in concert by The Kreutzer Quartet. Meet, connect and chat with other makers or musicians.

A new Viola after Giovanni Paolo Maggini (the original played by Veronika Hagen of the Hagen quartet, on loan from the Austrian National Bank collection) is now finished. A wonderful model with a good body size and very comfortable string length.

A violin inspired by Guarneri del Gesu is also on the bench.
Enquiries and visits are welcome, instruments can be tried here in Bristol or elsewhere by appointment.

New Viola after Mantegatia 15 7/8'' 403mm


New Viola after Guarneri 16 1/8'' 410mm



NewViola after Grancino 16 1/4'' 413mm


New instruments are being prepared for varnishing: 3 Viola models 16'' to 16.5'', as well as 2 new violins after Stradivari and Gaspar Lorenzini of Piacenza.
Instruments by Lorenzini are rare, even more so as they have often been falsely relabelled, just like the original I model mine on. That bears a filius Guarneri label and was certified and sold as such in the early 20th. century.

Available to try (courier shipping is possible during lockdown) are my Richard Tobin violin, 1820's and my small Guarneri model. Both could be called Lady's violins - but that would be belittling their sound and quality.

Furthermore, my modern celli, violas from the small 15 3/8'' to a 16.5'' Gaspar da Salo as well as the in between sizes (after Stradivari and Guarneri) and modern and baroque (Amati and Stainer) violins can be tried and purchased.
I am looking forward to advice and answer your queries.

Steffen, February 2021, Bristol

In the workshop 2020
In these challenging times it's ever more important to reflect and perhaps realize what is important in our life, what we treasure and value.
But it is important to hold on to the belief and trust that we will come through this period, and that art, in all its variety of human expression, continues and will flourish.
Performances are happening, musicians, artists have not stopped all the sudden, but have explored many different avenues to showcase their work as well as teaching.

I am looking forward again to enjoying live performances, just as much as seeing customers here in my workshop in Bristol.
I will endeavour to make the visiting, trial space as well as my instruments Covid safe and I am happy to discuss any concern or questions you might have before visiting.

With my best wishes,
Steffen Nowak

purfling and shavings - Mantegazza Viola model

My latest instruments are now ready for neck fitting.
But please enquire about current availabe instruments and prices.

Apart from violins, modern & baroque, I have 2 'Lady's size' violins available, several Viola models - sizes and 2 georgious sounding celli.

Carving on the new violin and viola fronts is underway...
The humble horsetail...
a brief article on its preparation for instrument makers written for the BVMA
In the workshop 2019
Some new Violas and Violins are underway for 2020.
Violas at 16' - 16.25'' annd 16.5'', models after Grancino, Guarneri, Stradivari, Mantegatia and Lorenzini.
Watch this space...
A new 'modern' set up cello after the golden period Forma B by A.Stradivari - and inspired by the 1712 ex Davidov - Jaqueline du Pré - Yo-Yo Ma).
The model fulfils most players idea of a full-size cello - 756mm length over the back, a belly stop of 400mm and a free string length of 690mm.


Photos of the new baroque viola after Grancino can be seen here.

The making 'blog' is now complete.

Photos of the latest B-form Stradivari cello will be posted soon.


I will again be in London with a selection of my instruments at the next BVMA Makers' Day on Sunday 3 February 2019.
Kings Place (near Kings Cross / St. Pancras)
Free entry from 10:30am to 5:30pm and a lunchtime concert on selected makers' instruments by the Kreutzer Quartet.
Hope to see you there.

The New Year is starting again as it finished with travels.
My exhibition at the Konzerthaus Vienna as part of the Resonanzen Festival was again in the sumptuous Schubert Saal - January 2019.
Several visits from professionals musicians with praise for my instruments. Thank you very much Alexander Zemtsov (Vienna,ex LPO) , Paul Rabeck (Wiener Symphoniker) and of course the wonderful Elena Demisova : 'Gratuliere zu beachtlich wunderbaren Violinen - Congratulations for remarkable wonderful violins'.


In the workshop 2018
September - December

November was busy with a 5 day exhibition at the IVC (International Viola Society) in Rotterdam.
With non stop concerts , masterclasses and workshops and so many wonderful viola players in attendance it was a stimulating event to attend. Many thanks to all of you who have visited our exhibition, tried instruments, commented and chatted to us.

A new cello after the Stradivari B-form has been taking shape, not far to go now.
Recent exhibition at the Dartington summer school during August were well received, and despite the time pressures of the course participants many stopped by for instrument trials and informal chats about violin making.

July - August

All good things come in three...
well here are 2 new violins and one new cello - all finally set-up, adjusted and sounding great. Where to start?

I haven't made that many Stradivari model violins lately - the 'Bee-violin' commission was the last one really, it's just that I was more inspired to develop my del Gesu and Bergonzi models a bit more.
Not easily given to praise myself (honest) - this Strad is promising to be very very good. It has to be heard and played to really appreciate the sound quality, it's bright, sparkles and resonates, and will give more if demanded. A sheer joy to play - do I really want to let it go?

How does the Strad compare to my other violin - the Guarneri del Gesu ? The Strad is bright and wants to 'race', the del Gesu is very focussed and rounded, likes to have good bow contact and will reward with a great punch and flexibility. And even better, the del Gesus' back is only 352mm, and with a slightly shorter string length and correctly proportioned neck length, this will be the perfect and rare find for someone.


Violin after Stradivari

Violin after del Gesu

Cello after Strad 740mm

Finally another Cello after my smaller Strad B-form model.
Resonant, even, good bass and strong top string, what's not to like.
Recently tried by several excellent cellists who found it comfortable and rewarding to play.


2 Baroque violins of mine (Stainer & Amati) will be on show at the Dartington summer school (every Tuesday 7th. 14th. and 21th. August - morning until after lunch) together with some of my modern set-up instruments.

The Stainer model I have made quite a few times over the years, and a very nice one from 2006 is played extensively by George Clifford for a number of years now and can be heard on his recordings.

A comparison between my Stainer and my Nicolo Amati model could be an interesting opportunity for a player looking for just 'the right' baroque style violin.


George Clifford performing on his 'Stainer'...

....from Ravishing Sweetenesse (Veterum Musica)



Photo: G.Clifford



Working in the summer heat...

3 new instruments in the varnish cabinet.
The new smaller size Strad cello model has already had its' first
sound test and was much liked. The final set-up is happening right now.

A new Stradivari forma B model also progressing on my bench.

May - June

Sadly another another violin made by me was stolen, together with an old Hill Viola.
The theft happened on the 27. November 2017 in South Africa.
The instruments in 2 packages where stolen in transit between King Shaka International airport and Tambo International airport.
The violin was made by me in 1988, Strad model, and bearing my label & bow by Louis Otto in a rectangular case
The other is a nice old Hill Viola:
viola labelled Will.m Hill Maker in Poland Street Carnaby Market 1775, in near mint condition with a finely grafted neck and golden-brown varnish, a smaller than average size stop and a relatively wide middle bout
Details posted on these 2 links:

Any information about the instruments welcome, either to the owner via the links or to me.


March - April

It's time again for the 5th annual Really Classical Relay music festival
at the Bristol Music Club, 76 St Paul's Road, BS8 1LP.

4th - 6th May - Friday 6-10pm, Saturday 14-10pm and Sunday 11 - 4pm (doors open 1 hour prior).
An almost non stop programme by a large group of superb early music instrumentalists,
you normally hear them performing as soloists or with the best period music ensembles throughout Europe.

So this is a unique chance to hear them in a wide range of chamber works and groups
(from solo, duo, trio etc. to chamber-group) in works by Haydn, Spohr , Beethoven (op. 132),
Mendelssohn, Mozart, Boccherini, Abel and more.
Also 2x 1 hour lunchtime performances, storytelling and activities for young listeners.
Also a Cafe, craft exhibits, 1 or 2 of my instruments...
Miss it at your peril!






I'm varnishing my new smaller Strad cello model at the moment, and then its fitting up time.
Also progressing on the bench are 2 violins, a golden period Strad and a smaller size Guarneri model, with a slightly shorther string length of about 325mm. This would be an ideal model for a player with a slightly small handspan.
Pictures coming soon.

As every year I welcome visitors to the annual BVMA Makers day, this year at the earlier February date at Kings Place, London.
I will have a selection of my instruments on show to try, and of course it's a great event to meet many different makers under one roof. See you there on Sunday!

BVMA Makers' Day
Sunday 4 February 2018
Kings Place York Way London N1 9AG
10:30am to 5:30pm




A new Violin after Guarneri del Gesu is finished,
the varnish shaded and gently antiqued,
the sound resonant and strong. Try it.

On the bench a new cello is progressing, based on my Stradivari B-form modification.




Fitting ebony pegs to the new del Gesu Violin.
The peg shaver blade must be razor sharp, and set correctly to correspond with the tapered reamer to assure an even fit of the pegs into to the pegbox wall. This should assure many years problem free tuning.




In the workshop 2017

November - December

A violin - made by me in 1989
was stolen on the 19. October 2017 from the house of its owner in Forest Hill, SE London.
If you see the violin, are offered it etc. please call:
Crime management unit telephone: 02072303400 quoting the crime number: 3223800/17
click on photo link to see more images and full description


September - October

My new project after Guarneri del Gesu is in the finishing stages.
And the new Nicolo Amati baroque violin photos can be seen here.


July - August
The summer break was needed, but also resulted in some scroll carving for my next instruments in a quiet village in Spain, away from the tourist crowds and beaches (as nice as the latter can be in the heat).
May - June

A new baroque violin after Nicolo Amati's grand pattern has recently been finished and ready for trial.
Photos coming soon.

March - April
Carlo Bergonzi...a late Cremonese my newest interpretation, great wood, glowing shaded varnish with a light texture and a warm sound. Try it.



I am delighted to announce my involvement with the 4th. annual Bristol festival REALLY CLASSICAL RELAY

Live music played continously by professional musicians from the start to the end of the weekend (except the small hours). 
A small selection of my instruments will be on display, as well as some scroll carving display.

Bristol Music Club
76 St Paul’s Road, Bristol, BS8 1LP
13th & 14th May 2017
Saturday 13th May 4pm - 10pm (doors open 3pm)
Sunday 14th May 10am - 4pm (doors open 9:30am)

international professional musicians | historical instruments | music by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven & contemporaries | continuous performances | come and go when you want | pay what you can for entry | all ages welcome | creative activities & children’s concerts | licensed café | crafts stalls.

Spring cleaning in the wood store, about 24 beautiful seasoned 8 year Bosnian Maple sets available for sale...
Last Sundays BVMA exhibition was as usually a very well organized day, thanks to the management committee and  volunteers. A healthy number of visitors,  professional and student players as well as enthusiastic violin making students from Newark-on-Trent and Merton College made for an almost endless stream of visitors to Kings Place London.
I enjoyed meeting the many visitors to my stand, engaging in interesting talks, as well as listening to some wonderful playing when my instruments where tried - but where were the viola players?
But just as important is the interaction with the many friends and colleagues attending. It was a friendly event with much sharing and learning alike.
If you missed it try and visit next year - possibly again at the same wonderful venue - watch this space.

My latest Carlo Bergonzi violin was having its first 'official' outing, but was already praised by Alexander Sitkovetsky after his wonderful performance with the Tabakova Players last Wednesday at St.George's Bristol, the entire programme with music by the mesmerizing Dobrinka Tabakova.

Photos of the new violin coming soon.

You can find me now on facebook, feel free to connect with me:
facebook linkedin mail
January - February

My next BVMA - BRITISH VIOLIN MAKING ASSOCIATION - exhibition will be on Sunday 12thy. March 2017, together with many friends and colleagues at the new venue of 'Kings Place'.

The Brodsky Quartet will be in attendance playing makers instruments in a short concert at 13.15.
‘Players Meet Makers’ Day is the BVMA’s annual showcase of violin makers,    
bow makers and associated trades displaying their instruments and bows – the best of new making in the UK and abroad.

Sunday 12 March 2017 - Kings Place - 90 York Way - Kings Cross - London N1 9AG
Doors open at 10.30am and close at 5.00pm --------- Nearest stations: King's Cross & St. Pancras

If you have any questions or would like to view a specific instrument on the day please contact me before.


My latest small da Salo Viola 15.5'' - after the ex Kievman, is now varnished and fitted up.With a one piece back on the slab, a somewhat wider grained front it's keeping close to the original. The richly coloured red brown oil varnish is shaded, with textures and a light patina, giving a warm subtle appearance

Work continues on the Bergonzi violin and several of my new instruments will be on show at the forthcoming BVMA March exhibition in London (more details to follow ).

In the workshop 2016
October - December

New Violas ready to try and compare: a large 16.5'' da Salo ....



...and a smaller 15 3.4'' after Guarneri.

Also on the Bench a violin after Bergonzi and a baroque violin after Nicolo Amati, as well as a small da Salo Viola 15.5'' - the ex Kievman.

30 year anniversary: September 1986 - 2016

After my 3 year full time training at the Welsh School of musical instrument making and repair in South Wales I set up my first workshop in Bristol Horfield's Radnor Road Center.
A former furniture making training place for returning WW2 soldiers, it became a busy multiple occupied small business center with several craft and artisan workshops.
In 1992 my wife Ana and I settled in Totterdown, a Victorian suburb on the southern hills of Bristol. Our large 3 storey house was to become our home and inspirational working environment for the next 8 years.
For the last 16 years we have been in Sylvia Avenue, just a bit higher up on the hills, with beautiful panoramic views over the city and green surrounds. Our city garden has an almost Italian Mediterranean flair, with apples, grapes and delicious figs (there must a suitable micro climate here).
My workshop with its 2 windows is overlooking the garden and gives a lot of light.
Over the years I have had the fortune to meet many wonderful and encouraging musicians. The process of making instruments is an ongoing learning curve, and seeing, listening and exploring old and new instruments is as inspiring now as when I started my profession 33 years ago.
Most of my instruments are in The UK and many countries in Europe (Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands), but also further afield in the USA, Taiwan, Japan, Australia.

Click on the photo for some early impression of my workshops and some encounters with musicians.


The October issue of the Strad magazine is also
featuring my workshop in its regular 'My Space' series.


Feel free to browse my book pages for an interesting selection of collectible and often out of print books on the violin etc.

August - September

Now on the bench and nearing completion are 2 Violas, the larger one based on my successful Gasparo da Salo model, reduced from a large tenor to a manageable 16 1/2'' (420 mm).
Also a smaller 15 3/4'' (400mm) Viola after Andrea Guarneri, very comfortable for a smaller hand. The one piece slab back inspired by the Primrose Guarneri.



I am also working on a beautiful Richard Tobin violin which has been most likely made for Lockey Hill around the 1820's.

Enquiries welcome.




A nice summer break in a small northern Spanish village has produced several scrolls for my next violins and violas...

2 Viola scrolls for my current Da Salo and A. Guarneri Violas, as well as scrolls after Guarneri del Gesu, Carlo Bergonzi, Nicolo Amati and Antonio Stradivari.

June - July
My new Stradivari model cello is also a happy sounding instrument and has impressed a recent visitor...

The bee violin has flown to Devon into a happy summer...


April - May
Varnishing time... my own cooked oil varnish after old traditional recipies, subtly coloured with my tranpsarent and lightfast lake pigments, made from madder root (rubia tinctorum).

Turning a fishy present into a time honoured abrasive....
a look at dogfish skin preparation.


The photos I took during the making of the latest violin can be seen here.

Work on my new Cello also continues - photos soon.

The BVMA exhibition was busy and a lot of fun. As always just enough time to meet old friends, colleagues and musicians keen to try instrumnets and compare.

Several instruments are now in the process of being tried, and one of my large da Salo Violas is now with its happy new owner on the Southcoast of Britain.



January - March 2016

I will be exhibiting some of my instruments at the forthcoming annual BVMA makers day at London's RCM opposite the Albert hall.
It's on Sunday 13th. March and the doors are open from 11am to 5pm.
Please contact me if you want me to bring a particular instrument you are interested in.

I am close to finishing my newest Stradivari model Cello, as well as working on a violin commission, the 'Bee' companion to the 'Bee'-Viola from almost 20 years ago.


In the workshop 2015  


November - December 2015

A new Cello after Stradivaris' B-Form is being started, with some beautiful well seasoned wood selected.

RCM degree student Melissa Ong is the happy owner of one of my previous smaller Strad cello models. She visited recently for a check up to her cello after playing it for over 2 years in several London orchestras. She is also the principal Cellist of the RCM Symphony Orchestra. Her cello and its sound has developed beautifully and after some minor adjustments and a little cleaning is ready for some more serious playing.


A recent new client is the well known Viola player Yossi Gutman, now again resident in Berlin.
Mr. Gutmann, b. Tel Aviv, 1947, acclaimed violist, studied with Nadia Boulanger, Odeon Partos, Williams Primrose, Yehudi Menuhin and Sergiu Celibidache. He has been principal violist in several orchestras: including the Hamburg Symphony; Deutsches Symphony Orchestra, Berlin; Bayreuth Festspiel Orchestra. In chamber music: founding member of the Melos Quartet; founder of the Stradivari Sextett; principal violist for the Amati Ensemble.

In the past he had 1734 Gibson Stradivari Viola on loan, also playing a Carlo Antonio Testore Viola, and more recently choosen a 'Steffen Nowak' Viola after Gasparo da Salo to perform on.

Mr. Gutmann is one of many fine players who are appreciating the sound and potential of a good contemporary instrument.


August - September - October 2015

The 2 new instruments are finished and can presently be seen at the 2015 Triennale exhibition in Cremona, where they were both very well received by the international jury.

the new Guarneri Viola


I finished varnishing during July, and finalized the set-up and sound adjustments during my holidays in a small village in Northern Spain. An impromotu concert on the violin in a residential care home showed that the violin had a rich pallete of tone colours and it was a joy to play.

varnishing stages of the new del Gesu


the del Gesu violin with its varnish ground



And the varnish ground of the viola

May - July 2015

2 new instruments are under way, a Guarneri del Gesu violin after the 1737 'Joachim' as well as a Andrea Guarneri viola, after the Conte Vitale.

For both instruments I choose beautiful deeply flamed one piece backs cut on the slab, looking for the warm and darker sound character this type of wood can give.

The fronts are from old, well seasoned alpine spruce.


shaping the bassbar

fine shavings

April 2015

The LSO International Festival at Londons Barbican on 12.April, part of the 'STRAD Sundays' at was an interesting event to exhibit at. A friendly welcome by the organisers, well set up tables, and various makers and a few dealers showing an interesting array of instruments and accessoiries. It was a popular event with many active musicians visiting, chatting and trying instruments.
Three talks accompanied the event. Roger Rose’s  well attended talk was about the changes in set-up between Baroque and modern instruments.
Helen Michetschläger previewed her forthcoming publication of the Magister Violin Varnish book. Her summary of Koen Paddings’ varnish system and research  doesn't promise ready-made recipes, but more an insight into the system itself and the various papers and articles the late K. Padding had published. The experienced varnish maker amongst us will undoubtedly find this publication useful, whether one has used the Magister varnish or not, for the beginner searching for a working varnish perhaps less so.
The sad and early death of K. Padding has left a gap in the commercial violin varnish market, and probably many of his customers looking somewhat worried into the future when their own supply runs out.

Making one’s own varnish is not without pitfalls as every maker who has ever ventured on this road can verify. But once a workable recipy has been found, it’s worthwhile to keep improving and fine-tuning it over the years, rather than jumping onto the latest craze. Very much like creative cooking, once the basic technique has been mastered, the improvement lays often in reacting to the immediacy of varnish layer application, absorption of the wood and the ground, ways of application and the myriads of other possibilities, some of them by design, others by chance.

After many years of experimentation it is still a challenge and joy in getting to know and learn more about my classical ingredients and their properties and being able to adjust my recipy for the next instrument as I see fit, rather than having to rely on a commercial product, however well received.



photo courtesy of G.Jevic

photo courtesy of G.Jevic

The final talk was by a prominent London dealer, trying to explain the adjustment possibilities of a wolf note on a violin, aided by the very patient LSO leader Roman Simovic.
My impression was that the attempt of science and good old fashioned trial and error sound-post adjustments might well have impressed some of the audience, but judging by both the sound of the test violins and the body language of the player I reserve my own judgement what the real reason of such a public demonstration might have been.

Due to my commitment at my stand I was not able to be part of the audience in the auditorium invited to compare the sound of 6 violins from a Stradivari down to a humble ‘Mirecourt’.

The evening concert by the LSO opened with the magnificent ‘Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten’ by Arvo Pärt , followed by a virtuosic and thoughtful interpretation of the Britten violin concerto by Gil Shaham on his 1699 “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius, one of the last ‘long pattern’ violins.
Mr. Shahams’ beautiful and shimmering sound on his violin should make makers listen and perhaps try to make the occasional long pattern model.


I am delighted to have been invited to take part in an exhibition during the LSO International Festival at Londons Barbican.
The event is part of 'The Strad Sundays' and will be on Sunday, 12. April from 10am - 5.30pm in the Fountain Room, Level G.
The evening concert will feature Gil Shaham and the LSO playing the Britten violin concerto.
Link to the festival brochure here.




Just back from the BVMA exhibition in London, still unpacking and tidying my workshop. A very nice and friendly day at the RCM, as always a great place to catch up with friends, colleagues and to meet many players. I am using the 'recovery' period to put photos of my new da Salo Viola up here.

January - February

My da Salo Viola is almost finished and varnished. My previous instruments on this model have all sold to players in the UK and Germany in the past years.

I shall also be exhibiting at this years BVMA Makers Day, to be held at the RCM London (The Royal College of Music) Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BS) on Sunday 15. March. 10.00 - 16.00. admission free.

Da Salo Viola

Stradivari Cello 740mm

In the workshop 2014

November - December

After finishing my Strad model Cello I am now making a new Viola after Gasparo da Salo - 16.5'', ready for March 2015.
The new cello has a rich ,even and powerful sound. Available to try now.
I have also been busy with carving a Viola scroll to replace the missing original on a Grancino Viola, belonging to a prominent British player.

Replica Grancino viola scroll

August - October

The latest cello after my Stradivari B form reduction is nearing completion and will be varnished soon.
With a back length of 740 mm and a 680mm string length its a very comfortable cello to play without compromising on performance.

My earlier Grancino viola has also recently sold.

Stradivari Cello 740mm

June - July

My 16'' Andrea Guarneri Viola model is now finished. The sound is warm and responsive over its register and very promising at this early stage. The varnish finished with an antique appearance showing some light wear marks, craquelee and patination. Pictures are now here....

16'' Guarneri model Viola


A visit from a 1997 cutaway viola came into the workshop for a bit of TLC. Read more here...

the 'cutaway bee' Viola

March, April -May

New photos are now online for my 2 latest instruments:
Viola after da Salo and a Violin after del Gesu.
They can now be tried in London by appointment.

Both instruments have stunning one piece backs of East European maple - I am lucky to have been able to purchase a large part of this tree in the early 1990's.
A few more pieces are still available for some special instruments.

'da Salo' Viola

Guarneri 'del Gesu' Violin

Nearing completion is a 16'' Viola after Andrea Guarneri.
I am also making a new Cello after my modified 'Forma B' Stradivari.

Viola after A.Guarneri

In early May I went on a spruce buying trip to Northern Italy, a few photos can be seen here.
Even though I have assembled a large stock of tonewood over the years I am still stocking up for the next 30 years ;-)

visit to Italy


January - February

Visit my stand at the annual BVMA exhibition on Sunday 2. March. It is held in a new London venue at :
The Clerkenwell Centre, 61 Lever Street, London EC1V 3AR.  Open from 10.00 until 16.00

I am now in the finishing stages with my newest Violin after del Gesu as well as a large Viola after Gasparo da Salo.
These will be on show at the forthcoming BVMA makers day in London on March 2cd.

My baroque violin after Amati has been purchased by Mr. Rafael Font, who is a fine violinst and active in several period instrument ensembles both here and abroad.
He will be performing in the forthcoming national tour of historic churches with Poeticall Musicke, comprising 8 concerts during March.
In the same ensemble an earlier baroque violin after Stainer made by me is also being used by George Clifford.


varnishing the new 'del Gesu' and 'da Salo'


In the workshop 2013
October- November - December 2013

The last 2 months have been busy with a variety of activities. Back in September/October I have been again in Cremona, for both the trade fair as well as visiting the new 'Museo del Violino' and its inaugural exhibition of selected instruments from the Chi-Mei collection in Taiwan. The study day was also a highlight where groups of makers were able to look at and handle these instruments more closely. Comparing notes with colleagues proved to be a unique opportunity as many instruments were by lesser known Italian makers.

Closer to home I have been preparing several new instruments, as well as finishing and setting up my baroque Stainer violin.

My new small Cello model after Stradivari has been bought by a highly talented student at the RCM London.

Some new photos of my modern Guarneri del Gesu violin are also now on its page.

Taking photos of my instruments for my webpage here as well as for future reference has long been a hobby of mine. With a somewhat improvised set up and lighting they will never be as good as I perhaps would like, but I prefer to put my main energy into my instruments. With digital video on many cameras I was tempted though to try to show some of my instruments in 'motion'.

All resulting 4 short video clips, together with some of my favourite vinyl Bach can be seen and heard here, as well as in the individual instruments listing pages:
Vln Bq Stainer Vln Bq AmatiVln N.Bergonzi, Vla Amati.

Apologies if these don't work in some IE browsers, or possibly with some size distortion on handheld devices. Coping with html5 codes proved to be only slightly more fascinating then watching paint dry, and with this I think I am at the limit of my computer expertise. The colour will probably show less true then in the photos, but I thought it would be interesting to see a violin from different angles.
Any comments are welcome.

the new Stainer baroque violin

the Duomo in Cremona at night


     the new del Gesu violin



August - September 2013

I started varnishing my new Stainer baroque style violin . Some photos and updates are now online.

Two more of my instruments have found some happy new owners in Britain over the summer.
One of my del Gesu violin models has sold to a professional player and teacher, and my latest da Salo viola has been purchased by a talented student.





June - July 2013

Recently one of my Bergonzi model violins has been bought by a professional player with the Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra, Taiwan.

The Stradivari exhibition at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford was unmissable.  Open until 11.August it gave visitors the unique chance to see and compare 21 of Stradivaris best preserved instruments. Some photo impressions of my recent visit are here.

The new del Gesu violin is now set up.

My 2 two new violins are progressing well - the Guarneri Violin is varnished and awaiting its set-up.
The Stainer Baroque violin should get finished over the summer ready for late August.
Meanwhile my last available full size Strad Cello has sold and will soon be living in Australia.

1713 'Boissier-Sarasate'  

   new del Gesu model violin

April - May 2013

My new viola (400mm) after my Andrea Guarneri model is finished and having it first sound trial. The back and ribs  of beautiful curly East European maple.

I am also working on 2 new violins after Stainer (baroque), and a Guarneri del Gesu model.

                                  Guarneri style Viola, 400mm

March 2013

Early March the BVMA makers day was a nice day to meet players, many new faces and old friends alike, and a good way of catching up with many colleagues.

The Gildas quartet performed a very well received 30 minute recital on 4 instruments chosen from the exhibitors.
Its violist Kay Stephen had taken a liking to my new Gasparo da Salo viola and her and her colleagues skilful playing were proof  that virtually 'brand new' instruments can sound resonant, rich and vibrant. Also the unusual choice of a 'medley' of individual quartet movements was a great way of exploring the range of tonality of the 4 instruments. A quartet to watch I believe.

My new small model Stradivari cello has received praise by visiting cellists and photos are also available now.

Back in the workshop a small viola (400mm) after my
Andrea Guarneri model is taking shape.

I will also be looking out for some dry and warmer days to do some varnish cooking.


Da Salo Viola

Stradivari Cello

January - February 2013

The new Cello is finished and  being played in. Photos will come soon.

Meanwhile a new Viola after Gasparo da Salo is well on the way.

I am also looking forward to the annual  BVMA Makers day,  Sunday 3th. March 10.00 - 16.00.The event will be held again at the  The Old Sessions House,Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0NA.
Admission and events brochure is free - catering is available on site and nearest tube is Farringdon 5 minutes away.


In the workshop 2012

November- December 2012

I have been keeping busy with a new small Cello (740mm) after Stradivari -  modified after the golden period B-form.
This should be ready during January 2013.

Late in November I had a visit from photographer and violinist Edward Webb who is undertaking a project of photographing violin makers in their workshops. His website can be found here.

  My Bergonzi Violin achieved the 5th. best tonal result
  out  of over 200 violins entered in this years Cremona
  Triennale competition.
  More info on the Bergonzi violin and Guarneri Viola.
 September - October 2012

My latest 2 instruments are getting played in just now, photos coming in a couple of weeks or so.

Meanwhile my earlier  'Provigny' Strad model violin has sold to a player from Englands South coast

May - June - July 2012

Time is moving on fast - just like the jet stream induced bad weather fronts over northern Europe of the last weeks.

I am now varnishing my latest 2 instruments - a viola after Guarneri and a violin after C. Bergonzi. They should be ready for September/October.

Occasionally I have my compact camera on hand in the workshop and the thought of mind to take some shots of the moment.

Making violins is a magical combinations of many different skills and the mix of sculpting and very precise  engineering in wood can be aptly demonstrated by the different aspects of violin construction.

When planing the endgrain of the maple neckblock the plane blade has to be razor sharp - and a well honed and adjusted plane is a prerequisite.

The resulting shavings are beautiful by-products - even though ending up in the bin. They look like frail autumnal leaves exposing their  fragility against the light.



         maple neckblock shaving in the light   

When contemplating the purfling inlay around the edges there are many different methods to choose.
Starting with a bewildering choice of  woods like poplar, pear, maple, beech, ebony or even whalebone, black paper or - god forbid - fibre! to the thicknesses of each strand and the direction its being cut, made in the own workshop and stained black with logwood shavings and ferrous sulphate or bought in.

      the purfling channel marked and partially cut

Then the - usually three - black, white, black strips are prepared, planed, cut, sandwich glued, pre-bend or left straight, inserted loosely and held by the tips of the fingers whilst handling the runny glue dripping down from the tip of the brush....this is not a good time to answer the telephone!

                     the c-bout strips are fitting     

No wonder some of the old Milanese and English school makers preferred to shortcut and imitate the time consuming channel cutting by a scratched double line - when done well looking like tramlines in the snow - or painting it on.

Structurally the purfling strips have the function of preventing  cracks to the more fragile grain of the spruce front. When hit on the edge  a crack may well travel along the whole front - but the cross directional multi stranded inlay (to about half the edge thickness) will absorb and 'break' the impact - thus the extra time spend in channeling and inlaying  is well invested by preventing even more costly repairs.

   here the loose 3 strip purfling inlay method is shown -      anyone wants to try it with 4 (like Bergonzi?)


         the 2cd inner mitre join is ready for trimming

The best  makers  also excel in their stylistic use of this inlay technique, so much so that  the material and inlay method used , the style of  corner mitre, its length, shape, extended black 'bee-sting' and direction into the corner point are a valuable feature and tell tale sign of a school, workshop or even an individual maker. Very much like an individuals handwriting differs from another.


 and  the finished work on my Gasparo da Salo Viola


I have finally updated the web site with photos and a brief description of my newest baroque violin after Nicolo Amati and the modern Viola after A. Guarneri.

My 2011 small viola after Guarneri has now sold.


                     Amati baroque violin     
                   Andrea Guarneri viola


After London I am busy with some new projects - also re-organizing my wood stock and now offering various Cello backs for sale. A few 5 years old, some others just over a year old,  stunningly beautiful figured backs,  have a look here.

The BVMA exhibition on the 4th.March was as pleasurable as always - perhaps visitors numbers down a bit to previous years - it was an awful rainy day - but nevertheless I met up with many interesting  musicians and regulars - thanks to all who came by, chatted and tried instruments.

January/ February 2012

I have been preparing for my annual exhibition at the BVMA Makers day Sunday 4th. March 10.00 - 16.00.
I am looking forward to be meeting old and new customers alike  - you are all welcome to stop by to chat and try any instruments.
On show will be my latest Baroque violin after Nicolo Amati, a mid size Viola after Guarneri, as well as violins and a Strad model Cello.

The event will be held again at the  The Old Sessions House,Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0NA.
Sunday 4th. March 10.00 - 16.00.  
Admission and events brochure is free - catering is available on site and nearest tube is Farringdon 5 minutes away.


The New Year has begun and I am looking forward to varnishing my newest viola after Guarneri and baroque violin after Amati - update and pictures soon.

My 2010 Viola after Da Salohas just been sold to a promising young student. 


In the workshop 2011

November/ December

Time is flying - still working on the last 2 instruments, but travels, workshop and wood store reorganisation keep me busy and away from the bench.

Wishing all my clients, friends and web site visitors a good holiday and all the best for 2012.


A new book on the history of 'The Pump Room Orchestra, Bath' by Robert Hyman (a member of the Bath Pump Room Trio and owner of one of my violins for many years)  and Nicola Hyman will be launched in November.
Order details with free UK postage on my link page.

My 2006 Stainer Baroque violin will soon be heard in the London early music circuit as it has found a new owner, a young professional baroque violinist, recently graduated from the RAM.

I am just back from my annual pilgrimage to Cremona where the town hosted an exhibition of 5 early decorated Stradivari violins. This small but exquisite exhibition together with the many other events and the uncommonly warm temperatures made it a very pleasurable study trip.

Closer to home my Amati Baroque violin and Guarneri Viola  are nearing completion and 2 young London based students have recently acquired my 2010 del Gesu violin and the 2009 Grancino Viola model.


Recently sold to a professional player one of my Guarneri del Gesu violin models.

Photos of the 2 new Violas after da Salo and A.Guarneri are now uploaded. Enquiries are welcome.


Gasparo da Salo                      Guarneri

June/ July

New on the bench: A baroque violin after Nicolo Amati (grand pattern model) and a modern Viola after Andrea Guarneri (413mm).

Both recent violas are now completed - photos will come soon.

The Mantegazza 16''Viola has also been recently sold.




2 new Violas are progressing on the bench. An Andrea Guarneri model (400mm back length) which I have made before for a commission last year, though this will have a slightly longer string length of 360mm.
The other inspired  by Gasparo da Salo with a back length of 424mm.

The Cello commission of a 740mm adapted Strad model is completed and now with a delighted new owner, a professional Cellist in Scotland.  Link to photos and the 'making blog' here.



I decided to take some new photos of the previous Strad Cello made in 2007/2008, the previous set not quite doing it justice. They can be seen here.



The Cello is nearing its completion and reaching the varnishing stage.

Meanwhile the 2008 Andrea GuarneriViola is sold. I hope to be able to make another model during this year.

December 2010 / January 2011

My work on the cello commission is going well.
Photos of the making stages here.




( March 2017)

(March 2017)

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