Construction

There’s nothing particularly original about my construction technique. Nowadays, stringed-instrument makers, including myself, work using a method that appeared in northern Italy in the 16th century. Even though we all try to perfect certain details, there haven’t been any great technical revolutions, as there have been in the art of restoration.


The work is all done by hand and machines are only used to cut the wood. This wood is between 50 and 60 years old for violins and 30 years old for violas and cellos. It comes from a stock that I’ve been putting together over the years, since 1976.


So-called “normal” tree species – spruce, maple and ebony – are used alongside more “original” woods, such as pear, walnut and beechwood, which I use to copy certain great instrument makers. A lot of my wood was recent when it was purchased (2 to 3 years old), while others which were bought on the death of certain instrument makers – Petit in Brest, Gustave Villaume in Nancy and Philippe Bodart in Besançon – were older (40 to 50 years old).

Varnish

The varnishes I use on my instruments are always of natural origin – linseed oil, sandarac and linseed oil, amber. I don’t use chemicals to try to age the wood because how they react with age is often an unknown quantity and a few misadventures in the past have led me to drop them.


All the instruments I make are copies and I do not make any “fully varnished” new instruments because this is not to my aesthetic taste. I like the appearance of old instruments today more than the way they looked when they were new. Without a doubt, this comes from the many years I spent restoring.








Inspiration

Here are three violins made by Guiseppe Guarneri del Gésù that I was lucky enough to have in my workshop for repair. I was greatly impressed by all three for their beauty, their tone and the strength of their construction.

Guarneri Dushkin - 1742

Guarneri Canary Bird - 1743

Guarneri Vieuxtemps - 1741