Some working methods
My models and working methods are fairly traditional - with little more than a bandsaw and a pillar drill as machine tools.
This is not because I am adverse to technology - quite the reverse in some ways - moreso a case of being fed up with it !
I did spend 25 years working as a joiner/shopfitter/exhibition fitter - if I build shelves all the kit comes out - and within hours I realise why I got so fed up with all that stuff. Its predictable, boring and sterile - I could go on...!
I see violin making as similar in some ways to Thatching or Drystone Walling - a few simple tools, dedicated to the job in hand - a good eye and skills that can take years to hone - and 'practice makes perfect'.
...Too many theorists these days - not enough 'gouge pushers' !
I'm trying to document every instrument I make - hopefully...
You can also see recent images on Flixr which is easier at times than updating this site.
Important to me, is that all my instruments start on the bench as blocks of tonewood. To my mind the best way to make fine instruments - hard work at times.
...Elbow Grease' will get you closer to the mediaeval mindset than 'Renaissance formulas' !
I'm of an age that I feel almost qualifies me as 'Medieaval' - so these days I just like the old ways of doing things. After all - why do people play these instruments - because they like the age old sounds !
I use the old inside mould form - along with hide and rabbit glues, traditional oil varnishes - simple scrapers and gouges, dividers, pencils and knives. Refreshingly simple in this 'high tech' addicted world !
...these are wooden boxes - they shrink and settle and react to the tension of the strings and humidity. One can be too prescise. I like them to have secrets beyond my control !
The final set up is not so loose. These are musicians instruments - and there are exacting dimensions expected by good players. Much time is spent fitting up and adjusting - and researching what are the present norms.
The models are thoughtfully researched from old classic instruments - on which most are based. One has to allow for what may be many hundreds of years of distortion - and try to get back to the original form somehow.
They are not made as copies. I use the outline and size and style of the original as a starter. From then on it is very much 'me'. So they each have individual character - and that is an important thing.
The real heart of a good instrument does not show on the outside. One has to trust the maker on that one - and the more honest and thorough the maker - the finer the instrument.
...When I played Irish Fiddle around the bars many years ago - when one played well, some old boy would wander up and say,
" that's a lovely sounding fiddle you have there". If you played rubbish, it would be,
" your not much good are you ! "
Violins do not play themselves. Bravo to the musician...!
Geoff Richings - Bristol UK - 2010