Bespoke Handmade Violins
At a certain level of advanced playing, it makes a lot more sense to have an instrument made to suit your particular physique, musical tastes and requirements. It is also less time consuming and more economical than spending possibly years hunting down a possibly overpriced antique instrument to which you will still have to adapt.
You will never develop your own individuality by adapting your technique to an instrument which only approximates to your needs. An ideal instrument will not just suit your requirements to a tee, it will exceed them and assist you to become a better musician.
Advantages of a Bespoke Instrument
A bespoke instrument offers the following benefits;
- Suits your physique precisely.
- Suits your musical requirements precisely.
- Condition is perfect as opposed to a repaired antique.
- Costs very much less than an antique instrument.
- Appearance can be to your particular taste.
- More reliable than an antique instrument.
- Easier and cheaper to maintain.
- Available now, without years of searching.
For viola players a particular advantage is that you can dictate exactly the size required. Not only are good antique violas much more scarce and expensive, but sizes are also very limited.
We have many years experience of making instruments for discerning clientele. We work in the classic Cremonese tradition and offer many styles or can design models to suit individuals. All aspects of the work are done personally, in house and not farmed out or machined, as is common.
Clients are free to choose materials, varnish etc. and will receive regular photographic updates of progress as well as official certification on completion.
Our experience in violinmaking is also informed by many years of careful restoration of fine instruments as well as many years as a Conservator of Musical instruments, working in museums and for private collectors, not to mention 26 years as the Violinmaking tutor at the Malvern Hills College.
Restoring fine violins teaches you a great deal about how the best makers worked. We have supplemented this practical work with continuous research, some of which has appeared in magazines such as The Strad, Newsletter of the British ViolinMaking Association, as well as other instrument making and Conservation Journals, and the 2010 IPCI 3 Volume peer reviewed encyclopaedia on the Conservation, Restoration and Repair of Stringed Instruments and their Bows. (cited elsewhere). We have also successfully collaborated with others, such as the trained artist, violinmaker and respected copyist Ian Highfield, whose ground breaking research and discoveries concerning the reproduction of certain features of Cremonese Varnish, are yet to be published.
How Hibernian Make Instruments
All violinmakers are trained to varying degrees. All use the best materials they can obtain and are discerning as their talent and experience allows. I cannot speak for these others. I can only speak of my own values. I am not fixated on making microscopically similar replicas of the work of another, not even Stradivari. I am not pushing any pet theories to the extent that I am unable to tune in to a client’s requirements. I do not have a fixed unvarying design, which I refuse to alter, but merely reproduce time and time again, and to which the client must adapt because I cannot.
I only wish to make that instrument which you wish to play, in order to speak with the voice you wish to hear. That is my aim to which every other aspect is entirely secondary. Be prepared for a precise and in depth investigation of your wishes because I cannot start work until I have fixed this ideal, your ideal, of sound, in my mind. It is then my job to translate this abstract ideal into a working tool to enable you to play with this voice. My methods are the methods of the Classic violin makers, but guided by an educated and experienced intuition. (See elsewhere- Intuitive Violins). Playing an instrument is not merely a function of the human body. It is also very much a function of the human spirit. Making an instrument is no different.