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Frequently Asked Questions
How long have I been making instruments?
- Began in 1999
How long does it take me to make an instrument?
- 80 hours minimum…usually over 100 hours for a violin or viola,
- 300 hours for a cello.
What woods am I using?
- For classical violins, I use European maple and spruce
- For violas and cellos, I use either domestic or European maple, with either domestic or European spruce.
- For five-string fiddles, I am open to experimentation: I have made their backs, sides and necks of domestic maple, Oregon myrtle, and Hawaiian Koa. I have made fronts of a variety of spruces and of Port Orford cedar. I have wood for a five-string fiddle made of bubinga, and another one of myrtle but have not begun the work on either.
- For fittings, I use nearly exclusively ebony, but am experimenting with Ipé, Osage Orange, and other non-threatened hardwoods.
Where do I buy my wood?
- Some wood I have personally harvested, cut up, and dried. Other wood I have bought from the individuals who harvested it and dried it. The European woods, I have bought from tonewood dealers, such as International Violin Co., in Baltimore, Maryland.
What finish am I using?
- I have used both oil varnishes and spirit varnishes. Currently I am using spirit varnishes. Both are deeply rooted in tradition.
What sizes do I make?
- So far, in violins, I have mostly made 4/4 size instruments, but I have a mold for a ¾ size, and have made one very nice instrument from it. I intend to make at least a few fractional sized instruments, as demand exists.
- In violas, I have made 14”, 14-7/8”, 15-3/4”, 16”, 16-1/4” & 16-1/2” instruments. Unless someone specifically orders one smaller or larger, that is probably as far as I would go. Big violas are easy to make and they sound wonderful, but very few can play them. Smaller violas are difficult. I can make a very good 14” viola, but have never tried a smaller one.
- In cellos, I have only made 4/4-size, but I have a pattern for a 7/8-size cello, and may eventually try one of those.
- My basses are either full-size or 3/4-size.
What is the price?
- Currently (subject to change):
- Violin-sized instruments, whether violins, violas or five-string fiddles: $5,500 and up.
- Larger violas: $6,000, and up.
- “Special instruments” (lion-head, for example) $7,000 and up, negotiable.
- Cellos: $15,000, unless something “special” is added.
- Basses: $20,000 and up.
- Commissions priced depending upon the conditions of the assignment. Usually not significantly more than other instruments, unless something unusual is involved. If it is so unusual that I could not hope to sell it to anyone else, I require payment in advance.
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