Cox Violin #804, The "Burmester" Guadagnini, 1758

On Violin Making

Photo by William Dixon © 2011I view myself primarily as a toolmaker: I make violins to be used by musicians to order sounds in the universe, to express their soul and spirit. As a user of good tools I know that tools have a beauty that comes from elegance and efficiency of design, comfortable fit to the body, and a relationship to a tradition of use. My work is limited by the nature of wood, the laws of physics, the shape of the human body, and the imagination of my clientele.

Visually my work needs to be inviting to the player. It needs to look like it wants to be played and will respond to the player’s wishes. The classical violin world is conservative, and old is usually considered better, so most of my work is designed to look and feel old; most is modeled on specific instruments of the past. I admire and strive for strength of character and personality, and willingly sacrifice fineness of detail to achieve this strength.

Tonally I strive for ease of response and a full, flexible sound. I work on a wide range of models to try to meet the needs and tastes of a wide range of players. The goal is a rich, complex foundation with enough character and personality on top to provide projection and clarity of articulation.

I use local woods because I want my work to reflect the place and time of its making. I am an American and I like to use American wood. My studio is located in West Brattleboro partially because of its place within the Eastern forest and the maple and spruce with which I work.