6 June 2017
Nils Nillson Violin, Malmö 1924
Pierre Silvestre Violin, Lyon 1852
Alberto Blanchi Violin, Nice 1904
Paul Blanchard Violin, Lyon 1894
Joseph Hel Violin, Lille 1889
Antonio Pedrinelli Violin, Crespano 1853
John Wilkinson Viola, London circa 1930
Albert Caressa Viola, Paris 1922
Joseph Couturieux Viola, Paris circa 1850
WE Hill & Son Violin Bow, London circa 1935
James Tubbs Violin Bow, London circa 1885
Jean-Jacques Millant Violin Bow, Paris circa 1970
Carl Heinrich Knopf Violin Bow, Berlin circa 1870
WE Hill & Son Viola Bow, London circa 1950
22 May 2017
We have 50 free viola case stickers to give away – first come, first served. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address and I will send one out to you (we work worldwide, so it doesn’t matter where you live).
I’ll also subscribe you to our viola email newsletter – you should get your first newsletter in a few week’s time. If you like it, you can stay subscribed and if not, it’s easy to opt out.
This is a fine silver-mounted cello bow by Albin Hums – quite a superior model and in near mint condition. The stick is of round section orange pernambuco of medium stiffness. More details
The workshops of Marc Laberte produced a huge range of instruments and bows in the early 20th century – their silver-mounted bows are of consistently high quality. More details
Claude Thomassin has only recently been recognized as one of the best French makers of the early 20th century. He worked for Gand & Bernardel before setting up on his own, first in Paris then from 1904 in Mirecourt. He was a highly respected and very successful maker who supplied bows to numerous shops and instrument-makers in France and in the UK. J&A Beare in London bought bows from Thomassin, as did Withers and many others. His bows are very distinctive, mainly on account of the heavily swept back Tubbs-like ferrule– the work is of high quality and the bows generally play very well. More details
Alfred Joseph Lamy is one of the most artistic and refined of French makers, perhaps even more so than his mentor FN Voirin. His bows have something of a cult following – controversially, they work so well without being heavy. More details
Eugène Sartory is probably the most popular maker of all time, and his bows are the mainstay of professional musicians the world over. More details
Alfred Joseph Lamy stands slightly in the shadow of his teacher and mentor FN Voirin, but I prefer his work. It’s not quite as clinical, and yet it retains the elegance and finesse which characterize these particular makers. Lamy’s cello bows are particularly fine, with the most beautiful elongated head shape. This is a lovely example in very good condition – deep red round section pernambuco stick, silver and ebony mounts with a plain eye and 3-part adjuster. There’s a small and very neat insert to the bottom of the head on the audience side and some minor wear to the back edge of the frog also on the audience side, otherwise no issues to report. More details
Jean Dominique Adam is one of the great early French makers. Slightly eclipsed by his son “Grand Adam” but nonetheless a maker with a great reputation. More details
I have had my violin for nearly 5 years now. It has helped me through all my exams, concerts and auditions with its resonant tone. I feel it is on a par with more expensive instruments that I have heard – I really love the sound it makes. I am now looking forward to making more music with my violin and I am very excited to be on a path to a career as a performing musician. Thank you!
Laura Macleod, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
1 April 2017
An April Fool intertwined with historical fact
For decades, if not for centuries, countless thousands of violin-makers and scientific researchers have been trying to unlock the secret of the Cremonese sound, as epitomized by the violins of Stradivari and del Gesu. The extraordinary sonic quality of these violins is undisputed, and top soloists from Paganini and Sarasate onwards have consistently chosen them in preference to all others. Their unsurpassed qualities as musical tools is reflected in the staggering prices they command. Yet no-one has been able to replicate these qualities. More details
10 Jan 2017
We have some mouse mats to give away. Priority to UK customers because of postage costs – but if you are beyond the reach of the UK postal service it’s worth remembering that flattery can work wonders!
MSV 132 Guadagnini Simpson 1777 Cello
I wanted the best cello I could get for my limited budget. I had been looking for about a year with no success & travelled many miles to try cellos that weren’t good enough. The “good enough” ones were too expensive though. Martin sent one of his new MSV cellos down to me on trial without me having to go up to Scotland to try different instruments. It has a really big sound and I’m playing more confidently as I was always scared of breaking my ancient cracked cello, as it broke in 2014 from over-work! My quartet colleagues keep commenting on “my stronger bottom” i.e. more resonant C string which really makes a difference in the quartet.
Helen Mason, UK
11 Nov 2016
It’s lovely to get hear from customers who have bought instruments from us in the past. If you bought a violin from us some time ago do let us know how you are getting on with it. We just got this facebook post from Zia Roberts, whose musical life has clearly been flourishing since she was given a violin as a birthday present three years ago.
I love the violin! your description was very accurate, especially about its volume! the conductor of my orchestra told me to play quieter because he could hear me above the entire orchestra! The tone is amazing, I can’t pick up either of our other two rental violins in the house now without being disgusted. I simply love to practice with it, as it is so great to play! Thank you for all your free advice about buying a violin online and your great professionalism, you will definitely be on the list of places for me to look for an upgrade violin!
The Abbotsford Youth Orchestra is based in Vancouver, Canada, and the conductor is Calvin Dyck
28 Sept 2016
We dropped of some off our violins with a customer who was staying at the Savoy Hotel in London last week. It looks like they made themselves comfortable! The violins were all put through their paces in a private concert and the Joseph Calot was the clear winner. It’s now sold (though, contrary to rumour, not to George Clooney, who had already ‘left the building’).
I bought a Tarasconi violin from you earlier this year and absolutely love it. It has inspired me to venture into the world of chamber music – a cellist friend of mine and I performed a series of concerts during June and July and will do another series with a different programme in January. A lot of my professional friends are very complimentary. Buying the violin was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
I’d like to thank you for coming to visit me at such short notice and for making the whole process of choosing a violin so easy and enjoyable.
Jane Sinclair BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Hi there, just a note to say how much am enjoying playing the violin. Am still opening up new things, strangely enough, and learning how to adapt and make great sounds out of it. Been one hell of a journey!
I’m beginning to focus on the classical field, as it was always one of the ambitions here to be able to lead a quartet. It took some time for me to get the strength and balance in both arms/hands to make it respond in trad music, but blimey, it really really does respond now, and that is amazing. Loving it.
Thanks again for sourcing me such a wonderful instrument. It has brought a huge amount of joy and forced me to change my playing technique so much for the better.
Our Hardanger fiddle is a simplified version of a traditional Hardanger, made with a violin scroll and without ornamentation. The body is copied directly from an award-winning instrument by Sveinung Gyovland. This historic instrument had excellent tone and sustain, so we followed the outline, arching and thicknesses faithfully. The result is an affordable Hardanger with a completely authentic sound.
Our Hardanger has 4 sympathetic strings, tune-able with ease thanks to the incorporation of Wittner geared pegs. Principal strings are traditional gut (normally tuned CGCE).
We generally have one of these instruments in stock – we’re also happy to make them to order with 5 sympathetic strings, dragon’s head scrolls, and/or traditional inlaid tailpieces and fingerboards. More details
Currently out of stock
These new viola bows are made from excellent Brazilian pernambuco, assembled and finished by Alecio Luiz Dos Reis, a young Brazilian maker living in the UK. They represent exceptional value for money. More details
This is a Stradivarius pattern viola with a plain maple back made with locally sourced Scottish sycamore. A very responsive instrument with a beautifully mellow and well-balanced tone. More details
Alex Youngson was a great maker from Clydebank, initially self-taught, but who then studied at Newark under Maurice Bouette. As far as I know he only made violas and viola d’amores (there’s one in the Kelvingrove Museum). This is a very nicely made large-pattern instrument, a far cry from his pre-Newark ‘Clyde built’ instruments. The condition is perfect. More details
Recently sold, £4,750
Our standard cello is a Stradivarius pattern instrument of manageable proportions … length of back 75.5cm, stop length 281/402mm, and a rib height of 120mm. We use only exceptional timber for these cellos, and the plates are thicknessed for optimal resonance and tonal colour.
Probably by a member of the Prokop family, this is a late 19th century Czech viola made on a Maggini model. It’s in great condition apart form a few dents and scuffs to the varnish. A very handy size, it has a dark and fruity sound, slightly melancholic, very musical. More details
An unusually attractive Mittenwald viola in near perfect condition. One piece front and back, no cracks or damages, the original varnish very well preserved though with heavy craquelure to the scroll. The tone is big, bright and smooth with great response – recently set up to a high standard by Stringers of London. More details
This is a very attractive early 19th century viola bearing an apocryphal Gagliano label. In style of construction it comes closest to Prague instruments of the period, but it seems destined to remain forever “anonymous”. The size is typical of Austro-Hungarian work – overall the workmanship is excellent, as are the materials and the varnish. There are a couple of invisible and highly professional crack repairs to the table, including a soundpost patch. More details
A fine sounding small viola from the early 19th century in near-mint condition. More details
This is a very well made Mittenwald small viola from the mid-late 19th century – typically the front, back and ribs are all one-piece in construction. The tidy inner work reveals the use of an inside mould, and in all respects this is a finely executed instrument with dramatic varnish, elegant Guarneri-inspired f-holes, and discreet antiquing. More details
This is an excellent gold-mounted bow by Alfred Knoll – according to Hartmut Knoll it dates from the late 1960s or early 1970s, although it looks brand new. It’s a very attractive bow of octagonal section red pernambuco, and it plays like a dream, not too stiff, not too slappy – silky would be the best word to describe the action and the sound. I would recommend it for an aspiring soloist – it’s clean, lively and very responsive. And it’s in perfect condition. More details
This is a lovely bow by Roger Lotte carrying his own later brand. It’s a classic example of his work with a rounded heel, Parisian eye, and a Simon-like backwards curve to the head. The fine red pernambuco is also typical – round in section, with mounts of silver and ebony. The condition is excellent.
This is a fine 18th century French viola of the “Vieux Paris” school. It has a very credible Guersan label but in fact it’s the work of Nicolas Chappuy showing many of his trademark touches. More details
John Wilkinson was a highly talented English maker of the early 20th century, best known for the copies of classical instruments he made for J&A Beare. This viola s a lovely example of his copy style with very credible antiqueing, and showing the typical reddish Beares tint to the neck. The condition is outstanding, with no damage and very little wear. More details
Since we started specialising in small violas, we’ve been consistently surprised by the quality of London instruments, particularly Betts and Forster. Here’s another example, a lovely Betts Shop viola with a big and beautiful sound. More details
The Morizot workshop in Mirecourt was formed in 1937 by the sons of Louis Morizot. It was a busy place full of talented and competitive people, and the quantity and quality of bows produced is staggering. This particular bow is a very fine example in perfect condition, made for Collin-Mézin, and with an ornamental “R” engraved on the ferrule. The stick is of octagonal section red-brown pernambuco of high quality, mounts are silver and ebony. More details
Arthur Bultitude is a highly respected English maker who spent much of his working life at Hills. On leaving the Hill shop he specialised in exquisite bows with ornamental frogs, and his work has influenced an entire generation of contemporary English makers. More details
This is a very fine Nürnberger family viola bow, probably an early work by Carl Albert Nürnberger. The brand with a * at each end came into use after 1910, yet some archaic aspects of this bow’s construction suggest that it can’t be much later than that. The bow has a silver face and a pinned underslide, and it oozes style. The stick is of beautifully flecked round section pernambuco – mounts are silver and ebony.
Hill bows have a well deserved reputation for consistency of workmanship and for the quality of the sticks. The finest sticks were branded WE Hill & Sons, and the best of those were mounted in gold. This is a great example dated 1949 with a wood to wood frog mounting, in near mint condition. More details
Peccatte is one of the big names in French bow-making. François, brother to Dominique, had a very short life and his work is relatively unknown. He is thought to have worked alongside his brother before setting up on his own in 1843, and this bow dates from the early years of his independent production. More details
I have to admit to being completely obsessed by the Prague School, and in particular the instruments of Caspar Strnad and his contemporaries or co-workers. Consistently adventurous in model, with exquisite workmanship and great tone, these instruments are generally rather better than Italian violins of the period. More details
Emile Auguste Ouchard is one of the most highly valued bow makers of the 20th century. His style is individual and very precise, and the playing qualities of his bows are rarely surpassed. Many professionals use an EA Ouchard. This fine viola bow from his New York period is a very good example, powerful yet responsive and with a huge sound. More details
Caressa & Français ran the most illustrious workshop in Paris in the early 20th century. They represented a direct line back through Gand & Bernardel to the most influential makers of the early 19th century, and their house style is the archetypal French style, crisp and sculptural. This very fine viola is a typical example, beautifully preserved with all its sharp lines unsullied! More details
Nicolas Maline, also known confusingly as Guillaume Maline, is quite a maverick figure from the Golden period of French bow-making. Even his dates are disputed, as is the question of whether or not he worked for Vuillaume. However, his work is unique and distinctive, and of the highest quality. More details
Joseph Couturieux or Couturieux “Fils” is a very rare maker who worked briefly for JB Vuillaume. This beautiful instrument is something of an enigma – it has a Vuillaume label, it looks in every way like a Vuillaume, yet it has an original Couturieux signature. Was it made in the Vuillaume shop or not? Whatever its history, it’s a very fine Parisian viola in near-mint condition. More details
FN Voirin is one of the greatest names in bow-making. Although his bows haven’t become a currency in the way that Sartory bows have, he is generally regarded as the better maker. While his bows are inevitably lighter, they have unparalleled elegance and are renowned for their quality of sound.
This viola bow is a lovely example of his work, typically refined and perfectly proportioned. The stick is of octagonal section orange-brown pernambuco with speckled figure, mounts are silver and ebony. The condition is astounding.
Johannes Theodorus Cuypers is perhaps the best known and most respected maker of the Dutch School, and there are few non-Italian makers who command such admiration amongst players and experts alike. This is a really fine example from his best period, before he had his rather less dedicated sons to help him! More details
Price on application
This is an outstanding 18th century Italian viola by Paolo Castello. Castello attracts quite a varied response from connoisseurs and antiquarians, mainly on account of his idiosyncratic scrolls, but I’m a big fan. Every instrument of his that I’ve played has sounded good, and most are outstanding. This viola is a fine example of his work, very similar to the one featured in Alberto Giordano’s seminal article in the Strad. More details
£1,700 (Standard Violin)
This is one of a number of prototypes we made from Cremonese patterns when looking for a successful model with a short back length. This particular violin is 35.2cm but with a conventional stop length, and is designed with the smaller player in mind. Like all of our MSV violins, it’s made entirely with hand tools in Reghin, Transylvania, and is finished with an Italian Balsamic varnish. More details
A lovely and very typical early 20th century Mirecourt violin in perfect condition, bearing a label for Santo Serafin 1720. More details
This is a good Stradivarius pattern violin made entirely with hand tools by one of our Hungarian makers in Reghin. The varnish is an “antiqued” finish which we have developed in collaboration with a specialist restorer in Budapest – we continue to refine this process and welcome any feedback. The sound is charming and refined, not the loudest violin we’ve produced but smooth and silky in character, unusually responsive, even with a light technique. More details
This is a rather cute half size violin from the JTL (Jérome Thibouville-Lamy) workshops in Mirecourt. The Médio Fino was and still is a very popular student model, basic in construction but always reliable in tone. More details
Another lovely JTL half-size size violin from the Mirecourt firm of Jerome Thibouville-Lamy, and bearing their “Célèbre Vosgien” label. It’s in perfect condition – normally half-size instruments bear a lot of scars, but this one has been carefully looked after, and even the original varnish is looking good after nearly a century. A nice sounding instrument too, warm and rounded throughout the register. More details
This is an unusually fine-sounding half-size violin, over 100 years old but in excellent condition. If you have a budding Yehudi in the house, this would be a great choice. It has a strong clear sound with a firm core to it – very responsive and encouraging to play! More details
£2,700 (Artist Violin)
This is a Stradivarius pattern violin made entirely with hand tools by one of our Hungarian makers in Reghin, and varnished in our shop in Budapest. It has a two-piece back of closely flamed maple and a rich gold/brown Italian balsamic varnish. The sound of this instrument is sweet and clean, articulate yet friendly. As with all our Artist violins, it has great balance and quick response, and is a delight to play. More details
A lovely Mirecourt violin with a stunning one-piece birds-eye maple back – in excellent condition and with a great sound. More details
An excellent Mirecourt violin with a fine tone, rather better than your average Collin-Mézin! Lovely size and in near perfect condition. More details
This is a fine English violin from the turn of the century – although it’s not up to the standard of an Edward Withers, it shows many similar points of style, and was probably made in the Withers shop. The wood is of excellent quality and the work is very precise. The condition is unusually good – there are no cracks or repairs of any kind. More details
This is a very attractive modern Italian violin by Andrea Pontedoro, made during his period of residence in Edinburgh. Andrea is a fine maker who draws influence from the De Bonis family of his native Calabria. You can read more about him here. The model is individual, the wood is superb, the varnish rich and subtly shaded. More details
This is a lovely Mirecourt violin of some quality, broadly equivalent to a late 19th century Collin-Mézin. It has well conceived arching, finely worked edges and corners, and delicately fluted f-holes. It’s in excellent condition – just two repaired wing cracks to report, otherwise no cracks or repairs. The varnish is oil, very well preserved, with an attractive hint of craquelure. More details
This is an excellent violin by Johann Schult, one of the best early 20th century German makers – he was appointed court violin maker to the Duke of Mecklenburg in 1907. The wood is superb, the varnish is rich and lustrous, and the work is artistic and highly skilled. The sound is top class, bright, sugary and strong with great sustain. It has a clear and unique cantabile voice – an unusually smooth and responsive violin suitable for a professional player. More details
This is a very nice example of a “Großstadtgeige”, literally “big city violin” of the sort produced in Berlin towards the end of the 19th century. The workmanship is excellent and the sound is first class. More details
This is a fine Scottish violin by Andrew Smillie, one of the most respected of Scottish makers. According to David Rattray, “with his passing in 1948, shortly followed by that of Harry Briggs, Professional violin making in Scotland more or less came to an end”. The Smillies (father Alex and son Andrew) are surely the best known makers of the Glasgow school, and their violins are consistently good tonally, even when the work is not as artistic as that of Briggs. More details
This is a very tidy late 18th century violin, probably Mittenwald by a follower of Bartholomaus Karner, showing all the typical features of South German construction. It has very rounded “Dutch Barn” shoulders, a one-piece bottom rib with inset saddle, inside mould construction with classic Mittenwald inner blocks, and a lovely soft red varnish. More details
Nillson has been the most significant surname in Swedish violin making for well over a century – in fact Nillson still have a shop in Linnégatan which I’ve often walked past on the way to the studio! Nils Nillson was the first and finest maker in the family, and this is a lovely example of his later work. A great sounding violin which has been much loved – a bit tatty round the treble c-bout but otherwise in great condition. More details
Walter Plain is a well-known name in Scotland, and his violins are highly respected. Spanning the Edinburgh and Glasgow schools, he produced violins that were both artistic and functional. More details
Domingos F Capela was the first member of the Capela dynasty which dominated Portuguese making in the 20th century. He worked very much in the Italian style, with crisp execution and without antiquing, and his violins and those of his sons have always been very popular. This particular violin is quite late, and is modeled on the Paganini “Cannone” by del Gesu. It bears its original certificate from the maker. More details
Here’s a very fine 7/8 Collin-Mézin with a 4/4 sound! It’s in spectacular condition for its age, and it plays beautifully. More details
Alfred Vincent is an English maker for whom I have a lot of admiration – his style is very refined and his violins always sound great. This is a beautiful example in outstanding condition. More details
Jerome Thibouville-Lamy, or JTL, is one of the best-known names in the violin trade. The JTL mega-workshops in the Vosges produced hundreds of thousands of violins from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century. Mostly these were student violins which have remained popular on account of their excellent sound. But they also produced beautiful handmade “violons de maitre”, most likely the work of Alfred Acoulon More details
Alex Hume was born in Dumfries, Scotland, and started out as a professional violinist before turning to making. He had a successful business in the 1920s and 1930s selling a range of instruments under his own label. Some of these were bought in and modified, like the Luigi Salsedo violins marketed north of the border by Jim Tait, others were made by Hume himself. More details
Jozsef Mirth worked for Miska Frirsz and Janos Spiegel before stepping out on his own – he was a prolific maker, but remains pretty much unknown outside Hungary. This violin is a superb example of the Budapest style that reached perfection in the work of Paulus Pilat. The varnish is gorgeous, the wood is superb, and the execution of the scroll, f-holes and edges is precise and artistic. More details
Collin-Mézin is probably one of the best known names in the violin trade. Although the firm went rather downhill in the 20th century, pre-1900 violins by Collin-Mézin Senior are very sought after, partly because they represent the best in Mirecourt workmanship, partly because they are always successful tonally. More details
Thomas Perry is the best known name in Irish violin-making. He lived a long life and ran various busy workshops, employing amongst others John Delaney, Richard Tobin, Vincenzo Panormo (briefly), and of course William Wilkinson of Perry & Wilkinson. Here we have a beautifully preserved example with an outstanding sound from around 1870. More details
If you’re looking for an Italian violin with a great sound at a great price, look no further. Unfortunately this violin developed a very small incipient post crack in the back, which has now been patched. The repair is invisible, but the price is half what it was. More details
Alessandro Di Matteo started out life as a professional violinist, but soon switched his attention to making. Perhaps that explains the unusual tonal refinement of this violin. I’m no big fan of contemporary making, particularly the New Cremonese school, but this violin really stands apart from that trend. It’s lightly built, individual in model, modest in appearance, and very mature and sophisticated in tone. The materials used are first class and the work is superb. More details
Michael Dötsch is the most revered German luthier of the 20th century. He is renowned (or rather infamous) for his frighteningly accurate fakes of the old masters, but the violins he made under his own label are equally exemplary in tone and workmanship. More details
This is a fine violin from the circle of Caspar Strnad, made in Prague between 1825 and 1835. It has a world-class sound and it will make someone very happy! More details