Why to discover something new when you can re-discover the old
It has been a long time since I was first hypnotized by the Italian instruments of the 16th, 17th and first third of the 19th century. Later on, I was also captivated by the sound of the Viola da Gamba and by the beautiful french baroque music. Because of the unrivaled happiness these instruments and music bring to me, I have devoted myself to building my instruments just like they did in the past, during the height of Italian violin making.
I try to use construction tools, methods, varnish and details that are typical for this era.
It is an amazing journey that fills me with pleasure to re-discover ancient forgotten techniques that have been half-forgotten over the ages. And I do all of this with tools that barely differ from the original tools used back then. This allows my instruments to produce magnificient unrepeatable sounds from this era of instrument making.
I build instruments with two methods. The first, straight to the bottom base plate, the second to the inner mold. All classical luthiers worked like this until around 1830 when french luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume completely changed the Italian school of instrument making when he invented an outer mold for lob bending. I use oil or semi-oil varnishes that I produce myself. I enjoy certain asymmetries that are typical for old italian instruments. For example wavy lobs and irregularly cut volutes that show that the instrument is hand-made instead of being machined.
It is very difficult to briefly explain the steps taken to reproduce instruments from that era that was so different in many aspects even though the tools have not nearly changed at all.
I restore old italian instruments and simultaneously I build new instruments that are copies of old italian instruments. I try to use the same wood that the ancient luthiers used and so I almost only use resonant spruce wood from Italy that grows 1500 meters above sea level and only from the north side.
I try to respect every piece of wood because they are all different. The method I use to work with each piece is customized for every piece. Only like this will the sound of every instrument perfectly resonate with you.
I use horsetail, cloths woven from horse hair, or materials as shark skin to smooth my instruments. In the past, also volcanic ashes from Vesuvius or crushed clams with a drop of olive oil were used. Choosing the right varnish that can either make or break the sound of an instrument is also an art of its own.
I believe it is important to give every instrument I create a “piece of myself”. I purposefully choose flawed wood because even a small imperfection allows me to create something that has a slightly different style. More ofthen than not this creates better acoustics than if it was perfectly symmetrical.