Friday, 12 April 2019

My Building Philosophy

My aim is not to produce “perfect” instruments with flawless varnishes and CNC-perfect joints.  Indeed, go into any high street music store and there will be plenty of those types of instruments, mass-produced and, in my opinion, bland and characterless.  Of course, they have the “name” and all that goes with that and if you want to buy an instrument like that, that’s fine.  I aim to offer something different.  I like my instruments to show the hand of the maker.   I find that, in my experience, perfection is elusive and a pretty exhausting goal to try and aim for.  You could say, I aim for my instruments to have soul.  I aim to for my instruments to have the feeling of an antique where patination can give the owner a sense their item has had a long, rich life.  I want my instruments to have a sound of times long passed, of those crackly old vinyl records we loved when we were young.  You may wonder “is this just an excuse for sloppy workmanship?”  I should point out that the surface of Stradavari violins, if observed closely, show tool marks.  Clearly, he wasn’t a mediocre craftsperson.  It’s just that he only had access to hand tools: hand planes, chisels, hand saws and knives.  Back then there were no computers or modern conveniences like sandpaper.  Indeed, I find that I prefer to do as much as I can with only hand tools, of which I have a large collection gathered from many sources over decades.  Of course some jobs are more easily done with machine tools, and I have some of those too.  I like the best of both worlds. 

So I hope that goes some way to explaining why I do what I do, and how I prefer to my work process to be.  I rarely deliver an instrument on time.  I believe, please indulge me, that the more time I spend on an instrument the better it will be.  I’d like to point out, though, that I could be making a lot more money in another profession, given the hours I work and the time it has taken to develop my craft.  I’m not expecting to get rich doing this and that fact doesn’t really bother me.  I do try to keep my prices as low as I can, but the reality is that my instruments are only going to get more expensive if I am to maintain this in the long term.  I do, however, get a great feeling when a player tells me how much they love playing one of my instruments and I believe that this result cannot come from cutting costs or keeping to strict deadlines.

I want my instruments to send out good vibes into this sometimes bleak world.

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