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  • Location Germany
  • Satisfied customers in 52 countries
  • Service: +49 (0) 8074 91 72 42 1

The History of Violin Making

The history of violin making spans several centuries and involves the contributions of many skilled craftsmen. The modern violin as we know it today evolved from earlier stringed instruments, but it was in Italy during the 16th and 17th centuries that the craft of violin making reached its pinnacle and laid the foundation for the instruments we see today.

Origins and Early Development of Violin Making

The origins of the violin can be traced back to ancient stringed instruments such as the rebec and the lyra. These instruments had a box-shaped body and usually three to five strings. Over time, changes were made to improve the instrument's sound and playability. One significant development was the addition of a curved bridge, which allowed for more controlled bowing. Another crucial change was the introduction of gut strings, which enhanced the tonal quality of the instrument.

Birth of the Modern Violin

The city of Cremona in northern Italy became a center for violin making during the 16th century. A few prominent families of violin makers emerged in Cremona, including the Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari families. Andrea Amati is often credited with creating the earliest violins that closely resemble the modern instrument. His designs set the standard for subsequent violin makers in Cremona.

Stradivari and Guarneri

Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù (1698-1744) are considered the greatest violin makers in history. Their instruments, known as Stradivarius and Guarnerius, respectively, are highly sought after by musicians and collectors. Stradivari's violins are particularly renowned for their craftsmanship and superior sound quality. These masterpieces were meticulously constructed using the finest materials and have stood the test of time, with many still being played today.

Spread of Violin Making

The art of violin making spread beyond Cremona to other regions of Italy and Europe during the 18th century. Several other centers of violin making emerged, including Brescia, Milan, Venice, and Paris. Each region developed its own distinct style and characteristics, reflecting the individual craftsmanship and local preferences.

Industrialization and Modern Times

With the advent of industrialization in the 19th century, violin making underwent significant changes. Mass production techniques and the use of machinery allowed for greater output but compromised the quality and craftsmanship found in handmade instruments. However, there were still notable luthiers who continued to produce exceptional instruments during this period.

Revival of Traditional Craftsmanship

In the 20th century, there was a renewed interest in the traditional methods of violin making. Many luthiers sought to emulate the techniques and designs of the old masters from Cremona. Violin making schools were established, and apprenticeships became common, ensuring the continuity of the craft. Modern luthiers strive to strike a balance between honoring the traditions of the past and incorporating advancements in materials and techniques.

Today, violin making remains a specialized craft, with a select group of skilled artisans carrying on the legacy of the great masters. The instruments created by these craftsmen continue to be treasured for their exceptional sound and artistic beauty, making the violin one of the most beloved and iconic instruments in the world of music.

The Historc Violin Making in Itlay

Historic violin making in Italy holds a special place in the history of the craft, particularly in the city of Cremona. Italian violin makers, especially those from Cremona, made significant contributions to the development and refinement of the violin as we know it today. Here are some key points about historic violin making in Italy:


Cremona, located in northern Italy, emerged as a renowned center for violin making during the 16th and 17th centuries. The city was home to several prominent families of violin makers, including the Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari families.

Amati Family

The Amati family, particularly Andrea Amati (c. 1505-1577), played a crucial role in the early development of the violin. Andrea Amati is often considered the father of the modern violin and is credited with creating the earliest violins that closely resemble the instruments we see today. His designs set the standard for subsequent violin makers.


Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), also known as Stradivarius, is arguably the most famous violin maker in history. His craftsmanship and attention to detail resulted in instruments with exceptional tonal qualities and unparalleled beauty. Stradivari's violins, such as the "Antonio Stradivari Cremonensis Faciebat Anno" series, are highly coveted and fetch astronomical prices at auctions.

Guarneri Family

The Guarneri family, including Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri (del Gesù) (1698-1744), produced violins that are considered equal in quality to those of Stradivari. Guarneri del Gesù's violins are known for their powerful and intense sound, often preferred by musicians seeking a darker, richer tone.

Regional Styles

Besides Cremona, other regions in Italy also made notable contributions to violin making. Brescia, Milan, Venice, and Naples were centers where skilled luthiers crafted exceptional violins, each with its own regional style and characteristics.

Materials and Techniques

Italian violin makers were renowned for their use of high-quality materials and meticulous craftsmanship. They experimented with different types of wood, including spruce for the top plate and maple for the back, ribs, and neck. They also developed techniques for varnishing and sound adjustments to enhance the instrument's tonal qualities.

Influence on the Craft

The work of Italian violin makers had a profound influence on the development of violin making worldwide. Their designs, craftsmanship, and techniques became the benchmarks for subsequent generations of luthiers across Europe and beyond.


The instruments created by Italian violin makers, especially those from Cremona, continue to be highly regarded and sought after. Their violins are considered some of the finest ever made, and many professional violinists and collectors aspire to own and play these historic instruments.

The historic violin making tradition in Italy, particularly in Cremona, left an indelible mark on the craft, and its influence is still felt in the violin making community today.

Violin Making in Great Britain

Violin making in Great Britain has a rich history, although it developed somewhat differently compared to the prominent Italian tradition. While Italian violin makers like Stradivari and Guarneri were renowned for their craftsmanship, British violin making has often been characterized by innovative designs, experiments with materials, and a distinct British aesthetic. Here are some key points about violin making in Great Britain:

Early Influences

The earliest influences on British violin making came from the continent, particularly Italy. During the 17th century, Italian violin makers like Andrea Amati and Jacob Stainer exerted a significant influence on British luthiers.

Thomas Urquhart

Thomas Urquhart, a Scottish violin maker, is considered one of the earliest known British violin makers. He established himself in London around 1650 and was influential in the development of the craft in Britain.

William Forster

The Forster family, particularly William Forster (c. 1739-1808) and his son, William Forster II (1764-1824), were prominent British violin makers. They worked in London and are known for their craftsmanship and the quality of their instruments.

Unique Designs and Innovations

British violin makers often experimented with unique designs and innovations. One notable example is the "long-pattern" violin developed by members of the Forster family. These violins had a longer body than the standard Stradivarius model and were known for their excellent tone and projection.

James Stagnani

James Stagnani (c. 1745-1823) was an Italian violin maker who settled in England and made significant contributions to British violin making. He is known for his craftsmanship and his involvement in the development of a distinct British school of violin making.

Varnish and Aesthetic

British violins are often recognized for their distinctive varnish and aesthetic. British luthiers developed their unique varnish recipes, often favoring darker tones and a more subdued appearance compared to the bright and vibrant varnishes of Italian instruments.

19th Century Revival

In the 19th century, there was a revival of interest in violin making in Great Britain. Various makers emerged during this period, including names like George Chanot and George Craske, who produced high-quality instruments with individual styles.

Contemporary Scene

Today, Great Britain has a vibrant violin making scene with a diverse range of talented luthiers. Many modern British makers draw inspiration from both the Italian and British traditions, combining traditional techniques with contemporary innovations.

While the Italian tradition remains highly influential in the world of violin making, British violin makers have made significant contributions to the craft. Their innovative designs, unique aesthetics, and dedication to craftsmanship have ensured the presence of a distinctive British style in the violin-making landscape.

Violin Making in Germany

Violin making in Germany has a long and esteemed tradition that has significantly influenced the craft. German violin makers have contributed to the development of both classical and contemporary violins, and their instruments are highly regarded for their craftsmanship and quality. Here are some key points about violin making in Germany:

Historic Centers

Several German cities have been significant centers for violin making, including Mittenwald, Markneukirchen, and Bubenreuth. These regions have a rich history of craftsmanship and have been home to renowned luthiers.


Mittenwald, located in Bavaria, has a particularly strong tradition of violin making. The town's involvement in violin making can be traced back to the 17th century. Mittenwald violins are known for their meticulous craftsmanship, quality materials, and distinctive appearance.

Schools and Apprenticeships

Germany is known for its violin making schools and the training of apprentices. Institutions like the Geigenbauschule Mittenwald and the Musikinstrumentenbauschule in Markneukirchen have played a crucial role in passing on the knowledge and techniques of violin making from one generation to the next.

The Hopf Family

The Hopf family, particularly the brothers Hieronymus II (c. 1668-1735) and Matthias (c. 1667-1712), were prominent German violin makers from the 17th century. They were known for their well-crafted instruments and influential contributions to the development of violin making in Germany.


Markneukirchen, located in Saxony, has been another important center for violin making in Germany. The town has a long history of craftsmanship and a strong tradition of making high-quality string instruments, including violins, violas, and cellos.

Trade and Export

German violin makers have been involved in trade and export of instruments for centuries. They catered to the demands of musicians worldwide and supplied instruments to various parts of the globe.

Contemporary Makers

Germany continues to have a thriving community of violin makers. Many contemporary German makers produce instruments that are highly sought after for their craftsmanship, tonal quality, and attention to detail. They often draw inspiration from traditional German designs while incorporating modern innovations.

Regional Styles

Germany has distinct regional styles in violin making. Mittenwald violins, for example, often feature ornate decorations and intricate purfling, while instruments from Markneukirchen may exhibit a more austere aesthetic with a focus on tonal quality.

German violin makers have made significant contributions to the craft, and their instruments are valued by musicians and collectors worldwide. The tradition of German violin making continues to thrive, combining centuries-old techniques with contemporary advancements to produce instruments of exceptional quality and sound.

Historic Violin Making in France and Spain

Violin making in France and Spain has its own distinct characteristics and contributions to the craft. Both countries have a rich history of violin making, and their instruments are highly regarded for their craftsmanship, tonal qualities, and unique aesthetic. Here's an overview of violin making in France and Spain:

Violin Making in France

Paris and Mirecourt

Paris and Mirecourt are two significant centers of violin making in France. Paris, the capital city, has been home to many esteemed violin makers throughout history, while Mirecourt, located in the Vosges region, has a long-standing tradition of craftsmanship and violin making schools.

French Influence

French violin making has had a considerable influence on the development of the craft. French makers played a role in refining and perfecting various aspects of the violin, including the arching, purfling, and varnishing techniques. They also introduced innovations such as the use of mechanical tuners.

Bow Making

France is renowned for its bow making tradition. Mirecourt, in particular, has been a hub for bow makers, producing exceptional bows that are sought after by musicians worldwide. Notable bow makers from France include François Tourte, who is considered the father of modern bow making.

Aesthetic and Elegance

French violins are often characterized by their elegance and refined aesthetic. French makers paid great attention to the visual aspects of their instruments, with delicate purfling, intricate scrollwork, and beautifully crafted fittings. French varnishes were typically rich and transparent, enhancing the instrument's visual appeal.

Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume

Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (1798-1875) was a prominent French violin maker and dealer. He was known for his meticulous craftsmanship and his work in reviving the traditions of the old masters. Vuillaume's instruments are highly sought after and valued for their quality.

Violn making in Spain

Spanish Tradition

Spain has a rich tradition of violin making, with a history that dates back several centuries. Spanish makers were known for their meticulous craftsmanship and the use of high-quality materials.

Valencia and Madrid

Valencia and Madrid are notable centers of violin making in Spain. Valencia, in particular, has a strong tradition of crafting string instruments, including violins, violas, and cellos. The city's luthiers have produced instruments of exceptional quality and tonal characteristics.

The Amatise School

The Amatise school, named after the Italian violin maker Nicolo Amati, played a significant role in Spanish violin making. Spanish luthiers drew inspiration from the Amati family's designs and techniques, resulting in instruments that showcased their own distinctive Spanish style.

Spanish Flamenco Guitars

While not strictly violins, Spanish violin makers also produce Flamenco guitars, which are an integral part of the Spanish musical tradition. Spanish luthiers are highly skilled in crafting these guitars, which have their own unique tonal qualities and construction methods.

Both France and Spain have contributed greatly to the world of violin making, with their own distinct styles, techniques, and craftsmanship. French violins are celebrated for their elegance and refinement, while Spanish violins carry a rich tradition of meticulous craftsmanship and tonal excellence. Musicians and collectors value instruments from both countries for their exceptional quality and unique contributions to the craft.

Historic Violin Making in Vienna

Historic violin making in Vienna, Austria, holds a significant place in the history of the craft. Vienna has been a center of musical excellence, and its violin makers have made important contributions to the development and refinement of string instruments. Here are some key points about historic violin making in Vienna:

Vienna's Musical Legacy

Vienna has a rich musical heritage, known for its association with renowned composers such as Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert. The city's vibrant musical culture provided a fertile ground for the development of violin making.

The Viennese School

Vienna had its own distinct style of violin making, often referred to as the "Viennese School." The Viennese makers placed a strong emphasis on sound quality, resulting in instruments known for their warm, rich tone and excellent projection.

The Stainer Influence

Jacob Stainer, an influential violin maker from the Tyrol region, had a significant impact on the Viennese violin making tradition. His designs and craftsmanship were highly regarded, and many Viennese makers were inspired by his work, incorporating elements of Stainer's models into their own instruments.

The Dolling Family

The Dolling family played a crucial role in the development of violin making in Vienna during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Dollings, particularly Jakob Dolling and his son, Joseph Dolling, were renowned for their craftsmanship and the high quality of their violins.

Innovative Designs

Viennese violin makers were known for their innovative designs and experiments. They often incorporated unique features such as wider bouts, longer f-holes, and flatter arching profiles, resulting in instruments with distinctive visual and tonal characteristics

Viennese Violin Tradition and Orchestra

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the world's most prestigious orchestras, has a long-standing tradition of using instruments made by Viennese violin makers. Many players in the orchestra have played on violins crafted by local makers, contributing to the recognition and reputation of Viennese instruments.

Continuity and Modern Revival

The tradition of violin making in Vienna has seen periods of decline and revival over the centuries. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the Viennese violin making tradition, with contemporary makers focusing on preserving and reviving the techniques and aesthetics of the historic Viennese School.

Vienna's historic violin making tradition, influenced by local craftsmen and the broader European violin making heritage, has left a lasting impact on the world of string instruments. The Viennese instruments are known for their distinctive tonal qualities, innovative designs, and their association with Vienna's rich musical culture.