Derek McCormick’s Violin Blog

Making a violin and other violin-related topics


Front of a 1735 “del Gesu” violin

Back of a 1735 “del Gesu” violin

The “modern” violin first appeared in Northern Italy in the 16th century and has remained virtually unchanged for almost 400 years, apart from minor modifications necessitated by the change to modern pitch in the early 19th century.  “Improvements” haveoften been attempted but so far without success. For this reason most modern makers use the old masters as their guide. I have made instruments in the styles of Giovanni Maggini, Nicolo Amati, Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri. The current instrument is based on a 1733 violin by the latter maker. Giuseppe Guarneri (1698-1744) is nicknamed “del Gesu” after his habit of printing I.H.S. surmounted by a cross on his labels. His instruments are now at least as well regarded as those of Stradivari and have been the preferred instruments of many of the worlds’ greatest players including the legendary Nicolo Paganini. The violin that I am making at oresent is based on the “del Gesu” that was the concert instrument of the great virtuoso Fritz Kreisler.

Detailed drawings of many great instruments such as this are freely available either from museums or from the excellent poster publications from the Strad magazine. Thes include accurate drawings of the outline, from which templates can be made together with the arching pattern and accurate measurements of  thicknessing design, f-hole dimensions and placement etc. This is the starting point which allows us to make the mould which will determine the form of the final instrument.


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