Davide Sora is an Italian violin maker who operates out of Cremona, Italy. He has a YouTube channel where he demonstrates how he does various violin making tasks. This video is a condensed version of a longer set of videos he has posted on how he carves a bridge.
At first sitting it might feel a bit like watching grass grow, but his mastery of the knife is a joy to behold. I find his videos to be both informative and interesting. Also rather inspirational.
Last I heard, there’s something like 160 active violin makers living there.
Apparently there’s been some recent concern because the top echelon Chinese makers are beginning to give them a serious run for their money. Same as what’s been happening with guitars in recent years, where some Chinese brands (Canadian, too) are without a doubt knocking established American brands off their perch (here’s looking at you G****n) by simply making better guitars for less cost to the customer. Also, at this point in Canada it’s cheaper to ship a guitar in from China than it is to ship one from across the street, so that doesn’t help matters, either.
That aside, here’s a documentary concerning the development of violin making in Cremona in modern times. It’s heartbreaking to hear how the city demolished the block that once housed the homes and shops of the Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari families in the 1930s, to make way for a modern arts centre, another example of what developers will do if given too much sway at city hall. A very informative and interesting video, nonetheless…
These videos are a masterclass for any aspiring luthier, be it for guitars or whatever instrument, IMO. There is so much to appreciate and learn from, especially in the areas of chisel, rasp, scraper, and knife work. Watch how he moves into his cuts. He keeps his tools in immaculate condition. This guy is good. Really good.
Yeah, I noticed that too. These ‘start to finish’ videos are condensed versions of larger multiple video series that he has put out for each step.
Watching these and the ‘Violin Makers’ documentary makes me want to visit Cremona at least once. It sucks that they tore down the buildings that housed the Stradivari, Guarnari, and Amati operations. I have the Hill books on Stradivarius and the Guarnari family, which were written before the travesty, and there’s B&W pictures of the houses in them.
This video where he carves the linings was interesting to me. He even sands out the knife marks.
The back linings on the old Modelo Sabicas Ramirez guitar that I have are carved like that. It seems like a lot of unnecessary trouble to me--I usually just use thinner linings and break the protruding edge slightly with sandpaper. I often think about what is really necessary and what we do just because we feel like it, even if it won't be seen. I use donut soundhole reinforcement instead of just two strips on either side. I know it doesn't affect the sound noticeably but it just feels right to do it. Sometimes I wonder if it is even necessary to carve the fan braces. I bet they would work pretty well if left rectangular.
There's an old story about a stone mason working on top of a cathedral asking another mason why he was doing such detailed work where no one would see it. The second mason answered, "I'll know it's there and God will know it's there."