Monthly archives: March 2015

The Legacy of Stradivarius

This does not have much to do with guitar making, although there are about four guitars made by Stradivarius still in existence - perhaps I will do a blog on this in the near future - but as a violin maker as well, I find the history of the violin and how little has changed over centuries,makes this a fascinating and wonderful instrument.

Cremona is truly a great city to visit. It is an old city with some interesting ancient history and it is steeped in the tradition of music and instrument making. The whole feel of the city is centred around music and if you want to see old violins, their museums are well stocked. Below is some interesting information on some of the master violin makers courtesy of Martin Gani.

The golden age of violin-making in Cremona began with Andrea Amati (1505-1577) who is considered the pioneer of the modern violin. Cremona-workshopHis grandson NiccolA? Amati (1596-1684) made some significant improvements, both aesthetically and acoustically. Guarneri del GesA? (1698-1744) made robust instruments with a powerful, rich sound, qualities so admired by the virtuoso violinist and composer Paganini that he owned four of them. But the city owes its fame to the inimitable master of all time Antonio Stradivarius (1644-1737). Stradivarius crafted around 1,100 string instruments, mostly violins, of which half are still in existence. He became rich and famous in his own lifetime, violinists and collectors alike started salivating over his instruments soon after he set up shop in Cremona in 1670. In 1990 a Stradivarius violin was sold for a record $1.4m. In April 1998, Stradivarius broke his own record when his violin,Kreutzera, auctioned by Christiea's in London, fetched $1.58m. The owner had paid $24,000 for it in 1958. Alas, Kreutzera's primacy didn't last long. On 1st November 1999 the Swiss music dealers Hug announced that the violin owned by Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1998), a 1742 gem by Giuseppe Guarneri, had just been auctioned for $2.83m.

Binding on Acoustic Guitars


What is binding?

Acoustic guitar binding in guitar making,can be made out of many different kinds of material including, various woods, plastic, or celluloid. Binding is inlayed on the edges of the body and sometimes on the neck and headstock.DSCF9552 This is done by cutting a rebate into the edge, either with a router, or as was done more traditionally in the past, by hand, with a rebate tool. Next to the binding, a strip of purfling is usually inlayed in along with the binding. Purfling strips are thin laminate pieces of different woods or woods dyed different colours. The purfling on guitars is usually more for aesthetic purposes.

The bindings main purpose

  • is to provide strength to edges. The top and back are glued to the sides, which are normally round 2mm thick. A 5mm thick strip called a lining, is attached to the inside of the sides where they meet the top and back. The reason for this is to a) stiffen the sides, and b) to increase the gluing area. When the binding rebates are cut they are specifically done to not disturb the joint of the top and back to the sides. Binding 1When the bindings are glued into position, again, the gluing area has been increased to strengthen the joint even more. It protects the fragile, grain edges of the top and back while helping attach them to the sides.
  • To lessen the chance of the top and back cracking or splitting, especially at the top (headstock area) and the bottom.
  • To protect the edges when accidently bumped.

So, as well as looking good and aesthetically finishing the guitar, the binding has a very specific purpose and plays a very important role in the construction of the instrument.