Violin Makers Celebrate Their Craft: VSA Convention Begins in Indianapolis
The art of violin-making has taken center stage in Indianapolis, as hundreds of stringed instrument makers from around the world have arrived for the Violin Society of America's annual convention, which began today with the opening of exhibitions for stringed instrument makers at the Hyatt Regency. It was also the start of the closed judging sessions for more than 500 instruments that were entered by makers from 26 countries for the VSA's 21st International Competition.
I enjoyed getting an insider peek at the many materials and methods that go into the making of a violin: the wood, the bridges, the pegs, the specialty tools, the hair for bows, and more. I chatted with both exhibitors and makers, and here are some pictures and excerpts from our conversations.
As I walked into the exhibit hall, I noticed that many luthiers were on the prowl for wood. For example, here is luthier Martin Heroux, of Quebec, examining wood
This exhibit floor also is a great place for luthiers to find the tools of their trade -- and many of these tools are highly specialized and rare. Let's just say that you can't find many of them at your local hardware store.
And despite the fact that this craft is 400+ years old, people are still creating new tools for the creation and repair of violins, violas, cellos and basses. "After a few years, you thinkg you have all the tools you need, but sometimes someone comes up with another," said Andrew Carruthers of Santa Rosa, holding up a special clamp used in the repair of cracks on the edge of a fiddle.
And believe me, there were plenty of tools to be had here; this is just one table of them from the International Violin Company:
There were also many "parts" for fiddles: bridges, pegs, fingerboards and more. Another vendor, Talwar Brothers/Acura Meister of India, was displaying a special kind of end button -- you can take off a little cap and then peek through the button into the belly of the violin, to see if the soundpost is standing correctly. Vie President Abhi Chakrabarti demonstrated: