Happy Holidays!

Posted on | December 22, 2016 | No Comments|

Happy Holidays to all our clients, colleagues and friends!

Thank you to all our customers for your support! My assistant, Charline Dequincey, and I greatly appreciate it.

This year we finished a number of new instruments including a new model of 16″ viola. Charline finished and sold her fine sounding Francesco Ruggeri model cello as well.

In the new year we look forward to visit Toronto in January for an exhibition of new Canadian instruments and meeting up with musicians, friends and colleagues. We will be presenting both cellos and violins at the exhibition.

(for more information on the Toronto exhibition click here and here)

The workshop is closed over the holiday period. We open again on Tuesday January 3rd, 2017.

From our workshop – all the best for 2017!

The photos above are from one of my trips to the US in 2016 – at the bench carving scrolls with colleagues and then relaxing with colleagues!

Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal

Posted on | December 17, 2016 | No Comments|

In November I finished a violin for Ramsey Husser (2nd Assistant Concertmaster) of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. It was modelled after my usual Guarneri model,  the ‘Lord Wilton/Menuhin’  Guarneri violin of 1742.  As I have become accustomed to this model, I’ve incorporated elements from other Guarneri violins, including the ‘Duskin/Zukerman’ Guarneri violin of the same year.

The ‘Dushkin’ Guarneri violin is a more robust violin than the ‘Menuhin’  and it opens up possibilities when I combine elements of design from more than one violin. While I enjoy copying certain Cremonese violins as exactly as I can, it can quickly limit the possibilities to explore different playing characteristics.

For Mr. Husser’s violin I made the edges of the front and back a little stronger and brought the f’holes closer together, among other small adjustments. Though I did keep the arching very close to the original ‘Lord Wilton/Menuhin’  Guarneri violin.  Overall for this violin I was looking for a slightly less dark sound and with more focus.

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Above are photos of Ramsey Husser’s violin.  I quickly took these photos at my bench, just before Mr. Husser arrived to collect his new violin!

 

Canada Customs – Ottawa Airport

Posted on | November 27, 2016 | No Comments|

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This year I traveled twice to the US with instruments (violin & cello) to present for conferences and a competition. Similar to a touring musician, I planned to bring my instruments back to Canada with me.

On my return and without proper documentation,  Canada Border Services Agency could assume I had purchased the instruments in the US and charge me sales tax and duties.  Just like any importation which might cost thousands of dollars in taxes.

So before leaving Canada on my flight, I did a couple of key steps to make the Canada Customs a simple process on my return.

1. I wrote a description of the violin, including measurements, photographs, wood species and the country of origin of each major wood part. Most violin dealers could write a similar certificate for a fee.

2. Before my flight, with the above paperwork in hand, I visited the Customs Office at the Ottawa Airport. The office is on the first floor (ground floor) at the NorthEast end, down a corridor and past the toilets. It was a little hard to find! Once in the office, I picked up the one black phone on an empty counter to call a customs agent. He arrived in a minute from some back room. Once I explained what I needed, he filled out the simple form below for my instruments and stamped the date on the back of my certificates. (he was very friendly!)

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Flying back home, if Canada Customs asked about my instruments,  I could present the papers to show I had left Canada with the described string instruments. So I correctly avoided paying any taxes or duties during my travels.

The process was simple and I would recommend all musicians to have the necessary papers when traveling with expensive instruments.

 

For more information, the phone number for the Ottawa Airport office of the Canada Border Services Agency is 613 998 3709.

Violin/Cello Making Competition – USA

Posted on | November 20, 2016 | No Comments|

Every two years, the Violin Society of America holds an international violin making competition. 205 Violins, 109 violas, 67 cellos, 9 basses and 68 bows were entered from around the world to compete in Cleveland, Ohio in November.

On Thursday evening, I was awarded silver medal for workmanship for my latest cello.  It was a Stradivari model cello that I have developed over many years. It was pleasing to win a medal for this cello. In the past I have won medals for my violin and viola making in competitions in Europe. And now my cello making has won an award from the highest international competition in the Untied States.

silver-medal

 

For the full list of results, click here.   Other fine Canadian violin makers won awards in the competition, including Fabienne Gauchet, Martin Heroux and bow makers Emmanuel Begin and Eric Gagne.

Strad Magazine article – Oberlin 2016.

Posted on | November 3, 2016 | No Comments|

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This November the British magazine, the Strad, published an article on the summer program at the VSA/Oberlin College Violin Makers Workshop.  I’ve attended this workshop in the United States, for a number of years, working alongside approximately fifty of my good colleagues. The program runs for two weeks each summer.

This year violin maker Hugh Withycomb and I varnished the violin made by the group last year. The vanishes (high resin/low oil) we used were developed over the past decade together with my assistant Charline Dequincey. Hugh and I showed our method of varnishing and completed varnishing the violin in about ten days! (shown below, photo by violin maker David Van Zandt.)

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Below is an excerpt from the Strad magazine about our varnish work.  The full magazine is available here and covers the various other projects from Oberlin this year –  including designing a new viola and copying the ‘Jackson’ 1714 Stradivari violin.

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Below is a photo from the Strad magazine article.  My colleagues, Martina Hawe & Gudrun Kremeier and I  are comparing the ‘Jackson’ Stradivari violin from 1714 to an unvarnished copy by Jeff Phillips and Antoine Nedelec.  Together we three are looking rather critical of their work but it was a beautifully made violin.  I look forward to see it varnished and playing it next year!

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Above photo credit: violin maker David Van Zandt.

Summer break – workshop closed.

Posted on | June 6, 2016 | No Comments|

This June our workshop shall be closed from June 9th and opening again on June 28th.

My assistant and I are traveling to the Oberlin College in Ohio for a violin making workshop.  The VSA/Oberlin Violinmaker’s Workshop is a two-week, intensive, graduate level program for professional makers.

www.oberlinviolinmakers.org

We look forward to catching up with our friends and colleagues in Oberlin!

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Second Stradivari plane

Posted on | May 24, 2016 | No Comments|

Last year I finished making another metal plane for the workshop.  It’s based on a plane from the Museo del Violino (Cremona Museum) in Italy.  It was part of a collection of tools from the Stradivari workshop purchased by Italian violin collector Count Cozio in the late 18th Century.  For more information I wrote an earlier post here. Today violin makers are fortunate to have these workshop forms and tools from Stradivari to study. I was interested to reproduce some of the tools in that collection.

This is the original plane without a blade or the wedge to hold the blade in place:

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Last year I visited Cremona and it was helpful to see the collection of tools myself. The staff at the museum were kind to provide me with photographs and measurements of the planes.

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Museo del Violino in Cremona, Italy

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Plane 1

Above is my version of the Stradivari plane.

I’ve used this plane a great deal over the last year and it works very well. The tapered design, with the narrow part of the plane at the back, fits comfortably in my hand.  It’s still a fairly large hand plane and so perhaps more useful for cellos. But I’ve also used it for roughing violin fronts and back into shape since it cuts the wood so effectively and smoothly.

 

 

 

Employment opportunity – luthier assistant.

Posted on | March 12, 2016 | No Comments|

THIS POSITION IS NOW FILLED

We are currently seeking an assistant for the workshop. The work would include new making and some restoration. Our workshop includes one other employee.

Interested candidates can apply by sending a resume including education, previous job experience and languages spoken.

Photos of instrument work may be included as well.

Applications can be sent via email to: guy@guyharrison.com

or in writing to:

Guy Harrison, 792 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 6X9, Canada

Workshop

 

 

Viola – National Arts Centre Orchestra

Posted on | February 6, 2016 | No Comments|

This week I finished a viola pictured below for the assistant principal violist of the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada.  Often I am copying a particular old instrument or at least using one as an inspiration.  The musician who commissioned this viola had his own particular ideas in mind. So the design is a mix of traditional 17th Century Italian elements combined with the requirements of an individual modern musician.

IMG_4050Before I began carving, the violist David Goldblatt and I discussed previous violas he had played and worked out a design to suit him. The main issues to cover were the size of the instrument, length of strings,  dimensions of the neck and the sound. Click here for a previous blog post on the design work. Fortunately he had played previous violas I had made. So we had a good idea regarding the kind of sound he was looking for. Once I starting work on the viola, David visited my workshop to follow the progress which was nice to share.

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Above: the raw materials – spruce and maple. Below are a few of the photos we both took of the viola.

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David Goldblatt

David Goldblatt – Assistant principal violist of the

National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada.

Violin, viola and cello!

Posted on | December 3, 2015 | No Comments|

It’s been enjoyable to see a few of our instruments finished recently. Below is a beautiful cello my assistant has just completed from her own workshop. The back and sides are made from poplar wood and it’s based around a Cremonese Rugeri model.  I’m pleased to have it for sale in the workshop now.

Please call us for the price or to try this cello.

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Photos by Charline Dequincey – website: www.dequincey-violin.com

 

For the past few weeks, I’ve been finishing the varnish of another  ‘Guarneri’ model violin. While each coat of varnish was drying and as I slowly antiqued the varnish, I was busy making the next instrument, a 16″ viola.  The woodwork on the viola is now almost complete and soon I can begin varnishing again!

Violin 2015

Above:  the completed violin and the partly made viola in the background.

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    About

    Guy Harrison Violin Maker
    792 Gladstone Avenue
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1R 6X9
    Tel: 613 569 4803

    1997 Silver medal for viola in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2010 Bronze medal for violin in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2014 Workmanship award for violin in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2016 Silver Workmanship medal for cello in the VSA Violin Making Competition, USA.

    Member of the American Federation of Violin & Bow Makers and Violin Society of America.

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