7/8 violin- Andrea Amati

Posted on | April 13, 2010 | 6 Comments|

My assistant is making a copy of a 7/8 size violin by Cremonese maker,  Andrea Amati.  Almost 20 years ago I was inspired to copy the same violin so I’ve enjoyed seeing this instrument take shape. We hope to have this violin available in the fall. The 7/8 size may suit either a young player or an adult with smaller hands.


Andrea Amati made violins ( also violas and cellos) approximately from 1550-70  and laid down the foundation for all violins to follow. Last year I had the chance to see a few Andrea Amati instruments and was reminded of his extraordinary level of workmanship even when compared to other makers such as Stradivari.  In my opinion Andrea’s scrolls in particular stand out as supreme examples of the violin makers craft. (see below)               dscn6449-copy

Book- ‘Trade Secrets’

Posted on | March 21, 2010 | 1 Comment|

My copy of  the book ‘The best of trade secrets’  arrived recently. It’s a collection of articles from the ‘Trade Secret’ section of the British monthly magazine – ‘the Strad’.


The topics cover a broad range of violin making techniques and some restoration methods. An article I wrote on reinforcing necks first published in ‘the Strad’ was included.  The 150 page book is available from ‘the Strad Library’.  Click here.

Ruggeri violin

Posted on | January 20, 2010 | 2 Comments|

Recently this Cremonese violin by Francesco Ruggeri came through our workshop. We took the time to measure and photograph it, before returning it to it’s very kind owner. We also took this violin to the Museum of Nature to be photographed which I will present later.


With the information I gathered I will make a copy of this violin sometime soon.  While there is a lot of information published on Stradivari and Guarneri, there is comparatively little available on F. Ruggeri. I’m interested to copy this Ruggeri to learn more about this talented maker.

In the meantime I’m finishing another Guarneri Del Gesu violin, a long pattern Stradivari violin and Stradivari cello.

Below: Tracing the outline of the back and one of the fine corners of the back.

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A 1693 Stradivari violin.

Posted on | November 22, 2009 | 4 Comments|

On a recent trip  I visited the National Music Museum in South Dakota to study and measure the 1693 Stradivari. Over the winter I’ll be making a copy of  this violin for a client.

To copy an instrument I begin by taking as much information from the instrument as possible. Below are various  tools laid out on my bench before I set off.  All the tools are in plastic not metal, to avoid marking the instrument in anyway.  The red gauges shown are for taking the shape of the arching.       I also brought spare tools as well in case a tool gave a problem.


The National Music Museum Shrine is in the small town of Vermillion and I stayed at the friendly ‘Prairie Inn’ close to the Museum. (below on the left)

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It took a full day to measure, take notes and photograph the Stradivari. The next day I also measured an Andrea Amati violin made about the year 1560 in Cremona. Now that I’m back in Ottawa, I’m completing some other instruments and then I’ll begin making the Stradivari 1693 copy.


(Photograph by Bill Willroth Sr)

For information on our workshop go to : Guy Harrison Violin Maker

Below is one of the beautifully cut f’holes by Antonio Stradivari from 1693.


Australian Violin Makers.

Posted on | November 16, 2009 | 2 Comments|

I’ve been reading a new book on Australian violin making that came out recently. It covers the violin and bow makers in Australia from the 19th Century to the present day. In the introduction, Michael Lea from the ‘Powerhouse Museum’ in Sydney, does a wonderful job placing the violin makers in context with the changing musical life and history of Australia.


The bulk of the book list the makers, myself included and their biographies. There are also photographs of many beautiful Australian violins and the more eccentric work as well. With 311 pages and in hard cover the book offers good value at around $75 US.  It’s available directly from the author online at ‘Violin and Bow Makers of Australia’

Violin- 18th Century Milan

Posted on | October 20, 2009 | 2 Comments|


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This interesting smaller size violin was brought to the shop for cleaning and a check over. It was made in Milan in about 1740 and is perhaps the work of Paolo Antonio Testore.


dscn62442Often on a violin of this age we find minor cracks.  These can be glued from the outside without removing the top. In order to clean the violin these small cracks should be glued so no cleaning materials seep into the cracks. If that occurs, future gluing could be more difficult.

In the photo above (click on the photo for a close up) we used a special clamp made in England by ‘Brian Hart Luthier Tools’. The crack in this case went from the f’hole to the edge, which this tool is designed to close.

For information on our workshop go to : Guy Harrison Violin Maker

Exhibition in Montreal with the Canadian Viola Society

Posted on | September 20, 2009 | No Comments|


The Canadian Viola Society celebrate their 30 year anniversary at the Université de Montréal on October 10th and 11th.

As part of the event we shall have instruments and bows on display and for musicians to try. All instruments and bows will be available to take out on a further trial.  

We look forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new violists at this two day event.  

For more information on the event please go to : Canadian Viola Society

For information on our workshop go to : Guy Harrison Violin Maker

Cello repair –

Posted on | September 13, 2009 | 1 Comment|

The cello side shown below is from an 18th Century German cello made in Mittenwald by a member of the Klotz family. The ribs over the years had been cracked in various places and had some wood worm damage as well.

It was brought into the workshop for restoration.


We used a variety of techniques to reinforce the many cracks in the ribs. In the example above, a crack in the rib ran right next to the spruce lining inside. To avoid removing, or cutting the original wood my assistant fitted 3 spruce studs inside going from the rib over the lining to reinforce the crack. So no original wood was lost or disturbed and the crack is held closed.

The end of the studs are cut at an angle in an effort to avoid future cracks.

Workshop in Ottawa

Posted on | September 2, 2009 | 1 Comment|

This is one of the rooms in the new workshop. These workbenches are used for making instruments. I have another room for restoration work further down the hall. By the entrance I have an office with my library and space to try instruments.

At the moment I’m making another copy of a Del Gesu violin, which is on the left hand bench. Above on the shelves are varnish materials and various tools. My laptop sits on the bench with some recording equipment and UV light mounted underneath.

On the right side is a taller bench with the sides for a cello.

The view from my window looks onto St. Anthony Church and down Gladstone Avenue.

Our violin shop has moved to 792 Gladstone Ave.

Posted on | July 26, 2009 | 2 Comments|

We are pleased announce our new workshop in Ottawa’s little Italy opening on August 1. Visit the new convenient location at 792 Gladstone Avenue, next door to the beautiful St. Anthony’s church, just east of Booth Street.

We are having an open house:

When: Saturday, August 1st from 10:00 to 4:00.

Where: 792 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa

download-9 Enjoy some treats from little Italy and see our making and restoration workshop.


We continue to make fine concert instruments. Our recently made violin, a copy of Guarneri Del Gesu used by Yehudi Menuhin was sold to a young violinist who is now studying in London, England.

We also offer the following:

-Restoration and sound optimization on instruments.

-Fine antique instruments – such as Joseph Hel, Lille, France,1892.

-Antique and contempory bows from France, England, Germany, Canada, Brazil and United States.

-Bow rehairing

-A complete range of strings

-Quality cases by Musifia and Bam.

We look forward to seeing you at our new location

For more information visit: http://www.guyharrison.com

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    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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