The Locked-down Violin

The Locked-down Violin April, 2020To have a break from the rough arching of the viola back this morning, I picked up the new violin lying on my other bench and started to play. Finishing an instrument, even after many years, is still a bit nerve-wracking because...

a new violin lying on the workbench

The Green Violin

The Green ViolinJANUARY, 2020   In October I went to visit Andreas Pahler in Bavaria to buy some more violin and viola wood. It has been a while since I last was there and because it is a long way, I chose as much wood as I could sensibly afford. People tend...

New wood on bench

Making a tiny Viola

Making a tiny Viola January 2019 This month I have been making another viola the size of a violin. The main reason to make such a small instrument is for youngsters who want to play the viola but are not yet big enough to play anything larger than a violin. It is...

ribs and mould of a small viola

The cobbler’s shoes and a tiny sculpture

The cobbler’s shoes and a tiny sculpture December 2018 It was nine years ago that I finally got around to making a fiddle for myself. Being keen to get it done and using a model I was excited about, I made it very quickly and it is one of my favourite instruments,...

putting pencil lead in string groove of violin nut

The Best Cello?

The Best Cello? September 2018 Because it has been out being played, I haven’t mentioned my Andrea Guarneri model cello since I finished it in the spring. This is the first instrument I have made with a poplar back, ribs and scroll, though the model I have used...

belly of Andrea Guarneri model cello made by William Castle

A rare breed for me

A rare breed November 2018 Next week I am taking my newly finished baroque violin to its new home at the RNCM in Manchester. This is the first baroque violin [excepting the RNCM project last March] that I have made for a long time. Except for the neck, much of a...

Baroque violin made by William Castle

Collaberative Lutherie [video]

Collaberative Lutherie April 2018 A short film made by John Milnes of our baroque violin making week ar Manchester.

Four luthiers at the Royal Northern College

Making Varnish

Making Varnish May 2018 Varnish Making is one of those jobs which doesn’t come around too often, but noticing my supply steadily diminish over the winter, I decided to make another batch as soon as the weather got better. By the last week of May everything was...

testing the temperature of the varnish varnish

Collaberative Violin Making

At the beginning of March, I once again headed to the Royal Northern College of Music, where I was invited, along with fellow violin makers Kai-Thomas Roth, Marc Soubeyran and Tibor Szemmelveisz, to do some collaberative violin making. This is the sixth such project, and this time we made two baroque violins. We had seven days, sometimes long days, to make them, .....

Four violin makers at the RNCM

A new cello on its way

Since early January I have been working on a slightly small full-sized cello, based on an instrument by Andrea Guarneri. This is my favourite cello model, and the use of poplar for the back, ribs and scroll gives it a different appearance from the more common maple. The poplar is softer to work and is less dense, so the back and ribs are left thicker than would be the case with maple.
The sound of poplar tends to be a little less bright, and darker than maple, .....