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, .....
A new cello on its way

William and the Andrea

One of the first classical Italian instruments I ever worked on was a cello made by Andrea Guarneri in 1690. Perhaps because it was the first, but also because I was already interested in his instruments from looking at photographs, this instrument had an immediate appeal. That first sighting was in 1982, when I was twenty-one. You can see a picture of me looking at the spike on my 'About' page. This was one of the many instruments I measured whilst working in Germany, and it has become one of my favourite cello models. [...]
William Castle looking at the Andrea Guarneri cello

A Viola The Size Of A Violin

It was about 20 years ago that I started making normally small violas [between 15 and 16 inches] and because of the demand for good sounding instruments of this size, since then I have made more smaller violas than ones over 16 inches. Building a successful small viola is definitely more difficult than a large one, which is probably why so few violin makers attempt it, there being a number of important considerations which need attention to ensure the instrument works well, particularly on the C string. [...]
Cornerless viola, the size of a violin, by William Castle

Centre Joints

When I make an instrument I work on one at a time. For me this is the way to focus on the particular pieces of wood, the model and style of the instrument, which translates into an instrument which hangs together visually and tonally. [...]
Jointed backs and bellies leaning against the bench