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, .....

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