3 Exciting British Violin Makers and Their Instruments

British Violin making is going through a golden age. Meet 3 Fantastic Violin Makers both Up-and-coming and established and see what makes their work stand out!

When we started MyLuthier, we set out to discover & promote the best luthiers out there because we believe the level of instrument making has never been higher.

Doing a quick search online, Italian makers immediately stand out. While places like Cremona certainly deserve the recognition they get in the musical instrument making world, we think there are many fine British craftsmen out there that can often fly under the radar.

Institutions like the British Violin Making Association and the Royal Academy of Music's Calleva Collection have done a lot to promote instrument makers from the UK. It was in fact through the Calleva Collection that I was introduced to new instruments and how impressive they can sound when I borrowed a cello while studying at the Academy.

What follows is not merely a list of the most famous British makers out there, but rather a selection of makers that we have worked with for years and that have consistently presented violins, violas & cellos of the highest calibre:

  • Colin Cross
  • Mark Jennings
  • Nigel Harris

Colin Cross

Colin's reputation as a restorer of considerable skill has been well earned. Professional players, violin dealerships across the country, and other players, often bring specific projects hundreds of miles for his specialist restoration.

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This Violin has a wonderfully antiqued varnish. Like the original, it is very powerful with a rich tone in all registers, especially the low and high-end. The middle end sings wonderfully and responds well to the player’s input. A brilliant instrument for a chamber musician or orchestral leader.

Mark Jennings

Mark has been a professional maker for 27 years. He studied at Merton College and at the Newark School of Violin Making, graduating from both with Distinctions.  Throughout his working life Mark has followed his philosophy of continuous improvement, spending several Septembers studying at Liuteria Parmense in Italy at their annual masterclass.

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A very beautiful baroque violin, made by violin maker Mark Jennings. It is exquisitely crafted by the maker and is a real beauty to look at. The sound is remarkably balanced throughout all registers. It is resonant and deep from the lowest notes on the G string all the way up the E string and in addition, is very easy to play.

Nigel Harris

Nigel Harris is a very well-known British maker, having perfected his craft over decades. He famously worked with Roger Sheldon and developed new acoustic ideas which he used to make his instruments more powerful and enhance their projection.

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This violin is part of a quartet of wonderful instruments by Nigel Harris. It was played by the first violin of the Enso Quartet for a number of years and subsequently by the first violin of the Heath Quartet. They were used in eminent concert venues such as the Wigmore Hall and the Enso quartet was nominated for a grammy for best chamber music CD playing on these instruments.

About the Author

MyLuthier was started by two friends while they were studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The idea was to provide musicians with exceptional instruments at a price they can afford. We travelled Europe in search for the best contemporary makers and we’re proud of our selection and the partnerships we’ve developed.

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