4 Exciting British Violin Makers and Their Instruments

British Violin making is going through a golden age. Meet 4 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:

  • Roger Hansell
  • Antoni Ruschil
  • Douglas MacArthur
  • Colin Cross

Roger Hansell

Hansell Violins, under the leadership of Roger Hansell, have been making prestigious instruments since 1987. This small company expanded in 1993 to its current premises in Leyburn in the beautiful North Yorkshire Dales where violins, violas and cellos are made. They are make superb instrument fittings, all beautifully hand finished that are known for being of outstanding quality.

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Violin by Roger Hansell, after the Guarneri “Ysaye”, 2020
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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.

Antoni Ruschil

Antoni Ruschil has created a violin shop in central London to provide a bespoke service for musicians. His instruments are included in the collection for The Royal Academy of Music, but he also provides instruments and services for The Royal College of Music and Guildhall, as well as orchestras, soloists, teachers and students of all kinds across Europe.

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Violin by Antoni Ruschil, 2020 “The Kasztelańska”
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Antoni adds another beautiful instrument to his collection of fine contemporary instruments. The sound of this high quality violin is very dark and powerful. With a direct and focused sound, this violin will respond to the player’s input naturally and with ease. A versatile instrument, it will shine in any setting.

Douglas MacArthur

Scottish-based Douglas MacArthur produces violas with painstaking attention to detail.

Based on the classical 16th, 17th and 18th century models, his instruments also incorporate modern features to match the tonal and aesthetic requirements of today’s musicians.

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Fine Viola by Douglas MacArthur, 2020 ‘la Stauffer’ Amati
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This particular model of viola has been something Douglas has been working on, on and off, for 8 years. It is ‘la Stauffer’ Brothers Amati of 1615, the earliest known contralto viola in existence. It took 4 years to source all the information needed and to draw the plans for it.

Every part of the instrument is thought out carefully in regards to the processes involved, which in turn leads to the results achieved. The wood has been chosen carefully for it’s aesthetic and tonal qualities, the varnish and varnishing procedures are informed by the latest research on classical finishes and many years experimenting with the materials involved.

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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7/8 Violin by Colin Cross, 2019
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This violin is reminiscent of the old Milanese school. It has a beautifully sculpted body and a wonderfully antiqued varnish.

The particularity of this violin is that it is a 7/8th size. This means that it’s extremely comfortable to play on, especially with smaller hands. However, it retains the full and rich sound of a full size instrument.

It is very powerful with a rich tone in all registers, especially the low and high-end. An instrument perfect for someone with small hands or anyone who is looking for a smaller instrument.

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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