Notes from the maker Douglas MacArthur:
This particular model of viola has been something I’ve 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’s housed in the museum in Cremona and is in a wonderful state of preservation. It took me 4 years to source all the information I needed and to draw the plans for it before I could make the first one, as the information available is sparse and a number of sources have to be consulted to piece it all together.
There is no outline for it available commercially and so I had to learn how to draw Cremonese moulds from scratch, using the system of Euclidian geometry that was in use at the time, in order to be able to recreate it.
Every part of the instrument is thought out carefully in regards to the processes involved, which in turn lead to the results achieved. The wood has been chosen carefully for it’s aesthetic and tonal qualities, the varnish and varnishing procedures are my own and are informed by the latest research on classical finishes and many years experimenting with the materials involved.
Even the facsimile label inside has been printed on genuine seventeenth century paper, using reproductions of the typeset letters that would have been used on the original label; these have been individually handset on a traditional printing press and printed with historical inks.
The reason I have gone to so much trouble to make this particular model is because, in my opinion, it is the most beautifully proportioned and stylistically elegant classical viola there is, and I have never been disappointed in the results. It sounds a good as it looks!
The viola comes certified from the Luthier, Douglas MacArthur.