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Violinmakers often like to collaborate on making instruments. Its a great way to learn from each other and has been major feature of the annual Oberlin violinmaker’s Camp for years

The idea

This year at Oberlin a group of us decided it would be fun to build a violin as a group project, but to do it at our home locations. The violin would be passed from maker to maker internationally, with each person contributing to the next stage in its construction. The interesting twist, inspired by the Redwood Violin Project, is that instead of traditional violin materials, each maker would use substitutes grown within a few miles of their home.


Eight participants joined the group in Oberlin with the idea of recruiting two more once the project was under way. I am not naming the participants at this point, you’ll have to check back here and see where the violin goes, who works on it and what challenges they face. I can tell you that there are 10 participants in 9 countries on 3 continents. The project has started, with building the sides of the violin, and the crucial shipping box. You can follow its progress on Instagram

Project Guidelines

  • Have fun. Keep it light hearted.
  • The finished violin should be a high quality instrument
  • Get the violin completed within a year, ready for the next Oberlin meeting
  • Use locally produced materials (Exceptions are being made for glue, drying oil and turpentine, unless the participant wants to tackle these)
  • Document the process with photos and video. Publish these on Instagram
  • The videos should include several repeated themes
    • Opening and dispatching the shipping box
    • Interviews with anyone who helps to make the violin or contributes materials
    • Say a few words about a favorite tool used
    • Make a “knoll” photo of all of the tools used
    • The process of finding the materials plus any problems encountered
    • Include a surprise item in the box to be revealed by the next participant
  • If the project was felt to be successful, to approach media outlets for a write up


Transport. Shipping violins with commercial carriers has become common practice in some parts of the world, but in many others it is either not available or highly risky. If we wanted to include those countries, which we did, we’d have to find couriers, friends or acquaintances, to hand carry the instrument to some destinations.

Reporting. It was decided that Instagram would be the main media for reporting on the project.


Heres a list of the jobs to be done. I’ll add the names and locations of the violinmakers involved when their videos are posted on Instagram

Rib structure. Violinabox shipping caseHugh WithycombeCanberra, Australia
Back.Ute ZahnMinneapolis , USA
Make Fingerboard and PurflingAndrew CarruthersSanta Rosa, CA, USA
Top, F-holes. BassbarTheo MarksWakefield, Quebec, Canada
Close box. Fit Purfling. Edge workValerio NalinMilan, Italy
Carve neck, Fit and Shape neckGianmaria StelzerZürich, Switzerland
Make varnish. Prep violin for varnish.Julia SaranoLondon, England
Apply Varnish.Jonathan HaiEin Carmel, Israel
Make FittingsJuan Carlos SotoSan Juan, Costa Rica
Setup (putting on the strings and fittings)Damián StoppaniNFA. Currently: Saltillo, Mexico
Return to Oberlin
Hugh Withycombe in his Workshop in Canberra, Australia, working on the rib structure (sides) of the Violin. Hugh also made the shipping box. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Read more.

After it’s built….

Completing the violin will mark the end of the first phase of the project. In the second part we hope to loan the instrument out to a series of musicians around the world who will record videos and then pass the instrument on to another musician. getting this to happen will depend very much on the public interest in the fist phase of the project. You can help! The more follows and shares that we get on Instagram, the easier it will be to interest musicians in joining us.

Eventually we will be looking for a good cause to donate the instrument to.