top of page


This is a list of books, publications and websites I can recommend about the making and repair of violin family instruments, about how the instruments work and about their history.  

How to Make a Violin

Barker, Juliet: "Violin Making - A Practical Guide"

A good book, but it does by far not reach the detail of the making process as described in Johnson/Courtnall. The chapter about varnishing is quite detailed and very useful.

Blahout, Vojtěch: ""

Very comprehensive website about how to make a violin.

Buchanan, George: "The Making of Stringed Instruments - A Workshop Guide"

A very "hands-on" guide to making various instruments from violin family instruments to mandolin and guitar as well as how to make your own budget tools. Many luthiers would be appalled by some methods described in the book, but for a hobbyist it definitely gives lots of useful information. It is full of lovely hand drawn diagrams, which is unfortunately quite rare in times of Word and Powerpoint.

Johnson, Chris / Courtnall, Roy: "The Art of Violin Making"

My favourite book about the making of violins. Very comprehensive and detailed.

Möckel, Otto / Winckel, Fritz: "Die Kunst des Geigenbaues"

A very comprehensive book about violin acoustics, violin making and repair, bow making and repair and instrument history.  Most of the book is written in slightly dated and long-winded German, except for the 60 page long chapter about violin acoustics introduced into the 2nd edition by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Fritz Winckel. Especially the chapter about violin making lacks a bit of diagrams and photographs to help the understanding.

Strobel, Henry A. : "Violin Making - Step by Step"

This is only one of a whole series of his books from violin to cello making.

Wake, Harry S. : "Viola Making Plans"

If you want to make a viola, this provides you with three sets of plans: one for a large 16 7/8" viola based on J.B. Guadagnini, one for a so called Tertis Viola and one to develop the outline of a viola of any desired length.

How the Violin Works

Beament, James: "The Violin Explained - Components, Mechanism and Sound"

A very recommendable book about how the violin works acoustically and structurally (without a lot of maths), how glue and varnish work and about instrument maintenance.

Cremer, Lothar: "The Physics of the Violin"

Translated from German. A comprehensive book on how the violin works, but most likely only really interesting for physicists, engineers or other people who have a good understanding of advanced maths. Despite having an engineering degree, I struggle with it, but still found some useful information between all the formulas. More than one third of the book is dedicated to the physics behind bowed string vibration. A chapter about the bridge follows, which includes experimental determination of its vibrational modes, as well as analytical models of violin and cello bridge. In the following chapters one very approximate and another more detailed analytical model of the violin body are described and concluded with a chapter about the holographic determination of the vibrational body modes. The last chapters describe how the sound is radiated from the instrument and the effect of the environment it is played in, such as room dimensions.

Curtin,​ Joseph:

Has a lot of useful articles on his web page about how the violin works.

Schleske, Martin: 

Besides having published a lot himself about the physics of violins, he has a very comprehensive collection of links and book recommendations on his website.

The Catgut Acoustical Society (CAS):

„The CAS brings together researchers in musical acoustics, violin makers, composers, string players, and lovers of the music they make. One of our primary interests is the application of scientific principles to the construction of instruments in the violin family.“


Dilworth, John: "The Brompton's Book of Violin and Bow Makers", 2012

Can be considered the successor of William Henley's bibliographical work "Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers" as it also contains the more contemporary makers who have died before 2012.

Heron-Allen, Edward: "Violin - Making, as it was and is", 2nd Edition, 1885

Even though quite old, this book contains lots of interesting information "Being a historical, theoretical, and practical treatise on the science and art of violin-making for the use of violin makers and players, amature and professional".

Free download on:

Hill, W.Henry / Hill, Arthur F. / Hill Alfred E.: "Antonio Stradivari - His Life & Work (1644-1737)"
Free download on:

Meyer, Ralph: "The Artist's Handbook of Materials & Techniques"

Useful information about varnish, its application and its chemistry for all types of artwork.

Sacconi, Simone F.: "The 'Secrets' of Stradivari"

This book presents very useful diagrams and detailed photographs of some of Stradivari's instruments and his supposed instrument construction methods along with a catalogue of Stradivari's relics kept in the Civic Museum of Cremona.

Weisshaar, Hans / Shipman, Margaret: "Violin Restoration"

This book is a very practical guide on violin restoration and repair with a lot of detail. Definitely worth the high price.

bottom of page