About my instruments
About my current catalogue
Relations with customers
Setup and playability
Smooth turning pegs
I believe that every historical model has its hidden secrets, which are difficult to unravel without much experience and insight into its specifics. For this reason, I limit my catalogue of instruments to the bare minimum and take care to bring out the best sound and full potential out of each model.
My approach to the construction of early plucked instruments is closely related to my experience as a professional lutenist. Many years of studying various repertoires on different instruments have enabled me to develop a clear idea of the ideal sound I am aiming for, and to transfer this to my instruments. If an instrument deviates even slightly from this ideal sound, I make subtle changes until I am completely satisfied (more on this below). This kind of work is very time consuming, but in the interest of getting the best possible sound quality, it is definitely worth the extra effort. I do not build so-called "student" instruments, because I do not enjoy working below my ability. My entire production consists of professional concert grade instruments.
Although the business side of the craft is important to make it economically viable, I am more interested in building uncompromising instruments that satisfy me and my customers in every way.
As a consequence of this personal approach, all my instruments are tested by myself for several days to ensure their highest sound quality and excellent playability.
I have travelled to many important museums in Europe to study most of the models in my catalogue. There are many subtle clues on these instruments that are a great source of inspiration and cannot be fully reproduced and understood from someone else's drawing. It has always been clear to me that it is not possible to fully grasp the fundamental nature of an instrument with a contemporary attitude and methodology. Therefore, I am constantly studying and researching the techniques that these ancient craftsmen used and how they influenced the essence of the instruments they produced.
Having been a customer myself many years ago when I was a lute student at the Conservatory, I know exactly what it is like to be "on the other side". When you commission an instrument, it comes with a lot of expectations and hopes. Professionals and amateurs alike expect that instrument to be a source of intense musical pleasure (hopefully for a lifetime) and an instrument that will help them bring out their best musicianship. Being aware of this, I try very hard to meet these expectations. I try to be responsive to individual wishes and to tailor each commission to the client's expectations within the historical background of the instrument in question.
When first contacted, I try to inform my clients on the best instrument for their needs. A few months before I start building the instrument, another more detailed discussion takes place until we both agree on the finer details. At this stage I send pictures of various suitable woods for the instrument. Of course, this last phase is always better if you come to my workshop in person. This is the choice I enjoy the most, because I really appreciate the personal contact with the future owner of one of my instruments.Once the customer has chosen the timbers and I start construction, I also send very frequent updates of the building process and so that he/she can see how the instrument is developing. Once the instrument is finished and has passed all the tests of sound and playability, I keep it for some time in the workshop to make sure it is stable and ready for collection or delivery.
When the instrument is in one piece, before I polish and varnish it, I put the strings on and evaluate the sound it produces. At this stage, and once the strings have settled, I play various styles of music from the instrument's repertoire to evaluate some parameters that I believe are essential for a top professional instrument. Some of these aspects are:
- The tonal quality of each note, expressed in my idea of sound as a broad spectrum of low, middle, and high harmonics. This is perceived by the ear as a rich, full sound.
- The balance between registers.
-Evenness of timbre between each individual course. This makes it possible to play a musical phrase that carries into different courses without an audible difference in timbre.
-A singing quality of sound with good sustain.
All this happens not only by trusting my ears, but also thanks to technology. Two high-quality Neumann microphones are connected to the computer to analyse these parameters and keep records of them for future reference.
Just as important as the quality of the sound are the physical aspects that ensure the perfect playability of the instrument. The height of the strings (usually measured from the fingerboard to the top of the first and last strings at the 8th fret) has a huge impact on how much effort the player has to make to fret the notes. This is commonly referred to as "string action". If the string action is too high, the instrument will be very uncomfortable to play, if it is too low, buzzes on some or many notes will occur. This balance between the two extremes is one of the most difficult aspects of instrument setup, and requires some trial and error to get it just right. Proper fret gauge selection and the height of the nut are also critical. It has been my experience that trial and error is the only way to achieve these adjustments until you reach perfect playability.
Another aspect that is too often overlooked is the precise and smooth turning of the pegs. This is even more important for professional players who need to be able to tune their instruments quickly and effectively in all kinds of situations. This is another aspect that is of utmost importance to me as a professional. To achieve a smooth turning of the pegs, I subject them to a special treatment to make them more resistant to moisture fluctuations.
I have also developed my own peg-compound formula which is much more efficient than the commercial one usually sold for violin family instruments. This peg compound is supplied with each of my instruments.