Violin Configurator

by Edgar E. Russ

This Configurator will bring your dream instrument closer to you.

At the beginning you will chose visible details of your instrument and towards the end you will be able to shape even the sound, which, thanks to more than 35 years of experience – I can exactly create following your desire.

During many years of experience, I have learned that the more I learn from you, the easier it will be for me to make exactly your dream instrument here in Cremona in my violin workshop.

1. Size of the Instrument

Choose sizeChange

2. Shape of the Instrument

Choose your modelChange

3. Wood Selection

Choose woodChange

4. Varnish Selection

Choose your varnishChange

5. Setup: Pegs, Endpin, Tailpiece and Chinrest

Choose your setupChange

6. Your Dream-Sound

Describe your soundChange

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Size of the Instrument

Since the tone of stringed bow instruments is made by pushing the string on the fingerboard, the size of your hand and your arm are fundamental for the size of instrument which will fit you the best.

The smaller your hand or your arm is, the smaller should be your instrument. Should, because the bigger the instrument the bigger the sound. In some cases, custom made sizes are required. For an adult musician with a small finger spread a full-size instrument with a 3/4 or 7/8 neck might be the perfect solution.

Full size violin

This size is the most common for a violin. Ideal for most adults, more exactly ideal for a minimum arm length of 58,5 cm. This size is, when being made by a single Master, a long-term investment.

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7/8 violin

This size is just a little smaller than a full-size violin. Therefore, it sounds great as a full-size violin and is also often called: Lady size violin. For children who grow rapidly to a larger size instrument, this size is taken only in rare cases. But with a quite active concert per-forming it should be considered an advantage.

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3/4 violin

3/4 violins are mainly played by children between 10 to 13 years or with an arm length of 56 to 60cm. The arm length should be measured from the neck to the middle of your palm.
With a 3/4 violin you can already play together with other violins since the sound is already strong but it cannot be compared with a full size violin.

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Half size violin

Perfect for children between 8 to 10 years or with an arm length 53 to 56cm. The arm length should be measured from the neck to the middle of your palm. For extremely talented kids it is worth to have a Master made half size violin.

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Quarter size violin

The quarter size violin is perfect for kids between 6 to 8 years or with an arm length between 48 to 53cm. The arm length should be measured from the neck to the middle of the palm. Since most instruments of this size are rather made strong to last longer because of eventual accidents, it is a good idea to get it made by a Master to obtain a nice sounding violin.

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Custom size

Please choose this option if you would like to get a custom size violin made for you, such as a shorter neck with a full-size violin corpus. Please indicate your arm length measured from the neck to middle of the palm. Or if you know already what neck size: 3/4 or 7/8.

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Shape of the Instrument

For most people, all violins look the same. Instead, if you take time to watch carefully different instruments you will soon train your eyes and note that all instruments are slightly different. These tiny differences change the outline and therefore the corpus which creates the sound. That is the reason why a “Guarneri” has different sound characteristics compared to a “Stradivari” model.

Here you will find my preferred models with a short description.

If you are dreaming of a different one, please indicate it at the very end here below.

Edgar Russ “Edith Steinbauer”

Prof. Werner Ehrenhofter has been student of Edith Steinbauer, and so the two of us went together in 1994 to visit the 93year old Lady at her home. At her age she still went all by herself to Spain on summer holiday and during my visit she showed me different ways to play on a piano. During the visit I saw her Jean-Battiste Vuillaume violin for the first time. Typical dark red varnish, perfect wood choice and a big powerful sound. I would not have thought at that time, that I would have recognized this specific violin almost 20 years later from 5 meters, while visiting Prof. Regina Brandstätter in Graz. A unique experience, an unforgettable violin.

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Guarneri “Heifetz - ex David”

This Guarneri is famous because Heifetz played it. So, I decided to discover why he chose this one. And now I think I understood it.
It has a typical Guarneri sound, but it is somehow more precise on every tone and this makes it a reliable partner for every musician.
You will love it.

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Guarneri “Lord Wilton”

The Lord Wilton became famous after it had been sold for the first time more than a Stradivari. Since that time Stradivari and Guarneri are competing next to each other being the most ever paid violins.
The Lord Wilton Guarneri on a quick look seems to be clean but it has many inaccuracies which I discovered making my copies of this violin.
I would describe the sound of this Guarneri as a great nice Guarneri sound.

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Guarneri “Ole Bull”

Some people say that this has been the very last Guarneri violin ever made. Indeed, you can see that the old Guaneri had evident problems with his sight and faced problems when building this violin. Nevertheless, it all fits in perfect harmony together and you can see that even with all the inaccuracies the mastery of the Great Master can be perceived since he knew his craft.
I had the chance to see the original Ole Bull in Taiwan and I was impressed of its appearance.
Sound wise the roughest Guarneri or the maximum of Guarneri sound.

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Guarneri “Sainton” 1744c.

In 2010 a customer asked me to build him a copy of the Sainton Guarneri. So far, I didn’t know this Sainton, but once I found it in a book, I had the impression to look right into the face of a guinea pig. During the first-time construction I fell in love with this specific and outstanding Guarneri. A friend and Violin dealer made me a lot of compliments and he was convinced that my copy sounds even bet-ter than the original. Well now, after I made this Sainton Copy al-ready many times I would love to compare mine with the original.
Its sound has a powerful character just like Guarneri.

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Guarneri “Ysaÿe”

Probably the most well-known Guarneri. Indeed, for the first 5 years I made Guarneri models, I worked on a model which had been signed Ysaÿe, but had little to do with the original one. During the making of this Ysaÿe 1740 Guarneri I understood that this Great Master had been a genius and he knew very well what he was doing. I would rather say that he understood where to pay attention to make a violin a great sounding one. He didn't waist his time cutting one f hole more equal to the other, he invented his own body shape with his particular f holes and the scrolls are all different from one violin to the other, elaborating over the years his style which is of great taste and all parts fit together with lots of harmony.
The Sound, how you expect, is a perfect rough Guarneri sound.

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Pietro Sgarabotto

During my very first year of the Violinmaking School in Cremona I went with my Master Riccardo Bergonzi to choose wood. When we entered the warehouse, we met the school guard throwing away lots of old things. Bergonzi asked if it would have been possible to keep something of those items and the school guard said yes, be-cause it would have been thrown away anyway. Immediately Ber-gonzi gave me two items and said: “These are yours!”. One old and damaged violin working mold and one white PVC violin pattern with a handwritten: Mod.ced.dal Prof. Pasqualini N°1. Years later I made the forms and discovered what my Master quickly recognized a treasure. Since then I make this violin very often and I like this skinny and beautiful shape because it has a superb nice sound.

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Lorenzo Storioni

Lorenzo Storioni is one of the Great Masters from Cremona. He lived and worked in Sesto Cremonese, approximately 7km northwest of Cremona. His work is as precise as the one of Stradivari but you can definitely see the influence of models and shapes of Guarneri. I frequently make this model because it’s great and interesting sound properties. A proper identity because of this particular mixture of influences which you can’t find in any other makers work. A beautiful and powerful sound with an unlimited potential on the E string. You will love this one.

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Stradivari “Hellier”

Many questions were made about the origins of Stradivari and often you can read in older books that the decorations of the decorated Stradivari instruments were not made by the master himself. In re-cent years, a lot of new documents have been found and we know that he had been apprentice and employee in the workshop of Francesco Pescaroli. In that way Stradivari had contact to the violinmakers who got violins decorated in the workshop of Pescartoli. In that specific period between 1666 to 1681 Stradivari constructed about 44 instruments. The “Hellier” is particularly precise and the large model suits very well to be decorated. For me as a maker, it is very challenging to make a copy since I have to measure my ability directly with the Great Masters of the past.

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Carlo Antonio Testore

From the very first time I have seen this violin published in a booklet I decided to make this model. Two months later I had my first one ready and I was impressed. Some customers don’t even touch it since it looks so rude. But the sound it makes is something close to a Guarneri with a more specific character. So, it is definitely not like a Guarneri, yes, it is a Testore. Over the years I have tried to change in one or another direction but the specific Testore sound always has been very clearly recognizable for me. I just love this one. And probably my customers as well.
The Original is in a collection of Aristide Versari, exhibited in Venice.

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Stradivari 1715 “il Cremonese”

The “Cremonese” is probably the most famous violin made by Antonio Stradivari. The deep slammed back and the classic Stradivari shaped body from the golden period give a beautiful big and powerful sound. By looking at this violin I always find it interesting how Antonio realized to create a light and charming appearance while the measurements of arching, purpling distance, edgewise and scroll are all quite big and heavy sized. As a violinmaker I can see here Stradivari's superb skill. Stradivari has been a great craftsman and be-came therefore an artist.

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Stradivari 1725 “Chaconne”

This Strad has been purchased in 1989 by the National Bank of Austria. Despite the node on the top it has been considered the best sounding violin of Antonio Stradivari and Prof. Rainer Küchl, first violinist of Vienna Philharmonic played on this outstanding Stradivari until he retired on 1st. September 2016. Since I have been in constant contact with Prof. Küchl I know this violin, its sound, and particularities very well. It would be a great pleasure for me to make a copy of this violin with node on the top. Please indicate if you want this specific model without node.

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Edgar Russ “King Schorsch”

One of my very first customers in Austria was Prof. Werner Ehrenhofer from Eisenstadt. During our long friendship he talked a lot about a specific violin, the Antonio Stradivari “King George”. In those years, the nineties, it was not as easy as nowadays to search and find pictures of an instrument. So, this model has been designed by me back then starting from the original measurements and a 3/4 taken picture of that specific late Stradivari. The model, the f-holes and the scroll are therefore rather my interpretation of what I could imagine from that pictures. But the model I obtained became one of my most made violin models and sounds very good: equilibrated, strong and beautiful as a Stradivari.

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Your dream instrument model

Please indicate your dream violin model here. I will give my best to find more detailed information in my violin reference book library.

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Wood Selection

The right choice of the wood is certainly an important ingredient to create your Dream Instrument. But  you can relax and focus completely on your visible preferences since all my tone wood has been already chosen to fit my violinmaking requirements. Because of my long experience in violinmaking I am able to construct the best sounding instrument for you.

The Top

I have always used Italian spruce from the “Val di Fiemme” to construct my instruments. Since it comes exactly from the same area where the Great Cremonese Makers got their Tonewood from and it isn’t that far away from Cremona, I never considered wood from different areas. For me as a maker the fact to be able to choose my own trees and to split them all by myself up in the mountains has always been a very relaxing and satisfying activity.

During the time of the great Makers the spice from the “Val di Fiemme” was transported via the Adige River and the Po river all the way to the lagoons of Venice. Craftsman went there to choose and buy their wood which has been pulled with horses all the way up the river to Cremona. For us nowadays it seems to be a very complicate and difficult transport system. But now we know very precisely that the Great Makers of the 17th and 18th century used for their instruments wood which as been cut the same year!! Nowadays we do care to use best seasoned Tonewood to achieve the highest quality. Seasoning seemed for me to take so long time;  but now I know that the years go by far too quick and I am able to offer you perfectly seasoned wood for your dream instrument.

The Back

The back of all bowed instruments is a very easy to memorize identification feature. The flames of the maple and if made in one or two pieces underline the personal taste of it’s owner. Soundwise this image of the wood influences much less than generally assumed. But on the other hand I came after years of experience to the conclusion that the origin of the maple and its resulting wood property, influences a lot the sound capacity and quality of the instrument. This fact is not visible by eye. Therefore I strictly use maple directly from Bosnia and offer it here in different options.

Neck and Ribs

Varnish Selection

A superb sounding instrument is the result of an infinity of many small detail. Also the violin varnish is an important detail. But understand that there is no miracle varnish which brings every instrument to excellence. Only in the last decades we got scientific results regarding what the Great Masters used. Those results together with my long experience in violinmaking has helped me to elaborate my protein wood preparation and my Amber oil varnish I am using on all of my master instruments. Everything I apply on my instruments is cooked or prepared by myself in person and my experience is very positive and is appreciated by many colleagues worldwide.

Choose your varnish layout

Choose your preferred varnish color

Setup: Pegs, Endpin, Tailpiece and Chinrest

The selection of the fitting is for many a major matter.
I usually use for all of my instruments mainly the same fitting as it has been used on its original. And if it has not been indicated from you I personally prefer to use Boxwood fittings.
The chin rest is usually chosen because of its shape and comfort individually, but has also an impact on the sound. That’s why I usually would fit a small chin rest which is fitted on the side of the chin rest with common screws. My experience is that the e string sounds stronger and is more stable. But if you prefer a specific chin rest model please indicate it here below.

Type of wood for your fitting

Choose your peg Model

Select Tailpiece Model

Select the Chinrest

Your Dream-Sound

Now that you have worked yourself through and you have already your imaginary Dream Instrument in front of you, let’s dedicate some time to describe your ideal sound description. During my career I have always dedicated a lot of time to the sound adjustment of every instrument I made, trying to discover the limits of every model. Therefore I have the experience to create exactly the sound of your dream instrument from the very beginning to the final day of delivery. Please describe here below choosing a maximum of 3 options which match your sound idea. For further descriptions feel free to write further.

Feel free to describe your ideal sound here more precisely: