Meisteratelier für Geigenbau · Bamberg
Violins, violas, cellos. Modern or baroque, we, the luthiers Veronika Dreysse and Carsten Hoffmann, make new instruments - models after classical Italian examples from the golden age of violin making and direct copies.
Bamberg and the Bamberg Symphony - Bavarian State Philharmonic provides us with an ideal location for a steady fruitful exchange with musicians. Our clients also include renowned professional musicians who are soloists or work in different orchestras.
We are also happy to take on repair, restoration, maintenance and service work on stringed instruments and bows.
Making violas is always a great joy for us. There seems to be slightly more room to express ourselves, as the field is not so much dominated by a „perfect“ form (as the Forma B for cello or the grand Stradivari or Guarneri models are) in a sense of a model that is suitable for a contemporary musician. There is the matter of size (not too big but sounding like that) and the matter of sound (sounding big, dark, deep and colorful, but still focused with carrying power and a fast, direct response). Stradivari seems not to have experimented as much with violas as he did with violins and cellos. Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù did not make a viola at all.
What comes close to a „perfect form“ - at least it is very much in fashion these days - is the contralto form by Andrea Guarneri which produced as famous instruments as the 1676 „Conte Vitale“ or the 1697 „Primrose“ (which is essentially the work of Giuseppe Guarneri „filius andreae“, the father of „del Gesù“). With 41,3 cm body length it is not too small, but still manageable for many players. We have added some pictures of a viola we built on this model, inspired by the „Primrose“ and the 1690 „Josefowitz“ with its enormous archings. This kind of arching still is rooted very deep in the Amati tradition, resulting in a quite silvery yet deep voice.
This model was the departing point for us to create a model which would transfer the developments of Stradivari’s and especially Guarneri del Gesù’s violins to the viola.
At first we changed the outline. Using a double cross mould (see article in our Testimonials’ section), the main dimension defined by the blocks and the upper and lower width were kept the same. The middle bouts were enlarged and the curves flattened, which is one of the characteristics of late Cremonese instruments. All was done by eye and free style, so the resulting outline is irregular and asymmetric.
The archings are flatter, but fuller to the edges. The sound holes are inspired by the 1731 „Messeas“ cello (made by del Gesù).
The beautiful one-piece back on the slab corresponds well with the not too regular one-piece top with a rather high density (about 0,47 g/cm³).
The resulting sound is very full, broad, dark and deep but with shine and a strong carrying power.