Recommended Reading

Below are recommended reading lists for violin making students. Coming soon: general woodworking, guitars, and misceallanous.

Click links below to jump to relevant point on the page: 

  1. Violins (general books)
  2. Violins (historical books)
  3. Violin website resources
  4. Guitars (general books)
  5. General woodworking website resources
  6. General woodworking website resources



The Art of Violin Making by Chris Johnson
ISBN: 978-0709058762

Publisher description: "The Art of Violin Making" is the major work for the craftsman, bringing into one volume a summary of essential information for the violin maker and player, as well as providing a historical reference. Part One: The Violin Makers is devoted to separate chapters on the life and work of some of the greatest of all violin makers; the families of Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri, and the unique genius of Jacob Stainer. These chapters include superb colour photographs of examples of their work. Also included is a chapter covering the work of some leading contemporary violin makers. (...) This book is essential reading for the violin maker, repairer and historian, providing a unique record of the history, social background, lives and work of the great violin makers of the past, combined with a clear practical guide to making violins.


The Violin Explained by James Beament

Publisher description: There are more curious beliefs about the violin than any other instrument. Physicists have now discovered how the violin family produce their sound, but this knowledge is not generally accessible to players and makers. In this book Sir James Beament explains, without assuming any scientific background, how strings vibrate, and the role played by the bow, bridge, and body in producing sound. Those discoveries do not give a satisfactory explanation of what we hear, and the core of the book explains how the sound relates to the sensations it produces. This leads to the conclusion that most of the myths about violins are groundless, but also that nothing can be achieved by applying modern technology to making or playing. Practical advice on strings, maintenance, purchase and children's instruments completes the discussion.


The Secrets of Stradivari by Simone F. Sacconi

Publisher description: Simone Fernando Sacconi is recognized as one of the important violin maker and restorer ever. His book explains the construction techniques used by Stradivari with clarity and precision and it is considered an indispensable reference for both professional and novice violin makers.


Henry Strobel Series

Useful MeasurementsViolin Making ; Art & Method of the ViolinmakerViolinmakers Notebook
Publisher description: The Strobel books for violin makers are professional, concise, and convenient, reflecting traditional, conservative, and artistic work. Some forty thousand sold, they are used internationally by student, amateur and professional makers in shops and schools, and referred to by manufacturers, sellers, users, and lovers of bowed instruments. High quality 8.5 by 11 in. paperbacks made to lie flat and last on your workbench.


Cambridge Companion to the Violin by Robin Stowell
ISBN: 978-0521399234

The Cambridge Companion To The Violin offers students, performers, and scholars a fascinating and composite survey of the history and repertory of the instrument from its origins to the present day. The volume comprises fifteen essays, written by a team from every relevant angle.


Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics by Arthur H. Benade
ISBN: 978-0486264844

Publisher description: The book deals extensively with the fundamental modes of sound production and with the special sound-producing properties of the musical instruments in common use today keyboard, string, brass, woodwind, and percussion as well as the human voice. It further explores the critical roles played by the room and by the hearer's auditory apparatus. The basis of scales and harmony and the craft of instrument makers are also discussed in this masterly text, which includes numerous illustrations, bibliographical information, and a stimulating section of "Examples, Experiments, and Questions" at the end of each chapter.


The Violin Maker by John Marchese
ISBN: 978-0060012687

Publisher description: How does a simple piece of wood become the king of instruments?The violin does something remarkable, magical, and evocative. It is capable of bringing to life the mathematical marvels of Bach, the moan of a Gypsy melody, the wounded dignity of Beethoven's Concerto in D Major. No other instrument is steeped in such a rich brew of myth and lore--and yet the making of a violin starts with a simple block of wood. The Violin Maker takes the reader on a journey as that block of wood, in the hands of a master craftsman, becomes an instrument to rival one made by the greatest master of all time.


American Luthier: Carleen Hutchins by Quincy Whitney
ISBN: 978-1611685923

 In the 1950s Carleen Hutchins was a grade school science teacher, amateur trumpet player, and New Jersey housewife. When musical friends asked her to trade a trumpet for a $75 viola, she decided to try making one, thus setting in motion a surprising career. A self-taught genius who went head to head with a closed and ancient guild, Hutchins carved nearly 500 stringed instruments over the course of half a century and collaborated on more than 100 experiments in violin acoustics. She built the first violin octet. She wrote more than 100 technical papers―including two benchmark Scientific American cover articles―founded an international society devoted to violin acoustics, and became the only American and the only woman to be honored in Cremona, Italy, the birthplace of Stradivari. American Luthier chronicles the life of this unsung woman who altered everything in a world that had changed little in three centuries.


(available to read online)

John Askew, the Stanhope violin maker  by William Morley Egglestone (1914)

John Askew, the Stanhope violin maker by William Morley Egglestone (1914)

Notice of Anthony Stradivari, the celebrated violin-maker, known by the name of Stradivarius  by François-Joseph Fétis (1864)

Notice of Anthony Stradivari, the celebrated violin-maker, known by the name of Stradivarius by François-Joseph Fétis (1864)

The Violin Maker  by Sara T. Smith,   (1905)  *Fiction

The Violin Maker by Sara T. Smith, (1905) *Fiction

Violins Useful Links


Musical Instruments Museum Online 

The world's largest freely accessible database for information on musical instruments held in public collections. Their database now contains the records of 59761 instruments.

The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (Oxford Music Online)

The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, is the largest, most comprehensive reference publication on worldwide musical instruments.


V&A Online archive


The Responsive Guitar by Ervin Somogji
ISBN: 978-0982320730

Ervin Somogyi is a Hungarian-born master luthier whose guitars are renowned for their responsiveness and tone - trademarks for a great guitar. After almost five decades of making this instrument, teaching and writing about the development and construction of the guitar, Somogyi reveals the methods, techniques and philosophy behind his legendary instruments.


Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology by William R. Cumpiano
ISBN: 978-0811806404

Over 450 photographs, drawings, and diagrams reveal in exquisite detail the hows, whys, and how-to's of the traditional craft of guitarmaking, all accompanied by fascinating historical and technical notes. A comprehensive bibliography; a list of tools, materials, and supply sources; and a full index complete this uniquely authoritative reference for guitar and craft enthusiasts, woodworkers, and students of instrument making.


Making Master Guitars by Roy Courtnall
ISBN: 978-0709048091

Making Master Guitars is a craftsman's handbook about the exciting and challenging pursuit of making classical guitars, a craft that the author reveals to be surprisingly accessible by following his instructions. The book is unique in that it includes nine separate detailed plans of instruments constructed by internationally famous guitar-makers. 


Making an Archtop Guitar by Robert Benedetto
ISBN: 978-1574243550

The definitive work on the design and construction of an acoustic archtop guitar, this updated second edition features 288 pages of content, including 24 color pages and 4 tear-outs.

General Woodworking


Understanding Wood by R. Bruce Hoadley
ISBN: 978-1561583584

Understanding Wood is the definitive reference on wood technology, and is a keystone of every woodworker's library. The first edition (1980) sold over 128,000 copies: this new edition updates the classic text with new information on new materials: composite board, adhesives and finishes which have been developed since the original edition. There are also 225 brand new colour photographs! Up-to-date and Comprehensive: revised and updated edition of a woodworking classic (Taunton Press, 1980; 1-918804-05-1) which continues to sell thousands of copies a year to this day. New four colour photography is clearer and more informative. Comprehensive: everything you know about wood and wood technology: the nature of wood and its properties, the basics of wookworking technology, using the woodworker's raw materials.


General woodworking useful links


Since 1968 Stewart-MacDonald has supplied tools, parts and electronics to guitar techs and players.