‘Violin maker hopes to turn back the clock’, The Scotsman
February 11, 2009
A SELF-TAUGHT Edinburgh musician is hoping to recapture the vintage sound of 18th-century Italian violins, including the Stradivarius, by reverting to the traditional methods of the time used by Cremonese craftsmen.
Steve Burnett, 38, who is also a piano tuner and artist, believes that his handmade violins produce a louder and more authentic sound than modern instruments after being finished with old-fashioned varnishes.
Burnett, who makes the violins to order in his Merchiston workshop from choice wood – compares the sound to a vintage wine that has mellowed with age.
“Up until the middle of the 18th century, Italian violin makers led the world with their instruments at Cremona ,” he said.
“The quality of their instruments began later to decline when the makers switched varnish to something that produces more of a shiny finish, but I believe this detracts from the tone.
“What I am doing is going back to some of the varnish mixes that produced the sound from instruments that survive today and sound so good. My violins may look a little less refined than some but they produce a wonderful sound which is louder and sweeter than other instruments.”
Although Burnett is not seeking any official recognition for his brand of violins, his instruments have been endorsed by Scottish fiddlers who find their louder sound ideal for their craft.
Greg Borland, 38, who had been taught by the fiddler Hector MacAndrew, and plays in the Scottish band Burach, said many of his peers were looking at using the instruments.
“What marks these violins out is that even when they are new they produce a bigger and sweeter tone which you would usually associate with a violin that had time to age and mellow,” he said.