My violin making workshop was founded in 1932 by the Lübecker violin
maker Günther Hellwig, one of the first German violin makers to make a
name for himself by building Violas da Gamba that were true to the
originals. These instruments are still in demand and played regularly.
Practically all of the notable da Gamba-makers of following generations
have passed through his workshop.
His work with the instruments of the Gamba family culminated in his
treatise about the famous da Gamba maker Joachim Tielke of Hamburg, to
this day a work belonging to the standards of violin making.
I joined his workshop in 1977 and was able to look back upon his rich
experience in the areas of new violin construction and restoration when
I took over the business in 1983.
In 1991 I established a second workshop in the regional capital of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schwerin.
Our aspiration is to implement the variety mastered by the "old
violin builders " in our work. Therefore, next to modern string
instruments of the violin family, we also make all the representatives
of the Viole da Gamba instruments, as well as the bows for both
You are welcome to make an appointment to visit our workshops.
Should you be interested in instruments from our violin making
workshop, we will furnish you with reference addresses in your area so
you can get a firsthand impression of the high standard of our work.
Salesroom in Lübeck
From Dream to Instrument
I have long been interested in outstanding and artful instruments of
Italian violin building design which stem from the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. The harmony between aesthetics, artisan technique
and tone quality set standards to this very day. Due to the high prices,
however, many can only dream of owning such an original work. Perhaps
you will let your dream come true one day with one of my instruments.
Our workshop at the foot of St. Peter's Church
Paths to Success
To make a first class instrument, we carefully match all the
components with one another. When selecting the choice woods we use,
tone quality has absolute priority. The decades-long natural aging of
this wood ensures the execution of the most challenging demands.
Intuition and a fine feel for the material let us find the strengths of
wood which are essential for the fine balance between tone quality and a
centuries-long life span.
Old artisan techniques, their refinement leaving freedom for personal
self-fulfilment, form the character of my instruments. My varnish, its
Italian composition dating from the seventeenth century, brings out the
natural beauty of the wood and creates harmony between appearance and
Copy by Pietro Guarneri, Venice. This instrument was built for Eckart
Runge, who in addition to his work as cellist in the world famous Artemis Quartet, is also involved in numerous solo projects. See Celloproject.de.
Here is an audio sample from his CD Cello Tango.
From the Idea to the Implementation
I am delighted by the possibility of being able to cater to the wishes of my customers.
The work of an orchestral musician likely requires other solutions
than those needed by a soloist. Likewise the size and dimensions of an
instrument can be adapted to individual needs. Tonal perception is very
subjective and grand in scale. These must be resolved by the musician
and then integrated into the instrument building concept. This
implementation process is a special challenge for me.
Copy Gasparo da Saló Top
My Ideal Instrument
The idea of what an instrument should sound and look like varies, of
course. The decision for a new instrument has only one cause, however:
The old instrument has placed limits upon the musician, whether it is
due to a lack of dynamics, slow responsiveness or inadequate modulation
ability. My ideal is to build an instrument without these limitations,
one which will enable the artist to perform with discrimination and
Copy, Gasparo da Saló
Variety as Specialisation
We make the entire spectrum of string instruments in my Lübecker
workshop. This includes the violin family (violin, viola, violoncello)
and the Viole da Gamba family (from pardessus to bass), as well as the
bows for both groups. We work using historical models as well as our
own. My copies of old master instruments are particularly beautiful and
fulfil the highest artistic demands.
Lions head: Master Violin Builder H.-H.Uilderks
A Copy of the Original
When recreating a great instrument, both optical and tonal similarity
must be reproduced. This is never achieved merely through the exact
assignment of wood strengths and measurements. The personality and the
concept of the builder behind a first class model are decisive when it
comes to questions of quality. I try to empathize with these aspects of
the instrument when making my copy and, through this, create a new
original. One can not ask for more in a violin.