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 families.
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.
- From Dream to Instrument
- Paths to Success
- From the Idea to the Implementation
- Our Ideal Instrument
- Variety as Specialisation
- Copy as Original
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
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 tone quality.
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.
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
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 sophistication.
Copy, Gasparo da Saló
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
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.