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Violin Making : a practical guide by Juliet Barker


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Juliet Barker's book is an introduction to violin making, but it does require some prior knowledge in order to be able to follow the procedures. It is not intended to be an in-depth discussion of grounds, varnishes etc.

One the other hand, if that is what you are looking for, the Karl Roy book is much more appropriate. There are many, many recipes, but these are not prioritised as to which work best and when.

After I finished reading the Roy book I was going to post a review, but I forgot.

I guess I will make some comments now...

- There were some pearls that I had not heard before, but not enough to justify the cost.

- I found the book repetitious, with the same text and pictures appearing in several different places. A strong editorial filter would have reduced the size and cost, making it more accessible to paying readers.

- It is not a step-by-step book and, again, prior knowledge is required to follow the text. Manfio's amazing photo-journal on scroll-necking making shows the contrast dramatically.

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Janito wrote: Manfio's amazing photo-journal on scroll-neck making shows the contrast dramatically.

I agree. If the expert makers here on this board are willing to do the shop tutorials like Manfio (and previously, Michael Darnton), if would improve the skill of many members here.

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I bought the book (don't know why) and have to say it isn't much of a violin making book. It's more like a coffee table book or a cruiosity book. There is way more information here on Maestronet than in that book. It's one of the few books I can say I don't believe I got much, if any, useful information from. There is a reason why it isn't very expensive. This is just my opinion, someone else may find it useful. But I doubt it.


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I have a copy of this book. I can't recall when I purchased it nor what I paid for it. I did use it for information on making a 3/4 violin. I recall that one of her specialties is making small violins.

The color photos are very good and her advice is a nice supplement to other intro books that you may have on your shelf. She doe emphasize very simple tools for sure. For instance, I haven't used a hand cranked drill in 50+ years.

If you still are early in learning violin making, I suggest reading this along with your Johnson and Courtnall, Strobel, Wake, etc.


PS: I see it sells for around $30 at several places. Check Amazon.com used books.

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I bought this book about 2 years ago when I was building my first violin. I have used it as another reference book for specific topics. There are around 200 colour illustrations which are helpful guides. It is certainly worth adding it to your collection of violin making books. There really aren't that many (affordable) books on violin making.

I use "The Art of Violin Making" by Courtnall as my main reference book because it has very specific and standardized measurements and because of its very detailed description of each phase of violin making according to the Newark School of violin making.

Another book that I recommend (out print but used copies are available) is "Fiddlemaker's Worksheets" by William K Roberston. I believe that Robertson may have worked with or studied violin making under J Barker's guidance.

I certainly enjoyed following Luis Manfio step by step tutorial on scroll carving, and his generous use of photo graphs at each stage. And his command of the English language is very good! Thanks Luis!!!

There is another master builder Otis Tomas from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia who has put together a series of notes and pictures in another web forum of how he builds a violin from start to finish along with his philosophy of art and design.

You can check it out at Otis builds a violin

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