Violin making – an alternative lifestyle

My friend Marty.

While I was in New York I spent a few hours with my friend Marty who makes violins and mandolins. Very beautiful instruments. We talked about his work mostly, and other aspects of woodworking generally. He and I have a lot in common as do many of my friends there. Our children work with wood, we strive to live simply from home workshops and are willing to share our knowledge whenever we can.


Marty making binding for a mandolin

It takes courage to go against the flow and find work with your hands. We compete for the same dollar yet what we make to realise a $1000 may take two or thee weeks of long 12 hour days where we answer the phone, develop a website, pay bills and of course wear a dozen hats to ensure we can live this alternative lifestyle. It’s funny really, when others boast $30 an hour, we boast $10 and work twice as long to make it, otherwise the beautiful hand made violins and mandolins wouldn’t exist.

It takes courage to deny going for the “real job”, to own your time, decide for yourself what you will and will not make to provide for your family, increase personal self discipline and so on.

But the rewards are great. When you polish that last coat of varnish, inlay the abalone and stretch the strings over the fret. When the first notes come and the keys search for the right, tight spot. How do you buy that?



  1. I think we built a couple of parts for mandolins a while back, or maybe it was those lap guitars. Love the pictures.

    1. Hello Pam,
      Marty’s not new to violin making. He has over twenty years in it. I love the way instruments made by hand look, don’t you?
      Best regards,


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