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Background

 

 

 

People often ask how I got into this business.

My grandfather, C. Ray Waddle, is seen in this photo playing the mandolin. Note that there is a violin beside him on the bench. He was not only a musician; he also taught woodworking and drafting.

My father, Craig Charles Waddle is retired now, but worked as a mechanical engineer, and my mother is still active as an artist. My family background certainly influenced me to become a luthier.

After graduating from High School in 1972, I attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. I worked for some time as a carpenter, and then as a woodworker, carver, and furniture maker.

In 1978, I went to The Violin Making School of America, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  After graduating from the violin making school in 1981, I worked for both Peter Prier in Salt Lake City for one year, and  Hans Weisshaar in Los Angeles for two years.  After that, I worked for Frank and Bruce Davis in Minneapolis for two years.

During my time at Weisshaar's, I got to work on some great instruments, including Stradivari, and had the benefit of learning from a master restorer.  At the time, Mr. Weisshaar was working on his book "Violin Restoration for Violin Makers".  The most comprehensive book of its kind.

Before attending violin making school I took violin lessons from Roland Leo Jones, in Denver.  During Violin making school, I took violin lessons as part of the curriculum of the school.  I took violin lessons for a total of about five years. 

In 1983, we moved to Minneapolis where I worked for Frank Davis at The Davis Violin Shop.  In 1986, I opened my own Violin shop, John R. Waddle Violins, Inc.  

Since opening my own shop, I have had the good fortune of working with Dr. Steven A. Sirr, a radiologist.  Together, we have CT scanned many fine instruments, and have presented our work frequently at meetings of the Violin Society of America, and The American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers.  Along with Stephen Rossow, we are now involved in an exciting new project.  We are making digital copies of Stradivarius and Amati violins.  See the "Instrument Building" section of this website for more information.  

Our article "The Progress of Progress" was published in the Strad magazine in the May 2010 issue.

In September and October of 2011, I was invited to go to Cremona, Italy.  It was an informative trip. I was treated to a tour of the city of Cremona, saw instruments by Stradivari, the Guarneri's, the Amati's, Guadagnini, and many others.  I attended Cremona Fiere Mondomusica.  I got to see lots of old friends and made some new ones.  In 2013, I attended Cremona Mondo Musica New York, where one of our violins was in the test "Stradivari vs. the Modern Violin".  This was documented in the NHK Documentary The Mystery of Stradivari, aired on Dec. 21, 2013.  Three Stradivari violins and 11 modern violins (one of them was our copy of the Betts) were played in double blind tests at Cooper Union Hall in New York.  None of the experts could pick out the Strads.  

I also attended an event at the Library of Congress, in Washington, DC,  in April 2013, in which a violin that we helped to create, copy of the Betts Stradivari,  made at Oberlin Ohio, as part of the Oberlin violin makers workshop, was officially welcomed into the permanent collections of the Library of Congress.   See my page on the Betts project.  

I've also had the good fortune to attend many workshops at Oberlin, Ohio to continue learning both violin acoustics and violin making.  These have been valuable to my growth as a luthier.

—John Waddle

 

 

 

 


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