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Meet John Waddle


John Waddle graduated from the Violin Making School of America in 1981,  where his instructors included Peter Prier, Paul Hart, Jeff Robinson and Chris DeGroot. He then worked in Peter Prier's violin shop for one year, before getting married to a wonderful woman, and  moving to Los Angeles to join the workshop of Hans Weisshaar. After two years John left L.A. to be shop foreman at Davis Violin Shop in Minneapolis, where he remained for two years, before opening his own shop in St. Paul in March of 1986.



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 a musician, and he also taught woodworking and drafting.

My father, Craig Charles Waddle, worked as a mechanical engineer, and my mother, Willa Rae Waddle, was 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, at the Davis Violin Shop in Minneapolis, for two years.

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

Along with radiologist Steven A, Sirr, MD, John has developed a unique expertise in CT scans of valuable stringed instruments. The results of our work together have been widely published in the scientific press, leading to new ways of examining rare instruments without causing damage.

John Waddle is a member of The Violin Society of America, and the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers.

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