Station: [18] Violin Making & Hurdy-Gurdy Workshop

Soundpost setters, woodcarving knives and hide glue, bridges, pegs and soundposts – all tools used by instrument makers in their workshops.

These two showcases give an impression of what such workshops would have been like. They feature the original tools used by two local instrument makers. The one on the left references the workshop of the violin maker Schütze, the one on the right is the Maingonat hurdy-gurdy workshop.

Schütze served as pastor of the parish of Lissberg from 1955 to 1962. He spent much of his free time researching ways to improve the tonal quality of violins that just didn’t sound good. What makes a violin sound good? What should the texture of the top be like? How thick should the strings be? The answers to all those questions are important to sound production. Schütze not only left his tools to our museum, but also his plans, on which he recorded the measurements of euphonious violins. A real treasure trove!

Now to the workshop of the hurdy-gurdy maker Maingonat. He was one of Kurt Reichmann’s students. After his retirement, he devoted himself to making hurdy-gurdies. His instruments, with their elaborately carved inlays, are among the most beautiful hurdy-gurdies in our collection. None is more than 50 years old, but all are copies of historical originals.

Maingonat built his hurdy-gurdies with the simplest of tools. He used a Bunsen burner to heat the sheet metal in order to produce bent slivers. He converted a sewing machine into milling machine to create the inlay.

Perhaps you’re asking yourself why hurdy-gurdies are always so beautifully and elaborately decorated. In France, for example, home of the Louvet instruments we saw earlier, young women were given a hurdy-gurdy as a wedding present. The more ornate the instrument was, the higher its value. The idea was that in the case of a divorce, it would provide security against the costs.

All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch