A Viol Makers Workshop…

My workshop is on the beautiful Dartington Hall Estate near Totnes where at its internationally regarded Summer School of Music viol tuition is also available.

I work alone and my viols are individually hand made, machines only being used for converting timber and initial roughing out. Traditional animal glue is used in construction, its reversibility being an important quality if any repairs are needed. The finish is a traditional oil varnish which is durable and shows the woods grain to the best effect. I do not offer distressed or artificially aged finishes preferring instruments to mature naturally. The majority of English viols and Colichon French models have bent fronts made from five strips.

Most surviving Viola da Gamba have been much altered over the years so the idea of making an exact copy is rarely appropriate. In my instruments I endeavour to produce viols as they would have been when they left the original viol makers workshop.

The most common materials used in construction are figured maple for the back, sides and neck with European pine for the fronts. As well as these I can offer birds eye maple or more exotic timbers.

A typical English model I make may have single purfling on the front and back of the body, an open pierced scroll and a fruit wood fingerboard and tailpiece.

Robert Eyland viol maker