Violin by Nate Tabor based on Guarneri family instruments
The two piece back of maple of strong medium curl descending across the back from the bass down towards the treble flank. The ribs, peg box and scroll of plain maple. The front in two pieces of spruce of very broad grain. The varnish of a warm yellow-brown colour on a yellow ground.
Signed in ink on the inner back
Nate Tabor, fecit anno 2014, in Wien/Trentino, Violin “La novia del Futuro”‘
Signed in ink with other musings elsewhere.
- Length of back 359mm
- Width upper bout 177mm
- Width middle bout 133mm
- Width lower bout 203mm
The development of a general focus or direction in the making of string instruments, and the resulting workshop philosophy is an evolving, gradual process, and one which which is never fully completed.
My interest in music goes back to an early age, when I began keyboard studies at the age of five. Although in my heart I remain a violist, I still compose music for early keyboard instruments, and have a great fondness for the clavichord. In 2003 I studied musical composition at Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany.
During 2004-2007 I studied violin making in Warsaw, Poland, as the apprentice of master violinmaker Alojzy Sobeczack. While the focus of this workshop was primarily restoration, under his supervision I also assisted in the making of several period instruments. In 2008 I began to setup two workshops in both Vienna, Austria, and in beautiful Alto Adige, just north of Trento, Italy. Upon finishing apprenticeship, and much against the advice of my mentors, I decided to focus on making mostly violas in both baroque and modern setup.
The focus of the workshops in the past two years has been on building unique baroque instruments, primarily violas and violoncellos. My growing fascination and interest in the baroque cello has led me to explore and build instruments using the methods of construction which would have been used in Baroque and Renaissance periods.
What makes the perfect Baroque Instrument? Attempts to divine a clear conception of authentic tone for musical instruments will seemingly always remain subjective. While more research on historical instruments, iconography in baroque paintings, and contemporary texts can illuminate more clearly how instruments in the baroque and renaissance were constructed and used for performance, the fact remains that an attempt to conceive a sense of setup, sound, and historical performance is an evolving process. Developments in both string technology and tension/setup relation of historical instruments are the first and primary considerations when choosing a target period for an instrument. A profound difference in sound and timbre of tone can be achieved by having a clear vision in mind of what is desired tonally, and moving forward from the first stages of choosing tone wood, down to final setup.
I generally divide my instruments into two categories; early baroque/ late renaissance, in which all gut and equal tension strings are employed – and mid to late baroque (hence after the invention of wound strings in Bologna ca. 1660.) In addition I will occasionally make Transitional instruments with period setups. As often as possible, I employ the methods of building which were used in the region and based upon the target period I am after. The majority of modern makers today begin work on an instrument with the premise that a “baroque” instrument is merely composed of a shorter bass bar, neck root, and bridge design – these are really only a fraction of the characteristics which deliver an authentic sound. The usual result is a very thin sounding, scratchy, or dead tone, similar to when one simply puts gut strings on an instrument with modern setup. From the first stage of choosing model, form, and arching templates, to the final plate tuning, varnish, and setup, my instruments are from beginning to end conceived with my own particular aesthetic for perfect tone.
All of my varnishes are carefully handmade, prepared only from ingredients found in Nature. A diverse array of materials – such as Saffron, Madder (Rubia tinctorum) Alizarin, Lavender oil (Lavendula latifolia.) Orleon, sandarac, and Dragons Blood – are combined and hand prepared to create beautiful results with very convincing antique effects.In order for a luthier to succeed in his pursuits, an ability to practice many disciplines in needed. All at once he is historian, poet, craftsman, and, with the endless curiosity towards developing unique varnishes, chemist. My finishes are in general antiqued, with a tasteful blending of tool marks. I prefer to use older wood and often age my instruments without varnish for many months to achieve an authentic patina.
Although it is well documented that many golden period luthiers produced fabulous and now legendary instruments using freshly harvested tone wood, I generally prefer to use older materials. The very minimum seasoning time for the plates of my instruments is 10 – 12 years. For my baroque violas I have a preference for slab cut maple, however also use poplar and maple with less figuring if possible. For the top plates I tend to be even more selective, and prefer to use Italian spruce aged up to 25 years.
For selected master instruments I have just acquired a limited stock of spruce harvested in 1800-1820. This fabulous material has a rich, golden brown patina of age all the way through when cutting, and is a dream to work with.
I prefer to create my own bridges and designs, as opposed to using factory bridge blanks. The bridge stock material from factories is often kiln-dried, and thus new wood, with age unspecified. I have a large supply of maple bridge stock and can explore with the musician the various designs which might be required to reach a particular target period for their instruments, as well as the tonal pursuits.