Violin maker Bryan Duckworth brings personal touch to violin restoration

Bryan Duckworth started out as a luthier, a craftsman who makes and repairs stringed instruments, in 1980. (Photos by Eric Weilbacher / Community Impact Newspaper)

For over 15 years, Bryan Duckworth’s Violin Shop on West San Antonio Street has provided a home for fiddlers, mariachis, symphonic players, students and amateur musicians to bring in their violins and other bowed instruments for repair or to purchase. again.

Duckworth began his career by chance after leaving College Station to pursue his music career elsewhere. “I moved to Houston when I was 23 to play violin in a band, six nights a week, and I didn’t have much to do during the day,” Duckworth said. “There was a violin store near my house. I got along very well with the owner so I would get up in the morning, have breakfast and go there. At one point he realized he wasn’t doing a lot of work so he said if I was going to go out I was going to have to learn something.

This training began at Winter’s Violin Shop in Houston in 1980.

Duckworth began to learn the trade of a violin maker – someone who builds and repairs stringed instruments – and decided to open his own business. In doing so, he continued his training with other luthiers, such as master luthiers Hans Jürgen Nebel in New Hampshire and Horst Kloss in Massachusetts.

“Once I opened the shop, I discovered that on the east coast there were these German master luthiers giving short summer courses. I started to attend and it was extremely helpful, ”said Duckworth.

Duckworth not only repairs violins, but also builds his own, though it might only be a year or so. He will be exhibiting his work in the store and maybe someone will buy it, but his main focus is on repairs.

Repair prices can vary, but for someone looking to get started with a violin, bow, and full kit, prices start at $ 350.

Unlike other instruments that have well-known brands, like guitars or marching band instruments, the number of luthiers or brands could very well number in the thousands, Duckworth said. There are so many violins that were made by small stores around the world decades ago, he said.

“For example, this violin here says it was made by a man named Jake Stainer, but it wasn’t. It’s a copy and probably not very good. It was probably made in a German workshop. or Czech 100 years ago, so we’ll never really know who made it. There are hundreds and hundreds of places it could come from, ”he said. Duckworth’s is one of the very few in the region, serving clients from across the San Antonio and Austin area, as well as across the country.

“I have it from a lot further because the job is perhaps so specialized. It seems almost every good violinist or violinist will find a store they trust. And if they can, they will stay with you.

Duckworth Violin Shop, 301 West, San Antonio Street, Ste. 111, New Braunfels. 830-627-1778. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 am-5pm; closed Sat-Sun