There have been hundreds if not thousands of great violin makers throughout the centuries. Here are five of the most famous early violin makers who have contributed important innovations to the art of violin making.
Born in Salo Italy, Gasparo da Salo is credited for turning the manufacture of bowed instruments into an art. He produced many grand double-basses and violas, which were considered the foundation of Italian violin-making. Although he did not found the Brescian school, he became the head and rose to prominence within his lifetime.
Born around 1520, Amati began a dynasty of master luthiers and founded the violin-making school of Cremona. There is not enough evidence to support when or where he received his training; however it is suggested that he learned his trade from Gasparo da Salo. Perhaps the finest instruments by Andrea Amati were twenty-four violins, six tenors and eight basses he made for Charles IX. The National Music Museum owns The King, the worldís oldest extant cello made by Andrea Amati. The museum also owns Amatiís 1560 viola, 1560 violin and 1574 violin.
The grandson of Andreas Amati, Nicolo was the most talented violin-maker of his family. He was responsible for developing a grand pattern, wider than his predecessorsí violins. The new pattern also featured pronounced corner points. Some believe that Nicolo Amati taught the great Antonio Stradivari, however there is little evidence to prove this theory. He did have many pupils including Jacob Railich, Bartolomeo Pasta, Bartolomeo Cristofori, Giacomo Gennaro, and Giovanni Battista Rogeri.
The grandson of Andrea Guarneri, he was the most famous member of the Guarneri Family of violin makers in Cremona, Italy. His violins always had good tone, although they were not as elegant as Stradivariís designs. His violins featured longer, less refined versions of Stradivariís f-holes. Still, he is considered the only rival to Stradivari and many musicians covet his violins over Stradivariís work. It is estimated that he handcrafted around 250 violins, 150 of which survive today.
Bergonzi was another great violin maker from Cremona, Italy and one of the last to use its beautiful varnish. His violins featured the perfect combination of Stradivari and Guarneri designs including carefully carved scrolls, elegant edge-work and precisely cut f-holes. He was also inspired by del Gesuís strong, flat arching. He handcrafted his best instruments from 1730 to 1740.