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Flattening planes

A sadly necessary task for all luthiers, which should have been taken care of by the manufacturer in the first place


Makers reveal their special techniques

Left to right (a) hollowed sole (b&c) twisted sole (d) hollowed-tail sole (e) half-flatt ened sole (f) flat plane

Planes are must-have tools in the violin maker’s arsenal, but I have never encountered one that’s ready to be used as soon as it’s been bought. Violin making is a series of tasks that require fine, precise craftsmanship, and planes, whether new or old, are never flat enough for our purposes. The sole of an old plane becomes ‘twisted’ over the years, meaning that the left corner of the tip and the right corner of the tail will be in contact with the piece (or vice versa). So it is almost impossible to make a perfect joint with such a plane.

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About The Strad

We examine the 1677 ‘Romanov’ Nicolò Amati viola and the Royal Danish Orchestra’s instrument collection. Manfred Honeck explains how playing viola informs his conducting and Linus Roth discusses Weinberg. Plus the first in a two-part Berg Masterclass, with Leila Josefowicz.