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Article

Albani  

Patrizio Barbieri

[Albana, Albano, Albanus]

Italian makers of stringed keyboard instruments. At least four builders of this name were active during the 16th and 17th centuries, three of whom are known to have been members of the same Roman family. Documents show that from at least 1623 onwards Andrea Albani (b Rome, c1552; d Rome, 19 August 1639) built harpsichords at a workshop near the church of S Stefano del Cacco. He was assisted by his son Silvestro and his nephew Giovanni Battista Monti (b c1611). Although no instrument by Andrea survives, it is known from an essay by G.B. Doni (c1632–5) that he was persuaded by theorists to build some enharmonic harpsichords with split keys, each note divided either ‘into five parts, according to the principles of Don Niccola [Vicentino], or into four, following the practice which they attribute to Aristosseno’.

Orazio (b Rome, ...

Article

Albert  

Philip J. Kass

Family of violin makers and dealers. John Albert (b Liel, Baden, Germany, 24 June 1809; d Philadelphia, PA, 2 Jan 1900) began as an engineer and inventor. He came to New York from Freiburg, Germany, in 1854 as a refugee of the 1848 revolution, settling in Philadelphia where in 1857 established a shop. His particular interest was in commercial violin manufacture, in which he held several patents; he established the American Star violin factory which, after his retirement in 1887, was run by his son Eugene John Albert (b Freiburg, 1851; d Philadelphia, 1922). The E.J. Albert firm, under other ownership, continued well into the 1950s.

John’s eldest son, Charles Francis Albert (b Freiburg, Germany, 25 Dec 1842; d Philadelphia, PA, 1 July 1901), established his own shop in Philadelphia in 1865. His interest was in fine instruments and repairs, and as such gained wide respect and admiration. His son and successor, Charles Francis Albert Jr. (...

Article

Ramón Hernández

Twelve-string instrument sharing some similarities with an acoustic guitar. Although its exact origins are unclear, the bajo sexto appeared in Mexico during the late 1800s and has gained popularity since that time. The instrument is tuned lower than a typical acoustic guitar, hence the bajo part of the name; the sexto, or six, refers to the original number of strings. Changes to the instrument were made to increase its volume, including an expansion of the body (to around 30% larger than an acoustic guitar), a larger bridge, a widened neck, an increase to seven frets, and the doubling of strings to 12, or six double courses. The highest three strings are typically tuned in unison; the lower three strings in octaves, which offers great resonance and depth. The husky, hoarse sound of the refashioned bajo sexto is capable of both bass rhythm and harmony, allowing greater flexibility for other instruments, such as the accordion, in various ensembles. Once it gained popularity, the ...

Article

Baschet  

Hugh Davies

revised by Laura Maes

French sound sculptors and instrument inventors. Bernard (b Paris, France, 24 Aug 1917) and his brother François (b Paris, France, 30 March 1920) developed a variety of sound sculptures and new instruments under the generic name Structures sonores. Bernard Baschet trained and originally worked as an engineer, and then (1962–5) directed a research team at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales of French Radio (ORTF), whose work resulted in Pierre Schaeffer’s Traité des objets musicaux (1966). François Baschet studied sculpture and worked as a furniture designer.

François Baschet began to concentrate on sound in 1952, when transportation problems urged him to rethink the concept of a guitar and to create an inflatable guitar using a plastic balloon as a sound box. (The first patent concerning string instruments that utilize as a resonance chamber a balloon, a bladder, or the like, inflated with air or any inert gas, was filed in France on ...

Article

(b Naumburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, Jan 1, 1805; d Leipzig, Germany, May 26, 1871). German bow maker. He studied violin making with J.B. Fritsche in Dresden and set up his own shop there in the 1820s. About 1830 he moved to Dessau where he remained until 1839, when he moved to Leipzig. There he ran a successful shop, but in 1861 he moved to Wiesbaden, where he was instrument maker to the court. In 1863 he returned to Leipzig. Bausch’s early bows show an influence from François Tourte; his later work shows a more elegant rounded head. His frogs loosely follow French models but have one-piece heelplates, pearl eyes closely encircled by metal rings, and often metal strips along the edges of the pearl slides. The buttons are generally divided, and the metal bands are much wider in his later works. His brand, ‘L. BAUSCH, LEIPZIG’, is found on the lower facet of the stick beneath the frog. On his death, he was succeeded by his son Ludwig (...

Article

Bazin  

Philip J. Kass

Family of French bow makers. François Bazin (b Mirecourt, France, 10 May 1824; d Mirecourt, 1 Aug 1865) worked primarily for the trade in a style much influenced by Peccatte and Maire. His son Charles Nicolas (b Mirecourt, 24 April 1847; d Mirecourt, 6 Dec 1915), the finest maker in the family, worked on a modified Voirin pattern. His large workshop of fine Mirecourt craftsmen produced many bows of excellent quality. Much of this work was for the trade, although elegant bows branded ‘C. BAZIN’ (in various sizes) appear over his career.

Louis Bazin (b Mirecourt, 21 Sept 1881; d Mirecourt, 11 Nov 1953) was the son and successor of Charles Nicolas Bazin. He apprenticed to his father at the age of 12 and took over the shop in 1907. He produced many bows, primarily for the trade; they reflect the sturdier and more masculine character of post-Sartory bow making. Like his father’s, his shop employed many fine craftsmen. He used the brand ‘L. BAZIN’....

Article

Laurence Libin

(Delmetia )

(b Coleman County, TX, March 18, 1899; d at sea nr Los Angeles, CA, March 30, 1941). American inventor of musical instruments. He was co-founder of the National Stringed Instrument Corporation and the Rickenbacker guitar company. He played the violin and the lap steel (‘Hawaiian’) guitar in vaudeville before settling in Los Angeles, where he worked with John and Rudy Dopyera to develop an acoustically amplified guitar, probably inspired by Stroh models. An early model with a Victrola horn failed, but trials using conical aluminium resonators within a metal guitar body (a prototype of the three-cone Dobro guitar) proved successful and attracted investors. Production of metal-body guitars under the name National soon involved Adolph Rickenbacker’s nearby tool and die shop.

From the mid-1920s Beauchamp also experimented with electrical amplification of guitars (including lap steel and bass guitars) and violins of unconventional shape, without normal resonators but using simple phonograph pickups. After his collaboration with the Dopyeras ended, in ...

Article

Kenneth Sparr

(Sueno, Svenno )

(b Askersund, Sweden, 1717; d Stockholm, Sweden, 1763). Swedish luthier, active in Stockholm from 1736. He made bowed and plucked instruments and was inspired by Guersan and the old Parisian school, as was his apprentice Johan Öberg. Some of his instruments are stamped ‘S. BECKMAN’ and numbered. In 1736–41 Beckman was apprenticed to Johan Fredrik Weidemann, who had a violin factory. Beckman cared for the instruments of the Royal Court Orchestra in 1737–8 and was a journeyman in Königsberg about 1739. In 1741 he received his license as a musical instrument maker, and in 1756 he was appointed musical instrument maker at the Swedish court. One exceptional instrument by Beckman is a guitar-cittern, dated 1757 (now in GB.L.cm). Several bowed as well as a few plucked instruments are preserved elsewhere. His instruments seem to be of varying quality.

B. Nilsson: Svensk fiolbyggarkonst (Malmö, 1998), 11–14.

See also...

Article

Philip J. Kass

(b Naples, Italy, Feb 24, 1907; d Naples, Italy, 1979). Italian violin maker. He was the son of Riccardo Bellarosa, a professor of violin at the Naples Conservatory, and initially studied under Vito Vitantonio in Rotello. In the late 1920s he studied briefly in Mittenwald, and later in Rome under Rodolfo Fredi. About 1930 he re-established himself in Naples. Bellarosa’s work is classically Neapolitan. His work strikingly resembles that of earlier makers such as the Gaglianos, whose names often appear in his instruments in place of his own. During the 1940s and early 1950s he appears to have been associated with Giovanni Pistucci (1864–1955), finishing and varnishing a number of Pistucci’s instruments after his death. Also in the early 1950s he attempted a model closer in character to Stradivari’s; these instruments often bear his sea-horses brand on either side of the end button. Bellarosa’s varnish is typical of classic Neapolitan varnishes and varies from golden orange to deep red, the latter often coloured with dragon’s blood....

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Bronx, NY, Oct 22, 1946). American luthier, notable for handmade archtop jazz guitars. In childhood he learned woodworking from his father, a skilled cabinetmaker, and music from an uncle, a violinist; his grandfather had worked for Steinway & Sons. A visit to the Gretsch guitar factory in Brooklyn fueled his interest in the instrument; he played a Chet Atkins model 6120 guitar from 1960 to 1968. Upon discharge from the US Air Force in 1968 he started to make his first guitar and began repairing Gibson, D’Angelico, and New York Epiphone instruments. At the time he was the youngest and least experienced archtop maker of a group that included William Barker, Carl Barney, Roger Borys, James D’Aquisto, Sam Koontz, and Philip Petillo. In the 1970s jazz guitarists such as Bucky Pizzarelli, Chuck Wayne, and Martin Taylor began to use and endorse Benedetto’s instruments. He incorporated his business as Benedetto Guitars, Inc., but in ...

Article

Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

(fl Como, Italy, c1758–89). Italian violin maker. According to his labels he was a pupil of Giuseppe Guadagnini (spelt Guadagnino on Beretta’s early instruments). Certainly his work follows the Guadagnini school and his better instruments share many similarities with the violins of Giuseppe Guadagnini, though the varnish, varying from brown to yellow, is markedly inferior. Some scrolls, possibly the earlier ones, have rather open turns and are not especially graceful. The workmanship, although adequate, shows a lack of finish. His instruments of the 1780s are usually valued the highest and are good tonally....

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Madrid, Spain, July 2, 1932). Spanish guitar maker. He became interested in guitar making while studying the classical guitar with Daniel Fortea, a pupil of Tárrega. He was apprenticed in 1954 to Ramírez and rose to become head of that famous workshop, leaving in 1969 to open his own business in Madrid. In the early 1970s he began experimenting with new internal structures using at first five struts, then seven, then an innovative pattern of four struts extending from the soundhole and three fan braces of different heights and thicknesses. He also developed a novel back design, and has sometimes employed unusual woods such as pear and camphor. His instruments’ colourful, strong but sweet, sustained tone attracted professional interest, and in 1972 Bernabe completed a ten-string guitar for Narcico Yepes, who played it for the rest of his career. Two years later Bernabe won a gold medal at the International Crafts Exhibition in Munich....

Article

Charles Beare

French family of violin makers. Auguste Sebastien Philippe Bernardel (b Mirecourt, 24 Jan 1798; d Bougival, 1870), known as Bernardel père, was apprenticed as a violin maker in Mirecourt before moving to Paris to work for Lupot and Charles François Gand. He opened his own workshop in Paris in 1826, where he remained for 40 years, creating a large number of violins and cellos on the pattern of Stradivari. Occasionally he followed Guarneri or Maggini. Although overshadowed by those of his colleague J.-B. Vuillaume, Bernardel’s instruments are characterized by fine workmanship and choice materials. He was less successful with his varnish, and his violins sometimes appear rather bulky. The cellos are greatly sought after. His instruments won recognition and awards at expositions as early as 1827.

He retired in 1866 in favour of his two sons, Ernest Auguste Bernardel (b Paris, 1826; d Paris, 10 Dec 1899...

Article

Allison A. Alcorn

(b Elgin, IL, Dec 12, 1899; d Downey, CA, June 7, 1968). American guitar maker and inventor, known as the father of the electric solid-body guitar. Before World War I he was a patternmaker at a machine shop in Los Angeles. After the war he became a motorcycle racer known as ‘P.A.’, a nickname that carried into later life. During World War II, Bigsby designed parts for US Navy ships. As a guitarist, Bigsby played with an amateur country and western band, and in 1944, dissatisfied with commercially available guitars, he set out to make a better one. He brought his prototype lap steel guitar to Earl ‘Joaquin’ Murphy, who liked it so much that Bigsby built for Murphy his first Bigsby D-8, a double-eight-string lap steel guitar (i.e. an instrument with two necks having eight strings each). The T-8, a triple-eight-string console steel guitar (having three necks, each with eight strings) that Bigsby built for Murphy in ...

Article

Jonathan Santa Maria Bouquet

(b Soresina, Italy, April 2, 1929). Italian violin maker. Bissolotti was trained initially as a woodcarver and engraver in Castelleone, and subsequently learned marquetry and cabinetmaking in Cantù. He attended the Scuola Internazionale di Liuteria di Cremona (S.I.L.C.) from 1957 to 1961 and studied with Pietro Sgarabotto, Giuseppe Ornati, Luigi Galimberti, and Simone Fernando Sacconi. Shortly after graduating Bissolotti opened his own workshop in Cremona, constructing mainly violins and occasionally other string instruments including lutes and guitars. Sacconi shared Bissolotti’s workshop most summers from 1962 to 1972 and together they reorganized the Stradivari artefacts at the Museo Stradivariano, of which Bissolotti was the conservator from 1965 to 1979. In 1973 he founded the Associazione Cremonese di Liutai e Artigiani Professionisti with the purpose of promoting classical Cremonese methods of violin making. Highly respected as a luthier and as a teacher at the S.I.L.C. from 1961 to 1983, he trained numerous students including his four sons, Marco Vinicio, Maurizio, Vincenzo, and Tiziano....

Article

Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

revised by Philip J. Kass

(b Mirecourt, France, Feb 10, 1851; d Lyons, France, 1912). French violin maker. He was apprenticed in Mirecourt to Auguste Darte, a pupil of Vuillaume, in 1865; thereafter, he worked for a number of shops, including those of Daniel in Marseilles and, after 1869, that of Hippolyte-Chrétien Silvestre in Lyons. He opened his own workshop there in 1876, producing instruments in the style of Silvestre for the next decade. From 1885 his instruments, on the Stradivari or Guarneri models, were coated with a transparent, golden-red varnish of excellent composition. Showing fastidious workmanship, his violins are of handsome wood. He received awards in the Paris expositions of 1889 and 1900 and in the Lyons Exposition of 1894. He used three labels: a printed label with a decorative border for his own work; a similar one for workshop productions that noted ‘Fait dans l’atelier’; and a third for commercial instruments that prominently displayed the word LVGDVNVM....

Article

Philip J. Kass

(bc1707; d Paris, France, 1756). French luthier. He was born in a small town in the Champagne region. In 1725, assisted by his cousin, the composer Michel Pignolet de Montéclair, he bought the workshop of Nicolas Bertrand. He ran a successful business under the sign ‘à la guitare royale’, catering to clients for all sorts of instruments, but his speciality remained violins. He was master of the Violin Makers’ Guild in 1752. Besides instruments of the violin family he made a few guitars, and was evidently in demand as a maker of viols and violas d’amore. His workmanship is accurate and unmannered and the choice of woods invariably good. His varnish is either red-brown or yellow-brown and appears rather thin. Boivin used one form of printed label, with the address changing from Rue de Grenelle St Honore (1726–40) to Rue Tiquetonne à la guitare royale (after ...

Article

Allison A. Alcorn

(b Paris, France, April 10, 1898; d Crouttes, France, Aug 15, 1986). French painter, sculptor and guitar maker. Bouchet taught at the École des Arts Decoratifs in Paris and turned to lutherie relatively late, constructing his first guitar in 1946. He never took up the craft full time and was largely self-taught, beginning after observing Julián Gómez Ramírez (1879–1948) in his Paris workshop and studying the instruments of Antonio de Torres (1817–92). Bouchet followed the Spanish model, and his early guitars are strongly influenced by Torres. The open harmonic bar is an innovation widely credited to Bouchet, though he acknowledged borrowing the idea from Torres. In addition to the open harmonic bar, extending the fan struts into the soundhole, and kerfed linings, many elements of Torres’s influence continued in Bouchet’s mature period, though he reduced the number of fan struts to five rather than seven. Bouchet made approximately 155 guitars, typically square-shouldered with beautiful varnish applied in the ‘French polish’ method. The heads are grafted on, and the rosettes tend to be somewhat crude, later rosettes being structured as concentric circles around a center mosaic. A central contribution to the scholarship of guitar lutherie is the shop notebooks Bouchet left in which he meticulously illustrated the details of his methods, reflecting the state of mid-20th-century guitar making in Paris....

Article

John Milnes

(b Mirecourt, France, 1823; d London, England, 1889). French violin maker active in London. He is supposed to have served a three-year apprenticeship with J.B. Vuillaume and a further three years with Charles Gand, both in Paris. He came to London in 1849 to work for Edward Withers I, leaving seven years later to set up independently in Dean Street, and later Frith Street, both in the Soho area of the city.

Boullangier was much influenced by the charismatic John ‘Jack’ Lott (1804–70), and their instruments have occasionally been confused. Lott had returned from adventures abroad and a period living in Geneva, so no doubt his facility in French was a further bond with Boullangier.

Not so free in his copyist’s style as Lott, Boullangier produced precise copies of Stradivari instruments and the new Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ model popularised by Paganini. His business was bequeathed to his daughter Josephine Nanette and her husband, George White, and closed in ...

Article

Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

(Edward )

(b London, England, Aug 29, 1952). English bow maker. From 1967 to 1972 he was apprenticed to W.E. Hill & Sons, after which he worked with John Clutterbuck for five years. Bows made during this partnership are branded J.S. RAMEAU, with the initials SB or JC to signify the maker. In ...