BVMA conference



The RAB Trust is offering a discounted price to all violin making students and on top of that expenses to the first ten who apply for this funding.

• This offer is only applicable to student members of the BVMA

• The RAB Trust will offer a discount of £50 on the student conference fee of £80. The students who successfully claim will be given a promotion code to use during the online booking process

• When students have received their booking confirmation, they should forward this to the RAB Trust. The first ten will receive a cheque for £50 towards travel and accommodation expenses for the conference

• If you would like to take advantage of this offer, email before July 5!

A unique experience - by Hanna Stumpfl

A few months ago I was asked by the team of Helen Michetschläger, Kai-Thomas Roth, William Castle and Marc Soubeyran if I wanted to support them in their viola making project at the RNCM in Manchester between 9th-13th January 2017 by making sure they were never hungry nor thirsty, and to take photographs of their work.


It took minutes to reply to their request as I was very eager to be able to watch and learn from such experienced makers!

During the five days in which they completed a Bellosio viola of 1792 I learned a lot, from seeing how they use tools, and which tools, hearing their discussions on different parts of the making process and even got to ask trickier questions concerning thicknessing and archings. I feel very lucky to have been part of this project. The amount of information and inspiration I have gained from this is immense and I am really eager to get my hands on wood again to try all the different things I have learned in this days – starting today with carving my cello scroll!

 Carving the peg box

Carving the peg box

 William Castle bending the ribs

William Castle bending the ribs

 Mark Soubeyran cutting the purfling channel

Mark Soubeyran cutting the purfling channel


Neil Kristóf Értz (1966-2016)

Neil was one of the most successful British violin makers of the past 20 years. Due to the beauty of his instruments he naturally attracted the curiosity of many aspiring makers and he was generous in sharing part of his knowledge and accepting students for work placements- whether through the RAB trust or privately. Our work bears traces of beauty that originate from his words: a recipe for a fiercely red madder lake or a good, traditional recipe for colouring the black purfling are only two of many examples that are being handed around in his name.

Two of the students who had placements with Neil, write:

"One of the most interesting experiences on my violin making life was to have a workshop experience with Neil Ertz. It was in 2015 while I was in my third year at the Newark School. I had a great week with him, learning a lot every day and feeling myself at home because he was so kind and close to me. Something that impacted on me was the amount of phone calls he had every single day from friends and other makers. It made me realise how loved he was in the violin making world.
Thank you Neil, we all miss you.”
Felipe Ruano

"I was very saddened to hear that Neil passed away last month. He very kindly had me for a week of work experience in 2011 and under his supervision had me fit pegs, make madder lake and we worked on a scroll. The most important thing he impressed upon me was the level of attention to detail needed in life after violin making school.
Whenever we met he was always interested in what I was up to and very open with his feedback and advice. I am sad to miss the opportunity to get to know him better when I move to Scotland next year.”

Robert Furze


 Neil Értz- seriousy!

Neil Értz- seriousy!

New ways to support students

The RAB Trust continues to find new ways of helping violin making students to develop their skills and find their way in the professional world. We have recently awarded a placement on the 2017 BVMA Restoration Course at West Dean College to Julian Page, a final year student at the Newark School of Violin Making. Coming from a background that included working as a skilled fittings maker for violin maker Roger Hansell, Julian impressed the trustees with his commitment and skill in the field of violin restoration.



Treasures found at one of our tool sales

In the past years, many violin makers have generously gifted their tools no longer needed which we sell to the violin making students of Newark. The sales are not regular and depend on our supply. Many of these chisels and gouges are of excellent quality and will be treasured throughout the career of yet an other maker.

Our trustee- a publisher!

RAB Trustee Helen Michetschläger recently published her book ‘Violin Varnish: notes and articles from the workshop of Koen Padding’. This documents the expertise of the late Koen Padding, who was world-renowned for his work on violin varnish. As part of the project, she sold on behalf of the family the contents of his workshop; tools, wood, books and varnish materials, with a percentage of the proceeds donated to the RAB Trust to fund future awards and projects. For more about the book visit

Cello Sale

A cello made to benefit the RAB Trust has now been sold.

The cello came to life in Somerset in July 2013, in the workshop of cello maker Kai-Thomas Roth, who invited three Newark students to help him complete this instrument.  

The Brian Laurence cello has now found its home.  Named after a mature student at Newark in the 1980s, who started making the cello there but never got far with it, the instrument - along with the rest of Brian’s workshop - was donated to the Rowan Armour-Brown Memorial Trust after his death in 2012.  Kai-Thomas Roth, the well known maker (whose cellos are particularly prized), had been friendly with Brian at Newark and so decided to start on an ambitious project in collaboration with the Trust.  He invited three outstanding current Newark students to join him in completing the cello. Their time together working intensively on this project was a valuable learning experience for them all and showed yet again how important the apprentice system is for passing on skills and knowledge.  Stringers of London then undertook to display the cello and sell it on behalf of the Trust without charging commission; and it has now found an owner - Hamish Jamieson, a young Australian cellist.

Hamish lives in Brisbane and is currently working for his AmusA with the intention of going on to university to study music. He says of his new instrument: “I really like the overall warmth of the cello. It is unlike other cellos that I have played in that its sound fills the room with ease. The lower strings have a strong and deep tone that I love and I believe suits and betters my characteristics as a cellist”.  So a new instrument is in the New World and will assist a young musician in achieving his goal, after having helped three young makers hone their skills, whilst at the same time providing funds with which the RAB Trust will continue its work of supporting talented students and maintaining the high standards of violin making and restoration in the UK.

That certainly makes it a winner all round!

Stringers in London               

Kai-Thomas Roth

RAB Trust Awards 2015

 Sam Brouwer received funding to attend the 2016 Violin Society of America Oberlin violin making workshop.

Sam Brouwer received funding to attend the 2016 Violin Society of America Oberlin violin making workshop.

2015 saw the RAB Trust giving its most ambitious awards to date. At the Diploma Day at Newark School of Violin Making, trustee Colin Garrett presented awards on behalf of the trust.

 Kira Hasche was given the RAB Special Award of £1000.

Kira Hasche was given the RAB Special Award of £1000.

 Francesca Vickers was given the RAB Special Award of £500.

Francesca Vickers was given the RAB Special Award of £500.