VIOLIN MAKING, Apprenticeship Program, The Chimneys
Edward C. Campbell

Owner and operator of The Chimneys Violin Shop since 1960, Ed has always had a strong commitment to teaching by the "hands on" theory. "You get a "feel" for the wood and the texture of the instrument. You also have to make mistakes in order to become proficient." You will begin working on your own instrument on your very first day. Mr. Campbell is a three time gold medallist in violin making with 11 certificates of merit, and 16 grand prizes.

Apprenticeship Program, The Chimneys, Nelson P. Steffy
Nelson P. Steffy

Nelson is the instructor. He began his apprenticeship here in 1998, received his Violin Maker Certificate in 2002 and was hired by Mr. Campbell. He became the instructor in 2004 and received his Master Violin Maker Certificate in 2006. Nelson also believes the best way to learn is by doing. We remember what we do better than what we hear. And were always open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. We are all still learning.


traditional method

Starting with just a few hand tools, you will begin the exciting craft of violin making. This craft has been practiced for many centuries, but the mysteries of violin making were known by only a select few.   Even today the art of this craft is enjoyed by only a select group of skilled craftsmen. You too could be a part of this exciting and rewarding career by joining us at "The Chimneys Violin Making Apprenticeship Program." Here you will begin handcrafting your first violin in the traditional method.

stringed instrument restoration

You will learn how to properly sharpen carving tools and how to create a mold for the ribs of the instrument. You will delve into the theory of the instrument and learn to work within tolerances of less than one millimeter, while carving and tuning the top and back plates. After all of this, there is much more. You will study varnish and actually make your own varnish and begin applying it when the warm sun of spring breaks through. This begins the final steps in completing a beautiful instrument.

During the time you are enrolled here, you will make 18 instruments, which includes 1 viola and 1 cello. You will learn the technique of rehairing and maintaining bows and the art of instrument restoration and other violin shop skills to make you an even better craftsman by the time you graduate.

traditional method

If you think you would like to become a part of this select group of special craftsmen, please let us know. We will set up a personal interview for you and show you the shop and introduce you to Ed, Nelson, and the other apprentices.


Care and patience is important:

traditional method

The art of violin making is not limited to men. Across the country we are seeing more and more women taking an interest in violin making. Women handle the tools with the same care, patience, and concentration as men and make excellent violin makers.

So, if you have a desire to enter this exciting profession, contact us at the address below and we will answer your questions, give you a tour, and help you get started in our Violin Making Apprentice Program.

varnish making at Chimneys Violin Shop

Varnish Making

Displayed here is a varnish making session; its an all day affair. When the varnish is applied to an instrument it takes the ultra violet rays of the summer sun to dry the varnish. More than 12 coats of varnish are usually necessary to complete the process. Hand rubbing between each coat gives us the most beautiful varnish attainable.

The Chimneys Violin Shop
614 Lerew Road
Boiling Springs, PA   17007-9500
Phone: 717-258-3203
Fax:   717-258-3201

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