Posted on

Violin Setups, Part One

Violin Setups, Part One

by Michael Darnton

from his 1990 GAL Convention lecture

Originally published in American Lutherie #35, 1993 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004

See also,
Violin Setups, Part Two by Michael Darnton

Setups represent one of the most important aspects of violin work. They are the most changeable part of a violin and can make the difference between a customer liking or hating a violin. People who do setups for a living in large shops do a lot of them — countless numbers of bridges, pegs, posts, and nuts. If you’re making one or two or twenty instruments a year you’re not going to be doing many setups. For the people who do those things everyday, it’s a very specialized art and they have very rigorous standards. With that in mind I’m going to try to communicate to you some of those standards, along with some actual “how-to” hints.


A bench hook (Photo 1) is simply a piece of wood that has a strip nailed to the bottom on one end and a strip nailed to the top on the other end. It hooks over the front edge of the bench and gives a stop to work against. On the under side of my bench hook I’ve glued a piece of sandpaper (Photo 2). If a tiny, thin piece of wood needs to be planed thinner, I flip over the bench hook and use the sandpaper as a traction area.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.