Until recently, the work of Giovanni Paolo Maggini has not been of great interest to me. Perhaps it is the number of ill-conceived copies I’ve seen that clouded my view. Jack Harris approached me with the idea of building for him a copy of his 1610 Maggini violin before he would sell the original. I was interested primarily from a desire to be forced out of my comfort zone as a maker. As it turns out, the original has elegance and grace, and enough common sense in its design to make it a good instructor for me. My interest has also been prepared by recent expanding work inspired by Maggini’s teacher, Gaspar da Salo.
The violin is of modest proportion (356mm body length), simple materials, and dramatic arching. It has double purfling, but no additional decoration. This mid-period example of his work shows development from Gaspar’s foundations, but not the excesses of Maggini’s later work. To compensate, or compliment, the very high arch, the violin has very low ribs.
I see no reason why a good playing and sounding instrument could not be built on this model My making practices and aesthetics will be stretched, but not broken or compromised.
I already had a Maggini model viola in the works and was able to apply some of the design features of the violin to it to try them out. As I have been working on an expanded family of baroque violins and violas supporting my son’s Nathaniel’s development of that market, I am in the middle of a baroque version of this model as a chance to work out some of the issues before beginning the commission. Those issues are primarily understanding the arching and the relationship of the double purfling to the thickness of the edge area. As I generally do, I expect to build another copy after the commission to consolidate what I learn from the project and explore its integration into my working life.
Here are some photos of Jack’s 1610 Maggini. Click on the photo thumbnail to see a larger version.