The main activity carried out in the workshop is the construction of bowed instruments: violins, violas and cellos. All instruments are entirely handcrafted.
The types of wood used - maple and spruce - are personally chosen by Stefano.
The models used in the design of the instruments are taken from the masters of the `700s, in particular, Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesù.
Stefano also uses his own models, inspired by the classical tradition. The instruments are crafted following standard measures. The research of shapes and sound quality is enriched by constantly sharing experiences within the community of violin makers, both inside and outside his workshop.
Particular attention is given to the convexity and the graduation of the wood, in order to reach the best acoustics and vibration of the sound box.
As with many artisans, all his work is catalogued and recorded in order to create, maintain and enrich his archive. This is used as a source of inspiration and also in the sharing of experiences and ongoing research.
The varnish used is oil-based, produced from amber resin, and is coloured with natural ingredients. The whole process, including the creation of the varnish and the grinding and extraction of the colouring elements, takes place within the workshop, following principles based on the Italian tradition.
In his workshop, between other things, Stefano Bertoli performs the restoration and repair of instruments. He developed his expertise by studying restoration at the Violin Making School of Milan under the guidance of Maestro Gabriele Negri. He has extended his theoretical and practical knowledge of classical instruments during his length collaboration with Maestro Carlo Chiesa.
The principle behind restoration is to maintain the structure and the original design. Therefore, whenever possible, the material, shape and acoustic profile of the instrument are preserved. When this is not possible, the instrument is restored using techniques based on reversibility principles.
The set-up of a bowed instrument is one of the most stimulating, exciting and yet delicate parts of a violin maker's work.
The first part of this operation takes place in the workshop. This includes a detailed and precise analysis of the instrument's characteristics, such as: measures, potentiality and requirements. Subsequently the manufacturing and placement of the sound post, the bridge and, finally, the choice of accessories and strings, based to the customer’s tastes and preferences.
The second part is carried oout alongside the musician. Both seek the optimal acoustic profile of the instrument while also taking into account the acoustic and practical requirements of the musician.
Besides selling his own handcrafted instruments, Maestro Stefano is available for professional support and advice in acquiring, recovering and testing of ancient instruments or those used for study.
Stefano is also available to assist customers by sourcing instruments for hire.