Historical Overview of Stringed Instrument Making

Please note: This course is offered more than once. Please be sure to select the appropriate week section in the right-hand column when enrolling.

Whether your plans include making a bow in its entirety and/or developing valuable skills to maintain your customers bows, this class, will be an important addition to your education. Participants choose their own project(s) after consulting with Mr. Rubino. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

Bow Repair/Restoration:

Repairs to the stick; replacement of pearl parts; head splines; repairs to the frog and button and making specialty tools. You will learn techniques for use of a metal cutting lathe, drill press and other small power tools. This part of the course is for students of all levels of experience.

Bow Finishing:

It is recommended that the student has attended the UNH Violin Craftsmanship Institute bow making classes or has equivalent experience. Please contact Mr. Rubino if you have questions about your experience level and qualifications for this part of the workshop.

For students interested in bow making:

Many important decisions when making a bow occur during the finishing process. Final weight, balance, strength and varnishing are critical to the playability and marketability of the finished bow. The students will be required to bring sticks, frogs and buttons that are prepared and ready for final finishing. Mr. Rubino will work with each student individually to guide and advise them on the various options each bow presents. To evaluate the playability of their bows, students are encouraged to bring an instrument on which to play their bow.

For students interested in restoration/repair:

Students should bring projects to class. Mr. Rubino will provide guidance and advise on tools, materials, and various options that each repair presents.

Projects should be discussed in advance with Mr. Rubino for the best use of class time.

Frog & Button Making:

A frog and button that compliments the stick will ensure that the finished bow plays as well as possible for the musician. Mr. Rubino will present traditional frog making techniques that can be used to make or restore a frog or button. This part of the course is for students of all levels of experience.

Classes meet from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with open workshop hours from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Materials and Tools
For a complete list of tools and suppliers go to: https://training.unh.edu/violin under the “Tools & Materials" tab. If you have any questions about advance preparation for this workshop, contact George Rubino at grbowsteach@gmail.com.

What You Will Learn


Historical Overview of Stringed Instrument Making

  • The beginnings of violin making in Europe – bowed strings in various regions
  • Andrea Amati and the development of a system for consistency
  • Development of the Cremonese School
  • The Brescians – an alternate approach
  • The Amati tradition in other cities: Mantua, Milan, Bologna
  • Influx of Fussen makers and the dispersion of violin making around Italy
  • Stainer and his influence
  • Fussen work and its impact on Rome, Venice, Florence
  • Separate traditions: Turin, Genoa, Naples, Lombard makers
  • Other national schools
  • France, Flanders and the Low Countries, Austria, German states, England
  • General characteristics of 19th century violin making in all major schools
  • Bow making in France: evolution of style and structure from Tourte through Peccatte and Voirin to the present
  • English and German bow making and how they developed in parallel with the French

Travel & Site Information


Historical Overview of Stringed Instrument Making


The University is located on 156 wooded acres in Durham, New Hampshire and is only a 90-minute drive from Boston, Massachusetts; 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean; and 40 miles from the foothills of the White Mountains National Forest. The historic seacoast town of Portsmouth is 10 miles east of Durham.
Download a campus map.

Travel Information

Local airports:  Boston’s Logan International Airport or from Manchester (NH). Limousine service and bus service are available from either airport. AMTRAK also runs service from Boston, MA to UNH in Durham, NH. If you are flying into the area, we recommend selecting an airline with a flexible refund or ticket change policy in the event of unexpected circumstances.

C&J Bus service from Logan Airport to Portsmouth or Dover, NH. You will need to take a taxi from the end point to Durham.
C&J tickets cost $23 one way.

AMTRACK Downeaster-Train Service from Boston North Station, MA, to Durham, NH.
You will need to take transportation from Logan to Boston North Station.
AMTRAK tickets one way cost $19.
The Durham train station is a short walk to any campus location.

Room and Board

On-Campus Housing

Housing and meals are not included in the tuition. However, on-campus air-conditioned housing, including breakfast, is available for an extra charge. Housing reservations can be made by calling (603) 862-0863 or (603) 862-1900. For more information, please download the following forms:

Off-Campus Housing

  • Holiday Inn, Durham, NH
  • Three Chimney's Inn, Durham, NH

For More Information about Housing



Holloway Commons Dining Hall Hours

Breakfast: 6:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Lunch: 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Dinner: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Breakfast is included with on-campus housing. Participants may also eat meals in the UNH dining hall on a pay-as-you-go basis.


Durham has a market and several restaurants to serve your dining needs.

Instructor Bios


Historical Overview of Stringed Instrument Making

  • Philip J. Kass

    Philip J. Kass is a respected expert, appraiser, consultant and writer on fine classic stringed instruments and bows. From 1997 until 2002, he was an associate of William Moennig & Son, Ltd. of Philadelphia where he handled many of the world’s great stringed instruments. He was trained under William Moennig III, William Moennig Jr., and Dario D’Attili. Mr. Kass supplemented his education through his own independent travels, inquires and exploration. He is an acknowledged expert and author of many articles, speeches, auction reports and book reviews over a career spanning nearly three decades. Published work by Mr. Kass appears in many industry publications and professional venues. Many of these publications have been based on his independent research into English and French bow making and the violin makers of Piedmont, Cremona, and the Amati family. A member of the Violin society of America since 1975, Mr. Kass has served on the Board of Directors in multiple leadership roles from 1975 to 2010. Today, Mr. Kass is an independent expert working with international clients but based in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

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