Go to the PBS website for The Woodwright’s Shop, and select the show number 2707 (requires realPlayer). There you can meet fiddler Joe Thrift, a modern luthier who works with tools and techniques that are unchanged for centuries.
The PodCast is one of 13 in The Woodwright’s Shop series now available for viewing on the Internet. Presented by series creator and writer Roy Underhill, Thrift, fiddler player with old-time string band The Drawknives, demonstrates the way he builds fiddles.
Condensed into a little under a half hour Thrift, who learned his craft in schools in Europe, shows how he builds a Stradivarius copy, talks about the choice of wood – spruce for the top; maple for the back, sides and neck; and willow for corner blocks – their properties and the various tools that he uses in the process.
Being a copy of the classic Stradivarius design the neck, of course, has what is known as the Golden Spiral scroll. I didn’t know that!
The programme provides an enthralling insight into the wonderful craft of instrument building, which is, as far as Thrift’s fiddle-making is concerned, a two month process normally.
The rest of the Drawknives are Riccio (banjo), Kelley Breiding (upright bass) and Nick McMillian (guitar).
A tip of the hat to Linda Lookadoo and Richard Peoples.