An absolutely gorgeous Nicolas Lupot, made in Paris, 1806. Lupot was a very special violin maker, often referred to as the French Stradivarius. He followed Stradivari’s designs beautifully, with grace and precision. He was more than just a copyist though – he was rooted in the classical traditions of Stradivari, but was still a forward thinking artisan in his own right. Everything about this violin is first rate – workmanship, varnish, wood (check out the single-piece maple back), and a great, big, beautiful sound. It is a great privilege to have and play this on a regular basis.

This was my exclusive violin for almost 8 years, the violin I recorded the Ysaye Album with. There is a lot of questions over its origins, but most people think late 1700’s Venice. Whatever it is, it has a rich and sweet sound with a vibrant top end and mellow bottom end. These pictures were taken before some restoration work, so it looks a bit different now.

An F.X. Tourte – Paris, circa 1785-90. I don’t play on this everyday, but do play it in concert a fair bit. The frog that is on the stick is made by André Lavoye in Montreal. The original frog is ivory, but for multiple reasons I've had this new one made.

James Tubbs – London, circa 1895. A really fine example of his work, and also a good reminder that sensational bow making was not only reserved for the French.