Why did you choose to become a luthier?
It was more a revelation than a decision. It came to me one day when I found myself alone in a violin maker's workshop. As I looked around and saw workbenches set out with tools, wood and violin parts, I suddenly realised I wanted to work in a place like that.
How do you create these instruments?
I work almost exclusively with traditional hand tools, which allow me to get closer to the wood, to listen to it, literally, and thereby gain an understanding of how it will function and vibrate as part of an instrument. In recent years I have adopted certain Japanese tools, synonymous with precision, such as saws and knives.
© Bernard Guillemet
How do you draw on tradition and innovation?
Much of my work involves trying to figure out how instruments sounded when they were built in the 17th and 18th centuries or even earlier. I try to put myself in the shoes of the luthier of the time. There are no definitive answers, which gives me the freedom to reinvent techniques and to imagine sounds.
What makes a great instrument?
They must have intangible qualities – resonance, response, timbre – that will enhance a musician's performance. I try to make the job of playing and interpreting music easier, while creating an instrument that will inspire the musician and open new doors. It's very rewarding when it all comes together.