George Aman, 1671-1734

George Aman (1671-1734) made instruments in Augustusburg his entire life, and generally used Stainers models. Aman not only followed set rules, but also added his own concepts because he was very knowledgable in geometry and had exceptional craftmanship, which allowed him to avoid making any mistakes in his work.

Aman referred to the features of Amati’s longer instruments. The arches of his instruments are average. Aman typically used pear wood for the scrolls and necks, and usually they have beautiful decorations on them. For the bodies, he used spuce, which has a more uniform quality. He mostly used single back pieces. The varnishes he chose to use are quite extraordinary. They are thicker and plaited. Similar to the Venice school of violin making, he often used a yellow varnish on the bottom layer, which usually appears bright red or dark brown. Something which distinguished him from all other German luthiers is his lack of actual purfling. Aman drew the purfling on his violins. His instruments are not capable of getting very loud, but the timbre is quite extraordinary.

Leonhard Maussiell, 1685-1760

Leonhard Maussiell (1685-1760) made instruments in Nurnberg from 1706-1760, and was the first luthier to work there. Overall, Maussiell followed the Stainer model, and his instruments are larger than the average German ones. The scrolls are quite large, and usually have a lion or woman’s head carved out on them. The f-holes are narrow and fine, while the grains are of average width. He typically used single piece backs.

The sound quality of Maussiell’s instruments is extraordinary. The low and middle range is full and thick, but incapable of getting very loud. His instruments have “LW” on their labels, and in the middle of the two letters is the illustration of an eagle. Later another luthier in Nurnberg named Leopold Widhalm used this same label. Maussiell sued him, which led to a commercial dispute.

Gabriel David Buchstetter, 1713-1773

Gabriel David Buchstetter (1713-1773) was the most outstanding German luthier of the 18th century. Between 1752 and 1771 he was active in the Regensburg area. Buchstetter was also one of the only luthiers to use mostly Stainer models prior to the 19th century. The bodies of his instruments are long and narrow, and the arches are relatively flat. The contour of the scrolls is clearly defined. Most of his violins are longer than 36cm. The design of his soundholes is quite unique, fusing Amati’s style with his own personal touch, allowing one to distinguish a real Buchstetter violin from a fake one.

For such an outstanding luthier, his selection of wood is disappointing. The pinewood he used makes the sound sharp and course, but fortunately the varnishes he used have a high plasticity and are of a good quality, which helps the timbre sound better. The varnishes he used are usually yellow, orange or brown, but his brownish dark red violins are the most popular. Buchstetter’s instruments are capable of being quite loud and resonate very well, but the sound is not very round, making them well-liked by German orchestra musicians. The renowned German violinist Louis Spohr (1784-1859) performed with a Buchstetter violin.

Buchstetter also made some violins with prominent arches, deep and wide purfling, short soundholes, the quality of the varnish is average, but the carving on the scrolls is not very good. These instruments are usually signed Gabriel Buchstetter on the labels; therefore, some people have mistakenly thought the instruments were made by another luthier. Others think he may have produced different quality instruments, one type being the cheaper German ones with Gabriel Buchstetter written on the labels, while the other is a higher quality Italian one with Gabriel David Buchstetter written on the labels.

Johann Anton Gedler, 1720-1790

Johann Anton Gedler (1720-1790) was an 18th century German violin maker. His father Borbert Gedler originally lived in Füssen, but later moved to Würzburg. Both of his parents died when he was very young, and then he moved back to his father’s hometown of Füssen. He studied how to make violins with a great luthier from south Germany named Sympertus Niggell. Gedler’s works are similar to Niggell in how they combined the styles of Stainer and Matthias Albani. His craftsmanship in making instruments is not particularly outstanding, but he still had some skill. Gedler’s abundant knowledge allowed him to make instruments with the utmost accuracy. He was good at the Rococo style of violins with wave shapes.

The edges of Gedler’s violins have very deep crevices, with extremely flat top and bottom contours, long soundholes with lines that are not so fluid, overall appearing quite rigid and square. He usually used brown varnishes with thin layers of paint. Although they are hard, they easily break. Gedler designed wave-shaped ribs. Some of them have nice timbres, but usually they sound flat and nasal.

Leopold Widhalm, 1722-1776

Leopold Widhalm (1722-1776) was the most outstanding luthier in his entire family, and was also one of the greatest German luthiers after Stainer. He was mostly active in Nuremberg. Widhalm always chose the best materials, and exhibited dexterous and tasteful craftsmanship. It can be said that he was the most important German violin maker of the 18th century living outside of Mittenwald.

Widhalm was greatly influenced by famous lute makers in Nuremberg, but most of his inspiration came from Stainer, whose style he followed his entire life. His works also include some original concepts as well. The purfling is neat and a little wide, while the carving of the scrolls is very meticulous. He used high quality Italian varnishes, and particularly advanced are the techniques he used to apply the varnish after 1760.

Widhalm’s violas and cellos are excellent, and the timbre of these instruments is gorgeous. His labels have his initials written on them, and some also have an eagle logo on them, which once incited a legal dispute between him and Leonhard Maussiell. After Widhalm died, his son took over his shop, and continued to make instruments with “LW” on the labels after 1800. His works fully represent the style of the Nuremburg school, and successfully mark the beginning of Nuremburg’s modern history of violin making.

Simon Schodler, 1730-1793

Simon Schodler (1730-1793) was active in Passau from 1750 until 1787. Besides using Stainer models, he was also influenced by Joseph Hornsteiner. Schodler was good at carving lion heads, while his corners are not clearly-defined, but at the same time not losing their detail. He used yellow and brownish orange varnishes, the texture of which has very deep hues. His instruments have an amazing aesthetic sense of simplicity. They are not sonorous or rich sounding.

Jacobus Staininger, 1751-1823

Jacobus Staininger (1751-1823) was an important luthier in north Germany. He moved to Mainz around 1775, and married the daughter of German luthier Nicolaus Dopfer (1714-1788). He moved to Frankfurt in 1790, and lived in Aschaffenburg from 1800 until 1818. Staininger followed the models of Stainer and Amati. The scrolls and purfling of his instruments are quite exquisite and beautiful. The varnishes he used are thin, light and slighly transparent.

Johann Georg Gutter, 1759-1829

Johann Georg Gutter (1759-1829) was the greatest luthier in his family. Gutter was active in east Germany, and worked in Markneukirchen and Erfurt. The bodies of his instruments are relatively wide and large, while the arches are average. His varnishes are usually yellow and dark brown. They have great timbres, and their ability to react is quite agile, making it a perfect choice for amatuer muscians.

Matthias Hornsteiner II, 1760-1803

Matthias Hornsteiner II (1760-1803) came from the great German luthier family of Matthias, which can be considered the founding family for making large quantities of violins in Germany. This family would typically add the name of the building they were working in when the instrument was made.

He was the best luthier in his family, and at the time his status was equal to that of the Kloz family. Hornsteiner was active in Mittenwald. His best instruments were made between 1765 and 1795. Besides being influenced by Kloz, he also followed Amati and Stradivari models. His works possess average arches, and have a typical Tyrol appearance to them. The most prominent features are how the shoulder area is slightly sinking in, the corners are smooth and rounded, while the edges are not very obvious. The black part of the purfling is thinner than the white part. The grains of the face are thin and narrow, while the back and the ribs have flame-like patterns in the grains. Hornsteiner’s varnishes are usually a light golden yellow, a dark golden brown or reddish brown. His violins do not have a bright sound, but do have a warm quality to them. His cellos are good.