Over the years we have sold several violins by violin maker John Harrison whose workshop is in Redding, California. We have always admired the tone and craftsmanship of his instruments. Normally one would expect a maker of John’s skill and abilities to have a workshop in a large metropolitan area with easy access to a multitude of musicians and bountiful musical activity. Redding is a town of about a hundred thousand inhabitants, a long drive north of the San Francisco Bay Area. In spite of that John has established an excellent reputation as an award winning violin maker with a following among musicians far beyond his home base.
After four years in the U.S. Air Force, John settled in Redding and by 1976 had developed an excellent reputation as a repairer of string instruments. Forty years ago a client brought John some good quality tone wood and the result was his first violin. Since then he’s made over 200 violins, violas and cellos (about six a year). He has been especially influenced by the work of the great old Italian masters and the highly respected more contemporary makers and teachers like Simon Sacconi among other important influencers. He identifies very much with the Italian school of lutherie.
For a violin maker, one of the best ways to establish a reputation is through international violin making competitions and winning a medal or certificate at an important competition is one of the best ways to attract the attention of discerning string players. One of the most important of those competitions is held every other year by the Violin Society of America (VSA). Hundreds of instruments by top makers from all over the world are entered, and winning an award there is quite an achievement. Over the years John has won three silver medals for tone and numerous certificates of achievement in what is always an intense competition. He’s also won awards at competitions like the Violin Makers of British Columbia and the Violin Makers of Arizona International.
John Harrison’s violins, violas and cellos are beautifully crafted using the very finest aged maple and spruce with a superb, transparent varnish. Over the years we’ve been able to offer many fine contemporary Italian violins. John’s instruments share many of their best characteristics both visually and acoustically. His violins have a full, powerful tone with great depth and warmth and are very responsive and easy to play. Clearly, they have the qualities that many of the top string players are looking for.
After a forty year violin making career, John Harrison has recently decided to retire and we are very fortunate have acquired the collection of his finest violins, a viola and a cello and are pleased to offer them to our clients.