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The key to being a great musician is mastering excellence. It can't be the goal; it must be assumed. This same expectation must also be at the core of the instrument. With its wide expressive range and powerful tone,  I feel this excellence every time I play my Don Leister violin.

 

Justin C. Williams
Orchestra/AP Music Theory Teacher, Clover Hill High School
Music Director, Cavalier 21 String Orchestra
Music Director/Organist, Immanuel Episcopal Church

 

I have been very happy with a Don Leister violin. I have travelled with it to every type of altitude and climate and the pegs have rarely ever slipped, keeping the intonation and the tone quality very reliable. Being a professional violinist, I have used it during many rehearsals and concerts and it responds immediately and beautifully. Not only reliable, Don has structured his violins in such a way that they feel easy to play. 

 

Dr. Jocelyn Adelman

Violinist with the Richmond Symphony

Private violin and Alexander Technique teacher

 

 


I have owned my Don Leister violin no. 63 since 2012 (the year it was built!) and it is a joy to play every day. It has been used in a vast number of musical scenarios and styles from jazz and classical, to bluegrass, oldtime, country and pop. The tone is precise, rich, open sounding with great projection and it's only getting better with age! I have performed on it all over the world in clubs, at festivals and in concert halls in my band Oh Pep! and it can be heard in our recordings, as well as in other projects including Fat Cousin Skinny, Good Guy Hank, Rain Of Animals and Swamp Chicken. I'm proud to be playing this instrument made by Don, and I intend to continue playing it for as long as I possibly can!

 

Cheers!

Pepita Emmerichs. 
Australian musician and actress

co-founder of Oh Pep!

 

Several years ago Don Leister agreed to make a replica of my favorite violin.  At the time little did we realize all the elements that would be involved.

First Don used a laser beam and camera to outline and photograph all the various arches of the top and back, then he proceeded to measure and log the graduation grids.  Similar to the gradation logs displayed on his Contacts page.   This was a very time consuming exercise but as a result Don now has exact measurements should he wish to make more copies in the future.

 

Then we selected the wood.  Particularly troublesome was the fact that my violin has a unique grain pattern on the top which Don was able to match very well by joining two rather dissimilar pieces of spruce to make the desired appearance.  The rest of the instrument was constructed with very attractively grained maple.

 

Following the wood selection came the actual carving of all the elements that are involved in making a finished violin. Ultimately I was particularly impressed with the accuracy that Don was able to achieve.  In comparing the new violin with my old instrument it was striking how everything, from the string length, the shape of the beautifully polished neck and the overall arching matched.  I now can go from one violin to the next with no acclimation needed.  A superb replica in all dimensions.  

 

I feel that the new instrument’s varnish does not entirely match the overall quality of craftsmanship.  By that I mean Don matched (antiqued) the top quite well, in fact from a distance it’s hard to tell the difference between old and new instruments.  Where the result is less accomplished is the treatment of the back.  Here the varnish is slightly opaque and slightly too dark in color, lacking the subtle golden orange tint found in the old version.  (still quite attractive even so)  I should point out that Dan did mention that he had realized the color wasn’t exact when he finished.  But by then it was time to move on to the real test.

 

When I started playing the new instrument several professional musicians were quite surprised that the “tone signature” was really very similar to the original!  They commented that the tone was dark in the lower register and brilliant in the upper to a large degree like the original.  It seems Don captured the sound as well as the shape of the old violin faithfully.  I now have 160 hours playing time on the new violin and the tone continues to develop incrementally.  Particularly interesting is that the “resonance pattern” of the new is slowly evolving towards that of the old.  That said, is the new violin as fine sounding as the old?   Not quite actually.  The old has a powerful, warm, velvety yet sweet brilliance that is rather lacking in the new.  The new violin’s lower register is very slightly unfocused while the upper range tends a bit towards edginess.   Perhaps a thousand hours of playing will make all the difference.  Or not.  It’ll be fun to find out.  In the meantime, at present, the new violin is very serviceable and some feel it could even be used as a concert instrument to good effect.

 

In the final analysis of this adventure, I am happy to recommend Don the Luthier to anyone seeking a finely crafted stringed instrument whether they are an amateur or a professional.  He is quiet, very focused, intent on his creations but willing to relax a bit to lighten the mood. He definitely knows what he’s doing.  

 

I wish him well.

 

Robert P Murray, American violinist, scholar and teacher

recording both solo and as a duo with organist Ardyth Lohuis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

I have been very happy with a Don Leister violin. I have travelled with it to every type of altitude and climate and the pegs have rarely ever slipped, keeping the intonation and the tone quality very reliable. Being a professional violinist, I have used it during many rehearsals and concerts and it responds immediately and beautifully. Not only reliable, Don has structured his violins in such a way that they feel easy to play. 

 

Dr. Jocelyn Adelman

Violinist with the Richmond Symphony

Private violin and Alexander Technique teacher

 

 


I have owned my Don Leister violin no 63 since 2012 (the year it was built!) and it is a joy to play every day. It has been used in a vast number of musical scenarios and styles from jazz and classical, to bluegrass, oldtime, country and pop. The tone is precise, rich, open sounding with great projection and it's only getting better with age! I have performed on it all over the world in clubs, at festivals and in concert halls in my band Oh Pep! and it can be heard in our recordings, as well as in other projects including Fat Cousin Skinny, Good Guy Hank, Rain Of Animals and Swamp Chicken. I'm proud to be playing this instrument made by Don, and I intend to continue playing it for as long as I possibly can!

 

Cheers!

 

Pepita Emmerichs. 
Pepita Emmerichs is an Australian musician and actress and co-founder of the music group Oh Pep!

 

Several years ago Don Leister agreed to make a replica of my favorite violin.  At the time little did we realize all the elements that would be involved.

 

First Don used a laser beam and camera to outline and photograph all the various arches of the top and back, then he proceeded to measure and log the graduation grids.  Similar to the gradation logs displayed on his Contacts page.   This was a very time consuming exercise but as a result Don now has exact measurements should he wish to make more copies in the future.

 

Then we selected the wood.  Particularly troublesome was the fact that my violin has a unique grain pattern on the top which Don was able to match very well by joining two rather dissimilar pieces of spruce to make the desired appearance.  The rest of the instrument was constructed with very attractively grained maple.

 

Following the wood selection came the actual carving of all the elements that are involved in making a finished violin. Ultimately I was particularly impressed with the accuracy that Don was able to achieve.  In comparing the new violin with my old instrument it was striking how everything, from the string length, the shape of the beautifully polished neck and the overall arching matched.  I now can go from one violin to the next with no acclimation needed.  A superb replica in all dimensions.  

 

I feel that the new instrument’s varnish does not entirely match the overall quality of craftsmanship.  By that I mean Don matched (antiqued) the top quite well, in fact from a distance it’s hard to tell the difference between old and new instruments.  Where the result is less accomplished is the treatment of the back.  Here the varnish is slightly opaque and slightly too dark in color, lacking the subtle golden orange tint found in the old version.  (still quite attractive even so)  I should point out that Dan did mention that he had realized the color wasn’t exact when he finished.  But by then it was time to move on to the real test.

 

When I started playing the new instrument several professional musicians were quite surprised that the “tone signature” was really very similar to the original!  They commented that the tone was dark in the lower register and brilliant in the upper to a large degree like the original.  It seems Don captured the sound as well as the shape of the old violin faithfully.  I now have 160 hours playing time on the new violin and the tone continues to develop incrementally.  Particularly interesting is that the “resonance pattern” of the new is slowly evolving towards that of the old.  That said, is the new violin as fine sounding as the old?   Not quite actually.  The old has a powerful, warm, velvety yet sweet brilliance that is rather lacking in the new.  The new violin’s lower register is very slightly unfocused while the upper range tends a bit towards edginess.   Perhaps a thousand hours of playing will make all the difference.  Or not.  It’ll be fun to find out.  In the meantime, at present, the new violin is very serviceable and some feel it could even be used as a concert instrument to good effect.

 

In the final analysis of this adventure, I am happy to recommend Don the Luthier to anyone seeking a finely crafted stringed instrument whether they are an amateur or a professional.  He is quiet, very focused, intent on his creations but willing to relax a bit to lighten the mood. He definitely knows what he’s doing.  

 

I wish him well.

 

Robert P Murray, American violinist, scholar and teacher with an extensive catalogue of recordings both solo and as a duo with organist Ardyth Lohuis.