Colin & Findlay Tulloch – Violin Makers
For Colin Tulloch, it all started when he was a 24-year-old precision engineer and his grandmother left him an old box that once contained clothing starch, writes Jeremy Grant. In it, he found a copy of the type of violins that were made by the German violin-maker – or luthier – Klotz, but unfortunately in pieces.
‘I was intrigued,’ he says from his studio in Kirkwall, Orkney, where he and son Findlay craft traditional Cremonese-style violins for the global market. ‘I took it to a luthier in Edinburgh, and he immediately saw I was interested in violins.’
Colin bought a book on violin-making and spent some years being self-taught, checking in with the Edinburgh luthier every Friday after work to show him what progress he’d made.
But it took a training session in Tennessee in 2005 with American luthier Kelvin Scott for the breakthrough to happen. ‘When I came back my brain was completely fried with the knowledge I had taken in and I’ve never looked back,’ he says.
That training and subsequent years spent in Cremona – the cradle of Italian violin-making made famous by 16th-century luthier Nicolò Amati and his student, Antonio Stradivari – allowed him to develop his own style.
Tulloch violins follow the Cremona style, the instrument’s physical lines, contours and even the distinct varnish and colour. ‘A lot of the shapes that these old violin makers perfected you’re not going to improve on, but to follow the masters and try and make your own example is where I want to be.’
‘To try and make your own examples of the masters is where I want to be’