Meet Perth’s amazing Luthier, restoring string instruments dating back to the 1500s

André Ozturk’s workshop resides on Nicholson road in Subiaco. It’s not a store one usually enters casually, but it’s a frequent port of call for string musicians across Perth, from WASO players and international soloists to school children and amateurs learning for the first time.

André is a Luthier, which means he makes, repairs and restores string instruments like violins and cellos. He grew up in Perth and his workshop has been located in Subiaco since 2009. Step inside, and you’re greeted with a whole wall of specialist tools and instruments all at various stages of progress, some in for repairs and others brand new.

Violins are highly exact instruments, and it usually takes André two and a half months of dedicated time to complete just one violin. Each piece of violin wood is unique: the wood has to already be very old, to ensure it is stable and has lost all of the moisture contained within.

The body of the violin is then precisely carved into its familiar shape – the curves may look like they are from bent wood, but they are actually carved from a solid block of wood, precisely measured to create the ideal sound. The parts are then glued and varnished, both of which are critical and delicate processes. The is a hygrometer on the wall of André’s workshop is so he can glue when there is less humidity – this way, the violin can better withstand changes in action, such as expansion due to heat and moisture levels.

André with his Cello 'Matilda.' Made in Melbourne in 1919 by the first Australian-born violin maker, Nelson Oliver, it’s the first-ever cello made by an Australian-born maker and André's current primary performing instrument. Photo by Ray Ross (2019)

André with his Cello ‘Matilda.’ Made in Melbourne in 1919 by the first Australian-born violin maker, Nelson Oliver, it’s the first-ever cello made by an Australian-born maker and André’s current primary performing instrument. Photo by Ray Ross (2019)

From the age of 7, at his very first cello lesson, André knew he wanted to craft instruments as beautiful as the very first one he played with. Growing up, he was often gifted tools by his family to help him develop his luthier skills, including a rare antique book about violin making, and pieces of violin wood for Christmas. While studying architecture at Curtin, André continued to make violins on the side and built up a small base of clients. After working as an architect for a few years, he decided to quit his job and pursue violin-making full time.

In addition to crafting violins, repairs make up a large proportion of his workload: maintenance and care are key to the lifespan of an instrument and its resilience. Amazingly, there is a cello played regularly on stage that was made all the way back in 1550, and it still functions normally due to the care of luthiers. No matter if you’re a brand-new player, using a relatively cheap instrument, or an international soloist, people like André can make sure your violin is working and sounding its absolute best.

When an older instrument has been left unmaintained for a long period of time, that’s when André’s restoration skills come into play. He’s worked on restoring older string instruments, including precursors to modern string instruments, the viol and viola da gamba, which are still played by a growing community of historical instrument specialists.

André treats every instrument and player he sees with equal importance, as he understands the connection between performer and instrument – an instrument can be a physical extension of a performer and a key aspect of their ability for expression. Every instrument deserves to be treated well, whether it belongs to a school student coming in for regular repairs, or a 10pm emergency repair for a touring international soloist.

If you have a violin, viola or cello that requires repairs, you’re looking to buy one yourself, or would just like some repair or maintenance advice, you can contact André Ozturk via telephone, visiting in-store, or through the contact form here.

André S Ozturk | Perth Luthier
216 Nicholson Road, Subiaco
(08) 9388 1822
[email protected]

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