In 1969 I finished a degree in music at the Lawrence Conservatory in
Wisconsin and two years later went to an eminent instrument maker's workshop
to build a viola da gamba. It turned out to be the perfect mixing of my lifelong
woodworking interests and musical skills. I spent a year visiting collections of
historical viols, measuring and photographing examples of the 17th and 18th
century viol builders, and gathering data from established builders. In 1973 I
moved with my family to Iowa and set up my woodworking shop. In the next five
years I built 60 viols and decided to expand my repertoire to the violin family.
I did a number of workshops with Carleen Hutchins learning her techniques of
plate tuning, and studying the great Italian instruments of the 17th-18th century.
In 1979 we moved to Blacksburg, Virginia where I have been building violins, violas,
cellos and viols (and even a violone).

I have spent considerable time over the years studying the historical instruments, measuring and photographing, as well as consulting with established builders on designs, building techniques, and acoustical theory & design. I expand my thinking with other builders at
summer workshops, at Oberlin College in Ohio.

A Strad pattern violin that I made was compared in the concert hall to a genuine Stradivarius in professional use as well as several violins made by modern makers and mine was the choice of the day.



707 Harding Ave. Blacksburg, Va. 24060
(540)961-6326
foster.violins@verizon.net