Amati, Guarneri, Stradivarius, oh my! Bill and Elaine Mason run Wm Mason II, a full service violin shop specializing in lessons, bow rehairing, repair work, and now, violin design and craftsmanship. Together with six interns, the Masons hope to put Fredericksburg on the map as a premier location for affordable, handcrafted violins, violas, and cellos.
No novice luthier, Bill Mason spent four years in Pennsylvania under the tutelage of master makers Ed Campbell and Nelson Steffy, followed by another year with master maker Oded Kishony. Mason is on the board of the Southern Violin Association and is on the new professional program committee with the Violin Society of America. While area music teachers and musicians may know of the Masons’ shop, many locals are unaware of the evolution it has undergone since opening seven years ago. Elaine Mason describes the shop’s progress, “We started off with repair work, and then we added the rental program. Two of our interns approached us about making instruments, and that’s what led us to developing our own line of violins that we make here in the shop.” Bill Mason continues, “We have started The Violin Making Studio of Virginia where we’ve put together a program that allows interns to spend three years making five instruments.”
Photos by A.E. Bayne