Luthier Bryan Duckworth brings personal touch to violin restoration

Bryan Duckworth began as a luthier—a craftsman who builds and repairs stringed instruments—in 1980. (Photos by Eric Weilbacher/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bryan Duckworth began as a luthier—a craftsman who builds and repairs stringed instruments—in 1980. (Photos by Eric Weilbacher/Community Impact Newspaper)

Bryan Duckworth began as a luthier—a craftsman who builds and repairs stringed instruments—in 1980. (Photos by Eric Weilbacher/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The nut at the top of the neck that aligns the strings on the fretboard must be filed for proper action.
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Violin kits begin at $350. For more intermediate or professional players, a more advanced violin can cost $750.
For over 15 years, Bryan Duckworth’s violin shop on West San Antonio street has provided a home for fiddlers, mariachis, symphonic players, students and amateur musicians alike to bring in their violins and other bowed instruments for repair or to purchase new ones.

Duckworth began his career by happenstance after moving from College Station to pursue music elsewhere. “I moved to Houston when I was 23 to play fiddle in a band, six nights a week, and I didn’t have much to do in the daytime,” Duckworth said. “There was a violin shop near where I lived. I got along really well with the owner, so I would get up in the morning, eat breakfast and go over there. At some point he realized he wasn’t getting much work done, so he said if I was going to hang out I was going to have to learn something.”

That training began at Winter’s Violin Shop in Houston in 1980.

Duckworth began learning the trade of becoming a violin luthier—someone who builds and repairs stringed instruments—and set his sights on opening his own business. In doing so, he continued his education with other luthiers, such as master violin makers Hans Jürgen Nebel in New Hampshire and Horst Kloss in Massachusetts.

“Once I opened up the shop I found out that on the East Coast there were these master German luthier violin makers that gave summer short courses. I started attending those, and it was extremely helpful,” Duckworth said.


Duckworth not only repairs violins but also builds his own, albeit maybe just one or so a year. He will display his work in the shop and maybe someone will purchase it, but he primarily focuses on repairs.

Prices on repairs can vary, but for someone looking to get started with a violin, bow and full kit, prices start at $350.

Unlike other instruments that have well-known brands, such as guitars or marching band instruments, the number of luthiers or brands could very well count into the thousands, Duckworth said. So many violins exist that were made by small shops all over the world decades ago, he said.

“For example this violin here says it was made by a man named Jake Stainer, but it wasn’t. It’s a copy and probably not a very good one. It was probably made in some German or Czech workshop 100 years ago, so we’ll never really know who made it. There are hundreds and hundreds of places it could have come from,” he said. As a specialized shop, Duckworth’s is one of very few in the region. He gets customers from all over the San Antonio and Austin area, as well as from across the country.

“I have some from much further away because the trade is maybe so specialized. It seems that almost every good fiddler or violinist finds a shop that they have faith in. And if they can do it they’ll stay with you.”

Duckworth Violin Shop, 301 W. San Antonio St., Ste. 111, New Braunfels. 830-627-1778. www.duckworthviolinshop.com. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Sat.-Sun.
By Eric Weilbacher

Editor, New Braunfels and San Marcos/Buda/Kyle

Eric joinedCommunity Impact Newspaper as an editor in July 2021, returning to journalism after several years in the New Braunfels business community. Prior to CI, Eric freelanced for multiple publications and was a reporter for the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. He brings a passion for accurate, compelling story telling and human interest to his work.



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