The People and Instruments


Stephanie B. Voss - Certified Master Violin Maker

A Member of VDG: Federation of German Violin and Bow Makers since 2002, Stephanie maintains the shop with emphasis on large restoration projects and the making of new instruments for professional and amateur players.  

Available instruments include cellos, violins and violas built in the shop as well as by other fine builders, including modern builders.

 Prior to opening the shop, Stephanie worked  1/95 – 6/98 with Williams Gengakki Violins, Atlanta 
Master Violin Maker
, developing WGVs workshop in Atlanta with full responsibility for all repairs, restorations and setup of instruments. Trained and supervised additional violin making staff.  Worked also with customers in Tokyo/Japan subsidiary.

  2/94 – 10/94 Peter Erben, Violin Maker, Munich/GermanyMaster Violin Maker
Responsible for all repairs and restorations

10/93 – 2/94 Master Course and Master Exam in Violin Making
Mittenwald and Munich / Germany
Graduated: Geigenbaumeisterin (Master Diploma)

8/87 – 9/93 Hermann G. Woerz, Munich/Germany
Violin Maker
Responsible for repairs and restorations as well as bow repairs.
2/84 – 7/87 Violin Making School in Mittenwald/Germany
Graduated: Certified Violin Maker. 


Introducing:

Chris Burndrett

Sales/Operations Manager/Bow Technician
Fascinated with all facets of the industry, he avidly continues his studies in bow restoration with Joshua Henry, Bow Maker and restoration expert and Stephanie Voss, Master Violin Maker.  Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance and a Masters Degree in Higher and Postsecondary Education Administration.

Chris has enjoyed a professional career in music that has spanned over 20 years.  Currently serving as a core musician and board member of the Atlanta Pops Orchestra and as an active freelance violinist, he has performed as section leader for orchestral tours of China, Japan, Taiwan, and the U.S. with the Hollywood Festival Orchestra and the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players.  Experienced in many musical genres, Chris has performed in several Broadway productions at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta  including Disney’s The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella as well as on stage with top artists such as Mannheim Steamroller, Sarah McLachlan, LeAnn Rimes, Gloria Estefan, The Temptations, Celtic Woman: Believe (PBS special), Johnny Mathis, America, Don McLean, Arrested Development, Three Dog Night, Melissa Manchester, Brian Stokes- Mitchell, and Take 6, among others.


Projects

Building the Short-Necked Cello

Stephanie B. Voss

Background

Over the course of the past 30 years in violin making and restoration I have come across a large number of pre-18th-century violins, violas and celli that did not abide by the modern standard of stop length and neck length, which in combination determine the playing string length of a given instrument.

The older the instruments and the more prominent the maker, the more arbitrary the string length seemed to be.

Looking at the Brescian makers and specifically at the viola, I have seen vastly different sizes, yet one thing many Brescian violas have in common is a fairly short string length. This makes those instruments much easier to play since the spread of 1st to 4th finger is not as large as it would be with a longer string length. Of course, the larger the musician’s hand, the more comfortable that musician will be with a longer string length and vice versa; the famous American violist Lillian Fuchs had a different need in string length than William Primrose.

Many soloists playing cello have opted for small scale instruments. For example, Natalie Clein plays a Guadagnini that by today’s standard would be considered a 7/8 size, as does Carter Brey.

After analyzing several violas for string length, my colleagues at Voss Violins and I have always designed and made violas with a relatively short string length for our custom made violas. Ease of playing is one of our main goals, besides, naturally, the best possible sound. We have also partnered with a workshop in Germany to make our Voss Violins workshop model 16" viola for our clients that are not able to afford a custom made instrument.

It should be noted that just moving the bridge north is not the best answer as there is a musical center that combines the lower bout corners and f-hole location. To move the bridge out of that center would be a cheap move that does not work well acoustically. In addition, the important relationship between the neck length and the string length would be destroyed.

While making a copy of a 1595 contralto viola by Maggini with an unusually short string length, I had a thought: why can’t we use that idea and transfer it to a cello model? It could be possible to design a cello model that is geared towards cellists with small hands who struggle with the normal string length of 690mm.

I have had many conversations with clients and teachers that have exactly this problem. Some would only slowly open up about their struggles with it. It really is not anything to be ashamed of since we are all born with different size extremities. Well-known cello teacher Martha Gerschefski encouraged me to pursue this design to help some of her students with small hands.

Design

The design of the Voss Violins short-scale cello starts with a body length (measured over arch) of 745mm (just under 29 1/2").

The body stop length has been shortened to 380mm, and the normal 7:10 ratio of neck length to body stop has been maintained, resulting in a neck length of only 266mm (about 10 1/2"). Maintaining this ratio is an important design consideration since it guarantees that the relative position of the hand on the neck will not change playing the same note on the short-string cello vs. the standard string length cello.

These two measurements combined with a normal bridge height result in a playing string length of 655mm (25 3/4"), shorter than a 7/8 cello but longer than a 3/4 cello. This is substantially shorter than the standard 690mm (27 1/8") length of a 4/4 cello. Since the body length is still that of a 4/4 cello, no compromise needs to be made regarding projection and sound.

The outline of the cello body is designed for players with relatively short legs and arms to enhance the playability: reaching around the instrument is very comfortable.

We are partnering with Tonareli Music Supplies to offer a commercial version of this cello, since a custom made version from my workshop would start at $28,000. The commercial version will still have all the playability features and we are currently planning to offer it for only $6,000.

Please use the Ask Us Questions form to inquire about these instruments and others.


History of the Shop

Voss Violins is an old-world traditional violin-making shop located in downtown, Atlanta, Georgia.

Stephanie Voss, from Hamburg, Germany, attended the Mittenwald, Germany school of violin making and upon graduation in February of 1994 then moved to the United States to build her career as a violin maker. 

Our unique shop builds and sells our own violins, violas and cellos and also as maintains an inventory of new and used instruments for students and professionals, priced accordingly.  We consider trade-ins, and have a trade-in program on bows and instrument you purchase from us. Rentals are also available.

You will find that we take pride in building our own instruments, crafted  entirely in our shop by Stephanie Voss. Built from hand-picked seasoned woods chosen from spruce, maple, willow and more that will best serve you as your musical partner. Your new Voss instrument is then paired up with varnish that we mix and color to your satisfaction, creating a one-of-a-kind instrument for you.

We also shop finish instruments from Germany, built for us by Heinz Fischbach of Ohlstadt, Bavaria, Germany.  

Heinz Fischbach instruments are made of European poplar, tops are made of beautiful alpine spruce. The neck is made of maple.  They arrive here in the white (bare wood), we then take time to custom finish the instruments here using our own recipe self-made oil varnish. 

You may enjoy trying out bows, new and used, from our collection.

We are pleased to be located in a community with a diverse population of string players, performing early music on viols, baroque music on instruments with baroque-style fittings as well as symphonic players and popular, country, bluegrass and jazz players and welcome all to our shop to inspect our instruments as well as for routine maintenance and even major repairs on instruments as needed.

Not satisfied with just building historic copies of instruments and our own designs, we are continually studying and evaluating string instruments and as a result now are offering a new Short-Scale Voss Cello.


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