Contact Philip

Call 0422 945 752 

or email

Woobys Lane
Battery Point, TAS, 7004

+61 (0) 422945752

Philip Smith is a master maker of stringed instruments and their bows. A master of refined artistry and exquisite tones from his master crafted bows and instruments. One of Australia's finest luthiers!







Maker Restorer Repairs Sales of Violin Viola Cello Double Bass and their Bows
Traditional and Baroque
Tasmania Australia

Ticking Boxes

Philip Smith

It's all about plugging my way through the endless list of jobs at the moment. For a while there I seemed to have started many things and not finished anything and so my wife, very helpfully, made a list for me. With tick boxes.


This violin was ticked off last week.

On the top of the list now is another violin, but I am allowing myself to be distracted by making a double bass bow with no under slide and a lower frog. This is a return to how bows were originally made. The silver underslide was added for strength but there is a strong movement towards making bows without them. They are harder to make because the frog has to fit perfectly to the stick but it will be worth it for the

improved tonal qualities


Now, I'll just finish this and get back to the list.


Philip Smith

After many years of playing along on other people's projects, some good, some great and some ... , I have formed myself a very small unconducted string orchestra. Its essentially a string quartet with double bass. I have uncovered several very talented musicians looking for a playing opportunity and we had our first rehearsal last week. We are enjoying the intimate ensemble, but may expand if required. We fancy ourselves as a


, and hope to invite soloists to join us to play. If you fancy yourself as a soloist, and have something that you would love to perform and would like an opportunity to perform, give me a call.

I finally understand my father's love of print music. The arrival of the above repertoire last week was very exciting. I find myself continuing to search for interesting musical possibilities.

Viola in progress: My tone wood supplier in Germany spent a couple of weeks searching through his racks for this highly figured one piece maple viola wood. Based on the Andrea Gaurneri Conte Vitale 1676, it is a larger model at 16 1/4 inches with broad centre bout which should result in power and projection, at a yet manageable size.

Bass bow baguettes: BAM!

Much anticipated, long awaited, procured via a process involving nothing less than bureaucratic insanity. Number 1 Bass bow is long overdue but now underway, for my long-suffering maestro. It won't be long now Michael, I promise.

Cello Bow No. 1

Philip Smith

It's all go here in the small workshop. Two violins, a satisfyingly large model viola and a cello are all underway, not to mention the bow commissions impatiently waiting in the wings.

The bass bow wood (sticks of Brazilian pernambuco) finally arrived from the USA. It was received with much excitement. After languishing at CITES for a few weeks, the supplier was told that as it was such a small amount it didn't require certification and was sent forthwith and after months of waiting, arrived in a few days.

Due to the rarity of pernambuco and the difficulty in obtaining it, I have started a little experimentation. The first experimental bow made from Tasmanian Dogwood a has been tested and has come up - not quite right. The wood isn't sufficiently dense, its too light and is refusing to be bent into the correct cambre. It works but unfortunately is not an adequate replacement.

I have another half a dozen Tasmanian species to try, but I am not sure when I will have the time to continue the experimentation.

I will keep you posted.

Mother of Pearl

Philip Smith

After a little searching, native Tasmanian green-lipped abalone shell for mother of pearl (a stunning material used for the pearl slide and pearl eyes on the frog of a bow) has been sourced. Saturday saw us pile the kids in the car and take a drive up the river in search of our local neighbourhood abalone diver.

On a stunning vineyard on the West Tamar we found several piles of 'stink' shells, as named by the kids, and I collected a box full. In my enthusiasm, the box was overfilled and unshuttable so the drive home was a little aromatic, but well worth it, as the shells cleaned up beautifully.

Its great to have a local Tasmanian material to use in my bow making. Most of the other exotic supplies - pernambuco, mammoth bone, ebony etc must be sourced from the far corners of the Earth.

Photo courtesy of

Mmm, green lipped abalone, looks disgusting, tastes delicious!

Cello Bow No.2

Philip Smith

This is my new cello bow. Cello bow No.2, we shall call it, as this is my second bow and the first I have completed since returning from France last May. The process of 'tooling up' and securing supplies has been almost excruciatingly slow, one of the disadavantages of living on an island at the bottom of the Earth far from European and Brazilian suppliers. Cello bow No.2 is made from a beautiful Pernambuco stick, a gift from Lyon archetier, Sylvain Bigot. I was lucky enough to meet Sylvain in his atelier in Lyon on my travels last year, having received a recommendation to him from

Jean-Luc Tauziede

, my bow making Master and mentor.

Sylvain's workshop

is on the second floor of a wonderful building in the smart shopping district of Lyon. To gain entry you must buzz the bell next to his nameplate at street level. The entrance is adorned with the typical white on blue street number, the brass nameplates of the occupants, wooden doors and ornate carvings in the stone architrave. Once access is given to the building you ascend the stairs to this wonderful workspace.


Sylvain gave me a very warm welcome and much invaluable advice and knowledge. He sent me away with much encouragement and the gift of this beautiful pernambuco stick so I could continue my bowmaking journey. Merci Sylvain!


Philip Smith

In another life, I worked in a music shop in the big town. The shop stocked the full range of musical instruments strings, brass, pianos, electronic equipment - the works. Customers were always coming in trying to wrangle big discounts on instruments, like it was a used car yard. Christmas seemed to bring it out in the punters even more than was usual and us salesman wearied of the endless haggling of the silly season.

One December day, a gentleman came in. A man with a keen eye for a bargain and a master negotiater. He was like a dog with a bone after a discount. After being denied repeatedly by a colleague, the man cried in despair:

"You are not being very Father Christmassy!"

Ho, ho, ho!

So the Philip Smith Christmas decoration has gone up, no expense spared as you can see. And that's about as Father Christmassy as it gets around here.


Philip Smith

The violin making classes have been going for a couple of weeks on Tuesday nights. It's turning out to be quite the melting pot of ideas and creativity! There are two regular students and a couple readying themselves to put chisel to seasoned tone wood. Another is considering embarking on, my personal favourite project, making a double bass. After the success of Tuesday night's class (and the fact that 3 or 4 in the workshop takes up all the space), I am considering offering Thursday night classes as well.


So, if you have ever thought about making a stringed instrument - you can do it, with a little help from your friendly neighbourhood luthier. My contact details are on the side bar of the blog. Call or email and we can talk about the options.

Goodbye No 3

Philip Smith

Viola number 3 has been safely delivered to its new home.

Now there is a viola-sized hole in my workshop.

It's always a bit sad to see the instruments go after spending several months working on them so intensely. Still it has gone to a good home and the owner and teacher were both very pleased with the final result. Hoping to see and hear it at the next Hobart Chamber Orchestra concert where it will be playing with some of its siblings.

Violin number 12 is now demanding some attention and social services have been called about the bass in bits in my shop window.

Tasty Tools

Philip Smith

This week I have temporarily satiated my appetite for certain objects of desire.

There is nothing quite so satisyfing as a parcel of brand new tools, and this lot of bow making tools have arrived ... sweet! Swiss chisels and files, planes from Germany and the block plane from the US of A, as well as a difficult to find hand chuck from Italy and the leather knife from Japan. The knives are Tasmanian, handcrafted by my good self.

The big block plane is a beauty. I think it is my new favourite.

The vintage Japanese lathe was sourced from my friend

the horologist

, next door. Excellent quality for precision bow making.


Theses tools have facilitated a little bit of bow making progress with a bass and a violin frog now well on the way.

Instrument Making Session

Over the years, quite few people have expressed in interest in learning the dark arts of violinmakng so I have started a casual evening session, Tuesday's 7-9am to guide people in the process of making an instrument. The first one kicked off last night. If you are interested in coming along, give me a call. Booking is essential as space in the workshop is tight.