Viols • Violins • Carvings

Henner Harders

Growing up surrounded by music and crafts, I was fascinated by working with wood and playing the viol from an early age.

In 1986 I went to England to study at the London College of Furniture, on the ‘early fretted instruments’ course. Since leaving college in 1990, I have run my own instrument building workshop, in both England and Germany. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work in London with the viol maker Dietrich Kessler, where I handled, studied and played a variety of lovely old gambas.

Among my commissions has been a set of four renaissance viols for the English viol consort Fretwork, a set of viols for the Suomen Kulttuurirahasto in Helsinki, and a lira da gamba for Erin Headley. My instruments are closely based on those I have measured in museums and private collections in Europe.

I find that playing the viol myself helps considerably when setting up my instruments - particularly neck shape, action, bridge curve and height.

Susanne Küster

In 1989 I began my apprenticeship as a woodcarver in Flensburg at the Werkkunstschule. Besides carving in wood and working in clay, plaster, concrete and stone I gained a lot of experience in design and drawing. After leaving the school I went to Bremen, where I started carving heads for the viols of Henner Harders.

This is where the instrument-making bug infected me, so I went to the Newark School of Violin Making to learn the making and repairing of violins. When leaving this three-year course, I decided to go to London for two years and work with Adam Whone to get experience in the repairing and restoration of old violins. Now I make my own violins and carve heads for a variety of instruments.

Makers like Dietrich Kessler, Michael Heale, Jane Julier, Renate Fink, Helen Michetschläger, Wesley Brandt, Thomas Mace, Norman Myall, Robert Eyland, Valentin Oelmüller, Tilman Muthesius.... have commissioned carved heads from me for their instruments.