© Mark Hickman Stringed Instruments, Isle of Wight, 2017
About Me
I have been involved with making and restoring stringed
instruments since making a copy of a Renaissance lute while
studying to be a design and technology teacher back in the early
1970s.  After making several plucked string instruments I moved
towards those from the violin family, starting with a viola for my
niece who was learning at the time.  I had much to learn and to
help with this learning process I visited many luthiers workshops,
attended courses and read a great deal to enhance my
understanding of what makes a good violin.  Going onto a part
time teaching contract many years ago allowed me to work on the
instruments more, and for the past fifteen years, having left
teaching, I've built up my business to what it is today.
To get an insight into my workshop there is a link on the right to
an article that appeared in the Strad magazine for their ‘My
Space’ feature which looks into luthiers workshops from around
the world.  The Strad has been ‘the voice of the string music
world’ since 1890 and has a world wide distribution.
 
Most of my time is spent doing repair and maintenance work for what is now quite a wide
customer base.  I've made a number of instruments over the years on a commission basis -
these include violins and violas, guitars and mandolins plus more obscure instruments like
bouzoukis and five string electric violins.
I also spend time working on the instruments that I sell.  All my instruments are set up
properly:  this work is as important on an inexpensive student instrument as it is on one
costing hundreds of pounds.  It is vital that a beginner has an instrument that is easy to play -
there are some dreadful instruments about that will only end up putting a beginner off rather
than inspiring them to practise and eventually allow them to master what is really quite a
difficult discipline.  A carefully set up instrument will have a properly fitting bridge of the
correct size and shape, an accurate nut with the correct string height and spacing, a
fingerboard with the right profile, pegs that operate smoothly, a soundpost that fits well and is
in the correct place for the best tonal response, and a good set of strings.  The bow too will
need attention: the fit of the frog to the stick will be checked, the adjuster screw lubricated
and an initial coat of rosin applied to the hair.  I carry out all this work in my workshop with
the care and attention to detail that this exacting work requires.
I do not work exclusively with instruments of the violin family.  As a guitarist in the Isle of
Wight Irish music band Last Orders I have got to know many of the talented group of Isle of
Wight based musicians.  I regularly carry out repair work and maintenance on various fretted
stringed instruments as well as making many of the instruments themselves.
Adobe Reader is required to view the Strad magazine article. 
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(requires Adobe Reader)