Woods and Materials used in making instruments:
Spruce logs being hauled out of Thurmond's
forest by Jerry (in harness) and Lloyd
Violin makers are always searching for just the right wood to be used in the making of instruments. I have found a source for the finest European tone woods available today and use them in many of my instruments. However, I do not exclude wood from other sources when I find it to be ideal for a particular instrument.
Most of my European wood was cut in 1954 and has been quietly aging in an attic in Mittenwald, Germany since then, waiting patiently to be used in an instrument
During a bridge restoration project, I acquired red spruce cut in 1866 in New Hampshire, used in the construction of the covered bridge which now spans the Connecticut River between Windsor, Vermont and Cornish, New Hampshire. I find this century-old spruce ideal for the construction of my violas. This wood goes into what I call the Knight Bridge Collection of instruments.
The highly figured soft maple used in the construction of my cello backs, ribs and necks hails from the northern forests of Michigan. I found it in a large drying shed outside a furniture factory in North Carolina. I was informed these huge slabs of wood were not used by the factory because it was difficult to make symmetrical furniture with such beautiful, one of a kind figured wood. Unlike the furniture makers, I find highly figured maple wonderful to work with. My cellos are the better for it.
Willow used for the blocks and other internal parts comes from my mother's farm in North Carolina. Willow is used because of its light weight, strength, and the fact it is difficult to split. This non-splitting feature of willow makes it ideal for the upper and lower blocks which are placed under pressures that will cause splitting of other types of wood. I also occasionally use willow and poplar for cello backs, which lends a rich resonance to the tone.
Thurmond's "Bridge Collection" of instruments are made
with 130 year old spruce beams taken from this covered bridge,
recently restored, spanning the Connecticut River, between
Windsor, Vermont and Cornish, New Hampshire.
MOVIE STAR! One of Thurmond's violins, "Bethany," stars prominently in the 1999 video "Covered Bridges of New
England," produced by Fritz Wetherbee. As the program opens, viewers hear that
Thurmond made the violin from the Cornish Windsor Bridge wood, and then are treated to a
beautiful piece played by violinist Victoria Kehler of Concord, NH. Victoria teaches
violin and viola at the Concord Community Music School in New Hampshire. She
received a B.M. in Violin Performance at Boston University where she was the Albert
Spalding Scholar and recipient of School of Fine Arts Performance Award. A student
of Dorothy Delay and George Neikrug, she is Concertmaster of the Granite State Symphony
Orchestra, and won the Herbert Butler Award for Outstanding Soloist. Victoria has
recorded several CDs, including Acadia, and she participates in chamber music and solo
recitals throughout New England.