Violin by W.E. Hill and Sons, Great Missenden, 1988

Violin by W.E. Hill and Sons, Great Missenden, 1988

About W.E. Hill and Sons

The English firm W.E. Hill and Sons was almost unchallenged as the world´s premier violin and bow dealership for almost a century, having been set up by William Ebsworth Hill in 1880. The family´s roots in the trade went back even further: William Ebsworth was the fourth generation of Hill violin makers. As accomplished in making as the Hills were, William Ebsworth was also a shrewd business man: in just seven years the Hanwell workshop grew into a major concern, employing a number of talented makers of instruments, bows and cases. Hill´s four sons were among their number.

Over the course of the next 100 years or so, the Hill name continued to grow in importance thanks to the publication of a number of seminal texts on the great makers and the fact that most of the world´s best instruments were being sold through the firm. The Second World War saw a number of Hill instruments being donated to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. This collection included Stradivari´s `Le Messie´, arguably the world´s most famous violin.

The Hill workshop was known for its consistently high quality. There was a strict hierarchy within the workshop, with new recruits beginning by making chin rests and working their way up. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this rigorous training system was central to the development of British violin and bow making for generations.

About the violin

This violin is numbered 569 and was made in 1988, ten years after the old Hanwell workshop was closed. The new Hill shop and workshop were established in `Havenfields´, Great Missenden: the firm traded from there until its closure in 1992.

The violin is modelled after the instruments of Stradivari and has an attractive one piece back of relatively fine-flamed maple. The one piece front is fine-grained spruce, widening towards the flanks. The varnish is a rich golden-brown, laid over a lighter ground.

The length of back is 355 mm.

How does it sound?

Having had a huge percentage of the world´s best violins through their hands over more than a century, W.E. Hill and Sons certainly knew what makes a great fiddle! Although the firm had hit leaner times by the late Eighties, this violin is proof that the quality of the making was not allowed to suffer.

The violin has a wonderful singing quality about it and is quick to come alive. It has fantastic response and seems to have an almost actor-like ability to take on different characters of sound depending on the repertoire. Quite a chameleon of an instrument, this violin will keep its new partner interested through the long hours of practice!


The violin is in excellent condition with no cracks. It has been looked after extremely carefully and even retains its original bridge! The varnish is a lovely, high-quality soft oil varnish which has developed a beautiful patina of wear.

Further information

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