To my mind, Shem Mackey probably the most convincing of all modern makers of the viola da gamba, and I can’t help but feel that in a hundred years his well-played instruments will become hard to tell apart from the eighteenth-century originals that he copies. My views are biased of course – we’ve spend weeks on end looking at original instruments and discussing them in detail together. This instrument takes a Barak Norman ‘division viol’ of about 1690 as it’s starting point, but is made from cherry wood with a yorkshire rose as for a rosette below the fingerboard and a head that both mixes the best of English style with the very elegant practice of punch marks that the French style of the early 1700s. An exquisite viol in terms of sound and in terms of visual beauty.
A fine contemporary English bass viol