About

Joe Leahy Violin Maker Luthier Toronto Canada

Introduced to music at an early age, I was enrolled in piano lessons at age six by my parents. When I was eight, my father, from a big Irish family with a tradition of fiddle playiing, asked if I had any interest in playing the violin. I said yes!

My first instrument was a ¾ size early twentieth century Japanese-made violin. Upgrading to a 1790’s French violin, I continued my studies with Klemi Hambourg, playing first chair and soloist with the Peterborough Youth Orchestra, and later as a member of the Peterborough Symphony and Peterborough Pipe Organ/Chamber Music Ensemble. 

In high school, along with the violin, I also started playing guitar and developed a serious interest in how acoustic stringed instruments are made and how they work.

I came by my interest in woodwork and craftsmanship honestly. My maternal grandfather was a wooden boat builder, owner and operator of J. B O’Dette and Sons, established in 1926 in Peterborough. My father, an engineer, always had a personal project underway. The last thing he was building prior to his death was a Sequoia Falco F.8L aerobatic aircraft from scratch, including the wooden airframe and metal components of the landing gear. I learned a number of skills from spending time with him in his workshop.

Joe Leahy at Peterborough Kiwanis Music Festival
Joe Leahy Violin Maker Luthier Toronto Canada Ed's Music Workshop Peterborough
Joe Leahy Violin Maker Luthier Toronto Canada Ed's Music Workshop Peterborough

My first dive into instrument making was in 1976, making a classical guitar under the direction of Edward Victor Dick, a professional luthier and teacher who now runs a successful making and teaching operation in Dallas.  I continued on for a number of years repairing and setting up various fretted and bowed instruments. As my enthusiasm grew, given my playing background, my interest naturally turned to the violin.

It has been said that there is no such thing as a self-taught violin maker. I totally agree. I owe my violin making skills to several sources including the woodworking skills learned from my father, extensive research and study of texts based on the Newark, Chicago and Cremona violin schools, and critical analysis of my violins by accomplished professional makers, dealers and violinists.

Over the years I have expanded my knowledge, drawing on the wealth of available resources and the supportive network of luthiers from around the globe. Since 2012, my focus has been solely on making new instruments of the violin family and refining my skills as a maker.

Joe Leahy Violin Maker Luthier Toronto Canada