Lu Mi Stringed Instruments
The Lu Mi range of instruments is the result of years of development and
refinement overseen by Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, the leading Finnish
gamba player. They are instruments designed by a player of distinction
with other professional performers in mind, and are faithful to the
authentic light construction techniques of early strings.
About Lu-Mi Strings
As a teacher of viol at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and when
conducting workshops and master classes elsewhere in Europe and in the
USA, I have noticed too often that students don't have a proper viol.
And some who would like to play don't have a viol at all. Ten thousand
dollars or more for a custom-made viol is often too much for a beginner,
and the viols that have been for sale for $2000 or $3000 have been of
too low quality. Many who are preparing to be professional musicians and
would like to play viol as a second instrument often develop their
skills so rapidly that they will need a better viol after some months.
The waiting lists of the best makers was too long, sometimes eight to
have always been interested in instrument making, and I have asked
numerous makers to build cellos, baroque cellos and all kinds of models
of viols for me and my students and friends. I had noticed that Chinese
modern makers and workshops produce really good-quality modern cellos
and violins, and I began searching for a workshop that could produce
viols and other baroque stringed instruments.
found luthier Wang Zhi Ming in Beijing. He is also an excellent
violinist and use to play in one of Beijing Symphony Orchestras His
father learned violin-making after the best German tradition, but
naturally he had to stop working during the Cultural Revolution. He
began again in the late 80s, but he has now retired. Wang and his father
has trained and employed more than 10 makers in a workshop. German
tradition misunderstood or didn't care about some Italian tradition of
violin making such as cross arching of the belly and back. Wang has
visited Cremona a couple of times to to update his skills.
gave Mr. Wang all the information I could about viol making: I sent
numerous drawings and more than 100 emails. Later, as the viols began to
take shape, I spent time in Beijing to help solve some problems. This
process is still going on. I visited last time in Beijing in August to
check new models which have been built and planned with Wang how to make
some more new models. We also negotiate almost weekly with some details
to make Lu-Mi instruments even better.
don't make exact copies of old models, but all our instruments are
certainly real viols. The 6-string viols are made after the English
makers Jay, Meares and others, but, for example, the belly is not bent.
The 7-string bass is made after Bertrand. The Chinese makers use a
drying room before the parts are glued together, so all of their viols
should endure humidity going down to 30 percent.
have been very pleased with the results. In fact, these viols don't
feel and look at all like "student" viols. I have even given a couple of
concerts with one of their 6-string basses. But I must say my Jane
Julier 7-string bass is more than worth of the price as well as my old
17th Century 6-string bass viol.
bows are made in another workshop by Mr. Zang. I have never met him and
Wang helped me to communicate with him to get 4 different models of
baroque bows. I sent some of my own bows as samplers, but Lu-Mi bows are
not exact copies of them. My bows are fluted but the Chinese refused to
make fluting after trying it for some bows. I personally think
snakewood is better when it is not bend at all or just very little where
as pernambuco wood needs some bending to make the bow firm enough.
First set of Lu-Mi bows were bent but nowadays they are not bent at all.
I bought the first 150 kg snakewood in half logs to Zang but now he has
his own stock of it. I bought my snakewood from Germany but it grows
only in South America (I think).
is also making violin family baroque instruments. At the moment there
several models available and more to come: Violins after Amati,
Guarnerius or Stradivarius Four sizes of violas corpus 387-444 mm by
Gasparo da Salo and Stradivarius Cellos after Montagnana, also a large
cello which could be tuned in B flat.
viols have been sold to UK, USA, Japan, Russia, Australia, Portugal,
Germany, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Estonia, Holland,
Spain and France.