For violin maker Cheryl Macomber, much of the time she could
spend making new instruments in her Sacramento shop gets diverted
to repairs and restorations.
She repairs an old viola as shop helper Tim Winters outlines the
shape of a new violin on a piece of wood.
Macomber primarily makes violins, an intensive process that
begins with carefully selecting the wood — spruce for the top and
maple for the back — for the body of the instrument, a decision
she bases on tone and beauty.
Eventually, she cuts out the scroll, the decoratively carved
beginning of the violin’s neck on which the fingerboard is
mounted. After completing more steps over several months, she
selects the varnish, and the finished violin will sell for
In 1999, Macomber began apprenticing for Master Violin Maker
Albert Muller. She had been bringing her bows to his shop off El
Camino Avenue for repairs until one day he gave her a book on the
craft and asked if she would like to make a violin. “I was
hooked, and I quit everything else,” she says. Macomber took over
the shop in 2006 and has since made 45 violins, seven cellos,
seven harps and five violas.