Louisville Magazine

FEB 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 2.19 77 "Bass-neck destruction!" Matt Lane shouts as a man enters Lane & Edwards Violins, the luthier shop that resembles the inside of a shiny wooden heart. e top part of the customer's black nylon upright bass case is flopped over, sadly drooping. Lane looks at the instrument in its two pieces and knows right off that it'll be a fairly simple repair. e neck broke clean off the body. Best to reattach it tightly with a lag screw through the heel, at an angle. Some Gorilla Glue, too. e bass joins the lineup of broken instruments leaning against coun- try-kitchen-looking display cases, which Lane salvaged from a closed candy shop next to what was Lynn's Paradise Cafe. Lane has seen instruments arrive in pieces. Like that very sad child's cello, which had been left behind the family car before it pulled out of the driveway. "A jigsaw puzzle with splinters," Lane says. Or the violin that came in disassem- bled, saved from the rising waters of the 1937 Flood by a family's grandmother. It was only missing one rib (the side plank of the instru- ment). "We heard that violin play for the first time in 70 years or more," Lane says. is was back at Mark Edwards' shop in Fern Creek, which opened in 1973. Lane worked there for a dozen years before opening his own spot in St. Matthews in 2004. Edwards taught Lane, now 35, how to set a sound post, a small peg that goes inside a violin's F-hole. Lane learned the Renaissance-era geometry associated with fixing a cello's 77 different parts. Learned to tell when an instrument was made correctly or badly — of good maple and spruce, or cheap plywood or softer-grade hardwood. He saw how weather warps wood, how high humidity loosens the water-based glue that holds violin plates in place, how winter's cold cracks contracting wood. In the store, Lane is wearing his "Game of Strings" T-shirt (in the rones font). A teenage girl plays a concerto on a cello as Lane sands down another cello. He works gently, as if it were his own instrument. e girl's dad will either buy her the one at Lane's fingertips (used but with good maple) or the one at her fingertips (more expensive but with a deep resonance she's already fallen in love with). e space where Lane works at the back of the shop is a collection of clamps, woodcarving tools and jars of varnishes. He inherited most of the tools from Edwards, who back in the day inherited some of them from a Louisville Orchestra retiree. A line of violins drapes across the back wall like a garland — some as small as six inches stern-to-stem for the two- and three-year-old players. ey look like toys for teddy bears. e shop is also a repair vendor for JCPS and private schools such as Collegiate and Sacred Heart. At 66, Edwards — who learned from the "cantankerous old man" at now-closed Shackle- ton's downtown — is retired but still works every day because he wants to. He does nothing but restring bows in his corner. He'll pull strands of Mongolian horsehair hanging nearby like a fat tail. He likes the hair to be strong, elastic, not too smooth. Only way to re-hair a bow is by hand. One hundred and sixty-two hairs per bow, and Edwards works fast. He taught himself this traditionally closely guarded secret. He'd dissect bows, see how the hairs lay over the wedges and angles. He has worked on a Tourte, which he describes as "the godfather of all bow makers." He has worked on the famous Dutch violinist Michel Samson's $500,000 17th- and 18th-cen- tury bows, Samson standing beside him as he did it, afterward saying: "Vonderful, you're only one of two people in the world who can do this." "Sometimes I get goosebumps when I pick up a violin," Edwards says. e quality, the history. Some made in the 1600s, 1700s. You look inside and find all of these repair labels. Paris, Budapest. Instruments that have traveled around the world. Sometimes with gypsies. It's like that movie e Red Violin. "en you put in your label and, 100 years from now, someone will read Louisville, Kentucky," he says. "And they're in Moscow or who knows." Lane & Edwards Violins 315 Wallace Ave.

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