John Derbyshire, Luthier @JDLuthiery
When Enrico Savoncelli, our former luthier, decided to return to his hometown of Verona, Italy, we were very sad to see him go but understood that after several years in London, it was time to take his experience and knowledge back home.
Luckily for us, a customer introduced us John Derbyshire thinking that he would be a good fit for Dots. How right he was. We couldn't be happier with his expertise and approach to repairing, restoring, and renovating stringed instruments.
Please meet John Derbyshire, Dots Music new luthier.
John grew up in rural village in Lincolnshire where he first picked up the violin in school lessons. When he announced to his family that he was learning to play, he discovered that his father had played in his youth and had kept the violin. After dusting off the old instrument, he presented it to John, who ended up caring for it for most of his formative years and on into college.
While studying music technology and performing arts he learned to mimic guitar solos on the fly on his violin pushing the boundaries of his classical studies. Not long after, he discovered a love for another musical genre. Thanks to Mumford & Sons, acoustic folk and progressive bluegrass inspired a new generation of fiddle players. You can often hear the music of Chris Thile or the Rodeo Goat Sessions album wafting up from below the floorboards at Dots when John is in the workshop. When John tests a violin, he’ll usually pull out a jig or a reel.
Motivated with a renewed passion, John decided to further pursue music performance at Liverpool University. In his first year he was advised to upgrade his instrument and acquire a violin that would carry him to a more professional standard. Dad’s violin had served its purpose, it was time to move on.
It was in the backroom of a Nottingham music shop when a revelation occurred. While trying out different violins to replace the old one, he was astounded by the difference in sound and feel all the violins had. While they were all pretty much shaped similarly, same number of strings, etc. he found that on playing, each one was unique. He discovered the subtle nuanced sounds different woods make, he noticed how certain bows affected the string’s vibration, he discovered how the shape and hardness of the bridge could change the resonant tone in the body. And there, in the backroom of a music shop, a luthier emerged. He walked out of the shop with a new violin and new purpose.
John built his first violin over the last two years at Liverpool University to better understand the process of woodwork (of which he had no previous experience), and still managed to graduate with a first in music. He attended the prestigious Newark International School for Violin Making, one of only a handful of international schools that offer luthiery education, and completed his training in the summer of 2017.
In the short time since he obtained his certification, he has started his own business, JD Luthiery, and found residency at the workshop at Dots Music Shop in Camden. He sells his beautifully restored violins at Dots and offers general repairs and renovations for violins, violas, and cellos.
"I want to provide a very high quality service that people are pleasantly surprised by. Some workshops can be intimidating. I want to create an atmosphere where anyone can feel comfortable. You cannot work on an instrument without understanding the player.”
John Derbyshire, JD Luthiery
With his commitment to helping families and learners begin their musical journey, John has seamlessly joined the Dots team and we are very proud to have his influence in our growing business.