Roberto Furnari

Violin Making & Dendrochronology


Based in The Hague, The Netherlands, I am a violin maker and restorer specialising in the dendrochronological analysis of stringed instruments.

After my training under Nadia Mantovani and Luca Primon at the Milan School of Violin Making, I joined the workshop of Willem Bouman in The Hague from 1997 until 2010. During that period I gathered valuable experience in maintenance, restoration and sound adjustment of stringed instruments.

Following a four year break, in which time I focused mainly on dendrochronological research, I returned to violin making at Maas & Achttienribbe in Amsterdam in 2015.

In 2018 I set up my own company and workshop in The Hague.

From early on in my career, my daily work on fine old violins had raised questions regarding the traditional way of establishing age and origin of an instrument on the basis of its stylistic features. Although a reliable method in many cases, I felt that the subjectivity of this approach inevitably introduced the possibility for misjudgements.

My concerns about traditional expertise prompted me to consider a more rigorous approach with regard to violin authentication. A method that would enable me to establish the age of wood seemed most suitable to dispel at least some of my doubts.


Motivated by the desire to find an objective tool when it comes to the appraisal of stringed instruments, in 2005 I began my research in the field of dendrochronology.

My initial attempts to establish the age of violin soundboards using reference data from publicly available sources were often inconclusive. As it turned out, the key to successful dating of musical instruments lay in a dedicated database for resonance wood set up from data of previously dated instruments.

My everyday work as a violin maker greatly facilitated the collection of the required reference data. Today my database includes more than 3000 data sets, providing a solid foundation for dendrochronological investigations.

Although in many cases attributions of instruments based on traditional expertise do withstand a dendrochronological test, over the years it became obvious that my original concerns about stylistic expertise were not entirely unfounded - a significant number of instruments indeed proved not to be what they were claimed to be.

Investigations of other researchers in the field seem to reach the same conclusion. It is therefore not surprising that leading auction houses and violin dealers increasingly commission dendrochronology reports for additional piece of mind when offering valuable instruments for sale. Private owners are also often interested in reliable information about their instrument.

In order to meet the increased demand for scientific insights in the field of instrument appraisal, I have offered dendrochronological investigations as a service since January 2018.

If you would like a dendrochronological report for your instrument or if you have questions about dendrochronology in general, please feel free to get in touch.