Luthier Creates the First Vegan Society Certified Violin

Irish-born luthier Padraig O’Dubhlaoidh has crafted a violin according to standards of the Vegan Society and has retained the instrument’s sound quality

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Entirely free of animal products, the vegan violin was made by luthier Padraig O’Dubhlaoidh in his Malvern Hills workshop in England during a COVID-19 lockdown.

According to BBC News, the inlay around the edge of the violin was made from poplar and steamed pear, dyed black. Wild berries and spring water from the Malvern hills behind O’Dubhlaoidh’s workshop were also mixed for the purfling decoration.

The body of the violin is the first in the world to be registered with the Vegan Society’s trademark. Using an £8,000 violin, natural replacements for animal-based glues were applied. 

 

(Image courtesy: BBC News)

 

The Vegan Society is a registered charity and the world’s oldest vegan organization. It was founded in 1944 in the U.K. by Donald Watson, Elsie Shrigley, George and Fay Henderson, among others.

The vegan violin took years of research to complete, amid rising concerns for the environment and is the “culmination of 40-years' experience in violin making, restoration and conservation,” as written on O’Dubhlaoidh’s website.

“I learned a lot about my craft during years of research and ultimately, it was the science of conservation that brought about a series of breakthroughs leading to success,” O’Dubhlaoidh told PBN. “During my experiments, I also discovered that there are unforeseen advantages to a vegan violin.

“Apart from the benefit to animals, society, and our environment, it has become very clear that animal-based glues have harmful effects on violins, inducing powerful tensions on wooden components,” he explained. “The adhesive used in my vegan violins, however, has no such effect. Irrespective of ethics, this is an acoustic improvement,” he deduced.

Crafted with traditional tools and methods, the vegan violin combines new techniques alongside those of history’s greatest violin makers such as Stradivari, Guarneri, and Maggini. 

Historically, the violin and bow have involved horsehair, hooves, horns, and bones for their construction. With vegan violins available, it will not only allow musicians the same or better quality of sound but also raise environmental awareness and protection. 

“This will be music to the ears of so many violinists who have longed for a high-quality instrument that is free from animal products,” said Vegan Society’s marketing manager, Ericka Durgahee.

“Every violin is also completely bespoke with the sound and feel tailored to the player’s individual style and preference,” Durgahee added. “Padraig has done a fantastic job and we’re extremely proud of what he has produced.”

After graduating from the Welsh College of Violin Making, O’Dubhlaoidh served as a violin maker at a leading Austrian conservatoire and collaborated with violinist Eduard Melkus and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

O’Dubhlaoidh’s instruments have been played at high-profile venues, including Buckingham Palace, the White House, Carnegie Hall, and the Royal Albert Hall.

 

Padraig O'Dubhlaoidh (Photo courtesy: BBC News)

 

After being asked to make a vegan violin some years ago, he pondered the idea. “It was an intriguing question,” he told BBC News. “I thought how many vegans are there, potential musicians whose ethics won't allow them to play the violin — it must be awful.

“The world is changing a lot at the moment...particularly the young generation...they’re making big changes in the world and I'm very proud of it.”

A long-time campaigner for sustainable and ethical violin-making, O’Dubhlaoidh is also working to conserve the endangered Amazonian Pernambuco forests used to make violin bows.

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