Warren Bailey is an internationally recognized instrument maker and restoration expert specializing in the violin family including violins, violas and cellos. His more than 15-year tenure in this unique vocation has been spent working for some of the world’s most prestigious violin dealers, private owners, collectors and museums.
From his base in Victoria, Canada, Bailey repairs instruments from throughout the world most frequently from London and New York. Tradition rules in Bailey’s practice, his trade philosophy is conservation, conservation, and conservation. He believes in restoring and maintaining an instrument to its full potential, and often works with instruments that are hundreds of years old. Collaborating on elite instrument makes such as Stradivarius, Del Gesu and Montagnana, Bailey makes a personal connection with the instrument’s owner for each job. This includes traveling to receive the instruments he works on and personally delivering them back to the owner.
Always gifted when it came to working with his hands, British-born Bailey came to the profession first as a woodworker who designed and crafted furniture. He studied the making and repair of instruments in the violin family at England’s Newark and Sherwood College. He began his career in restoration under the guidance of some of the most renowned dealers in the industry such as Florian Leonhard, J&A Beare and W.E. Hills & Sons of London. Bailey has had the honour of restoring instruments originally crafted by some of the fathers of the golden age of violin making such as Antonio Stradivari, G.B Guadagnini, Lorenzo Storioni and Gioffreddo Cappa.
Above all, Bailey feels fortunate to have found his calling. “Each instrument is beautiful and has its own personality,” says Bailey. “The markings tell me a story of craftsmen who have worked on it in the past and I love to unlock the little secrets of its history.” Bailey finds the more repair an instrument needs, the more satisfying the work.
Although he is not a musician himself, Bailey likes nothing more than to hear the instruments he has worked on played in concert once complete. Call it the sound of satisfaction; his work is finished when an instrument has been restored to its past greatness and an audience is mesmerized by the musician’s song.