Ilja´s Story

Having been born into the tradition of violin making, Ilja decided at 15 to become a violin maker. At 18 he began his apprenticeship (1982-1986) at Geigenbau Machold in Bremen, Germany, where he had the opportunity to not only study under some of Europe’s best violin makers but to do so for  nearly 4 years.

¨This was an experience I do not want to miss. If you work in an excellent workshop for only a short period like an internship or work experience you only touch the surface, but actively working and studying for more than three years gave me in depth knowledge and skills I will never forget ¨

Brisbane Master Violin Maker at his work bench in the violin shop


After receiving his qualifications, he established his own workshop in Germany, concentrating on the making of new instruments & restoration. After moving to Brisbane in 1994 he continued his work as a Violin Maker bringing this beautiful old craft here to your doorstep in Queensland.
Ilja now has his workshop in  Brisbane. He caters to professional musicians, as well as beginners and advanced students , with backgrounds in not only classical education but also folk, jazz, and other types of music. His main workshop is located above his shop, but during opening hours, he prefers to do the finer work at a workbench in his shop window. He welcomes the chance to chat with anyone interested in the art of violin making, and is happy for people to watch while he works.

Apart from selling the full range of bowed stringed instruments, strings, accessories and print music, we do world class repairs,restorations, making of new instruments and set-ups in my workshop.¨

Ilja Grawert in his Brisbane Violin shopViolin shop leftViolin shop right

Looking back on 40 years of experience in serving professional Musicians , I cannot stress enough that it is essential to play a well setup instrument.

Even though it is very beautiful to play a valuable instrument, the quality of the instrument is often not as crucial as the quality of the setup. A well setup cheaper instrument will serve you better than an expensive one with a bad setup.

Many professionals develop shoulder problems, tight muscles in back, arms and neck, as a result of  a poor setup as well as any kind of intonation issues and buzzes,noises etc can be set-up related. I have been specially trained overseas for 4  years at  ´Machold Rare Violins´ to setup and restore instruments for performance on the highest level. Combined with my 28 years of professional experience, I will be able to serve you the best and most professional, here in Brisbane, when it comes to restoration, repairs, setup or advise about any other violin related matters.

For Beginners:
I have seen many kids give up because they or their parents thought that they were not gifted at the violin. Very often these kids didn’t stand a chance because their instruments were unplayable. A so called “professional” setup is not always good enough (Any person earning money assembling instruments can call it a professional setup whether or not they know what they are doing).

Violin Maker Ilja Grawert planing a rib in his workshop in Brisbane AustraliaIlja Grawert Violin Maker cutting a Violin bridge

Every violin needs work on the peg, nut, fingerboard, bridge, soundpost, tailpiece and very often the strings need to be upgraded for good sound. In my shop every instrument gets anywhere between ¾ of an hour and 8 hours of setup work done before it is offered for sale.

When your child begins playing the violin, viola, cello or double bass, it is important to start building up a relationship of trust between you, your child and a violin maker, just as you do with your family doctor. From day one, the setup, as well as the individual fitting to the right sized instrument, the choice of chin rest, and good shoulder rest adjustments can make all the difference as to whether your child continues playing or gives up out of frustration. Inadequate attention to any of these areas can result in shoulder and back pain, as well as negative feelings toward the violin.

When you come to visit me please bring some extra time with you. We always try to take our time to educate you, and we like you to take your time to make the right decision. Please always bring your child/children with you to select an instrument, for individual fitting, as well as for a little 10 minute lecture in “ How to look after your instrument”.

1 thought on “Ilja´s Story

  1. Amazing pictures of how the soundpost is set! Very nice!
    When ever I’m in Australia I’l bring a visit to your shop.

    Best regards

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