Baptiste Weber always wanted to do something with music – but not music. So instead, he spent three years building violins and cellos, repairing and restoring them, getting closer to the instrument. He became a luthier. Seven years ago, he joined the atelier of Gilles Chancereul, close to the Jardin Luxembourg in the heart of Paris. But over the centuries, the craft has stayed largely the same: while other professions have been revolutionized by technology, no machine has been invented yet which could replace the vigor and precision that comes with experience.
Other things however have changed: When Gilles opened his atelier in 1978, there were some 70 luthiers in the whole of France, he remembers. Today, there are almost five hundred. While the craft has stayed the same, competition has intensified. And this competition extends around the world: In the last decade, new markets have opened up in the far East, with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean musicians coming to Paris in search for an experienced Luthier who knows how to build an instrument that fits their notions of good sound.