About Jan Shelley
Restoration and Repair
Violas and Cellos
Selected Instruments of Merit
The gallery



Unlike the violin, the viola has never been standardised. It is found in a range of sizes, from 15 inches to over 17 inches. Through building a number of different models over the years I now concentrate on five particular sizes which have proven to have significantly superior tonal properties. My instruments are played by many professional violists in a number of leading orchestras worldwide.

Players are welcome to visit and try out these instruments, and can discuss options such as one or two piece backs, or thinner necks, when commissioning an instrument, so that suitable tonewoods can be selected.

Byrom Model:

This is a smaller viola, of 15 ¾ inches body length, based on a 1902 viola by George Byrom, of Renshaw Street in Liverpool, and built on his original mold and templates. Although of a shorter body length this is compensated by the width of the lower bouts at 9 1/2 “ Byrom was the teacher of Laurence Naisby, a well known Liverpool maker and restorer who inherited all Byrom’s tools, and it is nice to think that there is some continuity in violin making in the City of Liverpool, as I acquired the mold and templates following his demise.

Mantegazza Model:

This 16” viola is based on a 1750 viola by the Mantegazza brothers of Milan. They were rightly famed for their violas in their own lifetimes. Again this viola is quite wide at 9 ½ inches.

Stradivari Small Model:

Based on the 1715 viola in the Russian State Collection, this viola is built on the same mold as the Gibson Strad. It has a back length of 16 1/16 inches.

Archinto Model:

This is based on the Stradivari viola of 1716 with a back length of 16 ¼ inches.

Shelley Model:

This is my own model, based on a Stradivari instrument with a back length of 16 ½ inches.

Selected Older Instruments

I usually have a number of older instruments in stock at any one time. These have been chosen by me because of their tonal properties and ease of playing. Currently I am able to offer the following Violas:

William Smith, London, 1783.

This is a small viola with a back length of 15 ¼ inches. The tone is excellent, belying its’ small size.

Arthur Danby, Somerset, 1950.

Length of back 16 3/8 inches. A nice example of this maker’s work.

Compagnon, JTL Factory, Mirecourt ca. 1900.

Length of back 16 1/8 inches.

Saxony, ca. 1900.

Length of back 16 3/8 inches.

New Instruments

Shelley Workshop Model. This is a viola with a back length of 15 ¾ inches, with excellent tonal properties and highly recommend for younger/smaller players.

Jay Haide.

These violas are available in 15 ¼, 15 ½ and 15 ¾ inch sizes.

Chinese Handmade Instruments.

These are made from selected tonewoods and are hand varnished and set up by me. They represent excellent value and are available in 15 ¾ and 16 inch sizes.

6 Sandheys Terrace
L22 7RR

0151 928 9698


Please note I endeavor to check my mails regularly, but if you have anything more than a general enquiry please phone me.

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