Cambridge man’s violin-making videos a TikTok hit
KITCHENER -- Taylor Lethbridge has become a TikTok star thanks to his passion for stringed instruments.
The Cambridge man is a luthier, a person who builds and repairs violins, violas and cellos.
Lethbridge had to close his shop to the public, which he runs out of his home, because of the pandemic.
So he took his talents to social media, sharing tips and tricks of the craft with an online audience.
“I set out to make it more accessible, and still be goofy, but also you know, go: ‘Hey, here’s what things are’ and why they are that way,” he says.
Lethbridge’s videos racked up hundreds, and then thousands of views on TikTok.
In one, he has this suggestion: “Quick tip: If your strings keep breaking, colour in the string slot on the bridge and also the string slot in the nut with a pencil. A regular writing pencil will do, but an artist’s drawing charcoal works as well. The graphite of the pencil provides a little bit of lubrication so your stings won’t bind up and they’ll be less prone to breakage.”
Lethbridge says he turned to TikTok as a way to share his passion for stringed instruments, as well as the craftsmanship, science and math that goes into making each one.
“This is sort of a convenient combination of all three of those,” he says. “You need to calculate the modulus rupture of wood, the modulus elasticity and density, and then calculate thickness from there.”
Lethbridge started out as a chef but took up woodworking when he was in university.
The hobby quickly shifted to making instruments, even though he can no longer play them.
As a teen, Lethbridge suffered a stroke during a surgical procedure to remove a brain tumour. It left him with limited mobility in his left hand.
Grace Snippe, an apprentice luthier, says Lethbridge has been an inspiration to her and others.
“He’s somebody that taught himself how to do everything from the ground up. I love how accessible he makes it feel for all of us.”
-- With reporting by Jessica Smith