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Lillo Salerno: Master Luthier

Lillo Salerno: Master Luthier

Lillo Salerno and his dog

The Long Island Violin Shop is pleased to announce that we have two violins for sale, crafted by Cremonese trained master violin maker, Lillo Salerno. Mr. Salerno grew up in Pforzheim, Germany, but is a native of Sicily, Italy. As an alum of both the International School of Violin Making Cremona and the Violin Making School of Mittenwald, Mr. Salerno’s craftsmanship is heavily influenced by both the Italian and the German violin making styles. Mr. Salerno was gracious enough to answer a few questions from LIVS, allowing us an inside perspective on his history and how this affects the instruments he crafts. 


Lillo Salerno held an affinity for crafts and nature since he was a child. In his youth, Mr. Salerno watched a documentary about Antonio Stradivari. This movie sparked a curiosity that remains within Mr. Salerno to this day. In 1998, Lillo Salerno traveled to Cremona, Italy and visited great violin making shops and schools. In the same year, Mr. Salerno enrolled at the International School of Violin Making Cremona, where he studied until 2002. In these four years, Mr. Salerno received world class training at the Italian school of violin making. Due to these formative years, his instruments are highly indicative of the traditional Cremonese school.

Once Lillo Salerno graduated from the Cremonese school, he began studying in Mittenwald, Germany, while also working in a well known violin shop. From 2002-2004, he learned the German violin making ideology. With a vast knowledge of both the Italian school and the German school of violin making, Lillo Salerno uses his amassed knowledge to craft his fine instruments.

What Makes Lillo Salerno Special

Mr. Salerno is a craftsman truly dedicated to his customers. Having both a master line of instruments and a workshop line allows for individuals with varying budgets access to his fine instruments. Every instrument Mr. Salerno makes is a handmade Italian instrument with well aged and carefully selected tonewood. The instruments are all coated in an oil varnish. Mr. Salerno prefers instruments with ‘a balanced, broad, and far-reaching tone’. 

In the Salerno Master violin line, he uses wood that is on average 80-100 years old. Typically, these violins are made with a one piece maple back, and sometimes a one piece top of spruce. 

Mr. Salerno takes the time to address his customers' wishes, making adjustments to instruments to match their taste. Additionally, when asked what piece of advice he wishes he could tell his younger self, he replied “I would advise him to travel more, in order to learn more languages. To be able to help and to understand all customers who don't speak my languages”. Mr. Salerno’s personal desire to please his customers is part of what makes him unique.

The Pforzheim Workshop

Lillo Salerno grew up in Pforzheim, Germany, and now runs an exceptional workshop from this location. Pforzheim is known for its jewelry industry and is nicknamed ‘gate to the black forest’. Lillo Salerno has a clear love for Pforzheim, and of course his shop. Mr. Salerno deeply enjoys his business and says that one of his favorite moments is listening to the first sounds of an instrument he's crafted. Violin making is a time consuming, historic art. After spending hundreds of hours making an instrument, there is no greater satisfaction than to hear the music that the instrument is capable of creating. 

Mr. Salerno is not only a professional violin maker, but also a man with a passion for historical instruments and string instrument restoration. In Pforzheim, Mr. Salerno can explore this passion in great depth.

When Mr. Salerno is not crafting a beautiful violin, talking to someone in German, Italian, or English, he enjoys spending time with his family, and his dog, Gina!

At LIVS, we are extremely grateful for Mr. Salerno, who kindly used his extremely valuable time to answer some questions for us. Do not hesitate to stop by our Huntington store to check out our two violins from the Sicilian-born master violin maker, Lillo Salerno.

Article written by Erica Garcia

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