Charles J. Rufino is a violin maker in New York. Since 1974 he has been immersed in the world of the violin, as apprentice, journeyman, and today, as master craftsman creating concert instruments.


Charles Rufino wedded two great loves – music and woodworking – to find his true vocation, and has spent his life creating concert quality violins, violas, and cellos.


“The process of making a great violin, like the practice of any art to the highest level, is a matter of constantly refining a simple recipe, observing the results, and accruing small improvements. I say recipe deliberately, because making an instrument is akin to fine cuisine: you need the finest materials, a great recipe, and a great chef. Similarly, a great violin requires a select set of well-seasoned wood dried for many years, a proven design, and the sensitive knowledge of an experienced artist to bring the wood and design to life.

A great deal of making an instrument is taking many thousands, tens of thousands of cuts to reveal what is hidden within the wood. This is why a machine cannot make a great violin. Each single cut teaches me more and more about the nature of that particular piece of wood as I bring it to life as an instrument.”

– Charles J. Rufino


Charles’ work has been featured in a wide range of press articles, both in print and online. He is also a noted lecturer on violin making subjects. A selection of writings about and by Charles Rufino can be found here.


Charles Rufino instruments have been featured in live concerts in New York, across the United States, and abroad. His instruments have been heard in live performances with the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and dozens of other orchestras and ensembles. They have been heard in numerous Broadway shows, broadcasts for radio and television, recordings and film scores.


Rufino violins are renowned for tonal and visual beauty, as well as being incredibly comfortable to play. From the judicious selection of wood for each violin, to the final polishing of his lustrous varnish, meticulous attention to detail is a hallmark of Charles Rufino’s work. No detail, however small is considered negligible as each masterpiece is created. The result is a one-of-a-kind work of art, handmade with love, to be cherished for lifetimes.

After the woodwork is nearly done, as the last act before the body is closed up, each instrument is inscribed “Ad maiorem dei gloriam” and signed by the maker.

Charles Rufino has spent a lifetime perfecting an authentic hand-made varnish in the style of the Italian makers of the 17th and 18th Century. These varnishes have never been surpassed for radiance, lustrous splendor, and bringing out the full beauty of the wood. After each coat of varnish they are hung in the sun to cure. After this lengthy process is done the set-up process of installing pegs and tailpiece, fingerboard, bridge and soundpost, and finally strings completes the process of bringing an instrument to life.

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A Charles J. Rufino viola delivers a classic Italian tone for a fraction of the price of an antique instrument. Designed with comfort and sound quality in mind, a Rufino viola boasts a crisp powerful C and a rich, fat A-string that allows it to blend seamlessly with any ensemble of fine instruments.

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A cello designed and crafted by Charles J. Rufino is renowned for being powerful, yet nimble and responsive, as well as remarkably comfortable to play. Inspired by the works of Guarneri Del Gesu, Rufino’s cellos produce a warm and full-throated, even tone on all strings throughout the range of the instrument.

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