Home  Instruments  Strings  Accessories  Luthiere  Catalog  Rent  Bows  Cases 301-805-9407
Our tonewood gives Prodigy a naturally sophisticated tonal quality and spectacular appearance

Is your current instrument producing exactly the sound you’ve been working so hard for? Would your students make swifter progress if their string instruments weren’t holding them back? With scholarships, careers and thunderous applause on the line, your choice of instrument could be the most important decision you make this year. Choose an instrument that was born to make musicians sound better, a Prodigy instrument.

Prodigy string instruments are created with one overriding goal: to take talented student musicians to their next level of performance. Our instruments are individually crafted by hand to exacting specifications. They are specifically designed and set up to help you play your best. We travelled the world to find the woods and hardware that give a Prodigy instrument a clear rich sound. This is a sound that will impress everyone who hears it.

Why are more expensive string instruments said to have a “Flame”?

The Golden Age Italian Master violin-makers, or “Luthiers” preferred to use maple for instrument backs and sides. One characteristic of maple is that some trees have wood with beautiful figures in it. These figures seem to shimmer and move when the light angle changes or the wood moves. This is called the “flame.” Not all maple has flame. And flame can be found in different amounts in different pieces of wood.

Luthiers have long valued flamed maple because of its rarity. Therefore, flamed maple is usually used for building more expensive string instruments . Flamed maple doesn’t necessarily sound any better than plain maple. But over the centuries, the tradition of reserving the prettier wood for the more valuable instruments has resulted in a general belief that instruments with flamed maple backs and sides are better string instruments.

In Europe, wood ideally suited to beautiful string instruments is sometimes difficult to find. But in China, Prodigy found brilliantly flamed maple in abundance. Thus we make your instrument from a quality of wood that would be the envy of any European Luthier.

How trees become tonewood

To truly understand where Prodigy gets its signature sound, we have to begin at the sawmill. Most tonewood is cut into quarters . This means, the wood is cut in half lengthwise, and then in half again, ninety degrees off axis from the original cut. The quartered wood appears from the ends to be shaped like a slice of pie, one right angle, opposite an arc. (see illustration 1)

Cutting the wood into quarters is the most efficient way to get a lot of good quality tonewood without a lot of waste. Spruce, used for making tops, is virtually always quarter cut, and normally maple is too. In some cases, maple or other hardwoods are cut into slabs. (see illustration 2) There is far more waste involved with this method of cutting wood. But the resulting slabs often have spectacular flame . It is often possible to make beautiful one-piece backs from larger slabs.

Whether cut into quarters, or slabs, tonewoods must be patiently seasoned before they can be used . Wood is seasoned by being carefully cut, stacked and properly stored for a long period of time. The ends are often covered in wax to prevent the moisture in the wood from oozing out of the end of the cut grain. Instead moisture evaporates slowly through the sides of the wood. If wood dries too quickly, internal stresses can develop. In these situations, cracks may spontaneously appear along the grain as the wood shrinks from the rapid loss of moisture.

Makers of fine string instruments, including Prodigy, won’t use wood unless it’s been seasoned for at least five years . Most agree that it’s preferable to use wood that’s as old as possible.

Only after being seasoned for many years can a piece of wood be crafted into a Prodigy instrument

Quarters of seasoned spruce and maple are sawn in half lengthwise. The wide edges are planed flat and glued to each other. (See illustration 3) This is called bookmatching, because it’s as if the piece of wood were opened up like a book. The wider part of the wood, represented as the book’s spine, becomes the joint between the two pieces. This results in a strong piece of wood that is tall in the middle and short at the edges, perfect for the arched shape of the tops and backs of string instruments.

There’s more to tonewood than meets the eye

Some other examples of tonewoods which are often overlooked are the ones not easily visible: the ones inside the instrument. But if you peer through the f-holes, you can see some of these important parts of your Prodigy instrument. Blocks and linings are often made from spruce, willow or poplar because they need to be light and strong. You can also see the soundpost through the f-holes. This is a dowel of fine-grained spruce that has important structural and tonal roles to perform.

The last piece of tonewood imperative to the instrument’s function is the bridge. Prodigy bridges are made from quarter sawn maple, and are cut by hand . The dark flecks between the grain lines on the bridge are called “Spiegel.” They are a sign of quality. A bridge with lots of evenly spaced flecks is prized by Luthiers.

Cutting and seasoning tonewood is the first step in the process of crafting Prodigy string instruments. See the other steps that make Prodigy a superior choice.

From the woodworkers who cut and season the tonewoods to the Luthier who sets up each instrument before shipping, our team has one common goal: making you sound better. Meet the people who have chosen building Prodigy instruments as their life’s work.

Our tonewoods are naturally found in China. But there are many other reasons why students and teachers agree our Asian instruments are often preferable to European instruments.

"These instruments are extremely well made and have a beautiful tone quality. I would recommend these violins to any of my fellow performers, teachers, and students."

-Cindy Crumb
Orchestra Teacher
Fairfax, Virginia

"As a teacher of high school students, I am always looking to find excellent instruments for a good price. I can recommend instruments of this quality without reservation. In fact, I'll be using one myself for touring and some of my own performances."

-Eric deWaardt
Violist National Symphony Orchestra


"Excellent playability, mellow tone, subtle response, and dynamic projection make this outfit a definitive favorite with our review team..."
-Strings Magazine
Review of Eastman Strings - maker of Prodigy Instruments

100% Satisfaction
Guaranteed for the first 7 days of ownership. If you're not fully satisfied, return the product in new condition and receive a full refund with no questions asked. Please click here to for the full return policy.

Lifetime Warranty!

Light items on orders $20 and above is Free in USA and $19.95 internationally
Home | Products | About Us | Contact Us | Site Map