The South Coast is home to a music man who has helped entertain audiences around the world, even though he isn’t a performer. He spends months at a time making (by hand) the instruments used by some of the world’s best musicians.
In a little cottage hidden among the orchards outside of Ojai, Brian Lisus makes violins, as well as violas and cellos, for musicians around the world.
Lisus is from South Africa. In the 1970’s, he went to England to learn the craft, and has been doing it ever since.
A key part of the instrument making process is choosing the wood he will use. Most of his violins are commissioned projects, so he works with the eventual owner on what they want from the instrument’s sound.
Lisus moved to the area five years ago. He initially landed in Santa Barbara, before finding a cottage outside of Ojai which is his home and workshop.
He shares his passion with people interested in what’s an art form in itself, offering classes which allow people to make their own violins. Retired surveyor and engineer Robin Villa made a violin under the craftsman’s supervision, something which turned into a 500-hour, $8000 project. He loved it so much he’s now working on another one.
Lisus plays the violin and cello himself, but admits he prefers making the instruments than performing with them. His violins are now in use by musicans in orchestras, and smaller groups around the world. Lisus says even if he won the lottery, he’d still make instruments, because he loves doing it.
You can find a link to Lisus Violins webpage with his audio book and information on violin classes here.