Instruments & Gear: Vintage Vault

1893 Jerome Bonaparte Squier Violin

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Laurie Lewis discusses her favorite fiddle.

by Teja Gerken
October 11, 2018

As a former violin shop owner, acclaimed bluegrass songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Laurie Lewis knows a great fiddle when she sees one. Such was the case when she came across the 1893 Jerome Bonaparte Squier she discusses in this video.  

J.B. Squier was born in Ohio, and was a shoemaker before starting to build violins in Boston, Massachusetts. “Apparently, when he started making instruments for the Boston symphony players, they said he had to stop being a shoemaker,” Laurie says.

Laurie found the violin when a friend was trying out a set of five fiddles from the Geoffrey Seitz shop in St. Louis, Missouri  “He tried them for a few days, he fell in love with one fiddle, and he bought it. I said, ‘Let me see what you have left,’ and this was one of them. The minute I played it, it was like it reached inside of me and squeezed my heart,” she says. The instrument needed a bit of work, including a new fingerboard, but it has been Laurie’s main instrument for about 15 years. “I just don’t want another fiddle,” she says. In this video, Laurie also discusses her current musical projects, which include her latest CD, The Hazel and Alice Sessions, recorded with her band the Right Hands.

You can see more of Laurie in Peghead Nation’s Fiddle Styles Workshop, hosted by Brittany Haas. In her workshop segment, Laurie discusses her approach to songwriting and fiddling, and teaches the tune “Burley Coulter’s Song for Kate Helen Branch.”

To learn from Brittany and her esteemed guests, as they teach some of their favorite tunes and techniques, enroll in the Fiddle Styles Workshop today.

Category: Instruments & Gear

Comments and Discussion

Posted by Arthur Barry on
I have a nice Squier violin number 191 from 1891. Have had it for 40 years and still play it all the time.
Posted by James Lucal on
I have a JB Squier made in 1886 in Boston. Got it in 1979 from an old guy who worked on violins, in Willington Connecticut. I love it!
I'm interested in genealogy. It's cool you are related to him!
Posted by Millie Rahn on
I'm a folklorist in Boston looking for more info on Squier, the luthier, particularly his time in Boston. Where on Washington Street was his shop? Anybody know? Any other source of information? There's a J.B. Squier violin in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts. Haven't seen it yet. Feel free to contact me directly. Thanks.
Millie Rahn,
Posted by Lois Squires on
who else today owns a JbSquier violin? He is my 3Greats Uncle. Or knows the where about of a JBSquier violin. I know one of the Celtic Women’s groups has one she affectionately calls her J.B.

Thank you
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