Lou was introduced to the fiddle world in 1977 while building a home for Edouard Bartlett, who was retiring as string teacher at an Owen Sound high school. Ed has a long history as a violin player, concertmaster, teacher and maker. At the time he was concertmaster for the local symphony, and had made several instruments from violins to gambas.
Lou's shop includes equipment large enough to saw logs, split cello wedges, and tools to make pegs, tailpieces, endpins and chinrests. Templates, fixtures, etc., followed to supply Ed with plates roughed out complete with purfling, and finished rib assemblies.
His first instrument, a 3/4 violin, was finished in 1987. Players from the Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, to Edmonton, Alberta have LOU CURRAH FIDDLES.
Players performing on Lou's violins have done very well at fiddle competitions. At the 2000 Royal Winter Fair contest in Toronto, the five players playing LOU CURRAH FIDDLES came in first in their age group. Where there was more than one contestant playing a LOU CURRAH FIDDLE in a given age group they placed in ORDER AT THE TOP. In the duet category they placed second and third.
Al Parrish Tanglefoot bassist
I want to thank Lou for building 'Beautiful Joe' for me. I have been playing her for almost two years now and I continue to be thrilled with her appearance, stability, playability and, most of all her sound! Until three years ago I played a custom-made, hand-carved Bartlett bass, which Lou had been involved in creating. I was devastated when it was destroyed in a car accident. I had been so pleased with that instrument and was concerned that I might never find another that I liked as much. I began looking for a replacement, hoping to find an existing bass so that I could get back to playing immediately rather than waiting for another custom-made one. I looked primarily in Toronto, Ottawa and New York City and had the opportunity to play some really fine instruments – in particular there was a German bass, which is about 100 years old, and a 150-year-old French instrument. They were both good, solid, well-established instruments with warm, full-range sound. The French bass had more volume than the German, but neither of them had nearly the voice of the Bartlett. A combination of big, open sound and good projection is very important in my playing since I am not part of a section of basses; I need an instrument which has the size of sound and the projection to “compete” with the instruments of my fellow players. I was feeling a little despondent until a colleague, who has purchased three of Lou Currah’s violins, suggested that I contact him about custom-building me another instrument. Since Lou had done so much of the work on the Bartlett, I was thrilled when he agreed to take on the job. In retrospect, it was well worth the wait! 'Beautiful Joe' has shown herself to have all the points that I loved about the Bartlett plus some important improvements. At almost two years of age she has shown herself to be physically more stable than the Bartlett. There have been no split seams; there has been no cracking of the ribs; the engineering of the new, wooden end-pin makes mechanical operation better and makes a major addition to the resonance of the instrument. To top this off, the back of the instrument is one of the most beautiful pieces of wood I have ever seen! All these important aspects would be nothing without the right sound. Despite her youth, I believe that 'Beautiful Joe' already sounds as good as my previous bass did at five years of age. She projects right to the back of the hall. Under some amplified situations, I have found myself thinking the bass was running through the PA system when it was not; she has that much presence acoustically. Of course sheer volume is not enough and, fortunately Joe has more to offer. Her sound is big and warm and consistent both up and down, and across the finger board. In short, if someone told me that I could go anywhere with an unlimited budget to get my dream instrument, I think I would just go to the music room and take 'Beautiful Joe' off her stand. My sincerest thanks to Lou for creating an amazing instrument. I look forward to sharing my musical life with her for decades and envy those who will be around to hear her playing a century from now! Yours truly, Al Parrish TANGLEFOOT Website: www.alparrish.ca
Chad Wolfe - Champion Fiddler/Stepdancer and Founder of Chad's School of Fiddle and Stepdance, Ontario style fiddling and Ottawa Valley stepdancing
"Looking for a quality, fairly priced instrument is not an easy task, so let me save you some time... just go see Lou Currah! I was looking for a stronger, brighter fiddle with which to perform and teach. After trying a few of Lou's fiddles, I knew that I would soon be a proud owner of one of them. I quickly bonded with mine, and coincidentally, so have my students. They are still commenting on how nice it sounds (not to mention its 'picture perfect' quality)! Lou's fiddles respond well and reward a player's good technique rather than fight against it, which I've seen all too often with student instruments. Lou has been a wealth of information in the fiddle buying process and fiddle maintenance. He very kindly conducted a workshop with my students here in North Bay recently to share some of his knowledge with us, and we are all very grateful. I recommend his instruments, both his own hand made, and repaired instruments to anyone looking to 'get serious' with their music."
Jeff Mols - Past manager and present performing musician with the Georgian Bay Symphony
"I had always felt that to upgrade to a better violin I would have to purchase an older,
rare Italian-made violin. But, after observing many fine professionals playing on newer
instruments, I decided to explore the market.After playing a number of new instruments made
by contemporary, skilled luthiers, I chose a violin that Lou Currah had made using
Canadian maple and spruce. It has made a dramatic difference in my playing and has also in
my enthusiasm for the violin. I now continue my studies with renewed vigor."
Gary Weinger - Gypsy Jive Band Fiddler
"As violinist for the Gypsy Jive Band, I was looking for a violin that could sound good both
acoustically and with electrification. It needed a certain quality of deep sound for melodic
Gypsy strains as well vibrating high tones for strength of sound. I found that violin February
1998 in Lou Currah's collection.
I might add, Lou is great to deal with. He services instruments beautifully and promptly. He's
a great contact."
Keith Kain - Entertainer and Teacher
"I have known Lou Currah for several years and have found him to be a very
amiable, honest and sincere person. He is a conscientious luthier/craftsman and always
strives to oblige his customers. Lou has a great knowledge of instrument construction and
repair, a diversified and large inventory of wood, and a well-equipped workshop. Because
of his attention to detail, his instruments are of excellent quality and produce a great
sound. I am honoured to be a friend of Lou and his wife Shirley and am proud to own and play
one of his fine violins."
Patrick Wieler developed his passion for the fiddle at the age of eight, after three years of Suzuki violin. With encouragement from family and teachers Mark Sullivan and Scott Woods, Patrick entered fiddle contests. These contests have shaped his old tyme fiddle skills and led to many wonderful friendships. He has received many awards for his age category, including first place honours at Pembroke and Shelburne fiddle contests, Royal Conservatory Grade 4 violin, and second and third place honours at Shelburne together with his sister Erika in twin fiddle. For the past four years he has been performing with his family band "Fiddlestep" at parties, fairs, festivals and galas. In 2003 he had the privilege of performing with John Allen Cameron on the national CTV show Canada AM. Patrick’s comment about his fiddle was, "I have had a lot of success performing and competing with my Lou Currah violin over the last four years. It has a rich sound and is easy to play, which makes practising much more fun!"