My history as an instrument-maker

My family has always worked with wood

I was born 1961 in Veteli, Finland. The music traditions of the Perho river valley formed my childhood surroundings. My enthusiasm for instruments and building them began as a child because our family had always been working with wood.

My grandfather Leander Laasanen (1892–1985) built furniture, established a ski-making factory, made kanteles and a few violins. My father Kullervo Laasanen (1935–) continued with the skis and kanteles. Altogether they have made hundreds of kanteles.

I began playing the violin at the Conservatoire of Central Ostrobothnia as a young boy and kantele a little later under the guidance of my father. There has been a great deal of music in our family. My brother (Antti Laasanen) and many cousins are professional musicians. The family band has taken various forms. The Kaustinen International Folk Music Festival has had its own influence upon our interests.

I became a violinmaker ( luthier ) largely because of my musical interests, following my father's and grandfather's work. When I was quite young I made some kanteles. When studying to play the violin, I became interested in making that instrument too.

I have studied the Italian violin-making tradition

I have studied in Leksand in Sweden from 1986–90 at the Scandinavian violin-making school. I studied under Urs Wenck-Wolff (Norway), Andrea Laber (Germany), Wilhelm Bruckner (Germany), Samuel Zygmuntowicz (USA). We studied the Italian violin-making tradition, which I still follow today.

Since then I have participated in many masterclasses. I was awarded a half-year working grant to design and make modern violins in 1998 from the Arts' Council of the province of Ostrobothnia.

My own workshop

I set up my own workshop in Veteli in 1992 close to Veteli church, not far from Kaustinen.

My work today includes everything to do with violins and kanteles.