The Violin Society of America – which brings together the top luthiers – has just finished a week long conference in Portland, Oregon, USA. Among the more interesting instruments were several made from or incorporating balsa wood in their construction to give a lightweight responsive violin. And they don’t stop with the traditional shape either!

Weigang Li first violinist of the Shanghai Quartet tested out a violin-sized viola made by David Rivinus that resembled a Dali painting or a violin that melted in the heat – it has the upper left and bottom right bouts stretched to give a good plate area for depth of tone, and, according to Weigang it works really well.