The Master

As a trained scientist, intented to become an optician like his father, Yann Poulain is a methodical rational. Passionate about brick games in his early childhood, he then developed his first constructions. At the age of reason, he builds them with the means at hands, in the garden of the family home. Thus, he became passionate for woodworking… Being the grandson of an amateur violinist, Yann also studied the architecture of his grandfather’s instrument with increasing interest… Until he ordered order his first set and a few gouges for his thirteenth Christmas.

Expo Stradivarius Musée Fabre

 Stradivarius exhibit at the Fabre Museum

As a rigorous teenager, he learns about the essences that make the instruments and finds the right wood on which he practices to master the tools. Meticulously, he makes his first violin. « I’ve always enjoyed working alone, to go further in my thinking, to be very sure of my decisions, » he smiles. His parents though this was just a hobby but Yann Poulain decided otherwise.


After getting his scientific section baccalaureate, he went on an intense cabinet-making training to make himself at ease with this craftmanship. He then joined the School of Newark, England.  At 21 years old he graduates as a luthier and starts as an assistant in England, then Berlin, Nantes and he finally choose Montpellier because of the notoriety of its workshops. For four years he honed his knowledge before opening his own worshop in 2005, age 26. 

Paroles d'instrument 01 2013

 Introducing « Paroles d’Instrument » concert with Christophe Gaugué (alto) and Catherine Garonne (piano)


In his small workshop in Place Ste Anne, Yann poulain now signs around ten violins, cellos and altos a year. Discreet, he works with serioussness while he is inhabited by an inner joy that radiates when he speaks about his craftmanship. To him it’s a challenging profession that is always a matter of research,  from a technical or historical point of view, in drawing, sculpture or the science of varnish.

In his own words, the work is a pleasure: « The blade sings on woods that each have such a unique sound and a different shine under the cut »… The smell of  epicea, the grain of the erable, the ochre color of the willow, the hardness of the ebony… Every move create sensations and feeds the mind, just as well as fellowship inbetwen other local luthiers. In Sainte-Anne, Yann is direct neigbor of his confreres Frédéric Chaudière, Nicolas Gilles and Wolfman Neurether. Friends, accomplices and partners to lead the Académie internationale de musique de Montpellier. This quatuor of craftmen loves to exchange opinions about their work, to share knowhow as well as their methods, discoveries or building  a cello together to refund their association.

 with curator A. Mosconi at the Cremona Stradivari Museum

Therefore it’s only natural that Yann Poulain shared with them first his theory regarding the « ventral pin » of the Cremona Violins… A navel that would only be the mark of a hold. In reference to the cabinetmaker of the Renaissance : « Having little to no grip or press, they worked against a stop », the young researcher says. Making it a matter of , the Poulain’s hypothesis is only pure logic. « During the XVIIIth century, a luthier was not an artist but a worker in huge workshop were tools were hard to get. »


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