Death of a major US luthier

Death of a major US luthier


norman lebrecht

April 07, 2021

The Staten Island instrument maker and expert Bill Monical died two days ago of an unknown cause.

He was the go-to man for anything to do with strings, whether as maker, repairer or detective.

Here’s what Mindy Aloff wrote in a 1990 New Yorker profile:

If you own an important bowed string instrument of the viol family, a sixteenth century lyra da braccio, say, or an eighteenth century Strad, there are a few phone numbers you want to keep at hand in case the instrument somehow goes astray; the FBI’s, Interpol’s, Scotland Yard’s, the Smithsonian Institution’s, and Bill Monical’s, over on Staten Island. Nobody in the eastern half of the United States, and few people in the entire country, can rival Mr. Monical in knowledge of the technology, history, and current whereabouts of pedigreed violins, cellos, violas da gamba, and related instruments.


  • Steve C says:

    I’m very sad to hear the news of Bill’s passing. He was a man of great kindness and integrity, not to mention unparalleled expertise, and I will especially miss hearing his wonderful booming voice.

  • David Sanders says:

    It’s Staten Island, not State Island

  • Tiredofitall says:

    It is STATEN Island, I believe.

    Also, there is an “o” in “unknown”. Spell-check can be your friend.

  • Mindy Aloff says:

    So sorry to learn of Mr. Monical’s passing. It was an honor–as well as a delight–to interview him and to see the musical instruments he had on hand.

  • Tim M. says:

    Wow. I remember Bill M. and Kathy (his wife) from the 1990’s when I worked with Kathy. She used to tell me of their plans for Staten Island to secede and become their own kingdom. Unique, kind people… truly the end of an era.