Mark Bluett got really frustrated making his first stringed instrument when he was 12.

"The instrument ended up in the fireplace," he said. "Actually, I got so mad, I ended up burning it."

In a blind test at Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University many years later, one of Bluett's handmade violins competed against instruments that were 200 years old and worth $150,000.

"They all picked mine as the best instrument, and it was a week old," Bluett said.

His humble beginning came 25 years ago this month in his brother's dining room. In that time, Bluett has crafted 220 handmade violins, and a total of about 1,400 stringed instruments.

He's the artist behind Bluett Brothers Violins in Spring Garden Township, where custom violins sell for about $6,000.

His creations sing their songs in symphonies, teach students at the Peabody Institute, play country music in Nashville, and fiddle for the Irish.

For this luthier, as he refers to himself, it all boils down to one thing.

"When you string it up, and the joy of hearing it . . . that's what I live for."

About Bluett Brothers

What: Bluett Brothers Violins
Where: 122 Hill Street in Spring Garden Township
Tours: Available by appointment
Contact: 854-9064
Of note: The business celebrates its 25th anniversary this month