Third generation violin maker Eric Benning (b. 1971) completed his first violin at age 11 at Studio City Music, the Los Angeles, California violin workshop founded in 1953 by his grandfather Paul Toenniges, and inherited by his parents, luthiers Nancy Toenniges and Hans Benning in 1978. After studying in Wisconsin with his second cousin, the esteemed maker and restorer Carl Becker Jr., Benning returned home to manage his parents' renowned business, which was once patronized by such luminaries as violinist Jascha Heifetz, and now serves Southern California's vast and distinguished string playing community as "Benning Violins."
Also known for their philanthropy, the Benning family has for many years donated instruments and music lessons for children in communities in Baja, California; Benning Academia de Musica is a school founded in their name in 2010 by former student and violinist Tito Quiroz. Eric's brother, Brian Benning, is a prominent violinist as well as violin maker, and his son, Nathan Benning, is also a budding maker. Eric Benning's instruments are played by professional musicians worldwide.