In the mid 1970s, Ray Melanson studied art and violin performance at the University of Lowell in Massachusetts. At the suggestion of one of his professors, who saw his potential for woodworking, Ray enrolled in courses at the University of Rhode Island to study bow repair and rehairing with Arnold Bone, and violin repair with Hans Nebel. In the early 1980s, he traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to study violin making with Peter Paul Prier at the Violin Making School of America. During that time and after graduating, Ray worked in the Prier workshop doing repairs and restorations.
In 1983, Ray returned to Massachusetts to found the Violin Making and Repair program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. He taught at NBSS for four years, while continuing to restore stringed instruments and build his own violins, violas, and cellos. He now maintains his own workshop in Rochester, MA.
Melanson's violins have been distinguished by 14 awards received at the International Violin Making competitions held by the Violin Society of America. Three of his instruments have won silver medals for tone, and most recently, he won a Gold Medal for tone at the 2012 Art of Sound International Competition. During his 30 years as a violin maker, he has built over 300 instruments, 80 of them cellos. His instruments are owned by musicians all over the world, including many well-known soloists, as well as recording artists and players in major symphony orchestras.