Paolo Scarampella (1803-1870), father of Giuseppe and Stefano, was a carpenter and, it appears, an amateur violin maker in the parish of Sant'Alessandro in Brescia. The family was poor, and both of Paolo's sons helped him in the workshop. At the encouragement of violinist Antonio Bazzini, Giuseppe went to Genoa to be apprenticed to Nicolò Bianchi, and later refined his violin-making skills in Paris. By 1866 Giuseppe was in Florence working for Luigi Castellani (1809-1884). In 1884 he had taken over from Castellani the curatorship of the superb collection of string instruments of the Cherubini Conservatory. Giuseppe died in Varese in 1902, aged 64.
Giuseppe's younger brother Stefano remained in Brescia with his father, but always referred to himself as a pupil of Giuseppe, whom he greatly admired. As early as 1863 Stefano had copied for Giuseppe the 1786 publication by Antonio Bagatella, Regole per la costruzione de' violini viole e violoncelli ('Rules for constructing violins, violas and cellos'), suggesting that he already had a keen interest in violins. Although practically no instruments by Stefano are known from much before the mid-1880s, it is likely that he dabbled in violin making or repairing from the early to mid-1860s while living in Brescia, where he was registered professionally as a carpenter and also a shopkeeper.