Michael Darnton

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About Michael Darnton

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  1. You're right--cutting the stuff out of the ends of the f-holes is an easy job. If it's not done you'll find it to be a very probable cause of mysterious buzzes. Judging by the "quality" (using the term loosely :-) of the varnish job, the person who "fit" the pegs may have just neglected to saw the sticking-out ends off and finish them off. Nevertheless, you might want the job to be redone by someone who knows what he's doing, or have the present ones refit and properly finished. : Hello! Have been loving the board for the past 6 months. I'm an adult learner (31) new to the violin. I
  2. Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought the original post referred to neck centering, not string spacing or neck length. Both of those problems are very easily dealt with, without a neckset, usually. Only violinists get really worried about body length, string length and string spacing--violists switch these things with almost every different instrument they buy, and the cello situation is only slightly better. If that's the problem, don't worry at all! : : I am actually overjoyed with the way my violin sounds. There were times when I thought that I might be able to do better, but trips
  3. : Debatable point-- not only do you have pure Strad men like Joachim, Oistrakh and others to contend with, but also the fact that most Guarneri partisans have also owned Strads. In contrast, Strad men seem not to be tempted by the Guarneri siren. Let's not forget that only 20% of Strad owners can own a del Gesu, even if all del Gesus were to go to Strad owners. Of course you can come up with players who prefer Strads--against them I'll put Paganini, Kreisler, Heifetz, and a lot of other top shelf del Gesu owners. Traditionally, a del Gesu has been the step-up instrument for Strad owners--t
  4. With a bit of age, I'd say they were almost inevitable. : Would you say saddle cracks and wing cracks are the most common?
  5. Whether your violin will respond at all to a neck set depends very much on the violin. As Stefan said, it you are happy with the sound and response of your violin you should leave it alone, but as little as 1/2mm wrong in the position of a neck or bridge can have significant results on the sound of very sensitive instruments. There is usually a "sweet spot" where a violin suddenly sounds its best, and that spot is usually with the strings running perfectly straight (on average) down the center of the instrument. On really fine violins, deviating from this can ruin the sound of the instrument;
  6. On the other hand, it could just be that del Gesus are better violins than Strads--the top players from Paganini on to the present seem to have preferred them. . . . .Oliviera proves himself to be such a Guarneri man. Not just objectively (it says in the notes that he plays a del Gesu full time), but subjectively. He pulls nuances out of the Guarneris that he simply couldn't get out of the Strads. . . .
  7. Are you sure it's moved? Just because there's a pencil mark there, doesn't mean that's the only place it's ever been, or been recently. If it sounds OK to you, leave it (if it's not broken, don't fix it.) : Hi, : Forgive me yet another soundpost query, but none of : the old posts on this subject answered my question: : My soundpost appears to have shifted slightly -- I : can now see a pencil outline around where it apparently : used to be on the back of the violin. The soundpost : still appears to be more or less straight (that is, : perpendicular to the back & top), and
  8. I've seen about 80 Strads. I think three of them did not have soundpost cracks in the top. Usually a post crack is not the first one a violin gets; many of those 80 violins would have had 15 or 20 cracks on their tops, some might have had only four or five. Tops are particularly vulnerable (a 2.5mm thick piece of very soft wood, holding up 25 pounds of pressure from the bridge, and up top 75 pounds at the ends), and generally are simply an accident waiting to happen. Backs usually fare much better. Was I the dealer who told you that? I've certainly said it enough, myself. :-) Cracks are propor
  9. What you see is actually 100s of years of abuse--wear and overdone polishing. Here's a picture of a Guarneri which probably NEVER was polished. Modern makers who have familiarity with the way the old violins originally looked often try to replicate this look, rather than the over-polished one. These days it's considered in very bad taste to take an instrument with any trace of that original texture and try to make it look like a bartop. : Whenever I look at the Strads or Gaurneris of virtuoso : players on TV while they are playing, they look very new. : I have been wondering how hundreds
  10. In general, curved surfaces are strong, and flat ones are weak. This is used in cars, for instance to make thin panels of metal stiff. Wood is an unusual substance in that it does not act the same in all directions. For instance while it's sometimes possible to roll a guitar top up from sided to side into a tube, you could never do the same end to end, because spruce is much stiffer in length than width. Thinking about that, you can see that it that same guitar top were flat, suspended over a hole, if you tried to stand on it, it would probably collapse, and you can guess in which direction
  11. Try 0000 steel wool, then make sure you get it ALL off! Don't feel like you have to get off every last zit, or you'll go too far. If you heat your varnish up to thin it out then maybe you can filter it so this won't happen next time. : Hello, : Well, on the violin I'm varnishing, in the most recent coat of oil varnish I have a problem. This is not the final coat. The varnish in the jar has become contaminated with some sort of dirt and fuzz. The result is that the violin has a coat that is now furry in some places. It isn't acceptable. : I think I have two choices. First is to rub
  12. No, they were given that number by a dealer who was basing his number on private sales. He didn't, however, say what number he was adding $1.25 million to, and the news subsequently added it to the record auction result, coming up with an incorrect number. : In the newspaper at my house, there was a small excerpt stating that the late Yehudi Menuhin's violin sold on auction for over $1.25 million more than a violin had ever sold(publically I assume) before. : Jonathan
  13. From just watching for months I can tell you some of the risks. First, if it says "Italian" or "possibly Italian" and starts under $1000, it isn't--no way, don't even dream. Over $5000 it *might* be Italian, but the chances of it being the name advertised aren't good. On other illustrious nationalities the chances are better, but still not reliable. The best deals in violins seem to be in the $300-500 range, if one can determine the condition of the instrument is good, AND one knows a little about violins--enough to tell from pictures what's there. . . and very few people can really do that.
  14. The figures you read in the press (and apparently in Guinness) don't say a thing about the real prices of violins. They are taken from the only public records those sources have access to--auction reports--but don't include the majority of sales of fine instruments, which are entirely private, and tend to stay that way. Real sales prices are greatly over those that have been reported in the press recently. : I just got the Guinness Book of World Records as a gift and under valuable items it lists the Kreutzer Stradivari of 1727 as being the most valuable violin. It is said to have sold for
  15. Generally, I'm with Oded. : Note that not a single serious response was given to Glen's question. Once a response is given to a question, even if not answered, the chances of another serious answer are nil. I did, however, think Oded's answer was very humorous. Unfortunately, I think he is probably correct! : _______________________________________________ : : : : Bass bars usually wear out at about the same time that the luthier needs to make a boat payment :-) : : : : : : : : : : : : Do bassbars weaken over time and need replacing? I have read that they do, but I suspect th