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D Ellison

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  1. By far, the best gut strings are Pirastro Olives. They have the same problems as other gut strings; and additionally, are rather expensive. Worth the price? To me they are; to others they aren't. It's all a matter of personal taste, desire, etc. As to gut E strings, I know they used to be available. I expect they still are from somebody but I haven't seen them for 10+ years. D
  2. Try the simple things first. Check the nut on the tailpiece - Play the D or G string and put your finger on each string in turn where it contacts the nut. Tuners - Same as above but you'll be touching the tuner where it attaches to the tailpiece. Mute - If you use a "Tourte" or other mute that lives on the strings(s) behind the bridge, remove it and see if you still have a buzz. Fingerboard nut - Do the same thing you did to check the tailpiece nut. Seams - Check for open seams. If you don't know how, find someone who does and learn the procedure. Ask your teacher for help.
  3. All four strings need to be wound toward the inner wall of the peg box (ie toward the "handle" of the peg). The cloth winding of the string should be very close to the inner wall of the box. If it is too difficult to turn the peg easily, back the string away from the peg box wall gradually until the peg turns easily and still stays put. The string itself (and the tension on it) holds the peg in place, preventing slippage. If you wrap it in the other direction, the peg won't hold in the hole and you risk all kinds of damage. In that situation, one's natural tendency is to push the peg into the hole harder and harder until it stays put. Never, NEVER do that. Too much pressure can split the box and that's really bad. Before putting any tension on the string, take a pencil and rub the lead (actually graphite) into the string grooves on the bridge and nut. This allows the string to move freely as you turn the peg. It also reduces the wear and tear on the aluminum or silver wrapping over the core. Too much resistance at these two points can pull the wrapping apart, mess up the sound, all kinds of nasty stuff. Your teacher should be willing to help or show you how to do all this stuff as well.
  4. My understanding is Lorenzo and Tomasso were violin making brothers (maybe father and son, I'm not certain). The examples of their work I have seen and played are really very good. My first teacher owns one (and has for 50 years). As I recall, it had a lovely dark brown varnish, high belly and deep, rich tone. I believe instruments made by Lorenzo alone are more rare. I've only seen one but it seemed to be comparable to the LOR E TOM fiddles I'd played. I think they sell for around 40,000 US. D
  5. Al, That's a very interesting "little trick of the trade" I'd never heard of before. Does it apply to most (or all) German copies of fine French bows? How about copies of German bows? Last question: Can you also discern a copy by which side of the stick has the stamp? Thanks, D
  6. Lupot worked earlier than Vuillaume and his violins surpass those of Vuillaume in value and sound (the latter is subjective, of course).
  7. As a rule, wood will split, crack and check along the grain, the way your tailpiece did. It is extremely unusual for a piece of wood to snap across the grain.
  8. Of course I can't hold you to my definition of integrity nor me to yours. To me, it's doing what's right even when you can't get caught. That said... Are you sure using a pseudonym is a lie? Some people use nick names for e-mail addresses and then use the same thing on discussion boards as an identifier. If my friends call me "Popeye" and I post under that name am I lying? It's what my friends call me (not really, I'm just extending the hypothetical) and it's how I identify myself. I'm not lying, I'm extending familiarity and/or friendship to strangers. How is that bad? I'm still the same guy with the same opinions and the same value system. The credibility of my ideas and opinions does not hinge on the name under which I post them to the masses.
  9. Michael, I'm still a bit confused about your problem on this issue of names. Why is it so all fired important for someone to use their given name? How does a name or correct e-mail address add to the credibility of the forum? Any idiot can use any name and none of us could possibly know on a first reading of the post. For all any of us know, your name isn't Michael Darnton (discounting friends and/or colleagues with whom you may discuss the subject in another forum) and mine isn't D Ellison. The point is each poster could be anybody. This is an arena for questions, opinions and discussion on any number of topics relating to stringed instruments (and sometimes a myriad of other things). Ever read "Romeo and Juliet?" Do the words "What's in a name" mean anything to you? How about "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." If I want to use my own name or if I want to be known as "Ralph the Wonder Llama," what's the difference? My opinion neiter changes nor loses validity based on my chosen nom d'plum. The fact that I've been a violinist for over twenty years is what matters. I have knowledge and experience that only comes with years of practice and traning. My name is meaningless except to those people who post here and know me personally. Even that won't necessarily make me credible (By your logic I have to use my full and complete name to have that.). It just means that I know some other folks who post to this board.
  10. How certain are you that either "adean" or "Sir William Horatio Hodding Pfingster, Jr., Esq." is "...a silly pseudonum (sic)"? Do you know the implied "true identity" of either of these people? How does a pseudonym affect the validity of a message? These people have opinions and may or may not have something to hide. Unless you know one or both of them, you haven't a clue. You seem to believe that using one's own name engenders trust while implying truth and validity. I don't know if I have ever come across a better example of a logical fallicy in my life. D
  11. Personally, I don't find it troubling in the least. Is it wrong in those piano circles of which you speak for one student to give advice or an opinion to another? What's the difference between asking a friend or coleague in person as opposed to broadening your spectrum (as well as your perspective) by putting your question to a greater number of people via the internet? I've noticed that many replies to questions regarding technique, musicality, etc. are given with the additional caveat of "ask you teacher" or "get a teacher." If I, as a professional violinist, have a problem I can't solve, I'm probably going to ask the guy sitting next to me in rehearsal. I'm not going to run out and take a lesson at the first sign of difficulty. That's what all the training is for. It gives one the ability to analyze and hopefully solve problems without help from the lauded master. If it is impossible to fix your difficulties on your own or with the help of friends and co-workers, go to a teacher or coach whom you trust and respect. In this forum people (from beginners to amateurs to pros) throw out questions looking for help. Sometimes they get it; sometimes they don't. But at least they have the courage to admit their ignorance, recognize their individual shortcomings and ask the question. Where is the harm? What is the supposed ethical dilemma? I certainly can't see one. D
  12. The neck can wear out and need to be replaced in as little as thirty years or so with lots of playing every day. Different pieces of wood have different qualities including their density and ability to withstand the wear caused by repeated buffing by the skin. Sweat has varying degrees of acidity and salt content, depending on the individual. That will contribute to the wear. It's the same kind of thing that happens to fingerboards. Over time, your fingers wear little dimples into the surface and it needs to be planed or replaced (depending on its thickness). And, the ebony of a fingerboard is far more dense than the maple of the neck. D
  13. What you say about violas is certainly accurate. However, despite the fact that violin lengths are relatively standardized, the necks can vary greatly (I use "greatly" in a relative sense - a few milimeters may be enough to be noticed by the player.) I have a one violin that pretty much falls into the "standard" category - both for length and neck/fingerboard size. I have another on which the neck is noticably more narrow. A friend recently bought an instrument whose neck is wider than either of the ones on my fiddles. If you aren't used to playing on a wider (or more narrow) neck, it can cause hand cramps and all sorts of other problems. You need to transition gradually to avoid that kind of thing. Additionally, as time goes by and a violin is played time and time again, the maple of the neck can wear, becoming thinner. I haven't experienced this personnaly; but, I imagine it can lead to difficulties similar to the ones related to necks of different widths. D
  14. If that is the case, then how do you explain the violin part in the "Laudamus Te" (duet between mezzo-soprano and violin) of Bach's B-minor Mass? It goes as high up as sixth position. I have seen other baroque music (Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Corelli, Roman, et al) where the music continually forces the player out of first position. Where in the Baroque time-line do you place the rising popularity of the virtuoso that led to the tighter bows and advances in strings? Is it prior to Monteverdi? If it is, I would be forced to question your use of the term "Baroque." After all, he was on the "borderline" between periods. Or are my editions of the Schirmer History of Music, Grove's, etc incorrect? D
  15. To mellow the sound just by changing strings may be overly ambitious. If you do not want (or cannot have) a post adjustment done by a qualified professional, change to the gut core string of your choice. You'll go nuts trying to tune them, get them to settle in, and stay consistent but they will mellow the sound. Your best bet will always be going to a fiddle shop and having the post adjusted to your tastes regarding sound with the strings you prefer on the instrument when its adjusted. D
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