gowan

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About gowan

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  1. gowan

    Interesting Website

    Very well done. And an interesting collection. Regarding the large violins, it is well known that there is considerable variation in size in violas, but it seems there is quite a range in violins, too, even among those considered full size. Just in these we go from 351 mm body length to 371 mm body length, about 3/4 inch! The tone descriptions seem to say that good tone can be obtained at all these body lengths.
  2. gowan

    25 Classical Violas

    Thank you for the explanation behind your choices. Far be it for me to say that Strad was not a good viola maker. It seems, though, that few makers now copy his model. As for the analogy with singers' voices, a true contralto voice is really lower than a soprano, even though some mezzo's essay some contralto repertoire. Then, too, there are male sopranos (countertenors?).
  3. gowan

    Samuel Zygmuntowicz Violin

    I think it's a gamble investing in modern violins, especially those of living makers. Old instruments appreciate partly due to limited supply i.e. they aren't being made anymore. Contemporary instruments do not have absolute limits on availability because the living maker can always make more. For investments, prices of contemporary instruments are much more volatile than old instruments. Auction prices are generally much less than retail prices and if you want to cash in your investment you can easily get less than you paid. Prices are also affected by myths, e.g. the myth that old instruments are generally better than contemporary ones. Even if you are rich enough to own an excellent Strad or del Gesu or the like, there are serious carrying charges in maintenance, insurance, and keeping the instrument in front of the public so its value won't depreciate.
  4. gowan

    25 Classical Violas

    Why do you include Stradivari? He is not known as a viola maker and his surviving instruments are not as well regarded as hundreds of his violins. In the list of makers you did not list the Brothers Amati but you do include two of their instruments.
  5. gowan

    Ebay said destroy fake violin

    In that sort of case wouldn't be a recourse to buy another, really junk, violin which you could smash and send PayPal a photo of the smashed violin?
  6. gowan

    Can one use a viola string on a violin

    When I was starting to learn to play, before I had a viola, I had a spare violin that I strung up with viola strings to help me learn to read the clef. As expected the C string didn't sound great but the other three were OK.
  7. gowan

    How to tell if it is a good violin

    You can get some useful experience by going to violin shops and trying many violins. Dealers won't mind if you explain that you want to try several violins in different price ranges. Play then with an open mind and notice their sound, response, how easy it is to get the effects you want. You aren't trying to select the best one, just trying them. Do this for a lot of instruments, 50 or 100. Then you will have some idea of what instruments can do. You can then start to search for one you want to buy. If you are looking for the best instrument you are setting yourself up for frustration because whatever you have tried and liked there might be a better one that you haven't found yet. So look for something you like and are satisfied with. The OP asked for measurable qualities. Good wood, craftsmanship, neither is quantitative. Unless you have experience it's hard to judge the wood. Again, without experience you can't evaluate workmanship in detail. Furthermore, great makers vary in both of these categories. Storioni often used wood that would be rejected by modern makers yet still made great instruments. Guarneri del Gesu also worked fast and sometimes sloppily and made great instruments. Finally, the quality of the sound also can't be quantified and measured.
  8. gowan

    Ignore function

    People like that one are known in internet lingo as "trolls", unfortunately a common internet denizen. The advice is don't feed the troll however usually someone does.
  9. gowan

    Why does my wolf note move?

    Regarding the effect of humidity on instruments, I heard an interview with Itzhak Perlman online in connection with his violin camp on Long Island for talented youths. The interviewer asked him about the violin he was holding and he replied that it is his "summer" fiddle, not the Soil Strad. Apparently the Soil does not do well with a humid climate. He didn't say what his summer fiddle was but he played a lick on it and said it was a pretty good fiddle.
  10. gowan

    Does anyone NOT build Strad? And if not, why?

    Regardless of which of Strad and Del Gesu made better instruments, both made wonderful instruments, and which you choose is a matter of taste than of quantitative measurements. I was interested in Melvin Goldsmith's observation regarding Del Gesu's later work may have been affected by DG's health problems. I could be wrong, but DG's later output, say 1740 and later, is generally more highly regarded by players than the earlier work. So, it seems DG's focusing on larger scale issues in making, and abandoning irrelevant details, produced wonderful instruments. What were the aspects he focused on then? As for modern versus old instruments, it is certainly the case that only a small fraction of players can manage to be able to play on the great old instruments. The high standards of contemporary making has produced a boon for players like me who are passionate amateurs, are not wealthy, but can afford excellent modern instruments. The great old instruments are only going to become less and less available. I say bravi to contemporary makers. The fact is that a great player using an excellent contemporary instrument can produce just as much beautiful music as he/she could using a Strad or DG. When I go to a concert I care about the music, not which particular instrument is being played.
  11. gowan

    reivew of 'Gone' by Min Kym, book about stolen Strad

    Regarding the idea of having a "soul mate" instrument and coping with its loss, another example is Frank Peter Zimmermann and the Lady Inchiquin Strad.
  12. gowan

    Marking bridge position into front

    I don't have any problems with the marks made by Montagnana. I actually have to look for them; they are somewhat merged in with the "antiquing" contributed by history. If I were a luthier asked to make a new bridge for that instrument I would appreciate having the marks. However, it seems to me that a new bridge might not be best placed in agreement with the marks. Slight variance in the bridge wood might make the marked position infelicitous. As for replacing the present bridge if it moved due to string breakage or replacing or the like, having the marks could be a big time saver.
  13. gowan

    Rogue Wave

    Is it something similar to the Hazelfichte seen in spruce? Or maybe it's a small beginning of what is seen in quilted maple.
  14. gowan

    Varnishing for Beginners

    The violin pictured has a strange looking fingerboard, clearly not ebony. Maybe the fingerboard had originally been painted black and the paint came off when the varnish was removed?
  15. gowan

    Baroque bow references

    The bow maker David Hawthorne ( http://violinbows.net ) is well known as a maker of Baroque style bows. He might have some suggestions.