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Melvin Goldsmith

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  1. I've got an old print that looks like a Rembrant. I took it to Sotheby's but they said it was a fake but in fact on the back of the picture frame there is an old cutting from The Times newspaper that seems to document the print being sold at Sotheby's for a lot of money about 100 years ago! Yours for $50,000!
  2. Fitting stuff is not the preserve of high end violin makers....Craftsmen do this every day in their job, builders, tilers, cabinet makers, carpet fitters, mechanics...I just had a very good joiner fit a new door and door frame on my old house with irregular door shape...Fortunately he didn't have to rub the door on sandpaper to fit...he simply looked at the fit and removed wood until it fit perfectly...You can either do it or you can't...if you have to think about it too much you can't
  3. Old valuable violins often have very sunken and odd shaped places to fit the feet and very delicate surrounding varnish. Bridge fitting can only be done to the highest standards of conservation by eye and with a knife and not using any aids like carbon or chalk to aid the fit to avoid spoiling the artifact being worked on . Often one bridge foot needs to be a bit longer in the leg to compensate for arching deformations. It's not easy but pretty straight forward to do if you know what you are doing......It's all very simple to talk about if you don't know what you are talking about or want to sound like the wisest expert in the pub
  4. I don't think the normal knot tying rules apply to gut. A flame carefully applied to the end of gut will swell it and stop a knot running.
  5. Yes....I had intended to sub the work to a top end wood carver and then covid intervened....I did all the work in a day including making little carving tools...Had to get into the zone...Seemed easy on the day but can't remember how I did it....
  6. You can of course make them yourself...here is one I made to match a set of 3 Vuillaume pegs I found
  7. Some idiot commented 'top makers'....yes these are TOP MAKERS...talking on Zoom..not the natural environment of the maker....I guess some of them might have wished to say more, edit or say less....But here it is...one of the best things to have landed on Maestronet since .........The normal question of how to glue two bits of wood together......
  8. Set up on violas varies a lot more than on violin or even cello. Comfort for the player is very important and can enlarge a feeling of 'size' if not right. Some players will be accustomed to quite flat or the opposite bridge radius and that can throw things out.....Old violas can have a lot of body twist that throws the neck to the hand regardless of what we see on the basic set up....etc...etc
  9. Our job as luthiers or providers of instruments is not to make 'nice' or 'good' sounding instruments. It is to provide players with instruments that will make the sounds they require. We don't make the sound... they do! That is an entirely different thing that seems to get lost in threads like this. I know a lot of very respected viola players of diminutive stature who play small violas with big sound....and large players who do well on large violas and all in between....I also know lots of violas that break all the rules.....basically if the general architecture of a viola is good and it's a good un it will do a job....if it fits the player and the set up is good
  10. When I visit a top orchestra with a violin after rehearsals in a large concert hall the usual scenario is a group of top gun players remaining behind to try it and the first thing they all want to do is play it and then hear what it sounds like at the back of the hall. All often play as soloists in their own right and know a lot about fiddles.....I can only imagine telling them they are wasting their time!
  11. I agree with David Burgess observation.... Once when commissioned to copy a Goffriller viola I came to the conclusion that some very visible scratches on the finish of the original were from using discarded shards of glass for scraping that chipped and became rough with use. However, I don't doubt The old Italians used some kind of abrasive in their work. Most likely some kind of grit rubbed onto the wood with a piece of cloth or leather to erase nibs and fluff from scraping rather than sandpaper as we know it. If you look at the most pristine examples the sharpness of the edge crests etc is slightly softened and this was the only method so far I could find to replicate that.
  12. My experience with making new violins is that they do tend to change a bit after being strung up and played for a few years so I wonder at what point one might judge a tonal copy?...A few days after it is first strung up?.....A few months later? 2 years later? ...5 years later...20 years later?...???? To be quite brutal to myself and other makers of new instruments I don't really think one can truly evaluate a newly made violin until it has at least 5 years of playing on it....ideally more. The bell on my BS detector is ringing...It's generally quite a reliable detector and has been in use for 53 years so far.
  13. I was privileged to attend the BVMA conference on this violin in 2017. I am not sure how much of the data has been published but World experts attended and the violin had been subjected to intense industrial quality CT scanning. From historical and evidence analysis talking to experts my interpretation was that the violin had a sound post crack from new, was therefore not sold and remained in pristine condition because of that. Personally I don't find it a very inspiring example of the Stradivari workshop and there are obviously a lot of young hands at work under the instruction of the maker in it's making. It does exist as an example of what the new violins were aimed to look like and is valuable for that. Personally If I was to copy a Strad I would aim for a proven working example. The letters attesting to the sound of the Messie are simply polite thank you notes ...Please don't take them too seriously.
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