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  1. Do any UK forum members know of an osteopath in Surrey/Sussex/W London with experience of bowed instrument injuries? I have an obstinate left upper arm ache which I suspect is the result of many years of playing violin. Thanks, Max
  2. Hi: I now only play my Luis & Clarke violin, after years of moving between epverything from one of the better Collin-Mezzins (temperamental tone, could be wonderful or less so depending on weather) to a selection of Chinese workshop fiddles. I've had the L & C about 18 months, and I'm very pleased with it. I got it a good setup by one of the better violin shops in UK (we're talking an hour of adjusting things as I played, and at the end of that it sounds great. It possibly needs a little more messing with because unusually, the D is the strongest string. I found Helicores suit this one better than the Evah Pirazzi etc. Style of quality synthetic core strings. I researched carbon fiddles quite heavily before buying this, and L & C stood out as the business with the name , the reputation for quality and service, and helpful personal support. No names, but for what it's worth, I was told that some of the 'send it back if you don't like it' guarantees of competitors aren't quite as easy in practice as they look on paper. You can play an L & M in a shop before you buy it - because I never yet found anything in the violin works that doesn't vary from item to item, including 'identical' carbon bows. Best of luck, but I don't think you can go wrong with L & M, they probably even hold their resale value in a way that other carbon violins don't. Max
  3. Alco - I'm just back to this board for the first time in years, and just saw your post. I'm originally Scottish and think of myself as a fiddler, though I learned classically, played classical in amateur orchestras till I joined a rock band playing electric fiddle at 20, and I only developed folk fiddling a lot later. When I was a teenager, the two best known fiddlers in Scotland were Aly Bain and that famous Scottish fiddler, Dave Swarbrick! In Glasgow, most of the fiddlers played Irish music (possibly because a lot were of Irish descent) - Scottish fiddle music at that time (early 70s) was a minority interest played by Highlanders and other people in kilts. After moving to London (UK) then West Surrey (Guildford-ish), I played in a bunch of English ceilidh and then Scottish Dance and Scottish ceilidh style bands, doing all kinds of gigs. However whenever I got a chance, I'd still dig out the Handel violin Sonatas, Bach Sonatas, and Vivaldi concerti I played as a teenager. However, by then I thought of myself as a fiddler rather than a violinist. That really gelled when I went to Alasdair fraser's Scottish fiddle camp in Skye. Alasdair wanted to reintroduce Scottish fiddlers to their own music and folk culture (in danger of being swamped by Irish folk), and I think he has succeeded. I think some violin players are violinists and fiddlers, but very few. The most common differentiators for me are 1) that fiddlers usually 'swing' their tunes in some way (whether jazz, folk, rock, whatever) while most violinists adhere to pretty square rhythms with stock bowings and find things like diverging from accent = down bow difficult and second, violinists tend to achieve much higher technical levels of playing than fiddlers (notably left hand - many fiddlers are stuck in 1st position). Violinists are often still anchored to the notes on the page rather than regarding them as a structure for interpretation (when that's appropriate). It wasn't always so in classical music of course, and I gather there's some movement towards a higher level of interpretation of classical music becoming acceptable again - as was often required, rather than accepted, in the heyday of the recorder and viol. It seems to rarely happen to violinists (as it did to me) that they don't play for years, then find they play better than before when they pick up a violin again. I put that down to my ears rather than my hands. Your intro at the start of this suggests you might be keen on The Melstock Band. Of course, there may have been as many styles of English dance music as there were fiddlers, and what was expected at a village wedding might have been radically different from the same tunes played for quadrilles at a country house ball. Scottish fiddling also had this divergence between parlour music and rustic style(s). After years of messing with various fiddles, I now play only one - a Luis & Clarke carbon fibre violin. When well set up (with Helicores, I find), this instrument can sound very surprising, and particularly good for folk of all kinds, and perhaps jazz. Like a good carbon bow, it tends to do one sound very well, so may not have the range of tones required by some violinists - but for fiddling it's very hard to beat, and possibly of more benefit to fiddlers, it's waterproof All the best, Max
  4. Looks like this topic has come back from the grave recently - which is great, 'cos I was just about to post about something similar. I'm 65, I've been playing fiddle forever, no family history of arthritis etc, and have an intermittent left upper arm ache that playing violin makes worse when it's there - at times it just isn't. I'm interested in whether this might be a well known fiddler's ailment that I can tell my osteo about - she reckons some kind of 'compaction' and gave me a good pummeling (as osteos do) plus gentle stretching/rowing exercises. My pain isn't in the shoulder joint, it appears to be about 4-6" down the arm from there, a sharp ache. It manifests easily when I do this: left arm pointing straight out in front with hand at shoulder left, palm down. That's fine - push on the hand up, down, left, right, with the other hand - all OK. Rotate the hand and arm to the left so the little finger's to the floor, push same directions - OK. Continue rotation left till the left hand is palm up. Push L, R, up - OK. Push down - Ouch! Any ideas please? I'm not asking for a 2nd opinion, just whether this rings any bells or more info? Thanks, Max
  5. PhilipKT - well, over the last 50 years I've had a few 'real violins, in fact last count I had 3 real 4 string violins, 1 real Baroque violin, one real 5 string violin and one real 5 string viola. Sure, they (mostly) sound good and have character - but why why would I take any of them out in the rain or hot sun (supposing the latter happens again here in UK)? Also, I've played the occasional $15K luthier violin which looked beautiful but for some unfindable reason just didn't play anywhere near its price range, and many many $5K-$10K violins with antique value but lousy tone. So 'real' violins have their place, but so does carbon if it's done right.
  6. Thanks guys: your comments confirm what I've heard elsewhere, except that I hadn't heard much about Glasser violins. I'm told a first class setup makes a big difference to the better quality carbon violins, as it can on wooden violins. People find it difficult to believe that a $400 setup can make $3000 or more difference to the sound, but on some fiddles (eg better quality Chinese workshop ones) that has worked for me. I now play one of those in preference to an 1885 Collin-Mezin I used to have. By the way, I play Scottish music among other things, and a good tone can be important for that - just not necessarily a good Mozart tone
  7. Hi all, I haven't been here for a while. I'm aiming to buy a carbon fibre violin for use at outdoor events, processions, and other events involving rude mechanicals, beer and accordions. I'd be glad of your opinions on the playing qualities of the Luis & Clark violin and the German Mezzo-Forte, if you've played either or both, or anything else comparable for that matter. I'm looking for loud as well as tough, and being mostly a folk and early fiddler I don't need an archetypal 19thC Classical sound - just a decent sound of some kind with good volume. Thanks, Max
  8. That's quite a sweeping statement, Boris. Many of the great soloists of 20th C played Baroque music on modern strings, even if they were wound gut?
  9. My guy strung Baroque setup fiddle has Wittner geared pegs fitted. I find them really useful for frequent retuning. I don't think fine tuners have the range of tuning require for plain gut strings, especially a new set.
  10. I notice some of the tailpieces pictured here are much thicker at the tail. Do you think that changes the sound, and if so, in what way?
  11. Well, violadamore - it plays! Light for a modern shaped bow, and I suspect made of finest treewood (not sure what it is - it's light but quite large). Nothing fancy, but quite fun.
  12. So maybe it's walking on eggs time here I've often been surprised how few professional fiddlers and string teachers understand or are interested in what makes an instrument work. On the other hand, my personal experience is that there are many highly skilled luthiers who know how an instrument should look and have the woodworking skills to reproduce that elegantly, but aren't highly skilled in optimising the sound of a given instrument. The combination results in too many teachers and professional players with instruments that look 'the business' but sound nowhere near the best they're capable of. I've met luthiers who are really good at sound optimising and don't play but just pluck the strings and listen hard, luthiers who play but whose own playing fiddles sound very average, and elegant new instruments that sound much better after a visit to someone other than the maker for sound optimisation. Just starting to dip my toe into the Baroque setup world, I find that even near London (England), there are only a few luthiers or violin dealers with a reputation for Baroque style setups that sound good - despite the fact that most will undertake a physically 'correct' Baroque setup (if such a thing exists) if you ask them. We've all probably played a few dowdy looking eccentric bashed up no name rough old instruments that sound great, and some immaculate 'correct' ones that sound terrible. So, apart from the fact that luthiers turn out the occasional 'dog' for no discernable reason, why is this? Is setting up instruments to sound good a black art that few lutherie instructors have time to impart, or do lutherie schools put time into elegant woodwork rather than sonic adjustment, or are there just not that many people around with intelligent ears?
  13. Indeed it does It's interesting that the Thibouville catalog linked to above has an 'instant rehair' system which attaches a metal crimp to each end of a hair band, and those metal end piece slot into holes prepared for them in the stick. So you just buy the pre prepared hair band and drop it in in one minute. Now why don't we have that now for student bows?
  14. I just bought this unstamped bow on Ebay (yes...) for no better reasons than I like the look of it, and it wasn't expensive. I'm hoping it turns out to be a useful 'player' to swap with pointy Baroque style things on a Baroque setup fiddle. It has no lapping nor signs of it and an open frog without slide or ferrule, but a head which I would expect to see at the other end of a bow sporting all three. It weighs 45gm at 4/4 length. Just out of interest, can anyone identify the general origin or date of this, and what variety of treewood it's likely to be? Also, if this isn't a 'bitsa' and was made contemporaneously with bows fitted with slides, ferrules, and lapping, why did they continue fitting this style of frog - cheaper to make? Thanks, Max
  15. Returning to the photos of the Chappuy instrument above for a moment (thanks Ben): it looks like that elegant tailpiece has no more wood than is necessary to bear the tension of the strings. Has anyone done research on the effect of tailpiece mass on quality and/or volume of sound?
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