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Bob A

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    Takoma Park MD

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  1. I don't have a shop, but a few dozen stringed instruments of varying types all require some sort of humidity control for the sake of stability. I run a Sears type evaporative humidifier in the LR/DR where the instruments live. When temps fall to freezing and below, I will run 4-6 gallons of water a day through it. It's surprising to see how rapidly the RH will fall if I let it run dry. I usually set it up when the temps require heating the house. In the summer months, central A/C keeps the interior at or below 50%.
  2. Thank you, David. My post was more focused toward the marketplace, especially the one catering to what you might term "antique". Certainly an artisan is fully entitled to name his price, and stick to it. But once an item enters the stream of commerce, it's a whole new game. I have fond memories of a cabinetmaker friend, who did wonderful work and loved his craft, but was always on the edge of starvation because his market was too narrow to support the true value of his efforts. (There it is again, that pesky True Value). Those who decline to haggle will ever be eaten alive in the marketplace. Doesn't matter really, if you can afford it, but one misses out on so much fun. I have a friend who is into book collecting - I led him down that primrose path years ago - who thinks noting of dropping five figure sums on dealer who are able to provide him with such things as the complete works of Patrick O'Brien, in signed first editions. OK, but I enjoy the chase, and derive much satisfaction from scoring a book at 1% of its upmarket value. (Not that it happens all that often, but it's not unknown). I also love the company of Asian and Armenian rug dealers. I have no doubt I've been cleaned out professionally at times, but it's almost worth it, just for the experience.
  3. Oh, please. Envision an angler, sitting on a bank on a fine afternoon for fishing: overcast, breezy. Delicately trolling his lure, trying, without exertion, to interest a fish into biting a lure. Envision a rug merchant, sitting in his shop, brewing up a pot of tea and chatting up a customer, while an assitant brings forth the woven splendor of the shop, one after another. The potential customer indicates, willy-nilly, his preferences and desires; a canny merchant picks up these signs and delicately encourages a level of cupidity to rise within the bosom of the customer. The customer himself is moved by the beauty and rarity of what he sees, and hopes that his knowledge of the specimen in question exceeds that of the merchant. A dance ensues, with offer and counter-offer, gambits are played: no, alas, it is far above my simple means, or perhaps I have no wish to deny you, but my family will starve, and so on into the afternoon, with both parties being vastly entertained, and the full gamut of emotions are run: fear of loss, cupidity, perception of beauty, need, foolhardiness. How can you even consider a true value? The very concept is alien to the essential transaction. Value must be created, teased out of the respective needs and desires of the participants. This is one of the most amusing and rewarding pastimes available to mankind, and plays out in nearly every culture, and has done so in some fashion since the dawn of recorded time. It's one of the sad things in late Western culture, to quantify everything, to know the price of everything, the value of nothing.
  4. It would appear that there existed a luthier named Luigi Salsedo in Napoli around the turn of the century, a maker of respected Neapolitan (of course) mandolins. Aside from owning a couple examples myself, I find he was mentioned in Paul Sparks' book, "The Classical Mandolin," as being a maker of superior quality instruments in that city. Whether he made violins is not a question I'm in a position to answer. As far as an English connection might go, I'm aware that at least one Neapolitan mandolin atelier, DeMeglio, had an English distributor, Albin (sp?) Voigt. There are a lot of Voigt-labeled mandolins to be found, typically in England (!), and a number without the Voigt label as well. Mandolins were quite popular for a decade or so around the turn of the last century, and decent ones abound, as do examples better serving as a source of heat in winter. One might assume a fairly robust supply chain in place; no reason to exclude violins from the process.
  5. When I was a young man, my Greek teacher told me that it had been bruited about that the Odyssey was not written by Homer, but rather by another Greek with the same name.
  6. I gather that the study in question demonstrates that professional violinists are generally unable to discern differences of performance suitability between old and new violins, in a hotel room. I gather that some professionals who deal in quality violins feel that they are able to make a reasonable judgement on an instrument in such an acoustic environment, although this was not part of the study; merely anecdotal evidence elicited in these pages. Insofar as the working venue of violins of quality is not usually a hotel room, the conclusion is not surprising. That said, it remains useful; it seems to demonstrate that an instrument trial cannot be relied on if conducted only in such an environment. Whiel this might seem obvious, it does beg the question of just how a professional dealer in fine violins can come to a judgement under conditions that their clientele have proven to be inadequate for the purpose. I look forward to the continuing of the study in s space more suited to the purpose of the instruments in question. I am especially interested in the varied nature of the audience, incorporating a broad section of auditors from both sides of the pit. I think it's a bold attempt at examining the impossible-to-examine, to quantify the unquantifiable, and to objectify the essence of subjectivity; and it may actually provide useful information. Or at least some entertainment. I'm aware that my opinions on the subject are of little interest to anyone else. Still, emboldened by the fulsome prose found in above posts, I toss them into the pot.
  7. Having skimmed the posts in this thread, and having no qualifications to enter the discussion, I'd like to say that I thoroughly approve of the attempt in question. The more humans who can audit and render judgements (OK,opinions)on the instruments in question, the better. The inclusion of factory violins would be a truly excellent idea. Spreading the affair over a few days, and having several sessions, would also be useful. While having a group of professional orchestra musicians render their opinions (OK, judgements) on the various instruments would be useful, it might be noted that, for the most part, they are seldom in the position of an audience; rather, they're submerged in a sound machine. Having players judge instruments is also useful from any number of viewpoints, but we can't escape the fact that their ears are seldom more than a few inches from the violin. (Admittedly, there are a few with heads so expanded that this would not apply). Having in the audience an actual audience might be amusing, and possibly even useful. While those of us who pay to listen are generally seldom in a position to render a sound judgement (not sorry for that), we do have skin in the game, as they say. The more, the more varied, the merrier. Reality is a consensus hallucination, after all. Which of course begs the question of what the general lack of consensus I find here might mean, psychiatrically speaking. But I've always enjoyed my visits to the Big Asylum.
  8. While the odds are that it's nothing special, posting pictures could help to prove that one way or another. Take a look at the way photos are done on this site; front, back, side of scroll, the better the picture the more likely you will get a meaningful response. Good luck.
  9. I have a couple large metal cans filled with bars of home-made soap, probably 50 or more years old, at least. It's sort of grey, If I recall correctly, made by my wife's late grandmother, and stored in her barn. (Gray because it was doubtless cooked up with wood ash to saponify the fat, and not filtered. Tis is the real stuff, made the way it was done for millenia. Stradivari might have used it. (Did people wash themselves, back then?)). It reminds me of some unscented olive oil soap I got from Lebanon a while back, at least in appearance. I haven't washed with it. If there's any interest, feel free to PM me with an address and I'll send you a cake. Of soap, that is. Feel free to send me a violin or something, if you wish, in return.
  10. It's all very well to joke about bow heating, but recall that flour dust is responsible for granary explosions; the proper air/powder ratio will support hyper-rapid combustion. That being so, the more progressive states are contemplating banning the amateur performance of Flight of the Bumblebee. Rosin dust plus bow friction has resulted in at least one youtube video (alas, I've misplaced the link) wherein a flash fire does serious damage to a performer's facial hair. Leave that sort of thing to the professionals; don't try it at home.
  11. Lots of solar flares recently. I'd attribute the breakage to the metal becoming brittle due to increased radiation levels. Of course, there's always the possibility, however slim, of a local anomaly of some sort. My Dad had a bottle that contained a sand picture, which he agitated until the pattern was degraded. Whenever it began to reassemble itself into its old form, he would take precautions. (Of course, he had to shake the bottle to see if it would regenerate a pattern. These things do not move on their own, you understand). The OP might be well advised to rotate his bow stock 90 degrees; change in magnetic flux lines will alter the flow of charged particles, and should result in less embrittlement.
  12. Y'all ride the Hound hard, and put him away wet, but I find his ads entertaining, and his violins usually worth the price. Certainly his guarantee can't be beat. I notice he doesn't post here much any more, which is a shame, because he does seem to know what he's doing, and he does get around the Northeast to scope out the available fiddles. Also, he's fun to read. True confession: I have two of his violins. They're worth what I paid for them, I think, and they easily reach the back of my hall. They exceed my abilities, and must be good, because my dog stays in the room when I play. Thundering screaming, pathetic whimpering from behind the stars, incisive tone that will slice bologna at thirty paces, whether it be pink and meatlike or merely purple prose. What's not to love?
  13. Is it camera angle, or does the fiddle have unusually wide f-holes?
  14. In Britain, firearms have been banned for the most part. Subsequently knives are being used to take up the slack in the personal assault business. A UK inventor has come up with a knife with a blunt point, which might be mandated to replace the more dangerous pointy kind. (It's unclear to me what they plan to do about the edge). Meanwhile, pint glasses are increasingly being used in pub assaults. So they too are on the way out. In the foreseeable future, our British cousins will be eating mush through straws, while wearing padded suits and helmets. It's for the children. For those of you with the stamina to have read this far, be aware that fluorescent lights put out a lot more UV than incandescent. This can cause color fade over time.
  15. It's possible that the greater part of "amazing" is the personal improvement of the player. Practice and improved skills and becoming aware of how to extract the best tone from one's ordinary violin must lead to an overall improved violin experience. Congratulations on your new personal best.
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