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cjstuff

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About cjstuff

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  1. This violin looks to me like a standard "Richard Rubus" German trade violin made for Russian export. I'd peg it at late 19th-early 20th century. I think these are neat-looking instruments, even with cheap finish, and the thinner-than-average ribs of many of them make for some interesting (not necessarily poor) tonal qualities compared to other trade fiddles of the time. I don't believe that they're graduated particularly well, though. Be aware that some luthiers will be very reluctant to take the top off to repair cracks--it takes a fair amount of fiddling (no pun intended) to fit the top
  2. I read this bidding pattern as someone trying to chip away at a higher bid, one little bit at a time. 44 minutes before an auction closes is not necessarily when you want to get your best and highest bid in--which, of course, can make this incremental bidding look a bit more like shill bidding. I have bid like this in an auction where I thought I was getting close to the "real" value of an item and then thought I might end on top if I bid "just a little bit" past my personal maximum. It's a fairly stupid way to bid if there's ample time for someone to outbid you after you've maxed yourself
  3. Today's NY Times has a detailed article about this very topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/08/arts/mus...ountry.html?hpw It seems that a lot of musicians keep their "working" instruments at a particular facility that offers rehearsal space and secure storage. Unfortunately, that facility is/was located near the river and is badly flooded, wiping out a huge portfolio of instruments. In addition, it sounds like some of the music stores located on honkytonk row (another low area) may also have experienced flooding. My guess would be that "personal" instruments kept at a musician's resid
  4. I own a 14" viola that's been strung and played as a violin for many years. Setup-wise, the only difference is that the instrument has a true violin bridge that is arguably a bit narrower than a viola bridge. I don't think the previous owners changed anything else. In playing it, I'm aware of the higher rib height and also, to a lesser extent, the angled slope on the lowest string (it's a German student viola, so its fingerboard isn't evenly rounded like violin fingerboards, instead having a sharper slope to make room for the wider vibration of the C string. I suppose I could change the f
  5. I am indeed primarily a violinist, though I have learned a great deal about maintenance and simple repairs by following this group and learning from both positive (why can't I do this?) and negative (I should never try this!) examples. However, that plus a whole lot of wishful thinking still won't make me a luthier. These violins were finished to blend into an ensemble of wooden instruments as much as possible. Accordingly, they originally shipped with a faux wood finish ("nice two piece back") and the interior appears to have been sprayed with a light coating of "wood-colored" paint, i
  6. After years of searching (and saving my pennies), I have finally obtained an attic-fresh aluminum violin. Though the label long ago peeled off, it's almost certainly a 1930s Aluminum Musical Instrument Co. fiddle, not a German-made Pfretzschner. From the looks of things, the violin appears to have been last played in the 1950s, then put away in a basement--it's got a definite musty note, though the bow bugs that attacked the bow hair didn't get very far with the instrument itself. :-) Condition of the instrument is very good--would be excellent if the faux-wood paint weren't starting to fr
  7. It's not exactly the same design, but Lark in the Morning sells a modestly-priced kit violin. http://larkinthemorning.com/product.aspx?p=EAR033 In addition, there's always the wiplstix. It's sold as a practice violin, but it takes a lot of inspiration from kit violins. I can also say, from personal experience, that the instrument behaves quite differently if you put Red Label Super Sensitive Strings or Evahs on it. :-) http://www.wiplstix.com/ws/
  8. Well, I certainly felt that way, but if you look at the problem from a lawyer's point of view, I lost ownership of the violin when my father accepted the insurance company's check back in 1990. As a result of his claim under the family homeowner's insurance policy (I was still a student at the time of the theft), any recovery from the theft technically belonged to them, and I would have had to return the insurance proceeds, most likely with 17 years of accumulated interest, if I wanted the violin back from them through that mechanism. Though I was grinding my teeth in frustration as I sent
  9. My best eBay violin buy happened in 2007, when by chance, I stumbled onto the listing for my old violin that had been stolen 17 years earlier. Still in its case with the two bows that had been with it when it was taken in a smash'n'grab, the violin had apparently spent the entire time in suspended animation in the back room of a Fair Haven, CT pawn shop about 5 miles from where it was stolen. I had spent over a year combing through flea markets and pawn shops in the area trying to find my violin, and I had long written off this instrument as lost--or worse, smashed by some crack addict who d
  10. T'ain't no such thing as a medieval fiddle--the form wasn't developed until the 1600s. You'd be wanting to make a rebec, which has, on a good day, a whiny nasal sound. Pretty nasty, really--you can see why the viol was such a smash hit as a replacement instrument. I recently played a reproduction rebec at a medieval faire. It was fun, but not my cup of tea. On the other hand, construction is considerably simplified from a Renaissance (and beyond) viol or violin. Starting with the lack of sound post and possible lack of bass bar.
  11. I've had mixed reactions when I travel with my violin. US Airways has been pretty good about letting me bring my violin on board, though some passengers think it hogs too much precious carry-on space. JetBlue has also been cool with it, as has Southwest. United, on the other hand, has razzed me about the violin, even when it was 1 of my 2 pieces of carry-on luggage. I was permitted to keep the violin out of the cargo hold, but I was warned sternly that I shouldn't try this again. And I've heard bad stories about Delta, though I haven't flown them with an instrument in years. This is, h
  12. I watched eBay violin listings very closely for somewhere between 2-3 years, from 2006 through 2008. During that time, I saw a highly noticeable decrease in "actual" violins being sold and a huge upswing in extremely cheap VSOs from China. In early 2007, for example, eBay averaged between 1200-1500 new violin listings daily, including relistings. Today, the number is significantly higher. As eBay seller fees changed, I also watched the sales price of cheap violins decrease while their their shipping "costs" doubled or tripled. I eventually gave up considering eBay an interesting source f
  13. I have a small viola that someone set up as a violin. I had purchased it as a student violin and was surprised when I gave it a closer inspection. The lower bouts are wider than a violin body, and the ribs have noticeably greater height than an equivalently sized violin. However, the fingerboard length is fine, and it's not much heavier than a violin. I am certain that no one re-tuned the bass bar, but I though it sounded much better than the average student violin. I think you'd need to play with a few different string combinations to find something that responds a bit more quickly to c
  14. To some extent, you get what you pay for in strings. Those ultra-low price Chinese steel strings are so thin that one set (I believe they were "Alice" strings, but others are similar) on a cheap violin I was trying cut through my callouses. The strings may sound quickly and easily because they're so thin, but they also sound whiny and run false quite quickly. Note that electrifying the instrument has only made things worse, in my experience. I'm not familiar with cello strings specifically, but I'd think you might try looking at Helicore or Primm strings as a point of entry. More expensi
  15. One or more Chinese workshops ground out a bunch of low-copy VSOs with upside-down scrolls a few years ago, so be particularly careful when considering one of these. I don't know the name of the craftsman who originally decided this would be an amusing instrumental joke, but the Chinese copies I've seen have had a wide range of labels in them--usually well-known luthiers who never would have made these.
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