Jeremy Davis

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


About Jeremy Davis

  • Rank
  • Birthday 06/22/1977

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
  • ICQ

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Mount Pleasant, MI
  • Interests
    Luthiery, Sculpture, Drawing, Music, Comics, Antiquities, Moldmaking & Casting

Recent Profile Visitors

10998 profile views
  1. Jeremy Davis

    Bow Purchase Indecision/Regret

    Thank you all for the excellent advice. Zeissica hit the nail on the head in describing what is "standard equipment" in this body - indecision and doubt about all subjective purchases. If you were to go with me to buy new shoes, you would need to take a vacation day. I have yet to like a pair of shoes once I get them home! True to form, I am also a gearhead. I am always tweaking and upgrading to something better in almost all aspects of my life. It's one of the reasons I got into the luthiery (for myself only) because I wanted to have complete control over all the variables of an instrument's sound and performance. In that respect bows mystify me because I can't tweak anything - only my own technique. (sigh) Unfortunately, the two bows came from different shops. I've seriously thought about buying both bows, but could only do so if some more money becomes available to me. Then again, I really don't want two viola bows (see opening sentence) - I know that I would forever be torn between which I should use and never really committing to either. In some respects I am splitting hairs, that's why the decision was so hard - they both are great bows. If I'm honest, I do feel that the Tepho will serve me better in the long-run as my technique improves. Perhaps even as my instrument improves as well. I've played the same factory-made viola for most of my life. When it first came into my life it was a HUGE upgrade over the cuttingboard-with-strings that I started with. It has a big sound and lots resonance and, in truth, allowed my sound to develop to what it is now. As I've matured though I've come to discover that that big loud sound isn't necessarily a good sound. I now understand it to be "boomy" and "metallic". I recently purchased a very interesting smaller viola from the late 18th century that has a really sweet, if not, loud sound. As a narrow viola of awkward proportions it doesn't have the lower register extension of my more contemporary instrument, but is much smoother in all other respects. As much as I like it, it isn't what I'm looking for. Really, neither viola meets my needs as a serious instrument going forward, at least in-terms of what I define a viola should sound like under my chin. So, I'm currently seeking out a new instrument, and hopefully I'll get to play it in September. I'll report more on that later... In the meantime, a good friend has lent me a nice well-made contemporary viola (Italian) and the Tepho really comes back to life on that instrument. I think I'll keep playing it until my new instrument arrives so I'll have something good to compare it against. Until then, I will be redoubling my efforts on improving my bow technique. The nice thing about spending $5k on a new bow is that there are no more excuses for putting it off. I need to live up to the investment. Thanks again all for the perspective!
  2. Jeremy Davis

    Bow Purchase Indecision/Regret

    Hi Folks, I've recently decided to upgrade my viola bow in an effort to reinvigorate my efforts in the practice room. I've played the viola for over 30 years, but only for fun the last 15 or so. Recently though I've rededicated my efforts and study, and am steadily getting back to my former ability. I'm not a professional player and am only searching for a bow to enrich my studio and practice. One day I hope to play in a small group or semi-professional Orchestra again, but right now it is about technique and form. Never having had a nice viola bow, I've always suspected that it was holding me back. So, I saved up the money, did tons of research and created a list of makers who's bows I wanted to try in the $5k-$6k range Ultimately I chose 10 bows to try: a few antiques like Bazin, Nurnberger, & Pfretzchner but most were contemporary makers by design: Mohr, Begin, Tepho, Zabinski, Gagne, Raguse, & Halsey. The good news is that my suspicions were confirmed. Indeed my bow was holding me back. With most of these bows I could suddenly play difficult passages more easily and tone was improved overall. Almost immediately my right hand was in sync with my left and familiar music was new again. So, needless to say I was excited and set down to the task of choosing one of these bows to purchase! This methodology might seem presumptuous to some, but I know myself and the rabbit hole of endless decisions and doubt (over having too many options) will only make my eventual decision impossible to backup. So, I decided from the beginning that - even if I was happy with only one or two of these bows - I would not do a second trial. So, I won't go into the details of each maker's bow, but suffice to say that I played on each bow to get first impressions about which of them made an impression. Ultimately I took comprehensive notes on each bow's pro's and con's before settling down to a top 3. This took several days and, by the end, I felt that I had a good sense of what each bow could offer me. This was also an educational process and I learned that I needed a stiffer stick (as I have a rather heavy bow arm) as all the soft sticks fell flat for me. While several makers jockeyed for the 3rd position, there were two major stand-outs for me. Emmanuel Bégin and Georges Tepho. Both bows were round sticks of medium stiffness (maybe the Bégin a little stiffer) well-balanced, and produced wonderful tone on both of my violas: a late 18th century viola and larger contemporary instrument. (note: not all the bows traveled-well between the two - and this was a major concern for me) So here's my dilemma. The Tepho and Bégin were neck-to-neck most of the time. I would like one for one piece but the other for a different one. In some cases, I like them both for the same piece but for different reasons. I would characterize the Bégin as a super-charged race car. It played fast pieces extremely well and with almost surgical-like precision, but was a bright bow in tone (and a glorious resonance would be produced on the D and A strings) but sometimes lacked the ability to pull emotion out of my viola's lower register. On slow pieces requiring more finesse, it seemed to be hard to control - or hold back - if you will. Still a lovely bow and a strong contender. The Tepho on the other hand is much more refined in terms of handling and tone. It is darker than the Tepho, but brighter than many of the other bows I tried. It too played fast pieces well, but not with the precision of the Bégin . It is a few grams heavier, weighted a bit more towards the tip, and that really gave me much more control over the bow when playing in the upper 1/3, not to mention advantages with tone. My wife compared the Tepho's tone to a well-aged wine - smooth but with lots of color, whereas the Bégin was like Champagne - bubbly and bright. In my notes for the bows, the Bégin blew me away with what I could do with it, but the Tepho I fell in love with. I still struggled with my decision so I made lots of recordings of back-and-forths between the two bows so I could hear them from a distance. In most cases the Tepho won each time. While the Begin transmitted it's precision and lovely upper-register tone, it didn't move me like the Tepho. So, I made my decision and purchased the Tepho. I had to take about a week of rest after the intense bow trial as I was experiencing some finger-tip numbness in my left hand. So, when I started playing again I was a bit rusty to say the least. So, I tried to ignore my bumbling and get back to playing as I did during the trial. I'm close now, but finding the bow much changed. Maybe it's all in my head and I'm just having regrets now that all my options are back in the shops. It seems very heavy to me all the sudden, and my control of it seems to reflect that. I'm not playing with the same confidence as before. I find myself thinking about the Bégin quite a bit and wondering if I made a mistake. I'll be the first to admit that my bow technique is not good. I tend to play at the tip too much and because of my stronger heavy arms, I don't play with much finesse in the lower bow. This is something I am working on. It's also something that makes me think that the Beginning - with its effortless lower-bow playability - was the better choice for my goals. I mean, it didn't sound bad, I was just moved emotionally by the Tepho more. Maybe this is simply a matter of indecision and poor bow technique and I'll grow into the Tepho. Perhaps some of you have had similar issues with new (& expensive) purchases. I would appreciate your advice. (sorry for the long read, but congratulations for making it to the end...) -Jeremy
  3. I suppose you could be correct, especially if you accept the the blocks and neck are replacements. There is a old-looking crack on the back that seems to point to some age. However, at least on my bench, the top appears to be much much older than the sides or back in my opinion. Even accounting for the differing densities, I can't reconcile their respective ages. It just seems so much newer than the top. Also, for unknown reasons the top has had some work done to change the shape of the f-holes. It was surmised that the same person who put the Ceruti label in there wanted to make the presumably-German f-holes a little more Italian. The scroll and neck are obviously much more recent than the top, it wasn't a giant leap to say that the back and sides were made new as well for the top. While this violin is 4/4 in length, it is extremely narrow in its width. Perhaps a luthier thought they had a Ceruti-esque top and decided to give it a boat to float on. I seem to acquire strange instruments with unknown origins (see the Castello Viola or Drassegg Violin thread) This thread, in particular, is interesting reading and I would highly recommend it. Regarding the integrated bass bar, I will follow everyone's advice and let it be. I think I'm also going to forgo edge doubling. It probably needs it, but I'm tired and would like to close it up and move on to the next project. Here are some pictures of the top and back side by side for those who don't want to wade through the previous 4 pages...
  4. As promised, here are the pics of the inside. My thinking is that the bass bar is too short (also has a "saphole" in it) Not sure if that matters or not. I've never heard this violin play, but I don't relish opening it up again once closed.
  5. Here's a Resurrection from 2011 folks... Life has been very busy for me since I last posted about this violin and I've just now got around to getting the top of this violin so as to repair the cracks and see what else it might need. Pictures will be coming soon, but I wanted to post some of my findings while they are fresh: -I believe the the back, ribs, neck and scroll were all built around a much older top. (already speculated in this thread by others) -It has corner flaps instead of corner blocks. -It has a proper upper and lower block. -It has an integrated bass bar I've already finished cleating the cracks and am thinking about doing some edge doubling since the top edges are rather thin and the purfling is showing through the bottom in spots. My main question is this: What to do about the integrated bass bar? Should I leave it, or carve it out and make a proper one? Obviously someone love the top enough to building a whole violin around it, so perhaps I should leave it alone. That said, perhaps a new one will make it sound better. Again, I'll post pictures later this evening of the inside.
  6. Jeremy Davis

    1780 Paolo Castello Viola...Or not...Would like to discuss

    Playing. Trying to correct 20 years of bad habits. I might have to go back to the bad habits.
  7. Jeremy Davis

    1780 Paolo Castello Viola...Or not...Would like to discuss

    I wanted to do some repair work on the inside as there are a few cracks that need closing and a few cleats that need to be redone. I've never had an instrument this dirty before on the inside though, and am unsure about how to safely clean it. This dirt is beyond mere vacuuming or dusting. Any tips?
  8. Jeremy Davis

    1780 Paolo Castello Viola...Or not...Would like to discuss

    Lovely violin! Thanks for posting it. Since Fussen is only 3 miles north of Austria, perhaps we are dialing it in. The arching seems similar to mine, I would love to see a profile if you have one. Speaking of similar instruments, I came across this 1764 Simpertus Niggell violin while searching for Fussen instruments: (with mine on the right for comparison) Not super-similar either, but there is is something in the upper bout shape, and the proportion of the upper-to-lower bouts which is interesting.
  9. Jeremy Davis

    1780 Paolo Castello Viola...Or not...Would like to discuss

    The parity of the top and bottom blocks seems to be a rather distinctive feature, no? Am I to understand that you believe the top and bottom block to be original to this instrument? (assuming it would be unlikely that a through-neck replacement block would be made with this grain direction) Has anyone else seen a top and bottom block with lying annual rings like this before?
  10. Jeremy Davis

    1780 Paolo Castello Viola...Or not...Would like to discuss

    I actually took a few. To my eye, all the glue seems to be of the same age, but I'm hardly an expert at these things.
  11. Jeremy Davis

    1780 Paolo Castello Viola...Or not...Would like to discuss

    Ok, a left wrist injury has benched me in terms of playing the viola, so I figured this would be a good time to pop the top off. Here are the pics:
  12. Jeremy Davis

    Converting a Nurnberger Violin bow to a Viola bow

    Ok, for fun, here are some better pictures of everything:
  13. Jeremy Davis

    Converting a Nurnberger Violin bow to a Viola bow

    Yes, I believe the mounts are nickel. I cannot find assembly marks anywhere. (see pics) Stamp is "Germany", which, if memory serves at least places it after 1914 (revision of McKinley Tariff Act requiring origin country written in English). Not sure about serifs, but the Grunke book says this about Nurnberger's with asterisks: "Around 1920, a new stamp began to be used: *ALBERT NURNBERGER*. This stamp is still in use in the Nurnberger shop today." So, I suppose this means that bows stamped without asterisks were made before 1920.