Jeremy Davis

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About Jeremy Davis

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  • Birthday 06/22/1977

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    http://www.davis-sculpture.com
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    Midland, MI
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    Luthiery, Sculpture, Drawing, Music, Comics, Antiquities, Moldmaking & Casting

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  1. This is my thinking exactly. While I think it is a great idea to have a bow as a performance backup, right now I need a trainer that can get my physically and mentally where I want to be in the practice room. That said, the advice from others to pick a bow that is "similar" to my Tepho for the before-mentioned reasons really rang true. I started to think about what exactly that means. I previously thought it had to do with weight alone. The Tepho comes in at 72g, the Marquise is at 70g, and the Musing C4 is around 63g. Since the Marquise was similar in weight and had the more "wood" like sound, I thought that was the bow. That said, the balance is very different and it is a much softer stick that the Tepho. If I'm honest, the C4 actually has more of the playing characteristics of the Tepho if not the sound. Both are stiff sticks and lively, with a full open sound. I think I'm on to something here. As fortune would have it, three more Musing C4's arrived today so I will trial them this next week and see if any suit my needs. I'll report back and some point to let you know what I decided and how it all turns out. Thank you all for your patience and excellent advice!
  2. Thanks for understanding that I'm not looking for a bow to replace my wooden bow, but rather looking for a bow to help me play with it better, and important and critical distinction. I know that bow threads can become tiresome, given the choice is so personal and subjective. Realizing my obsessive nature, I appreciate your patience! (my wife says she'll divorce me if she has to sign for another bow trial box, and god forbid listen to me play the same passages for her to suss out the differences) I take your points about choosing a bow that is close to the Tepho, the main point being that it would be bad if I have to re-learn technique from one to the other. There is also value in that, if I ever need to perform with it, that I don't sacrifice too much in the bargain. Of course, another practical concern for even having a cf as a 2nd bow is the preservation of the more fragile and expensive pernambucco. The crux of the matter seems to be that, wile the lighter bow seems to "unlock" certain abilities, I may not retain them when coming back to the Tepho. That is a very real concern of mine. On the other hand, is there any value to what the lighter bow allows me to do in terms of learning? I can tell you that there are certain passages that I've struggled with for a while that I could never really put together. Either bowing or fingering, I couldn't get the two to line up. In a few instances these past few weeks, the introduction of a lighter CF bow seemed to remove one of those obstacles revealing what the issue really was and I was finally able to make headway. It seemed to carry over back to the Tepho. (in this case, the Musing C4) In this case (with the lighter cf bow) I'm not sure if it was that it allowed me to better hear my intonation, transitions between notes, or simply boost my confidence (or all three), but it appeared to be an effective tool none-the-less. Whether or not it continues to be so, I'm not sure (hence my lengthy prose here). I can tell you though - and perhaps others can attest the my last point- there is something to removing hurdles and proving you can actually finish the race. I'm aware that I'll be putting the hurdle back on the track for the real race, but this time it is different. Perhaps it's a psychological success in knowing that I can actually play that passage that allows me to do it when it counts. Anyway, I seem to be arguing for the lighter bow despite several folks telling me to get the one that is closer to my Tepho. Is there value in the "physiological" workout in the practice room? I would also like to pose the question of balance, or balance point to be precise. In the case of this particular Musing C4, the balance point is the closest to my Tepho of all the bows I tried. Would this not be a critical component in preserving overall bowing technique when moving between bows?
  3. Hello folks, Some of you may be familiar with my longish-threads about viola bow buying. You all gave me some sage advice and really helped me understand what my goals are. Rather than continue one of those threads, I would like to start a new discussion based on where those trials (and your advice) led me. I discovered through much comparison that I really can't find an equal for my Georges Tepho bow. Its sound is unparalleled. While a smidge on the heavy side at 72g and in need of a rehair (which might change the balance a bit) It would seem the problem is me. I would like to be worthy of my Tepho and get better at both using the whole bow, playing at the frog, bow distribution in-general, and my intonation. Through my many trials, and had the chance to try a cheap generic carbon fiber bow. While it was inferior in all ways, I did notice that it handled surprisingly well. So, I decided to check out the contenders. I tried the following Carbon Fiber bows: Coda Bow: Luma, Diamond GX, Marquise (x2) JonPaul: Bravo, Avanti, Carrera (flexible) Arcus: P6, M6, Musing C2, C3, C4 (x4), C5 (all round sticks) The first thing I learned is that the lighter the bow, the better I played fast passages, but often sacrificed tone quality. (they sounded thin). For example, the Arcus P6 came in at only 58g (!!!) and was demon on the strings. It actually sounded decent - kinda like a pure tone as opposed to the multiple overtones from a Pernambucco. I discovered that I could better hear my intonation though....My problem with it was that 14 gram difference made it extremely hard coming back to my Tepho - kinda made it feel like bricks and that was a deal breaker (that and the $2.5k price...) The heavier bows played and sounded more like wood, and that includes the JonPaul Carrera and the Codabow Marquise. They were 71g and 70g respectively. The Carerra was the flexible version and was too soft for my instrument - but it sounded great. The Marquise is better balanced with a slightly stiffer stick and a similar good wood-like sound, but not nearly as precise as the lighter bows. The balance was good and it would make a great single bow for a player or for me it would make a nice true backup to my Tepho in terms of performance in public. With it being 70 grams, the weight difference is negligible and I could go back and forth between it and my Tepho without huge adjustments. The middleweights that were contenders for me were most of the Musing line of Arcos bows. Coming in at between 62g-63g each, they had better tone than the P & M Series bows, but could also play fast passages with ease thanks to their good balance and stiff sticks. I determined that the C4 was the best of the line in terms of sound/value. I would describe its tone as being very clear (similar to the p6), but having more character. Not a bow for public performance I think (especially compared to my Tepho), but not bad at all. I think what I like about this bow is it allows me to work through difficult passages during practice with relative ease. Kinda like playing the viola with a violin bow, but one able to really pull tone out of the bottom two strings. I noticed right away that I did not have to worry about my bow arm when playing with it and could focus on my intonation, fingerings, bowings, etc.. Also, for what it's worth, It doesn't sound so great as to "seduce" me with luscious frequencies (like my Tepho) and I inevitably wander away from the mast to familiar tunes. Rather, I can stick to the business at-hand. It may be my imagination, but after playing for some time with the Musing C4, and then coming back to my Tepho - while I did notice the extra 9-10 grams - I found that it had unlocked difficulties I had had from before and I could play them now suddenly. I do realize this is also the definition of practice, but there was something about the idea of having a "workout" bow that has begun to grow on me. Truly and honestly, I have only one real concern and that is why I am writing today. Many of you can see further down the road than I and I would like your thoughts on this. If my ultimate goal is to play with my Tepho the best I can, am I doing my self a service or disservice by practicing with a lighter, more nimble bow? My greatest fear at this point is no longer being able to play with the Tepho because of the weight. That would be a disaster. It just sounds so good on my viola. My other option is the Marquis. It sounds great & plays great if not as nimbly as the Musing C4. It's closer to my Tepho in terms of balance ad sound, but no where as easy to play as the C4. I kind feel like it's more like a full-size spare tire. You know - get a flat and you can change the the tire without all the speed and safety concerns of a donut. I don't think it is giving me anything as a "workout" bow other than keeping the miles off my Tepho. It does play nice at the frog though and I was able to play better on some difficult passages, but not sure if that's a good enough reason to buy it for my stated purpose. Thoughts?
  4. Does anyone know what bow manufacture this is? This is a still from Yizhak Schotten's excellent "Art of the Bow" Video. Seems to go well with his 16th-century Brescian...
  5. Hello folks, It's been a minute since I've replied here (school is always so busy), but since it is summer and I've had time to reflect on my experience I wanted to give an update and pose a few new questions now that things have changed for me.... Fair warning, this is a looong update. So only for those who like long reads... **Update: I've played with the Tepho bow since we've last spoke two years ago, and in that time my wonderful viola from Manfio finally arrived and I finally had the chance to play them both together (and have done so since November of 2017) Before I comment on how they work together, I should say that I've spent a lot of time in private study working on my bowing technique and have made quite a bit of improvement. There's something about having nice things that makes you want to rise to the occasion, no? My new viola: If you aren't familiar with the sound and power of one of Luis's violas, let me tell you, they are a force to be reckoned with. My viola, "La Valse" is an exceptional instrument and I've not played it's equal. Please understand this isn't hyperbole...it's very simply a superb viola. Easy to play but with the tone of a much larger instrument. Darker, but clear and sonorous too. I'm also happy to report the response is lighting-quick and I don't have any doubts as to the ability of my instrument to play whatever you throw at it. My instructor was also equally impressed. I could (and perhaps should) write about my experiences with La Valse, but I'll save that for another time. Anyway, it's my forever viola so, that allows me to eliminate at least on part of the equation. Any difficulties I have at this point or either me or my bow. If you remember **last time on Bow Indecision**, I described the Tepho bow as being a somewhat heavier bow, and between it and the Emmanuel Begin, it had the darker tone. It also felt a bit tip heavy, so that adds to the power of the Tepho when playing at the tip. (which, I might say, has never been an issue. Actually, it's more of a problem as playing at the tip too much was one of the primary flaws in my technique. I'm happy to say that tendency has been eliminated. ) Both bows had stiff sticks (which it turns out I love) but the Begin at 69g was lighter (and brighter in tone) and balanced closer to the frog whereas the Tepho @ 71g is heavier and weighted towards the tip. So, when you add a dark bow to a dark instrument, you get Mordor. Just kidding. The overall sound is decidedly dark to be sure, but I honestly like it and so do folks who hear me play, so I can't say that it is an issue. What is an issue, is my ability to play quickly - precisely - anywhere on the bow, and especially at the frog. Don't get me wrong, I do ok. Certainly a thousand times better than I did with my student viola or antique instrument coupled with a tubby clumsy bow. I might even say that I would perfectly fine with how I'm playing now if it were not for my memory of the Emmanuel Begin bow I tried a few years ago. You see, I've got heavy arms. I'm a bigger guy. This has always helped me get the most tone out of my violas but has held me back in terms of being nimble and quick. I think it is what contributed to my tendency to play at the tip. My arm+my heavy old tubby bow= the musical equivalent of bad English dubbed on a foreign movie. Things just didn't match up. I've learned a lot the past few years about how to counter that issue, and thanks to my practice and having a fine viola and bow I've been able to make a 65-70% improvement these last few years. Even so, playing at the frog is a chore and in the lower 1/2 of my bow (Tepho), I get the "shakes" sometimes. The notes can waver and wobble and the stick bounces a bit. I can counter it somewhat, but I can't kick the feeling that this bow really is too heavy of a bow for me, or at least not balanced in the way I need. I've been able to confirm this somewhat by playing the viola with my Albert Nurnberger violin bow. While it is a softer stick, it is lighter at 59g and plays like a dream near the frog. It's quick and without the wavering wobbles, Problem is - you guessed it - it has no power to make my viola sing as I know it can. If you'll recall from my first post, the Emmanuel Begin was one of 10 trial bows in a group that included Tepho, Bazin, Albert Nurnberger, Pfretzchner, Mohr, Zabinski, Gagne, Raguse, & Halsey. Unfortunately, it was the very first bow I tried and with a group like this, any one of them was going to impress me. I figured if the Begin was that good (and it was), the others must be better. From the moment I picked it up, I could play things I had struggled with for years. It was effortless. It felt like a race car. It made my playing articulate and precise like no other bow had before and I was truly impressed. The others all had their qualities, but none matched the Begin's playability. The Tepho came very close, but the Begin had the edge for speed and precision. At the end of the next two weeks, the Tepho and Begin came out on top. I decided to go with the Tepho because while it played well enough, it had a warmer and more-powerful tone which is what I was concerned with at the time. I should remind you I was playing on a student viola that had a bright nasal tone (according to my instructor) . I knew that my new viola would be different, but I figured that if I could play with the Tepho well enough and it made my student viola sound better, it would be the best bow for both. So, I reluctantly settled on the Tepho and sent the Begin back. As you know from my first post, I had my doubts about having chosen the right bow. The Begin and Tepho came from different shops, so a swap was out of the question. What was done was done and I stuck with it. I checked on the status of the Begin over time, and sadly was informed that that bow was sold some months later. As well as I've gotten to know the Tepho, and even play well with it, doubt nags. It's more than doubt really as I honestly feel like the Tepho isn't right for me. It's a fine bow, to be sure, and I'm often shocked by how well it does with some passages. Overall thought, it is just weighted better for someone with lighter arms, smaller viola, or a better technique. (or all three). I'm thinking that the brighter sound of a Begin might not matter so much on my Manfio. Fast forward to this week... I stayed in touch with the shop that had the gold mounted Emmanuel Begin, and they just now notified me of two more in stock! A gold mount and a silver. Soooooo...... I have to know. As I'm writing this, both Begin's are on their way along with a Roy Quade for good measure. I know they will be different than the Begin I played before, but I think I have better perspective now on what I'm playing on and what I'm looking for in a bow. What I would like to know from you folks are any tips or advice you might have on how to audition this next round. I'm very comfortable with my instrument and very familiar with how the Tepho plays. What should be my first steps in understand the differences but being objective about each bow. I don't want to assume they will be better than my current bow. After all this, I very well may realize I'm fine....but I need to be sure. I would love to hear your thoughts!
  6. 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!
  7. **I've updated this story in my latest post June 2019** 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
  8. 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...
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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?
  12. 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.
  13. 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?
  14. 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.