martin swan

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Everything posted by martin swan

  1. With respect, I think this is a bit of a misunderstanding of how different materials are/were used in bow-making. The quality of the stick and the intended price point determine what mounts are used. Apart from a very brief period around 1830, when "maillechort" was invented, all later bows have used silver, gold, ivory, tortoiseshell, chased gold etc etc, to denote the quality of the bow, both in terms of wood choice and in terms of care of workmanship. As with everything in violin-making, the cost of the materials is pretty irrelevant to the sale price since you are primarily paying for time, effort and competence.
  2. I just love this guy's voice! This is a rather fantastical violin from the early 20th century built as a vague imitation of Gedler I suppose. The varnish is deliberately black to make the violin look old ... Judging from the sound sample I would say this is a pretty poor-sounding violin, and I think its commercial value is quite low. It's also huge (back length 36.4cm), so I would think relatively difficult to sell.
  3. That's an established fact. But Bazin is the principal name that comes to mind with French bows... and HR Pfretzschner for German bows.
  4. I'm not sure everyone agrees on this stuff - I think we once had about 5 pages of argument on "scoop" ... I was amazed at how many well thought out positions there were. leading to different practices
  5. It's interesting that more and more makers are experimenting with neck reinforcement, even truss rods in cellos. Generally a fingerboard of normal thickness will stabilize a neck, but if it's too thin or poor quality it can fail to do that job. Nowadays, minor elevation corrections are being done by taking off the fingerboard, bending the neck, taking a plane to it to flatten the new surface and then replacing the fingerboard. If this is going to become the norm, then all new violins should be made with a bit of a platform for the fingerboard.
  6. The rule of thumb that I was shown is to hold down the string against the board at the end nearest the bridge. The amount of relief/scoop should be the same as the thickness of the string ... ie. more on the G than on the E. Of course when you're actually creating the scoop you need to use a straight edge rather than a string! There's a lot of debate about whether the centre of the scoop should be halfway up the board or not - my observation is that if the scoop is centred about 2/5 of the way up the board you can get away with a bit less of it, which makes the board feel "racier" and easier for fast string crossing. I have always used a block plane to get the board straight, and then used a small cabinet scraper with a heavy burr to create the scoop. I find it more controllable and better for "targeting" the area of scoop.
  7. Warping upwards that makes the instrument unplayable with any ease above about 3rd position ... Warping downwards around the neck stop which causes buzzes and choked notes ...
  8. I think this is all reasonably well documented. The trade in tonewood was established, and we can see from dendro that the wood used in Cremonese instruments came from a very narrow source, essentially one valley, probably wholesaled through Venice merchants. I really don't think Stradivari was out in the Italian Alps all winter chopping up wood to keep himself warm ...
  9. I would bet a fair sum of money on an overtight post - I don't think it's a good thing to leave it this way indefinitely but it's not super-urgent either.
  10. As J-G's list shows, a vast number of bow-makers went through the Bazin workshop. But they made Bazin bows, I don't think you would find traits of any of these makers in the work ...
  11. French "pressed" violins were most certainly not debunked. I remember one irate member here who was very sure that none of his French violins were pressed, but it was the essential means of construction for a large proportion of French trade violins. This is verifiable both from the documents of the big Mirecourt workshops and by taking a quick look at the end blocks ... The Thau milling machine would rough out whatever arching you told it to, so I think it's pointless to try to deduce whether it was used or not. Nor would a luthier necessarily be able to tell - it's a presumption based on an understanding of the history of the makers/workshops.
  12. I don't think it is essential ... Jacob is more knowledgeable than me and can answer better, but in brief, since this machine was introduced into the MK workshops (around 1915) it quickly became ubiquitous for all lower level trade violins (and I assume for many better violins that were hand-finished). Aside from some odd cases where you can hardly imagine someone being able to produce such gross and caricatural arching by hand, I don't suppose there are any signs that the roughing out was done by machine, nor are there really any consequences. It's just a fair assumption that you can make about any MK/Sch trade violin made after a certain date.
  13. Yes. It had quite a few cracks on the top, it was over-polished and heavily touched up, and it wasn't the nicest model so it didn't seem like a proposition for us, but a nice violin nonetheless.
  14. With respect, I wasn't lecturing. I chose my words very carefully, stuck to the facts, and didn't make it personal.
  15. Ebony fingerboards are not stable. An instrument that has been sitting doing nothing for 100 years will very often have an unacceptable degree of relief in the fingerboard, or some warping the other way, resulting in serious buzzes or choked notes. Correcting the relief on a fingerboard is one of the most basic tasks in setting up an instrument, however lowly in origin. Sometimes there is no alternative but to start again with a new fingerboard, most times ten minutes with a plane and a bit of nouse and the problems are sorted ...
  16. Dallas of course is a small village in Fife ...
  17. Bazin was my first thought but I couldn't see that as a pin when I blew up the photo! I hope you're right ...
  18. Looks like a nice silver mounted bow, probably a Markneukirchen "Vuillaume style" bow ...
  19. Hawkes & Son bought in violins from some very prestigious makers. Pedrazzini probably the best known ... Some of the Hawkes & Son branded bows are made by good French makers - it would be interesting to see photos. Is it silver-mounted?
  20. A contemporary trade violin which ironically is probably a lot better in its essential construction than the thing it’s trying to imitate. A triumph of postmodernism ...
  21. I’m sorry but your violin is neither a counterfeit nor a replica. The label has nothing to do with the violin ... it’s just a random fake label.
  22. Bows of any age are exempt from US import duty. Antique violins are exempt in most states, import of instruments less than 100 years old incurs an import duty of around 20%. If the item was previously exported from the US to the UK then in theory there should be no duty to pay on the way back in but the paperwork is a nightmare. The whole business of getting things into the US without incurring the zeal of US customs or US fish & game is a specialised business. Best work with someone who knows what is required.
  23. Damn, I keep forgetting. The world has had enough of logic!
  24. It's worth bearing in mind that the reason why scroll carving ends at 6 o'clock is that it's faster. Same with not carving out the delta, same with asymmetrical buttons. In order to delude bargain-hunters on Ebay who suffer from cataracts and chronic ignorance, it has never been necessary to imitate any particular features. A silly label has always been sufficient for someone to describe their violin as a "copy" of something.