martin swan

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Everything posted by martin swan

  1. Interesting - I'm sure Bromptons also doubted the Conia certificate, since they avoided stating "by" Nemessanyi. Reached a pretty ludicrous price on the basis of that certificate I would have said. Could you go back to the top of the post, check the photos, and tell us if you think it's a Nemessanyi? I think the scroll is pretty lumpy, though I like the violin as a whole ....
  2. Brilliant - thanks for that link .... As I thought, the E is in a league of its own. Very interesting that Eudoxa D have the lowest tension all round, perhaps explains why people who like them can't get on with anything else!
  3. I'm a skinny person with a really long neck! My main problem is that I can't get any of the strings far enough away from my fingers .... Has anyone got any data on relative string tensions? I have a feeling that the E is under far more tension, but I'd like to know for sure. What about using more fingerboard relief on the E string to allow one to drop the bridge on that side - is that addressing the same issue? Don't like it myself but some people seem to insist on it.
  4. Can I just chip in that the only person who linked this violin with nemessanyi was the original poster, and along the lines of "he's the only mid-19th century Bohemian I've heard of ...."! Personally I think we're all barking up the wrong tree - I don't think the scroll is good enough to be from that level of maker, and the arching around the f-holes looks a bit "dull". I think Bohemian, not Hungarian. But I only really know anything about French violins, and then only between about 1890 and 1920!
  5. Jacob - if it's nae moving ye can deep fry it! I would refer you to the back cover of my album "The Order of Things" (photo attached) - this is a poster from an actual fish&chip shop in Broughton Street, Edinburgh. Deep-fried pizza, haggis, white pudding, and of course mars bars! I think you could put rather more faith in the existence of a deep-fried mars bar than an accurate Stefano Conia certificate.
  6. Mr. Burgess, I'm very interested to hear your thoughts on this, and it's good to have a reasoned explanation of the "Weisshaar tilt". (btw the experiment simply doesn't work for me, I just seem to put the violin where I want it ....) However, I think this tilt is more easily achieved by using a slightly different chinrest, or dropping the shoulder-rest foot on the treble side - doesn't need to involve removal of wood! Perhaps this relates back to whether you use a shoulder-rest or not? For myself I am seriously inconvenienced by having the E string approach the table too much, but I do have the longest fingers I've seen on a violinist .... and my right index finger quickly makes a characteristic divot in the top right corner of every violin I play for more than a week. So I'm inclined to keep the E string up as much as possible, but this is over-ridden by considerations of sound/response. I for one have definitely found in setting up new violins that the E string down-bearing affects the overall response more than any other individual string (does anyone know the relative tensions involved?), and I try to keep it low! Can't win ... that's why I started the thread. Martin Swan Violins
  7. Maybe Stefano Conia's certificates have the same hollow ring as his violins! Without the Ottoman invasions, Hungarian cooking would be insufferably dull - Scotland likewise saved from culinary misery by the influence of the East ...
  8. I was making precisely that point about slack use of the term "Bohemian", note the inverted commas. I am of course more careful - you might even say I walk on eggshells around the former Austro-Hungarian empire, particularly Budapest (and the bits of Croatia which still have landmines). But I think Hungary ends up in most compendia of Bohemian makers ... and the term is certainly used in auction rooms to cover a multitude of unidentifieds!
  9. and now the link .....!!nemessanyi sold at bromptons
  10. Here's a Nemessanyi cartified by Stefano Conia - formerly known as Stefan Konja, and one of the Konja family who know a bit about Hungarian violins! Doesn't look anything like yours!
  11. Where are you based? You could always send photos to Bromptons Auctioneers for an online valuation (free) bromptons online valuation. Very nice looking violin, which seems to me to have had a long life in the hands of an orchestral player or two. And worthy of a more expert eye than mine. I'd be very interested in the opinions of others as I don't recognize the maker, but there are some very nice features, particularly the corners and the edgework. I would bid quite a lot on it if I saw it in an auction and it sounded good. But it sounds good, even from here ....! Yes I would say "Bohemian" (incorporating Hungary!). I think someone should be able to identify this violin, it's quite characteristic ...
  12. First off, I'm not an expert! Can you post a photo? A genuine Nemessanyi isn't remotely cheap - though obviously you don't pay the silly money for it being Italian. There are THOUSANDS of "Bohemian" makers from the mid 19th Century, the term covers all of what is now Czech Republic, Slovakia, some of Austria, Hungary, and quite a bit of Germany (have I missed anything?) - but if a "famous appraiser" can't give you a clue from a good set of photos then it's unlikely to be by a well-known name. Did you buy this violin already or are you thinking of buying it? Martin Swan Violins
  13. Very interesting. Best way to learn things is to make a fool of yourself! The only early (ish) English violin I ever saw was a John Johnson - not authenticated, but a bit Thir-like and nothing like this. Seen a lot of Barak Norman labels, though Duke and Furber are the market leaders! I still think the f-holes are gammy (take a look at these Barak Norman f-holes) ... interestingly in your original example the laft f-hole looks rather like that but the right f-hole looks far more elegant and closed in the upper half - I assumed the left f-hole had been mashed somehow! It also seems far more evolved towards a classical violin than the Christies example (and the one in the V&A) - is it a lot later in your opinion? Very exciting for the person who bought it - does it also have a sound? Addie - just thought I'd say hello!
  14. OK I will continue to play and humiliate myself further ..... The back of the first fiddle still looks Mirecourt to me (c1820 or earlier), but I'm going on outline, type of channeling, and the wood. I can see that the f-holes and more specifically the arching around the f-holes on both instruments look very similar, but in the photos the body proportions look very different - the 2nd violin looks overly broad in the lower bouts. Maybe this is to do with camera angle. You obviously know what you're looking at - the 2nd violin looks Italian to me, mid 18th century - you are saying the first violin is the same and not a composite. But now I think the first violin has a French back and an Italian front, possibly revarnished, although the purfling is unusual and identical front & back so it can't be a composite! Edgework seems different front & back. Going round in circles, put us out of our misery. The f-holes are pretty gammy by the way (scottish terminology). WHY AM I LETTING MYSELF IN FOR RIDICULE?
  15. I'd have said the whole thing was Mirecourt circa 1810-1820 - if it's a composite I'm missing exactly why. Looks a very nice violin - is the back arching very flat?
  16. Hi, I haven't come across Archie Sinclair but I'll have a look in a couple of books! What you say confirms in my mind the suspicion that this violin probably isn't an OL Fraser from the 1920s or 30s. I think the label concept is far too modern, and I really can't see that a maker with that kind of output would be making such a mess of buttons, scroll backs, purfling and edgework! What was yours like?
  17. Hi Lyndon, I think you got Jacob and me confused - it was me wot accused this fiddle of looking "amateur". As Jacob confirms, there was a big scene in the UK, particularly Scotland. We tend to refer to these instruments as "Heron-Allens", since this publication inspired thousands of hobby violin makers. I take your point about American professional makers being less obsessed with details, but I'd say this instrument is early to mid 20th century, not 19th as the listing claims. I do buy quite a lot of amateur-made violins - they tend to be made with beautiful and unusual wood, the varnish is always oil, and often the concept is great even if the execution is a a bit tatty. If this "Fraser" violin was by a maker from the Scottish Borders I would certainly buy it! But there's a definite upper price limit for this type of violin, at the moment about £1000 if it has a really good sound. They often do, though invariably on the dark side of the spectrum - this violin may not be one of them! If I came from Saginaw I still wouldn't bid more than £300 unless I'd played it and loved it.... Martin Swan Violins
  18. Mr. Burgess, you are of course also a demi-god! Yes, this was a mundane mechanical question but there was a lot behind it for me ... I should clarify a few points. The original argument was not with someone who had commissioned a violin. We don't make instruments to commission - if we did I would be more accomodating, provided I could be sure the tone would not be compromised by an adjustment suggested by a client. In this case the customer was interested in a violin of ours, but the disagreement over fingerboard tilt suggested that we weren't likely to have successful business dealings! The customer (in a different country) proposed that professional violins had a tilt towards the E string, and that a level neck was a sign of cheap & fast construction. I was offended, and told the customer I didn't think they should buy a violin from me if they didn't trust my judgment on this matter. As to the issue itself, I haven't studied the literature, nor am I a violin maker, but I am a player/manufacturer(!), a reasonably rare combination. I work with a number of makers, all of whom came out of the old master/apprentice system in Hungary. I don't get in the way of what they're doing unless I see pressing arguments to do with playability & tone. Of course this particular issue of level necks, like so many mundane mechanical questions, quickly becomes a central philosophical question, in that it is about playability and tone and the compromises one might make between the two. So here's my input ... I play a lot in high positions on the E string, but I also spend a good deal of time in 8th position or above on the G string - it just happens to be a component of a "duduk" sound I use a lot. I find that a low string height on the E (absolute height above the table) is awkward, mainly because I end up bashing the upper C bout corner with my right index finger. Low action is great but low absolute height above the table on the E is bad news. Bow clearance can also be a big problem on the G string, particularly when using high positions or when bowing "over the fingerboard". Action can be much higher on the G because of the pliability of the string, though 5mm at the end of a bump-free fingerboard is not too low. Wide violins are less easy to play! Operationally, the ideal is to have plenty of overstand and bridge height. Tonally this is rarely beneficial, and in fact if I would hold to any one absolute in setting up of violins it would be an ideal string tension/angle over the bridge. In practice, these two concepts (good bow clearance and ideal string tension) seem to be at war, but it's easier to find an acceptable compromise on a new violin than an old one. I haven't found any reason (in quite extreme playing situations) for tilting the neck angle one way or another - a flat surface is most likely to lead to the ideal bridge height & profile and the ideal action beneath the strings. A small platform allows for minor adjustments, also very handy with new necks that can settle unpredictably. Personally I'm baffled by the discussion of "reaching" and how neck tilt might help this, but then I have very long fingers and I've never found any bit of the fingerboard inaccessible. Bow clearance is much more of a concern. And of course intonation in high positions (could we find a way to make the strings a bit longer as you go up the neck?). There are many more associated issues which I think & worry about, but no-one seems to write very long posts and I'm in danger of getting a name for myself as a windbag .....! Thanks to so many people for their insights - I didn't realize what a complex and contentious issue this would be. Martin Swan Violins
  19. Not sure if there's a connection between CC Fraser, whose book was published in Saginaw Canada, and OL Fraser of Saqinaw Michigan, who appears to be a known maker in the US, though not listed in Wrona's List Of Makers. Judging by the photos on eBay, OL Fraser was an amateur maker! His label states no. 3592 - that's some bizarre numbering system ..... Martin Swan Violins
  20. That's from orchestral players holding the violin upright on their knee for long periods while not playing!
  21. I've actually had a couple of fiddles with holes where the strap was screwed to the body! Yes Neil Gow of course - Scott Skinner was a bit of a Jessie, with his courtly squiggles and all that ....
  22. Michael Darnton agrees with Jacob, and since these 2 gentlemen are demi-gods I would discount Weisshaar on this point. I see I have a lot of points to answer, I will attempt to do so soon .....!
  23. I always found it fascinating that a lot of "antique" finishes for violins create/d a lighter area on the right of the tailpiece. Never knew people played that way - Addie, thanks for the image, which I've been staring at for most of my life (is it Scott Skinner?). I knew there was something wrong (like the angels' legs in Botticelli's Venus) but I never noticed it was his chin position!
  24. Bernie - I had a very good Donegal player in the house today looking for a fiddle. I had marked out one I thought he would go for, and he did eventually find it but wasn't convinced. It was a super sounding JTL Amati "V", and one of the best sounding French violins I've had ..... he may return tomorrow. He had a lot of difficulty finding anything which he preferred to his fiddle, which was a Maidstone (I kid you not) ... The neck angle was the lowest I've seen, must have been about 15mm to the top of the fingerboard. I think the top had been thinned out and revarnished. He used Helicore strings, but most interestingly he had absolutely no tension on the bow and was mainly playing on the wood as far as I could see. The sound of the fiddle was bright, very resonant, great to play but with no "tone" as such - everything was in the percussive start of the note. When he played slow tunes the fiddle sounded dreadful, but for fast dance music it was extremely effective. I played it quite a bit - I can tell you categorically that I would never have bought it, not even for £100. So I would say the major component of his (very authentic) sound was the almost complete absence of bow pressure, which in turn requires a very responsive fiddle with a lot of attack. It makes sense if you think of playing reels for 3 or 4 hours on the trot - you've got to make it easy for yourself. I use a lot of bow, and I'm worn out after 10 minutes!
  25. basically an inverted V cut in the bottom of a one-piece bottom rib to show the centre position (for situating the endpin hole!)