martin swan

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Everything posted by martin swan

  1. OK sorry, we're clearly not interested in the same thing and are talking at cross-purposes!
  2. The fundamental misunderstanding which scientists and pseudo-scientists bring to this debate is that the "sound" of the violin is what's important. What's important is the quality of music a particular player can make with a particular instrument - most of that seems to defy science or any kind of broad agreement, and it's far from being simply about tone. It's not susceptible to measurement and can't be repeated according to a formula.
  3. My implication is that if you haven't played an Amati you can't comment on their playing qualities .... If you haven't compared a narrow-waisted one with a wide-waisted one then any claim of nasality is unfounded. Lots of things about violin tone appear to make sense on paper but simply aren't borne out by experience ....
  4. lyndon, well spotted .... another "very powerful" violin I wonder if the violins behind him are in Tennessee or Kentucky? talking of which, here's another great use of a backdrop .... mysticviolins I notice these people have about 8 violins in stock, one of which is this vastly overpriced and mis-labelled mis-attributed "derazey", so whose shop did they film the video in? of course it all serves to illustrate that YouTube "soundfiles" are a joke (a bad joke)
  5. Thanks for the reference - read through all of that, nothing completely relevant to my question, which is about the width (and by extension the elasticity) of a soundpost and how this might affect tone and response.
  6. Hi Mr. Murphy, How many Amatis have you played? I've only played one, but it wasn't nasal! So to my certain knowledge 100% of Amatis are not nasal. Mr. Swan
  7. Hard to judge anything from a YouTube clip but I think the seller obviously likes it and I'd believe his assessment that it's "powerful". Given the back length I'd say definitely German, the neck graft a repair .... don't think you missed anything! These long Maggini copies can be very loud but in my experience a bit lacking in pliability/playability and hard to get a singing tone out of. $4000 very steep price indeed, we may yet see it re-listed! I would be a bit shocked if a shop over here sold it for over £1500 given the repairs to the front. Raises an interesting moral issue - the seller seems honourable and the selling method is transparent, yet this violin has sold for a lot more than it's worth in anyone's book. Could raise problems for the seller when the buyer (presumably at a distance) goes to get an appraisal .....
  8. Michael I think increasing the diameter by a millimetre probably increases the stiffness more than any treatment would. If you've tried breaking kindling with your foot you'll know just what a direct relationship there is between diameter and stiffness!!
  9. I don't think so ... I think it's a buyer getting carried away by a neck graft, might think it's a Rogeri! Derazey made some Maggini copies but they don't look much like this. The photos are sexy, nice light. I did have a very similar Maggini copy a year or two ago - definitely superior to the usual tradey ones with the long backs and the extra turn to the scroll. But I came to the conclusion it was just a better German tradey violin, probably 1860 or so. The scroll on mine was better - this one seems to end up with some rather hurried cuts around the eye, and the general line is a bit wonky. I'll see if I can find pictures of the one I had - I'll be sick as a dog if it was anything decent.
  10. Ryan, Yours is an interesting train of thought! I agree that there are many more obvious things to tweak, but post size is one of these things that everyone seems to take as read, and I only started wondering about it when confronted with the (surmountable) problem of narrow f-holes. I do know a restorer who uses different hardnesses of post as part of his box of tricks, and feels that less grain lines will give a softer sound, probably because of increased flex in the post itself. But is it true? Possibly not ...... I think of the post as a coupler mainly, but would a piece of beech do as well as a nice straight-grained piece of spruce? Someone must have tried all this stuff ... it seems wierd that there are reams and reams of science and pseudo-science about bridges, but not about posts. I think it would be fascinating to fit a rather oversize post, and then to remove a lot of mass with the post still in place and see if the sound or response change. Tricky operation, but it would overcome the whole issue of sound changing due to released and re-applied string tension. How could one carve away a lot of the wood with the post still in place?
  11. I can't see any theoretical problem with an elliptical soundpost provided the longer diameter sits at right angles to the table grain (less chance of dunting the table that way). With old instruments it's not an option to enlarge the nicks - with new builds I feel that narrow nicks are much more attractive. Undercutting the inner edge allows a tiny bit more width in the soundpost and looks nice, but actually I've decided to overcome my inherent laziness and adopt Melvin's method for picking up a soundpost dropped through the lower eye. I have been struck by how often narrow f-holes (too narrow for a 6mm soundpost to fit by the standard method) are found on violins which also have excellent playing qualities - of course the reverse is also true, which leads me to believe that f-hole width is not much of a factor. Placement of an f-hole of a given width may be very important, but then we're back to looking for needles in haystacks! So Terry Borman uses soundposts up to 6.8mm in his violins - has anyone else found an advantage in big soundposts?
  12. Do you have the expired listing number?
  13. Aha, great tip Melvin thanks - I've always tried to pick the post up as it's rolling around horizontally ..... I'll try that. I also take your point about diameter and surface area, Pi r squared etc - instinctively I feel that a large contact area is good, but maybe a 7mm post would sound even better? I assume that the standard soundpost diameter has evolved as a function of the average f-hole, rather than through tonal evaluation. Or has f-hole width evolved in response to an ideal soundpost diameter? Ben, width & length = result!
  14. Has anyone done any experimentation with different widths of soundpost, or indeed different cross-sections deviating from round? I ask the question because I come across quite a few good violins with f-holes too narrow for a 6.3 or even 6mm soundpost. It drives me crazy dropping a full width soundpost through an eye and trying to pick it up with the setter, and even crazier trying to fish it out with a loop of fishing line if the fit isn't right. So I tend to shave the sides of the soundpost down to allow for normal setting. Is this really bad? It seems a better solution than using a generally thin soundpost, but perhaps I'm wrong in this assumption. Or must I bite the bullet and get better at picking up soundposts from inside? It seems to me that the actual cross-section is probably less important than the overall amount of contact ..... Alternatively, if I put a 5mm soundpost in a fullsize violin, will it sound different to a 6mm soundpost ...? I'd be grateful for any thoughts.
  15. OK I vote for the scroll being original! If it was playable when it came into the shop I would get it set up again and give it back to the director pointing out that it's authentically labelled, worth a few bob, and not suitable for a careless student. For all we know the donor might have been very proud of this violin and might wish it to go to a talented student. For all we know the director may be planning to play it! Not every good student at a music school has a good violin .... Interesting paradox this thread has pointed up - that a violin can be too special to be played by a student and yet not really worth anything! Personally I think this is exactly the sort of violin that should be used by a good student. A Hamm in similar condition went for £650 or so at a recent Brompton's auction - it sounded wonderful.
  16. secrets of cremona yawn yawn ... I bored my wife to tears with this shit, in the end she said "you don't suppose Stradivarius just threw away the bad sounding violins?" Bill Yacey's account of the evolution of the violin is beautiful and plausible. If there was a particular secret then everyone would know it! I think great violin makers have a sound in their head (often based on an instrument they own or have studied), and they stick at it stubbornly until they get that sound. I'm sure this involves a lot of dis-assembly and re-assembly, fine tuning, chucking things in the bin and starting from scratch, playing (a lot), plus of course having fantastically keen ears, a love of music, and respect for and understanding of the achievements of others as epitomized by the apprentice system. The Cremonese Sound is an acquired taste. A good Stradivarius may an appropriate tool for a superstar solo performer (debatable of course) but there are many other kinds of violinists in the world and better instruments for them.
  17. Scottish arithmetic works on the basis that everything is worth less than I think and actually I don't have any cash on me, perhaps you could lend me a tenner? I'll pay it back by the end of the week promise ...!
  18. God no, I'm thinking of people I know much closer to home ... I would be happy to share Machold-like tales. Jacob, I really didn't want to offend you - maybe you were sucking your teeth while looking at the photos, but I think your assessment of its value to a restorer (based on photos) is 100% fair, though I would buy it for $500 as I am generally optimistic! It's just a rather odd case because the violin belongs to the music school, and I was urging caution. I think if your option were offered to them amongst others, it would be the easiest and quickest so lution (provided Brad actually wants it and has the time to put into it), but it's just one of several possible paths, and if presented as the only option it might lead to discontent somewhere down the line. Very few lay people understand or are prepared to accept the brutal mathematics of restoration, and since more and more players buy at auction, prices go up and up, lots of price history available on the web etc etc you buy a knackered Volger from someone for $400 and then they see one sold for $3000, much more difficult to explain the reality of the situation after the fact! My apologies for any upset, I'll buy you 2 deep fried mars bars (though I'd be surprised if you could eat one)
  19. I agree with Jacob about the violin, it's definitely of the period, absolutely characteristic of the region, and no reason to assume it's not Vogler. I also agree that the neck is probably a replacement, partly because the scroll looks too short and plain, and partly because of the mis-shapen button. This is not a student violin, although obviously on Maestronet the fact that it isn't a Strad or a Guarneri (or a bollocks tradey violin being passed off as a Guarneri by a lunatic) doesn't stand in its favour ..... So the question is one of value, and of how to do right by the people who brought it to you. You say the condition is poor, but everything looks repaired after a fashion, and unless you say otherwise, it's quite possible that this violin could be brought into playable condition in a few hours (if this is incorrect please say so). I think it's very hard to know the value of something like this without playing it - if it has a fine tone then it could easily sell for a couple of thousand - it is very old. If it was set up as a baroque instrument (assuming the neck is a long replacement ... what's the stop length by the way) it might sell for more to a player, but that's a labour of love, probably uneconomic, and I wouldn't want to do that with someone else's violin. I think selling it "as is" at a Tarisio speculative sale would be the best plan - possibly in playing condition if it sounds good (there are some wierdos who acutally go to Tarisio viewings and play the instruments!). I would propose to the school that you take 15-20% plus parts. There would be an open record of the sale and everyone would know where they stood. A buyer who has a particular interest in Vogler (perhaps someone who has a neck ...) might pay a good price for it. You could also offer to waive your 15-20% in exchange for a pledge to spend the money in your shop, even better. The violin trade is so corrupt on all levels, and shops get rich by sucking their teeth and looking sad when someone brings in a nice old fiddle ... "well the neck angle's all wrong, the varnish has been retouched, hell of a job to get it back into condition, it's really worth nothing and I don't want it, it's just a liability and it will sit around the shop for years, nobody wants a violin with a soundpost crack - but I suppose I could give you 300 for it ....." etc. After a day's efficient work the violin is on the shelves with a 5 figure price tag - don't say it doesn't happen! As Jacob says, this is a great chance to work on a genuinely old instrument without being scared to breathe in. Best to be open about everything, and explain that it might be worth $1-3000 at auction, maybe more on a good day. If the neck's original (unlikely but possible) then it could be worth more. Martin Swan Violins
  20. Hi Lyndon, I see the substance of my post (originally Melvin Goldsmith's argument) being repeated by many, although the great Burgess seems to take exception to me on the grounds of lack of experience. Maybe I should post again after I've set up another 500 or so .....! But for now, please allow me my fanciful notions born of ignorance and general stupidity. If you start with the concept of letting the position of the bassbar govern the set-up (I only started doing this about 200 violins ago), then you need different width bridges in order to avoid making bizarre cuts for the ankles. Despiau, Teller and Aubert all do odd sizes, though really a 7/8, a 40mm and a 41.5 should cover most eventualities. To repeat what I think are the vital points to emerge from this thread .... 1. Relaxing the bridge/top etc and then putting the whole thing back under tension changes the sound a lot, so most perceived benefits of post adjustment are mis-attributed. I have regularly got an indifferent trade fiddle "honking" (I assume this means sounding good) only to discover than the next day it sounds shit again! Any long-term improvements I have made seem to do with achieving a perfect contact/fit more than with position left to right. 2. A full contact between the top & bottom surfaces of the post and the inner surfaces of the instrument will give the fullest harmonic picture - on balance it would be more important to have this full contact than a completely vertical post. 3. Violins are not cellos 4. If the fit is good and moving the bridge a bit doesn't improve the sound sufficiently, then find the person a different violin! As to loose fits, I do agree that on a few occasions I have fitted a soundpost, then brought the strings up to about half tension, then moved the top and the bottom of the soundpost in by half a pasaucie. Or sometimes this loosening off can be achieved by moving the soundpost forward (depends on the arching). I think it's probably good to move both top and bottom to avoid losing the fit. But I assume my fits are loose anyway, and I tend to hold the violin gently around the middle while fitting. I know there are a lot of people on this site far more experienced than me, and with exerience of far more valuable instruments. I read and learn, and am grateful for the range of knowledge. Martin Swan Violins
  21. I agree with Melvin - slacken off the strings, remove the bridge, ignore the soundpost completely, put the bridge back on and bring the violin back up to tension and it will sound very different, to the point where many players bored with the sound of their (less good than they'd like) violin will feel that a marked improvement has occured. In view of this, it's very hard if not impossible to judge what difference a post adjustment has actually made! I was taught that the bass bridge foot should sit over the bassbar, the treble bridge foot should find itself exactly equidistant on the other side of the centre line (not always the same as the centre seam), and the post should sit in line with this foot. This involves first choosing the right width of bridge and then shaping the feet exactly so that they will allow for this. The post should fit perfectly, I don't think it's a big deal if it's a bit loose when there's no tension but I do think it shouldn't be tight. I can't see any harm in it being a degree or two off vertical but if the top and bottom of the post are cut exactly right it will want to sit upright, and in more heavily arched violins it's impossible to shift one end of the post without losing the fit. I haven't found that moving the soundpost away from this approved position brings any kind of result, generally any small moves I make are corrections towards this ideal. However, I also agree with Melvin that adjusting the distance between bridge and post is often productive, and has the benefit of being realizable with the strings under tension. There's a ritual amongst professional players involving soundpost adjustments that's very similar to a trip to a fetish priest - reassurance is offered in exchange for gifts. Martin Swan Violins
  22. lalofrank2011 is the new i.d of "ihaformosa" whose bizarre and deluded use of eBay I recorded in : previous post Interestingly the last violin this freedom fighter sold repeatedly was a genuine but tatty Joseph Chanot which he bought at Bromptons. I see lalofrank2011 has just "sold" a bow which he inherited from his mentor, the same bow as has been "sold" several times by ihaformosa! How long before he lists it again? Martin Swan Violins
  23. Melvin, what piquant sarcasm! The Nicola Bennedetti/Aly Bain clip was originally posted on Maestronet by me, and I'm pleased it has been seen by so many people. I posted the video of Ms Bennedetti because I thought it gave some insight into why soloists choose to play instruments they often don't like ... I would love think I could help Ms Bennedetti with any problem she chose to lay before me, but I don't think I would go poking about in her Stradivarius - she wouldn't even let Aly Bain touch it! As for wolf notes, I am merely recounting my own very limited experience, and I'm fascinated to hear the observations of more seasoned professionals. Jacob's fix is a great tip, and I will certainly try it next time I encounter the problem. My link
  24. If you have a stand-out fiddle but aren't playing it because of a wolf note, why not try to fix the wolf? It seems to me that you could afford to take quite radical steps given that it's not valuable or historic. Omobono's advice about after-string length is worth following, but in my experience most wolfs in the C or B/B flat region are caused by an unhappy distance between the soundpost and the bridge .... Or to be more precise, I think the real cause is that the natural frequency of front and back plates is too close, and for some reason the soundpost position can make this unpleasantly noticeable. I have had 2 good violins with this problem, both times it was fixed by tweaking the soundpost in its front to back orientation (while maintaining its sideways position). Other causes of wolfs ... poorly fitting soundpost, badly graduated spots in the back, bridge fit not perfect etc ...... All fixable by a luthier who can play, but often impenetrable to one who doesn't! The idea that you would play a less good violin because it's Italian is bizarre - or it would be bizarre if 90% of the classical fraternity wasn't doing the same! Martin Swan Violins