martin swan

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Everything posted by martin swan

  1. This is great - putting together something of a library here ... Thanks Anders and Addie. The immediate question which emerges is whether the tonal component of a particular bow is that relevant to the listener, although it's crucial to the player. The same question applies to violin tone of course!
  2. I feel that a bow is a simpler piece of design than a violin, and that its tonal attributes should be easier to map and control. That's not to say that the whole process of creating tone by bowing isn't extremely complex, as an initial dip into your various documents shows (I need to take a month off, not a few days, don't understand a word so far). However, there seems to me to be a saturation point with bows where all the major objectives have been met - then you get into a kind of "law of diminishing returns" scenario where to get a bow that's 5% better than a good Pfretzchner you have to spend twice as much, 5% better than a good Thomassin you have to spend twice as much etc. etc, before you know it you've spent £35,000 on a Peccate that's 5.8% better than the Pfretzschner!
  3. Wise words! Which comes first, the price tag or the acknowledgement of superior tonal attributes? Peccates are now fetching £35,000 plus ... I don't think spectrum analysis will follow far behind!
  4. OK that makes a lot of sense. I haven't spotted any Scottish Mittenwald notches (except of course on Thomas Craig's High Class Violins, some of which were made in Mittenwald!). One piece bottom ribs aren't uncommon in late 19th century Scottish work ... but notchless. I think your typical Scottish maker just took a nip of whisky for courage and stabbed a bradawl in the general direction of the endpin.
  5. Jacob, Where do you stand in relation to the so-called "Mittenwald notch" as seen on the bottom rib of this violin? I was taught that this was a valuable aid to identification, but since I got into maestronet I am questioning everything. By the way, clocked your caveat about early German spelling, you ARE the man!
  6. Georg Klotz labels are spelt Iser not Isar, other Klotzs too, and I'm sure I've seen Iser on other authentic labels, maybe Joseph Rieger? I don't think German spelling was in any way standardized at this time, and I wouldn't read anything into this spelling of Isar. Jacob Saunders could surely confirm this? It's not like a fake Italian violin "fato in Cremona 1937"! Still think it's unlikely to be a Michael Poller, but not because of the label. Could be better .... you never know .... Martin Swan Violins
  7. Yes, the bottom rib is classic Mittenwald, one-piece with a notch at the bottom to mark the centre point. I'll be very interested to hear what Peter Horner says - I'm sticking my neck out and saying not Poller/Boller, but early 19th century Mittenwald. Auction value £2000 ish if the condition's good. But does it have a repaired crack on the table below the treble f-hole? Looks like a bit of varnish doctoring here ... Martin Swan Violins
  8. Addie, Thanks very much for these sources - looks very interesting. I will take a few days off and try to understand them! I'd just like to re-state my question because we seem to have drifted slightly on to rosin - which is a sticky subject. In the case of violin making, there's a broad consensus (for whatever reason) that early Cremonese instruments have ideal tone, and everyone is trying to emulate that, nowadays using spectrum analysis etc to aid in that process. Given that bows have strong tonal characteristics, are bow-makers similarly obsessed with the ideal tonal attributes of Peccates (for instance), and trying to emulate that by means of spectrum analysis? Maybe there just aren't many bow-makers on this site ....? Martin Swan VIolins
  9. I like the look of this violin - it seems to be of that era or mor like early 19th century, it's very nicely made and the neck graft is very well done. It's just a matter of price - you can find a beautiful sounding violin for $1000 so I wouldn't spend a lot just because it sounds great. Lyndon gives good advice. The label looks a bit colourful for late 18th century, but it's worth sending photos to Peter Horner at Bromptons in London. Valuation form He will give an impartial (and in my experience very accurate) appraisal, and will give you an auction room estimate (which will be about 50% of retail, maybe a bit less). This service is free of charge. If it's a Boller he will recognize it. A lot of experts will give a verbal opinion and will only charge for documentation. There are a lot of Boller facsimile labels around, and an unidentified Mittenwald violin circa 1820 is worth quite a bit less than a Boller. Incidentally this violin Boller for $12,500 doesn't look much like the one you've got ... but I'm really no good at identification. Good luck! Martin Swan Violins
  10. The rosin and the hair are factors of course, but I handle dozens of good bows and always use the same hair and the same rosin. They have very different characteristics of weight, balance, spring and "grip", as well as varying degrees of granularity and differences in volume (not in any way connected to weight). But they also have tonal attributes which are not connected to any of these factors. That's what I'd like to understand. The player is the same (me!) ...
  11. I suppose my question is whether the inherent tonal emphasis in any given bow can be measured, rather than just dimly perceived by a player. From my point of view there are 3 or 4 different issues which influence my opinion of a bow - the inherent tonal quality is a big one, although the distinctions aren't as subtle as with violins. Do bowmakers aspire to an ideal of tone ... and if so, can spectrum analysis help?
  12. Thanks - do you know if this has been written up atall? Maybe it's in his book ....
  13. There's obviously a lot of fascinating work being done on how to understand the tonal response of a violin through spectrum analysis. Given that different bows give very different tonal results on the same violin, is anyone looking at this? If so, what's the methodology? I can understand how you'd make a violin vibrate (by hitting it), but how would you draw out the tonal characteristics of a bow? Martin Swan Violins
  14. I think it might be worth trying it - let people know what your reserve is (approximately) and maybe even link to the pricing sources you mention. I have the same experience as you - being knowledgeable and selling without a reserve is guaranteed to get you a low price. I have come to the conclusion that sellers who do well without reserves are using other tricks! But I don't think you can ever expect to get more than about 30% of retail value on eBay, even for something beautifully set up, guaranteed, and returnable - the percentage seems much better for bows, oddly ...
  15. I also spend more time on fitting up than on stereo equipment, I also find that playing helps. I do a great deal more playing than recording but I do a lot of both. What has annoyed you about my remarks? The end point of all this effort on the part of makers, restorers and players is to perform music - surely it's worth paying a bit of attention to how that performance is recorded?
  16. I record most acoustic instruments in true stereo, and particularly violins. In fact I hated the sound of my own playing until I started recording in stereo. These days I can cope with hearing myself in mono, but I've practised a lot! The stereo technique involves two cardioid mic capsules sitting one above the other on a central axis with their diaphragms at a 100 degree angle. Musicians are generally astounded to hear stereo close recordings of themselves, as it comes much closer to the real sound they hear when playing. Generally very little corrective eq is needed on stereo recordings (assuming you use good mikes like Neumann KM100s). However, if you're planning to do a bit of editing, you have to be very careful to maintain a position in relation to the mikes, or the instrument jumps about the stereo image with the edits. These bad edits reveal that the frequency picture changes massively with small differences in mike position, but then everyone who's recorded voices knows that. It baffles me that people buy and sell violins with the aid of mono "soundfiles" ... or soundfiles atall actually. Even A/B comparisons between instruments can go badly wront with just a tiny shift in mike position, plus the opportunities for trickery are boundless. Martin Swan Violins
  17. Jim, My point was that when playing a violin the information going to each ear is HUGELY different, whereas a listener looking at a violin even from 3 feet away gets pretty much equal direct information, and only has stereo room reflections to deal with. In a concert hall even these get ironed out by the fact that the room is a designed acoustic space, and each ear receives very similar combined direct & reflected information. As an example of how stereophonically a violinist hears a violin, we have just made 2 left-handed violins ... I've set them both up and have had to play them to see what they're like, what adjustments need to be made etc. I can tell you that I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what they sound like! I've never had an E string that near to my ear before, and the G's never been so far away. Martin Swan VIolins
  18. In mastering recordings of acoustic music I've always found it worth adding information above 16kHz. I can't personally "hear" above 16kHz but it certainly helps to locate elements within a stereo image and makes the music more interesting to listen to .... I do worry about this tendency to analyze waveforms in violins, or to think that sound can be divorced from time. When you start factoring the degree of percussiveness of different transients, irregular sustain between notes, the development of resonances due to harmonic combinations, unexpected reflections etc etc, the notion of copying the sound of an instrument seems a bit far-fetched. The brain can process phenomenal amounts of audio information, and the shape of a wave is only one element of any perceived sound. When it comes to violins, the perceived sound is only one element of its quality. I am becoming a big fan of Michael Darnton! I've just re-read his post and realized he said it all better. Martin Swan Violins
  19. Hi, I used to use Corelli Crystal all the time, and the mediums are a very good general purpose string. They're a bit stiffer than Tonica and marginally harder on the fingers, perhaps as a result of this they're a bit more robust in the mid-range/bass, and they don't have the slightly tinny/zingy quality of Tonica - I think they're much better strings all round, unless you have a rather muddy violin, in which case Tonica can help bring out some high frequencies. But Warchal Karneol are even better! Martin Swan Violins
  20. don't think you need any help ..... that's an authentic accent you've got there
  21. Yes I think they're priced to compete with Dominants, but they sound much better - Dominants are a bit fuzzy by comparison, and the E strings are only good for cutting cheese in my view. I have to admit that Dominant silver-wound G and D strings are tremendous (if pricey) .... I tried Warchal Ametyst briefly but found them uninspiring (more like Dominants in tone, with slightly grainy upper harmonics, and a bit powerless compared to Karneol). Warchal Brilliant Vintage are a mystery to me, low tension but very cheap-sounding, artificially zingy. Brilliants (not Vintage) are fantastic for reviving a dull-sounding fiddle, also great on new instruments if you don't mind being deafened, but they're quite high tension and not all violins can take them. I've set up about 400 violins with Warchal Karneol, and I've never thought they were the wrong strings! They are also cheaper than anything else and they seem to last for ever. I've noticed quite a few luthiers are very snobbish about them just because the silk is plain and they look a bit ordinary. I think Karneol are a great example of a product designed to be affordable which just happens to be outstanding. But they won't necessarily help you sound Irish! The only defect is that the yellow thread on the E string tends to unravel a bit, but I'm trying to get them to do something about it and they seem very friendly .... Martin Swan Violins
  22. I play mainly Eastern European music, but also a fair dose of Irish and Scottish repertoire. I only use Warchal Karneol now - every single violin I put these strings on immediately sounds better. I really dislike Evah Parazzi, which I find muddy, sluggish and lacking in high harmonic content (though they're marginally better than Obligato, which are only good for staying out of the spotlight if you're in an orchestra). I don't like any metal strings because there seems to be little variation in tone and the string tension seems to brutalize most violins. But I haven't tried Zyex. Helicore, sort of steel, I find the strings are too thin under my fingers, but they're popular with serious Irish players. Bernie mentioned Larsen Tzigane, meant to be good for the kind of "tzigane" music I play. I bought one set and was completely perplexed - tense and dull! All the professionals I have dealings with are now using Warchal Karneol - I should be getting a cut. Martin Swan Violins
  23. I've only come across birds eye maple in trade violins. However, a Ladislav Prokop with a one piece birds eye maple back was one of the best violins I have ever owned, and I had a very nice sounding JTL with a birds eye back. But I must have had a dozen birds eye violins (including a German Maggini pattern) which were pretty rubbish! Martin Swan Violins
  24. It behooves us all to eschew pedantry, internet chatroom notwithstanding .... By the way Bernie, sounds like you need to buy yourself a worse fiddle - you know where to find me!
  25. Yes Mr. Bain is being pretty disingenuous about the number of fiddles he's owned - I know of several that went his way. Not all of them returned!