martin swan

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Everything posted by martin swan

  1. cheap french trade fiddle, post 1880, "great sound doesn't buy you a cup of coffee" - there lyndon, I said it for you! It has some characteristics that seem to appeal to eBay buyers, namely VERY LARGE PHOTOS, a degree of visible eccentricity in the table, and of course the money shot - a bit of purfling stuck in the bottom rib join to sort out a case of unseasoned ribs. padadh_hound is selling this violin on the basis of its sound, and we can't really judge that, it may be just as exceptional as he says - I've played dozens of unpurfled French violins with plain backs which did sound great
  2. I played a Secondo Bianchini recently - it came from a trusted source, and it didn't look anything like this violin. I would say this is "Bohemian" judging by the button and the replica label - Bianchini is a popular label!
  3. Kelvin & David, thanks for the tips - exactly what I wanted to know.
  4. Recently I wanted to adjust the string height on a new violin of ours, and in removing the bridge I took away a small amount of varnish. This hasn't happened before in identical circumstances (over 30 instruments), now I'm starting to worry. Does anyone have any tricks (apart from leaving the violin for another 6 months before stringing it up)? I wondered about applying a small film of candle-wax under the bridge feet ..... the varnish is oil, I don't imagine it would be damaged by candle-wax. Advice would be appreciated.
  5. Well these days I spend most of my life doing comparative assessments of violins and bows. I have come to my own conclusions based on a lot of experience, but I agree that these conclusions don't correspond at all with either the received wisdom or the considered opinions of others, often more experienced than myself. A bow brings quite a significant tonal component to a violin - it's made of substances which respond to vibration, friction and humidity, perhaps more so than a violin in that the rosin is doing a lot of the work and it's a very volatile material. So you can't expect a b
  6. Ultimately it's a question of how much time to invest - that rather depends on how good it sounds. Only you can decide ....!
  7. Teachers are the bane of every restorer - a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! I would get the neck stop at 130 and place the bridge at 195 irrespective of where the notches are at the moment. As Jacob said, it's very common for nicks to be very odd on N&H violins, and it's common practice to place the bridge independently ....
  8. HI, I think that treated wood for bridges is artificially hardened, sometimes steamed, sometimes through a chemical process, not sure exactly ... European beech (fagus sylvatica) has pretty similar medullary rays to American Beech (fagus grandifolia), but they both vary a lot, and you'd have to cut a lot of bits precisely on the quarter to get the sort of "bubbles" in Melvin's photo. "Kilning" refers to processes that remove moisture from wood using heat or vacuum. As Lyndon says, vacuum kilning leaves you with a substance that looks a bit like wood but has few of the properties! In my
  9. I would defer to Manfio, he is a lot more knowledgeable than me, but 1 in 20 is a lot of twist (though maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean). I really wouldn't want to use it unless it was totally dry, and I would only use it for a two-piece back, quarter-sawn as far as is possible. I would dry the wood in split billets and then only saw it when it's fully dry, as the twist will probably increase with seasoning.
  10. Don't touch it - particularly for a one-piece back. This tree has a bit of spiral grain, and it will move a lot more as it dries. Even when it's completely dry it will have a lot of runout over the length of a violin back. It would be tragic to put so much work into a piece of wood and then have to junk it. Make some chopping boards!
  11. It's certainly a very expensive way to buy a photocopied label - I picked up a copy of Marlin Brinser's Dictionary of 20th Century Italian Violin Makers for £45. It has photocopies of around 300 "modern Italian" labels. I can enjoy looking at them, and I didn't have to buy a load of useless firewood at the same time. Surely a much better deal - the transport cost was significantly lower too, so better for the environment ... Martin Swan Violins
  12. HI CT! I respect your opinion, and most likely we are both wrong about everything. I suppose I was slightly playing devil's advocate. If I was to be precise, I would say that like you, I feel all this is not susceptible to any kind of rational analysis. I think it depends where you're coming from, and few of us can detach from an agenda which we keep secret, even to ourselves. A restorer will have a different perspective from a maker, a dealer will have a whole other perspective (is s/he buying or selling?), a player another ... mostly people find what they're looking for. The main thi
  13. Maybe if they'd had kilns in Stradivari's day his violins would have sounded EVEN BETTER! In Scotland, Scots Pine used to be dried by storing it in ponds for a few months - the sap would be replaced by water, then the logs were cut, and the drying time was weeks rather than the usual "year per inch". This also avoided the blue staining that can affect the wood if it's stored for any length of time in the round. I would imagine that in the early 18th century most violin wood spent a lot of time in water, either for ease of drying or because of the absence of timber trucks - maple from Croat
  14. Glenn, I would go further and seriously question the whole notion that violins need to be played in. I think players need to be played in! I do concede that there are physical changes in an instrument brought about by playing, but I'd say at least 80% of the perceived phenomenon is down to the player adapting, loosening up, finding the right approach to the violin. Bows, on the other hand, do seem to need warming up, but this could just be to do with how the rosin responds to friction/heat. I've noticed that many very good bows seem to make a small noise initially, and that you have to
  15. It's definitely possible to change the properties of wood by aggressive kilning - this is called case hardening. However, I don't believe that there is any difference in the cell structure of properly kilned wood and air-dried wood, and therefore I wouldn't expect any tonal effects. But this kind of kiln-drying requires more skill and more time, so most kilned wood is case-hardened, and this changes everything about it. Some cabinet-makers won't use any kilned wood, but this is partly because they're not used to the feeling of wood that's really dry. I think they mistake the sensation (of
  16. There are a number of reference books ... for instance,"The Woodbook" a reprint of Romeyn Beck Hough's early 20th century guide to American woods. ISBN 3-8228-1742-2
  17. There are several different issues in this thread, all interesting! It's a well observed phenomenon that if you relax the tension by slackening the strings and then retension everything, it will take 24 hours to settle down and sound like it sounds. So the success of any modifications which involve taking the bridge down can't really be judged the same day. In my experience it can go either way, sounding significantly better or significantly worse the next day! Most soundposts are shoved in far too tight, and take a bit of effort to dislodge, even with the strings down. Any change of posit
  18. Yes it's a basic German factory instrument - Schoenfelder is a trade name ie. not a real maker. However, I've played a few of these, also Musima instruments, and generally they sound OK, in my view better than Chinese equivalents. I suppose this would retail for £8-900 with bow & case. On eBay you'd be lucky to get £200 so I don't recommend that. A private sale through a local paper or a small ad in a music college would get the best price (I'd suggest about £400). Lots of violin students want a viola but many don't regard it as a serious instrument and don't want to pay much ... Good
  19. actually I wasn't aware that the word turd was used in the US atall of course you and I would be incapable of identifying a deep fried turd, and would probably claim it was a mars bar!
  20. I've received this email from someone claiming to be John Thornton - it was in relation to a comment I made in the thread Bow Identification start quote ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ "An expert eye would be able to identify the workshop, but not from 2-d photos." "It's a good idea to get the weight right - teachers and other prejudiced buyers are obsessed with weight (as if one bought a bow by the gram), and if it ends up around 60 grams that's always popular. So choose the right lapping
  21. Lyndon, raising or lowering the bridge changes the string length (albeit by small amounts) but actually I'm interested in the effects of altering the downbearing on the bridge, and have found this makes much more radical changes to the sound of a violin than altering after-string length for instance Michael, I have no "fixation" with getting the E lower (I wouldn't touch it if it was sounding well), and am strongly in favour of horizontal necks, but I have noticed that lowering the bridge on the E seems to have a strong effect on all of the strings, whereas lowering the G has little o
  22. String Tensions David Burgess provided this information last time we discussed the issue .... no stats for Warchal, but I'm pretty sure Karneol are generally slightly lower tension than most. Baiorin - don't understand how string tension and string angle are different. Different angle, different tension - there's no other way of altering the tension than modifying the angle. Maybe I misunderstood your point? And how would this relationship impact more on a very nice instrument than a less nice one?
  23. I agree with Jacob. As far as I can see the condition is good, and in my experience these sticks are generally very strong ... 1960s and later silver-mounted bows are hard to get excited about, but this is a nice old bow and they're only getting rarer. An expert eye would be able to identify the workshop, but not from 2-d photos. Definitely worth restoring - assuming a proper job it would retail for £1200 or more in the UK, but it might cost over £200 to restore ... rehair, new ivory, new lapping, judicious cleaning (not with emery paper!!) maybe a bit of a straighten. It's a good idea
  24. I would have thought the amount of pressure was more important than the exact direction in which it's applied. And does the curvature of the bridge actually make a difference to the direction of force? I would have thought it summed vertical anyway, but then my physics is appaling ... I have been working on a very good French violin which sounded pretty strangled and lifeless. I made various adjustments which were a significant improvement - the last thing I did was to lower the E string height by 1mm. The effect was immense, and the violin opened up through its entire register. As befo
  25. Firstly, I can't comment about cellos! But when it comes to "poiriette" (tilting the neck on its horizontal axis) on violins, I don't think this can have had its origins in issues of playability. As a player who spends plenty of time up the neck I can see no argument for this practice, and the arguments that have been advanced are incomprehensible to me, if not nonsensical - I also think that bringing the bow and the bowing hand closer to the treble corners is bad news for any violin, and particularly for a historic violin. If the issue is new violins, then I think it's fair enough for m