martin swan

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Everything posted by martin swan

  1. 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 fascin
  2. 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
  3. Auction houses fit violins with Dominants, it's a kind of industry standard because they're very cheap in bulk and people know they're reasonably neutral. If a priceless Italian violin sounds a bit rough, you can always blame the Dominants!
  4. Warchal Karneol should become the new industry standard - they have no tonal defects and work on every one of 400 or so violins I've tried them on. They don't have the fizz that can be quite offputting with Dominants, and the E is much sweeter (Dominant E should only be used for cutting cheese). Warchal Brilliant Vintage are a very odd sounding string, and should only be used for problem instruments - they are low tension but extremely fizzy. Karneol are about £20 a set dealer price .... Martin Swan Violins
  5. That pipe is SMOKIN'! But the axe is a bit of a hatchet job ....
  6. I've tried a couple of Romedio Muncher violins - they sounded dreadful. Ettore Soffriti is the only 20th century maker who ever got 3 stars from me, though I confess to having rather particular tastes. The Ornati in tarisiofever's clip sounds great, I've never played one so I can't confirm or deny. I've played a few Bisiachs and a Fagnola, and while they were consistently good, they weren't any better than a good EH Roth. Martin Swan Violins Tone Evaluations As a general rule modern Italian violins seem to be massively overpriced, and while the craftsmanship is often very good, there's n
  7. Roger, send me your address and I'll post you a copy ... it wasn't a big seller, would you like a few dozen? Also, if you ever visit Edinburgh I will treat you to a deep fried Mars Bar.
  8. Amongst the upper (and lower) echelons of professional players a violin is primarily a statement of worth. It has other attributes already listed, but that's the main one (you might also describe it as a psychological prop). In Selfridges you can buy a diamond encrusted iPhone for £17,000. With this phone you can call your friends and have a nice conversation, you might even say some beautiful things. You will probably be in a better mood because you're holding a diamond-encrusted phone (and you're worth it)! The person you're talking to can't hear that you've got a diamond phone, but your t
  9. I think they'll have to get a lot more expensive before top soloists will endorse them completely!
  10. As David Burgess has said, the only way to get to the bottom of these claims for the superiority of a few early Cremonese makers is to conduct a listening test in which no-one knows what is being played (and to use a violinist who doesn't know any of the instruments already). So the question is, who is happy to have their Stradivarius handed to a blindfolded player who may drop it? We should blindfold the audience too. Should the whole event happen in the dark? Perhaps the violin handlers could wear night vision goggles so they don't stumble on the stairs. I suggest we find a way of sup
  11. Opera singers are an interesting point of comparison. I think everyone would agree that the Wagnerian voice is in itself pretty hideous, but entirely necessary to be heard against an obscenely large orchestra belting out brass at high volumes. Perhaps when it comes to violins the volume and quality of projection is more important to professional soloists than other considerations. A violin which will carry above a large orchestra may not actually have a good tone! Pavarotti's voice has a harmonic character which cuts through anything, it's very pure and rather lacking in lower midrange colou
  12. I imagine that quite a few inferior Strads and Guarneris also got junked or recycled along the way by luthiers who thought they were a bit poor ...! Even in Vuillaume's day I don't suppose they were treated with any great reverence.
  13. You may think Pavarotti's voice is "objectively" better - I also disagree - but does Pavarotti make better music than Domingo? I have a theory to explain the secrets of the great Cremonese masters .... they strung up their violin, played it a bit, and if it didn't meet their exacting standards they took it apart and started again or just burnt it. Some contemporary makers have been known to do this also!
  14. What you are describing is an "acquired taste". In my view this taste has developed in the wake of these instruments' rising financial value, rather than being the cause of it. An analysis of what causes the "Cremonese sound" (perceived by very few in some but not all Cremonese instruments made at a particular period) is not a great starting point for future endeavour, though even if the premise is false (I'm not saying it is), it may be as good a starting point as any. Not that the debate isn't very entertaining .... it's just like the question of whether God exists. Many fascinating sid
  15. Dwight - I'm going to the Tarisio viewing on Monday so I'll have a play on it and give you my verdict!
  16. I am fascinated by Jacob's explanation. I have seen so many rather fine German violins with labels of makers I don't really believe in, from towns where there's no tradition of making. These always seemed to me to be broadly equivalent to good Mirecourt instruments ie. superior trade violins. The consistency of the outline bothered me the most, although everything else could be very different, carving, purfling, varnish, neck shapes, heels, button profile etc. I then came across a dealer who was selling a few such instruments as "Grossstadtgeigen" and asked him what he meant - he said it was
  17. Jacob, did these violins then turn up with rather grand "maker" labels saying Berlin, Marburg, Bad Hersfeld etc ....? Would such violins have been bought finished from Schoenbach and just labelled, or bought from Markneukirchen and finished in violin shop backrooms? If the latter, there seems to be a lot of the same thing still going on with Bubenreuth instruments & kits bought in the white (though Sandner et al buy these in Reghin)!
  18. Jeffrey, do you mean a "Grossstadtgeige" (have I spelt it right)? This particular German term has always irked me - as someone living in the deepest Scottish countryside, I hate its elitist ring, and the insinuation that I wouldn't be fit to own one unless I moved house ....
  19. I thought this might cause some amusement .... a proud boast somewhat undermined by the quality of the inner work!
  20. OK 1890 Dresden with slightly wonky f-holes and a better scroll - it wasn't a bad guess! If the body is Andreas Morelli then it's Markneukirchen, Karl Herrmann et al. Looks very possible ... but in that case I wonder if it's possible that the scrolls were bought in at the time.
  21. I'd dispute the notion that a good violin from a late 19th/early 20th century Bohemian or Hungarian maker costs less than one from an equally talented French maker. I think the auction world has gone a bit Bohemian recently (in its relentless pursuit of money for nothing, and in the face of dwindling stocks of "Italian" violins, it has decided that Bohemians are part of the IN crowd). I think the greatest bargains tonally are still early 20th century English makers (William Robinson, Arthur Richardson etc) or French provincial makers like Boulangeot or Gaggini.
  22. Nicola Utili My Italian is poor, but obviously Utili was an innovator! I'm afraid I think this violin looks like a glorified "Tischgeige" to me ..... but his violins have a reputation for excellent sound. Martin Swan Violins
  23. I would take the strings, bridge and tailpiece off, but I wouldn't bother dropping the soundpost - it will probably fall on its own! Incidentally Tarisio Shipping Instructions is very helpful. If someone lives far from civilization (btw "civilization" does not necessarily equal "presence of luthiers"), I often ship violins with slack string tension, but in this case I use two boxes, not a case and a box. The first (smaller) has plywood on both sides, has plenty of clearance above the violin, and in turn is wrapped in heavy duty bubblewrap inside second a bigger box. This will avoid any pressu
  24. This violin was "sold" already about 3 weeks ago - the previous listing had a full image of the label stating that the violin was "fato" (sic) in 1992. Very dodgy seller, consistently sells mutton dressed as lamb - lots of "authentic French" violins from Schoenbach.
  25. In UK shops 5.5 and 3.5 seem to be the norm. This is probably off topic, but my opinion is that string height should first be judged in absolute terms ie. on the basis of sound/string tension, and should be governed by ideal bridge height, not by the existing position of an often badly fitted and easily corrected fingerboard. Assuming that the bridge height is right for the violin (a difficult but important judgment call), then the fingerboard has to sit under the (ideally tensioned) strings so that the strings feel comfortable. That degree of comfort seems to depend a lot on the type of str