martin swan

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Everything posted by martin swan

  1. 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?
  2. 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 i
  3. 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! T
  4. 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
  5. That's from orchestral players holding the violin upright on their knee for long periods while not playing!
  6. 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 ....
  7. 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 .....!
  8. 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!
  9. 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 st
  10. basically an inverted V cut in the bottom of a one-piece bottom rib to show the centre position (for situating the endpin hole!)
  11. Definitely not JTL, in my view this is a Czech factory violin (though I've seen a few such Czech violins with Daniel Moinel labels). Don't know who made it, but it looks most like a lower level Prokop-type violin. The varnish is typical, particularly how it finishes on the scroll and the shading on the back, also the heel and the scroll carving are consistent with Czech factories. Incidentally these bakelite latticed chinrests were made in Czechoslovakia, I would guess it's originalThese vioilins were bought and sold through department stores in the US, so the Sears & Roebuck theory is a g
  12. Hi Lyndon - do you use the Best Offer option or just set a "take it or leave it" price?
  13. OK thanks for so many replies! I didn't expect to get such a response - it's obviously a bone of contention, which makes me feel better. I should clarify that my position is that the neck should be level, and that's how we make our violins. After reading this thread I think I will stick to that, though I'm very interested in the argument for tilting down on the bass side. I got into a spat with a prospective customer who told me that the neck should be lower on the E string side, and that anything else was a sign of a cheap factory fiddle - I disagreed (a bit impolitely) and got in a big mes
  14. Makers, do you fit your necks so that the top plane is nominally horizontal, or do you drop it down marginally towards the E string? If the latter, is the entire neck marginally rotated or do you just plane down the treble side of the top surface post-fitting? Thanks in advance for any insights. Martin Swan Violins
  15. Just bothered to look at the picture of the back .... oops. I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong! I don't think one-piece fronts are more prone to cracking - from a shrinkage/expansion point of view I suppose it would depend how far the wood deviates from quarter-sawn. Tangential shrinkage is at least double radial shrinkage (think I've got those the right way round) ... if you're using wood from small trees then you would have to joint in order to get a consistently quarter-sawn piece with minimal tendency for movement. A one-piece front with a bit of grain off the quarter might be unst
  16. I've had well made and badly made violins with one-piece tops ... I couldn't say there were any common factors tonally. I think the myth comes from the fact that they're very common on basic Mirecourt violins (but these often sound great). There was a big thread recently about symmetry - the conclusion seemed to be that it was a nice idea but nothing to get too hung up about!
  17. But fiddlecollector's William Smith violin (Sheffield) had a one-piece bottom rib, hence the notch - or do you just mean William Smith cellos? Do you get one-piece ribs on cellos - I am pretty ignorant when it comes to cellos
  18. Or has it? Maybe a little crack on the edge of the button nearest the camera ....?
  19. Hi Tarisiofever, Jacob shows his usual mastery of all things Teutonic! I'd expect this violin to sound pretty nice - I try to find this kind of spruce for our violins, very even across the body and not too tight-grained. The fillet in the button - seen this in a lot of German workshop violins. I'm sure it was put in at the time of manufacture - because the neck won't have been made specifically for the violin, maybe the dimensions were a bit off, or maybe a bit of heel corner got chipped off when it was sitting in the "box of necks". Is the top one-piece? And does the crack emanating
  20. I'd have assumed that was a Mittenwald violin! I'd be fascinated to know more about William Smith - Sheffield's my home town. I know of a William Smith in London in the late 1700s ... is it the same fella?
  21. 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!
  22. 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
  23. 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!
  24. 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.
  25. 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!