Michael Appleman

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About Michael Appleman

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    Violin Nerd

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  1. This is really neat! I've got to get my hands on one of these and try it out. For those still scratching their heads about the name, "tête-bêche" just means flipped around, head to toe, which doesn't really describe what Nehr is doing now, but made more sense with his earlier experiments when he flipped the ivory plate to the front of the bow. His traditional Tourte copies are exquisite bows.
  2. You're absolutely right that there were certain periods where Turin makers had a certain closeness to French makers. The earlier Turin makers, late 17th century to mid 18th century, worked in a similar style with a similar method to what we call "Vieux Paris" makers, and two of the best known makers in Paris from the mid 1700's were Castagneri and Gaffino, both originally from Turin. Later, after Napoleon annexed Piedmont, French makers like Lete-Pillement, Joseoh Calot and Pierre Pacherele set-up in Turin and the entire 19th to early 20th century Turin school of making has a strong French influence, from Pressenda to Oddone. Surviving inventories show that big violin shops like the Guadagnini family's shop were "importing" French violins from Paris or Mirecourt to sell in Turin, so it's conceivable your violin was originally sold in Turin and spent its life there.
  3. What is a "record of providence?" Is that a certificate from the highest authority?
  4. First look at the front and the edge-work and I was thinking Saxon of the type that got labelled "Schweitzer" in the US, but the scroll, rib mitres and interior make me think along the lines of what Martin is saying. Not much to do with Turin or Venice, I'm afraid.
  5. Without better photos, we're still like blind men touching different parts of an elephant. I see things that remind me of a mystery viola I had that some folks were calling a Nyggel, and I see other things that look like Piacenza, but I wouldn't want to draw any conclusions until I get a sense of what the outline looks like. These photos are too heavily distorted to have any decent idea.
  6. While you're at it, show us the neck root, as your violin has both a scroll graft and a short early-looking fingerboard.
  7. If you're hoping someone will say you've got a Stradivari from 1711, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. Antonio Stradivari did not carve his initials, city or date into any examples of his violins as far as anyone knows and your violin has almost nothing in common with an authentic Stradivari other than that it looks like a violin. (notice also that the inscription is lighter than the surrounding wood, suggesting the carving wasn't done at the same time the violin was made) That said, your photos are possibly making your violin look less interesting than it is. The first reaction to your photos most forum members probably had is "the usual junk" i.e. Saxon cottage industry low-grade violin. I see some interesting features, though, and would like to see better photos before drawing any conclusions. Straight-on well-lit shots of the front and back, from not too close so the outline isn't distorted, scroll side profile, better lit photos of the rib mitres...
  8. I agree totally with Don Noon's comment. It is pretty difficult to prove conclusively whether or not a nearly 300 year old violin's thicknesses have been tampered with, and even if we could, it wouldn't teach us much about how the violin sounded before. We do have some documentary evidence about how relatively well informed people felt about Del Gesus circa 1800, such as the Abbé Sibire book, written under the guidance of Nicolas Lupot, no less. The opinion expressed was that the sound was inferior to Strads, and it's interesting that Lupot made very few (if any...it's not a 100% consensus that he did make any) DG copies. Vuillaume also started out with Strad models, and I don't believe he started making Del Gesu models until Paganini came to town. He got his hands on Paganini's DG, and apparently took it appart, took measurements and made patterns, but as far as I know, there are no existing Vuillaume DG models with Cannon-like thicknesses, whether they be Cannon, Alard or Ole Bull inspired models. I find it hard to believe that Vuillaume would have rejected those thicknesses on purely "ideological" grounds, as he was a pretty wild "experimenter" trying out some crazy violin and bow ideas over the years. If he could have found a way to make those thicknesses work for him, I imagine he would have used them. A more recent anaogy is of course Scarampella...
  9. Also, part of the rationale behind partnering with other bowmakers is the business of sowing up as many "Expert près la cour..." titles as possible, because one can't accumulate these individually, and having one puts one in the driver's seat evaluating estate sales and other possible sources for bows and instruments.
  10. You guys probably looked it up already, but "cablnet" in this context is just a fancy french word for an office or consortium of experts, for instance used for the equivalent of "lawfirm:" "cabinet d'avocats." If you don't know the Paris gossip, a few years ago, JF Raffin was getting ready to hand his shop ("atelier") to his daughter (fille) Sandrine who had spent years working to become a quality bowmaker (archetier) and develop her expertise (expertise). I think many people believed he was going to do like the late (regretté) Bernard Millant and take a "semi-retirement," coming into the shop from time to time to examine bows and write certificates, but instead he opened a new business devoted to certifying bows, but not doing repairs or direct sales, basically depriving his daughter of the biggest profit maker from his previous activity. (pas de commentaire...)
  11. Just looked at the listing. This viola looks like a decent proposition for a professional repairer, if it stays around or below the estimate. That crack can be repaired and once fixed the viola could sell for enough to justify the time spent. For a player, though, it would probably be a better idea to just go and buy a playable viola.
  12. It would seem to me to be a total waste of time and money. If you already owned it and wanted to do it yourself, why not? Paying a professional maker to make you a top for a mediocre factory instrument (I grew up knee-deep in "Juzeks" in my dad's violin shop, so please don't try to convince me that there's anything worth saving in one of these things) really doesn't seem like a viable option, if you could actualy find someone willing to do it...making a new top for a violin can make sense if what's left of the the violin itself has some historical or monetary value, but I don't think a Juzek quite fits that category.
  13. Hello ABC, I'm sorry I can't really advise you on making your varnish. Luckily there are some very knowledgeable and experienced people on this forum who can. I have, however, tried varnishing an electric guitar with a "violin type" varnish, and I'm not so sure it's a good idea. When one gets down to it, a violin, cello, and even a classical guitar, contact the body in limited ways, and typical wear patterns have become part of what we expect to see when we look at these instruments. Electric guitars, especially when played standing using a strap, make a lot of contact with the body, and between bridge muting, thumb resting and other techniques, we tend to make contact with the top in ways a classical guitarist wouldn't. My experience using a linseed-oil based varnish gave me a very attractive guitar, but because of its softer nature it has suffered alot more wear than it would have with a more "traditional" electric guitar finish (i.e. nitrocellulose lacquer). For my next electric guitar project, when I get around to it, I won't be using that sort of varnish again.