Michael Appleman

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  1. Michael Appleman

    Franz Simon, Salzburg & Johann Gandl Ramsau

    Thanks Jacob! In your fascinating post about Buchstetter, you suggested he might have origins in the Salzkammergut, I presume with some link to this rare combination of inside mold with through-neck construction. Could you expand on that if you have any other reasons, please? Also, I believe either Roger Hargrave or John Dilworth wrote in a Strad article way back that Anton Posch came from Goisern, as opposed to the usual Fussen origin for all those Viennese makers. Any thoughts on that?
  2. Michael Appleman

    Funny fine tuner

    With a plain gut e string, it's not necessary, but with a steel e string, solid or wound, it's pretty indispensable. A simple solid peg simply turns too much too fast to be able to tune a steel string precisely, since it is so much less elastic than gut or synthetic cored strings. Modern geared pegs like the Wittners do ok without a tuner.
  3. Michael Appleman

    Funny fine tuner

    Menuhin started using a "straight pull" tail piece at some point, with a slotted block so the strings would lie straight instead of bending into a "keyhole." At that point he did use this sort of string adjuster on his e string, and sometimes on his a as well.
  4. Michael Appleman

    Is there arising a crisis in the antique violins market ?

    Is the violin in the picture also a Bianchi?
  5. Michael Appleman

    loss of value in bow after spline

    My experience with my Voirin taught me not to be afraid of certain types of breaks if the repair is done well. To tell the truth, I do keep my eyes open at Vichy for damaged or previously repaired bows that might be suitable for my personal use. That's where I got my Lupot for less than the cost of a good new bow, and the last one I had my eye on, a Peccette former self rehairing Vuillaume with a relatively innocuous break behind the hair slot (that was their chief weakness!) wound up more than doubling its estimate, so I let it pass. That shows I'm not alone scrounging the dumpster...
  6. Hello everybody! I've been too busy this past year to follow the forum much or do much violin making, but I've been getting a little time to get back into it lately and I thought I'd post this to see what some of your thoughts might be on the topic. Last summer I finished a violin with very low arching. (As a matter of fact a bit lower and scoopier around the edges than I originally intended, but I got a little over aggressive in the rough out stage...I eyeball it at about 12mm finished up) After installing the neck with "traditional" overstand and projection values (7mm, 27mm) I found I had a string break angle over the bridge a bit flatter than I usually like coming in at over 161° at the d-string. The violin sounded ok, but darker and tubbier than what I consider useable by a serious player. As I usually do with my fiddles, I left it as is, playing on it and having it played on to see how it might evolve for a few months. Around this time Don Noon posted his experiment about the effects of extremely flat string angles, so I thought what the heck, I'll just leave it as is. After a few months, I still found the violin disappointing, so I decided to try my own experiment and found that by attaching a string to the sides of the tailpiece at the playing string holes and wrapping it around the back of the violin, I could pull the tailpiece down to make the string break angle more acute (increase the down force). The result was that, yes, once I brought the angle down to 158°, I was getting the brighter "treble fizz" the violin had been lacking. I recognize that the pressure of the wedges on the ribs that I was using to tension the "pull down" string and its immobilizing effect on the tailpiece might have been contributing to the change in sound quality, but the result was so compelling to my ears that I decided to do a neck reset. I finally got around to it last week and went about it with the goal to have a 158° break angle, and a minimum 4mm overstand, and the result is that I have a 35mm high bridge. A higher bridge might have an advantage in its greater lever effect between the strings and the feet, and that the relative differences in lever length between the inner and outer strings are diminished compared to a lower bridge, but the downside of course is that there's greater mass to swing around. I don't like my bridges to be too spindly, but I managed to get this one down to 2gr. The violin, by the way, is finally sounding good: still on the dark side, but within a "useable" range for a professional classical player. The questions I'd like to throw out to the forum are: what do you do with a neck set on a violin with very low arching? How low would you go with the overstand? How high would you go with the bridge? Any thoughts on the subject would be appreciated!
  7. Michael Appleman

    loss of value in bow after spline

    When I was still living in Boston I had the fun experience of having a Sartory broken in an orchestra greenroom when a clumsy colleague knocked my case to the floor. (actually I wasn't even there, I was lending my kit to my brother who was in town for a gig). Unlike my repaired Voirin which was broken at the head and has been rock solid for over 40 years, the Sartory was broken at the stick just behind the head, and that's pretty much a death sentence. Arnold Bone asked me if he could try an "experimental" technique on it with an overlapping reinforcement, and the repair was not only all but invisible, the bow played exactly as it did before. The truth is, though, that I never really liked the bow that much, (I hadn't bought it, it was just sitting in my dad's stock of bows) and after six months or so, Bone called me up saying he had a buyer, a lady amateur looking for a nice but cheap bow, and he admitted that he wasn't totally confident the repair would hold up under heavy professional use. He took on the sale and took full responsibility for any future failures of the repair, and sold it for $1300 at a time when healthy Sartorys were fetching $5-7000 or so. Martin, I think you should go for the spline on the Tourte. Keep it playable, even if you might have another stick that could use the mounts. Have you contacted bow makers in Paris? I'll PM you with a couple of suggestions.
  8. Michael Appleman

    loss of value in bow after spline

    I thought it might be worth mentioning that Lafleur made several bows with splines from new as well as multi-ply bows back in the 1840's, so plywood bows have been tried! The multi-ply bows might imply he was trying to get something out of off-cuts, but the original spline reinforced heads suggest he was getting broken bows to fix and thought it was worth it to do preventative reinforcements. When I was growing up in Boston, my family had a good relationship with Arnold Bone, who was the big bow, maker, restorer and expert in town. (He actually taught my mother to rehair bows) At some point my father was looking for a good but cheap bow for my brother, and Bone sold us a beautiful Voirin that he had splined. The break was fairly low on the head, he did meticulous work, and the bow was very cheap. It eventually became my number one bow as I finished my studies and remained so as I went off concertizing and later playing in big orchestras. When I moved to France and got a co-leader job at the Lyon Opera, the orchestra sent me to Schmidtt's for an insurance appraisal, and he set the value at what he called a minimum replacement cost for a bow of similar quality, at the time 15000FF, or about 2500$ (back in 1991). Currently it's appraised at 3800€, which is fine with me. It shares a place in my main playing violin case with a handle-grafted Lupot that cost me about 3000€, but plays like some of the best Tourtes I've ever owned or tried. That one's insured for a bit more, but in any case, I will never sell either these bows as they are two of my favourite playing bows, and I know I will never find anything that plays as well for this kind of price. When I stop playing I will probably give them to a student or friend who I think can use them fruitfully. In the mean time, I collect and also play on fine bows in good condition, but I consider them like a stock portfolio with the added fun of being able to play on them. Whenever I have a big concert with serious right hand gymnastics, I head for the broken Voirin or the broken Lupot.
  9. Michael Appleman

    How Do the Best Violins Compare?

    That's one of the traps of just reading up on the literature that's out there without having access to active dealers/restorers/researchers; there is a lot of "folklore" in the myriad violin books even well-respected ones. More recent and rigorous archival research has debunked many long held beliefs, and among them are several purported Stradivari pupils, like Alessandro Gagliano or Lorenzo Guadagnini, not to mention G.B. Guadagnini himself. This forum is very helpful since between its moderator and several regular contributors, we all have access to highly informed professionals who are actively dealing/restoring/evaluating violins like these and are up on the latest research. As Martin wrote above, your last request would take several books worth of text, but I'd bet a few months of following this board might just shed some light on your questions. If I might share a personal opinion, it is easy to let the bright star of the great Cremonese makers blind us to everything else, but I feel that there were earnest hardworking violin makers in almost every music-making place and decade ever since, and I think we can all find examples of violinists who we've heard or known getting great tone and power out of Contreras', Gaglianos, Lupots, Vuillaumes, Scarampellas, Smiths, Bellinis, Zygs etc. (just trying to skip through the decades, no offense to anyone I've left out) The sound of a violin is so much tied to the person playing on it, and the characteristics of two violins by the same maker can be so different, that I feel it's fairly pointless to categorize sound by maker in anything but a very general and flexible way.
  10. Michael Appleman

    Fiddles shmiddles! Look what we made today!

    Nice Alfa! I see body-coloured bumpers, but I don't see a hood bulge. Is that a 4 or a v6?
  11. Michael Appleman

    French Viola 18th century.

    40cm violas are fairly unusual for the period, because the majority of violas being made around this time were smaller, not larger. Even into the 19th century, Vuillaume, Gand et. al. were making mostly 38cm violas, and I believe the Mittenwald, Viennese and Musikwinkel makers were also making more 38's than 40+'s. I've never played a Leclerc viola, but based on the violins I've seen, this could sound quite nice. One of my former students played one and got into a major orchestra using it.
  12. Michael Appleman

    Kevlar taipiece attachment

    I got all excited by these when they first came out, and even started experimenting with all sorts of different tail chord materials, lengths, stiffness/flexibility combinations. I can't speak for 'cellos, but regarding violins, in the end, once the initial "that's neat" reaction was over, the only benefit I found was in slightly attenuating overly harsh sounding violins. On healthy, well-balanced fiddles, the added freedom of the tailpiece only made them fuzzier and weaker sounding. Some might call that "more complex" so to each their own, but I stopped using these a while ago.
  13. Michael Appleman

    Any functioning self-rehairing bows left?

    If you're coming to Paris next week, Martin, let me know if you have time to meet up. As I have a couple of self-rehairers, I have discussed with the bow people here about making replacement hanks, and the usual idea is to prepare a hank, clamp it flat, then run it through a sewing machine to stitch it up. I've also got one that is a series of "mini" hanks with tiny knots to fit inside the brass tube, though that looks like the hard way to do it. I think Jerry's got a strong point in that the ferrule wedge is important to the feel of the bow and that makes easily replaceable hair an almost impossible dream. That said, even reviving the Vuillaume system in its simplest form (with a traditional moveable frog with a tube slot instead of the internal brass hair holder) could be a boon for players who live or travel too far away from professional bow re-hairers. I just wanted to get back to something, though, and that is the number of wooden Vuillaume self-rehairers I've seen that have split behind the head groove. If you take a look at the "re-converted" ones carefully, you usually find that the conversion was often done after the back of the head had split off. I believe, and the opinion of professional bow-makers would be interesting to have on this point, that this is a potentially fatal flaw with the idea.
  14. Michael Appleman

    Any functioning self-rehairing bows left?

    Honda motorcycles? From the perspective of a Norton dealer in In the 1960's perhaps, but while the quaint 90cc step-throughs were starting to make inroads into the world market, Honda was winning Grand Prix titles, before going on to dominate sales world over. I doubt a De Jacques bridge has ever found its way onto a Strad, and while Vuillaume self-rehairing bows might have been used by some top violinists in their day, they certainly did not take over the market!
  15. Michael Appleman

    Any functioning self-rehairing bows left?

    This is what most of the bow-making community I know here in France think about it. Vuillaume was crushing the independent bow-making shops by furnishing their own replacement hanks for their self-rehairing bows, so pressure was put on him to stop pushing the product, so they say. Another facter is longevity, as the heads of many of the wooden Vuillaume self rehairing bows would split behind the hair slot, and the ebony "outer" frogs were not that robust. I've got a couple metal self-rehairing bows and I'll post a picture of what often happens to the frog a little later.