Michael Appleman

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  1. Vichy is quite a zoo, and I don't know anyone (except maybe Raffin and Rampal) who actually seems to enjoy going to the sales. If I'm in buying mode, I try to scope out the lots that interest me ahead of time, look at them at Raffin's or Rampal's shops, then place a bid order. English fiddles and bows rarely turn up, though in the past when non-french things like german violins or bows came up, they were bargains. Be aware that you can get a free certificate with any purchase, but both Raffin and Rampal have limitations to their expertise when it comes to non-french things. I once bought a fantastic early Knopf that had been in Vatelot's personal collection, but Raffin admitted he doesn't know enougth about these to certify them as "by" a particular maker.
  2. There is a danger in assuming that all instruments by a certain maker/family/school of making sound similar. We do like to think in terms of "brands," as though one Testore will sound pretty much like another, but that can be a trap. We now believe there were at least 4 different Testore family members (maybe 5) making instruments over 3 generations, and the difference between a Carlo Giuseppe and a late Pietro Antonio or one of these third generation "mystery Testores" is pretty stunning. Of course, Testores can be great playing instruments, but having your eyes set on one family of makers could mean missing out on some other great sounding instruments just because they didn't have the name you were looking for.
  3. This is actually an interesting query. If we were discussing classic cars or motorcycles, finding a basket case or "barn find" Corvette, Porsche, BSA et. al. and having it restored by a reputable specialist would be a viable option, if not necessarily cheaper than buying one that's already been restored. You'd be pretty confident about what you'll get in the end, whether you're plan is to have something restored as close to the original spec as possible, or a "resto-mod" that's been more or less improved or modernised. With a musical instrument, especially a violin family instrument, you might be sure you'll end up with an authentic Testore, if that's what you started out with, but you'd have no way of knowing if the instrument you end up with is actually one you'd like to play on!
  4. This isn't really an argument for or against anything that's been discussed here before, but I had a couple of free hours this afternoon and decided to advance on the violin I'm currently making. Back and ribs are done and "baking" in the uv cabinet, so today I finished the outline and did the rough arching of the top. I have to say the way the wood "sings" as the gouge goes through it, as well as the feeling of a sharp gouge slicing through a nice piece of spruce, are real sensual pleasures I'd never want to give up.
  5. looks like the the center seam needed regluing...
  6. Thanks Don. This is an intelligent, balanced viewpoint from someone with real experience on the subject. I think a lot of the debate and speculation going on in this thread is fueled by the "wow" factor of computer design and CNC machining, and the fact that few people posting here have either actually machined violin parts, carved them by hand, or finished parts that have been started on a CNC. After all it's not as though machine-carved plates were something new. Remember, there are early milled backs and tops in the collection of Vuillaume artifacts, so people have been experimenting these techniques since the mid 19th century. In the end, the question of to CNC or not to CNC is about as relevant as whether to use a jointer/planer machine on the rough stock or a hand plane to true up a piece. The difference between a cheaper violin and a better violin is after all a matter of materials and how much finishing work goes into it, and by finishing, I don't mean just the visual aspect, but working the archings and thicknesses in the aim of getting the best functionality out of the instrument. Yes of course, that might be subjective, but at least with a hand-made or hand-finished violin, someone is trying. I like something Roger Hargrave wrote, that cutting, planing and carving by hand is "good for the soul." At the same time, he showed us his new super planing machine a few years ago...
  7. Years ago I got a cheap digital and was very happy for awhile. Then after a year or two, it just went "off" reading up to 20% innacurate, and I my pals on the rue de Rome warned me to stay away from the cheap digitals they sell in the big hardware stores here. I got a quality plastic Japanese dial caliper that was not that much more expensive than that hardware department store digital, and it's been reliable and easy to use.
  8. Without people like Carlo Chiesa, Duane Rosengard, Paul Childs, Phiillip Kass, and many others, we'd have a lot less knowledge at our disposal. Imagine if we still believed that there were at least two G.B. Guadagninis, or that Del Gesu made "prison violins," or that Alessandro Gagliano had been Stradivari's student...
  9. In terms of making, though, Giovanni Rota violins are pretty far removed from Amati or even Del Gesu. There's a certain kinship with Storioni, but the later funky, short center-bout Storioni work, not the slightly Del Gesu inspired early stuff.
  10. While I agree that violinists are probably at the top of the spectrum when it comes to neurosis among musicians, I just thought I'd share something one of the top NY violin makers back in the 80's said to me about how violists would drive him nuts. Basically, violinists wanted either a Strad model or a Del Gesu model, and there were always buyers for his violins. Violists, on the other hand, have no "standard" models in mind, and would drive him nuts with their nit-picking and rejecting off-hand details that didn't correlate to their particular preferences, and those could be all over the place!
  11. I've always heard that described as the "Hill" saddle. That's how the Hill shop would do it when they got an old Italian with a saddle let into the ribs. It's quite common to find traces of a a cut out into the ribs on certain old Italian violins, sometimes filled with an ebony "moulding" to support the saddle, sometimes just filled in with a piece of maple. Take a look at all the end-pin photos on the NMM site and you can get an idea of some of the variations.
  12. If someone wants to CNC violins to his idea of optimal specs, why not? Go for it. What I find interesting, or perhaps unsettling, is the notion that once one has carved a half dozen scrolls, one might get tired of doing it again and again. Personally, I never get tired of sharpening my tools, sawing, carving and finishing up scrolls or any part of a violin. I truly get enormous pleasure from it, and look forward to the all too rare quiet moments when I can devote my time to violin making. In a similar vein, when I meet people who discover that I'm a professional violinist, I often get asked that silly question "how much do you practice?" I have a hard time explaining to these people that practicing my violin is not a chore. It's one of the things I love to do more than anything else. I only wish all my chores didn't get in the way, so I could devote even more time to it. I can understand people who are motivated by a goal or a finished product, and aren't all that interested in the process of getting to that goal. I feel that way about filing my taxes or going over bank statements. I can understand that not everyone has a job where they can do something they truly enjoy, (don't let me get started about some of the orchestra/pit/back up band jobs I've had...), but for a hobby, it seems a shame not to relish every step of the process. Then again for Mr. Booth the fun part seems to be figuring out the specs rather than carving the wood, so go for it! Let us know how it turns out.
  13. That's the Brothers Amati piccolo violin fromm the NMM collection. There's also a Storioni small violin there with a similar saddle. Interestingly, for the Amati the descripton says it may be an early replacement, while for the Storioni it may be the original.
  14. Make sure it has a reliable certificate!
  15. The varnish is a strong giveaway. The cheaper ones have a thin color layer with a clear coat over it (if it hasn't worn away). The fancier ones have a thicker, softer varnish with the color in the varnish itself. Jacob will howl at me, but i'd say the fancier varnish looks like what one expects to see on an "Italian" violin, even, dare i say it, "Venetien."