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John_London

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  1. I am ejoying Albert Berr, Geigengeschichten on your recommendation. A rattling good read about the violin trade. Just read the part where he suggests that the "secret" was not the Strad or Guarnerius model, or the varnish, but a traditional understanding of wood selection. He says that Del Gesu only used one log for his tops, and others used only a few during their career (?true), implying they somehow knew how to pick a suitable tree. He mentions Kessler among those who used very old wood from church beams, and whose violins sounded good at first then lost their quality.
  2. I've been re-reading the 2006 thread "Cremona versus the rest". The Strads which practically play themselves, the DG Cannone which few players can make sound good. All doubtless fantastic violins. Then there are good but lesser violins which practically play themselves but with limited colour potential. Which are you tapping for? As someone who has handed over cash for a new violin not very long ago, I am asking different questions. Is the wood thick enough and stable enough that the arch will not sink, the plates will not crack, and less seriously, there is a low risk of seams opening? Is the instrument at once robust, yet light and balanced and alive in the hand, and quite floaty under the chin even without a shoulder rest (think Milstein videos). You have to feel comfortable with it, in so far a violin is ever comfortable. Does it look nice? If it is copy, does the grain look like the original? Certainly there are sonic properties to the box, as well as the setup and the bow, but no single criterion. So I am not sure what makers are looking for when they tap?
  3. Concerning the Cremona maker, I saw in the small ads in London a "master" violin by the owner of a Romanian workshop for about half the expected price. I found an email address, and he "maker's" son told me that the date on the label was enough to show it could not be genuine. On the other hand I did buy a violin with undoubted provenance from a living maker for about half price because the owner who had it from new wanted to sell quickly, and his usual shop offered a ridiculously low price. (Perhaps they perfer to sell on consignment.) I bought a bow in the March Brompton's general sale, and noticed that items with name recognition sold, though with a few exceptions around the bottom of somewhat optimistic estimates, and many cheaper items remained unsold. Inflation is a tool to cause the rich to turn cash into enduring assets (and get richer) and the poor to cut expenditure in an attempt to cover the cost of food and shelter (and get poorer). So it would not be surprising to find violins which appeal to the wealthy reach eye-watering prices, while items towards the bottom of the market fall, and present nice opportunities for someone who does not need a big name violin and bow to play their best.
  4. For me it is about getting the note started. I think it is mainly about need for bow weight. For example, if you start a scale on the G string and change to D string without an open string between, you want a relatively even sound and for the first note on the D to start sounding immediately and without a scratch. As well as preparing the left hand finger to stop the string, the plane of the bow has to change, and maybe make the sounding point a bit closer to the bridge, and even more challenging to do without scratching, you may need to increase bow weight to get the sound started. In a fast scale it has to happen fast. Some instruments are quite forgiving and the note will ring out immediately, cleanly, without scratching, at the touch of the bow. By contrast, all this can be challenging on a badly made violin which does not sound freely, or even on a well-made violin with a thick bare gut D string, where the smooth continuous sound only works if the factors are precisely controlled.
  5. Agreed, I suppose I meant I am not sure that searching for more responsiveness from strings is necessary. I do think a badly made violin (or bow) which does not respond well can hold one back.
  6. It's a rabbit hole leading to expenditure if not madness. Some violinists obsess about finding "the one" violin, usually one costing millions; some say that is nonsense, but obsess about choice of strings and learn their history; some obsess about bows (just watched Kavakos on Youtube talking about trying a range of bows for each piece of music and each violin, and claiming that using a range of bows on a violin develops its sound colours); and some obsess about setup and want the soundpost shoved back and forth all the time; and some obsess about none of those things. There are good violinists in all of those categories. You don't need to be sane to be among the world's greatest violinists.
  7. The Eva Pirazzi supplied with my new violin have done well. Whether they are as good as new I cannot say as the instrument has opened up. Over a few years it had the equivalent of many months at an hour a day. Strings make a big difference to sound. Without making any insinuation, I was going to raise a question about the search for responsiveness. Before synthetics, violinists managed well with Oivs and Eudoxas and similar, but in many cases chose the possibly less responsive uncovered gut A (Milstein) and in some cases also bare gut D (Heifetz). Some of them had typically dark instruments (Heifetz, Szyering). In my mind the jury is out on whether the search for responsiveness is useful, once one has a decent, well set up instrument.
  8. If that Strad they sold me a couple of years ago turns out to be German, it reassuring to know they undertake to pay me the net proceeds of a consignment sale. I come here for the fun of reading about the violin trade with astonished wonderment. In the past few years I have bought two violins, three wood bows and a cheap CF bow. The only slight disappointment was the bow by a maker who was no longer alive (Nurnberger).
  9. Eudoxa strings last well, if not as well as unconvered gut. With respect to string windings coming loose, I have mixed experience. Perhaps the cutting of the nut and bridge vary. However, my experience of this has changed over the years, so I wonder whether some players get more life out of strings than others, as seems to be the case with bow hairs.
  10. The cert. sent with Bein & Fushi's invoice says "we will net to you on a consignment basis the price you paid". That falls short of buyback, and may be worth little if Bein and Fushi were to cease to be comfortable vouching for the item's authenticity?
  11. You cannot go far wrong with Eva Pirazzi for modern strings. I have a set of Passione and don't really like them, though they are not so different. My only qualification to answer is that I have a DG copy, with moderately thick plates and dark sound. Gut strings sound nice, and the lack of fast response is a challenge for me rather than a fault in the instrument. The uncovered gut D is hard work. However, if I were playing the romantic virtuoso repetoire, responsiveness would matter more. Somewhere I posted about about when Il Cannone was played in RAM, London. I was at the back of the hall. Vengerov, using modern strings, did not get much out of it. Peter Shepperd played it with gut strings, and it sounded better. He said it was hard to play. My DG copy likes a strong, heavy bow. In terms of speed of response, it has also occurred to me that the person who made the instrument is not necessarily the best person to handle setup. Perhaps you cannot have everything. There is a lot to be said for having a new violin which is a Strad model
  12. A FYI for anyone interested. I have just read David Jacobson, Lost Secrets of the Master Musicians. Not everyone will enjoy as much as I did his reflections on music, conservatories, violin technique, Milstein, Horowitz, Krachmalnick, Galamian, Suzuki, conductors, The System, life and love. The chapter on violin dealers may interest some here. It reports an incident of suspicious behaviour by a pseudonymous French dealer in New York (I suppose, Morel), a few recollections of Bill Moennig, and an instance of being defrauded by an un-named dealer (Machold). EDIT -- Jacobson's assertion is that his violin was a $30k certificated "Chanot", and the shop told him it was "German, worth $10k" and offered to buy it. Assuming the story is reliable, am I advised in a PM that the the people involved would not have been Morel but other French colleagues in that shop. The violin was subsequently sold by Machold for $65k as a Chanot. Machold told Jacobson that it had been sold for $31k.
  13. All things considered, I'd rather have a bow I don't want to sell. I have a Nurnburger which I want to resell, but it is nickel mounted, with a mastodon face plate (replaced too recently to be ivory) so maybe I'm out of luck. It wasn't cheap, either.
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