John_London

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  1. John_London

    Which maker do you prefer and why

    Cheap, actually. The equivalent of what the book trade call a 'reading copy.' One good enough to do what it should, just about, and does not need special care or maintenance. I also own and sometimes play a couple of fiddles I like a lot by a living maker, and a nice bow, which to me were not cheap though resale value is poor: they are fun to own as luxury toys or tools. It turns out that owning a Grand Prix motorcyle does not place the world championship within grasp, and that owning a violin which Joshua Bell considers adequate does not make one a great violinist. I read and comment here because I have a ghoulish, unexplained, fascination for drivers who would spend a million on a Bugatti to sit in the same traffic jam as my aging little Suzuki, or for violinists who mortgage their backside for a Strad and still cannot hold a candle to Kreisler's sun. Though on some level I do understand the thrill which a gorgeously made motor car, or violin, gives the person who sees and handles and uses-- and perhaps even owns--it.
  2. John_London

    Which maker do you prefer and why

    That buyers don't ask or don't care is one of the many conundrums of the violin market. Here are some random thoughts it provoked in me: Curiously enough, perhaps the most expensive contemporary artist, Damien Hurst, who has financially astute people among his buyers, is also one of the few known to use a workshop system, in part to generate more product. One report said that at its height he employed over 250 staff. Florian Leonhardt, who also runs a small workshop, has a Youtube video stating that antique violins are a good investment, where he puts his money, and he never avers that they sound or function better than a new instrument among his aguments for their value. A friend dealt in antiquarian books for years, and one of the things you could say about the market was that more a person paid for a book, the lower the chance that it would be read. Perhaps violins are like that, with Strads bought for museums, collectors, and for a few violinists who in many cases are probably playing a copy, whereas an owner of a real Burgess / Sora / Preuss and so on probably plays the original. The whole business is such a puzzle that only a successful violin dealer with a knack for customer psychology could explain what buyers are really paying for, and what they tell themselves they are paying for (if different).
  3. John_London

    Which one has better tone?

    I know. It is a question of language, I think. Even my student violin I consider 'nothing like nasal'. I meant that anything which could be nasal enough to be called only 'less nasal' would go on ebay... And neither of those fiddles sounds, if one can guess quality from a violin's recorded sound (which I doubt) likely to be a good buy in the price range Landolfi mentioned elsewhere. Or, as Evan Smith so beautifully put it, As for which one is 'the Landolfi', yes, I am not the only contributor here to have been a bit slow on the obvious question, which one is Landolfi? Someone with access to a few German trade instruments, probably with English as first language, with considerable familiarity with the language of violin auctions, and a deep scepticism about the relationship of sound quality to price. And a liking for a joke.
  4. John_London

    Which one has better tone?

    You damn with faint praise. If any of my violins (none of them expensive) were described as 'less nasal' I would ebay it for a low price.
  5. John_London

    thinking of bidding on cracked Tubbs bow in Bromptons

    Thanks for the various responses, all pointing the same way. Given the consensus of skilled opinion, I will, albeit reluctantly, resist bidding, unless some siren voices bring persuasive arguments that there is a good chance I will be happy with bow. Given their fragility, there is also a case for putting a ceiling on what one spends on a bow, and favouring contemporary makers who may offer a better quality to price ratio, which is Zuckerman's policy too.
  6. John_London

    thinking of bidding on cracked Tubbs bow in Bromptons

    On account of my lack of expertise, I imagine a fine bow will make me a better violinist. To mis-quote Lance Armstrong's book title, "It's not about the bike" (presumably meaning it's about the drugs), it's not about the violin. There are doubtless many 'better' violins than my contemporary instruments out there, and instruments worth millions which are 'worse,' and I don't care: the instruments I have are more than adequate. But the bows...there is something intimate about a bow.
  7. John_London

    thinking of bidding on cracked Tubbs bow in Bromptons

    I remember in the early 1980s thinking 'this is the time to buy a Strad.' In retrospect all of us who thought along those lines were right. There again, you can't live in a violin. I could close my eyes and spend a bit over £2k for a tatty Tubbs bow but not £10k for a nice one, unless finances look up...
  8. John_London

    thinking of bidding on cracked Tubbs bow in Bromptons

    Thanks for advice. There is one without cracks on Martin Swan's website. Price is out of range unfortunately. £15k. In my day you could buy a house for that...
  9. One of the unsold lots from the last sale: https://www.bromptons.co/auction/17th-september-2018/lots/150-an-english-silver-mounted-violin-bow-by-james-tubbs-circa-1890.html I bought two bows at Bromptons recently, of which one was a good buy to my taste, and one was not. So on balance I am no better or worse off than if I'd bought from maker or dealer, except that for the same money I also have a halfway decent German workshop bow which I don't much like, as well as one bow by a living maker which I do like. Now I am getting tempted by another bow, linked above. Descrption: " Head with crack at the front, audience side. Stick good, frog good with general wear. Handle with some wear and cracks. * " Would I be mad to bid? Is it safe to live with a crack in the head, or must it be repaired straight away? Likely cost of repair? There are few other interesting looking bows among the unsold lots, including some French ones. Generally I lean to something new or recent to keep down condition and maitenance issues. However the Tubbs name has a certain magic. I have not tried the bow. To be clear I want a bow as an amateur violinist playing mainly for my own pleasure. Investment potential is irrelevant, on the basis that I recognize I have as much chance of reselling at a profit as winning the lottery (though both would be nice!).
  10. John_London

    I will learn

    It is good to read that post! The violin looks as though it is likely to be more than adequate, provided the bow is at least minimally acceptable. I might add that whilst violinist.com is more frequented by violinists (who give advice of wildly varying quality, from terrible to excellent, if you ask them questions), and maestronet.com is largely frequented by luthiers and dealers, I find the quality of discourse about playing on the whole good here--if I can judge!
  11. John_London

    "Good" vs. "Bad"

    Propaganda is distributing a view about which you wish to persuade other people to agree with you. Good art is sharing a message through which you hope others will resonate with an experience which you have valued.
  12. John_London

    "Good" vs. "Bad"

    I don't feel bad about that. We all like our own. My message to Landolfi was, 'decide what you like and have confidence in your own judgement.' I do. As non-professionals who try out top sports motorcycles often say, both the instruments by this maker which I own are a lot better than I will ever be. I have not had the chance to evaluate whether they are better than the instruments they copy (though the DG copy I am told is better than a famous DG by someone who had lived with both). If I'd posted good photos of the entire instrument I would enjoy it if others shared my taste, and not be too worried if they did not. I happen to like the wild Leduc scroll which is the original of my copy, and Martin Swan, who knows more than I do, disagrees. Fair enough. Neither of us needs to change our minds. Mine are very decent fiddles, more than good enough for me to deserve them, and of course not everyone will like them as much as I do. By the way, why 'Danube Fiddler'? Perhaps I should be the 'Inn fiddler' as I spend time on the Inn (prope Oinopontum), if not in the inn...
  13. John_London

    "Good" vs. "Bad"

    It's a copy, by an English maker from about 15 years ago, of the Leduc. Here is Tarisio's picture of the original scroll (on the left, of course). I own a different copy of the Leduc by the same maker. His copies are pretty close including (he tells me) graduation, and yet they raise some questions in my mind about what it means to make a copy. My Leduc copy also has an under-antiqued pegbox, and to be honest as an owner I want a new, stable and robust pegbox on my fiddle. Neither would I want my copy of a Cremonese antique to have carefully reproduced soundpost crack repair. If wanted an old pegbox and high maintenance costs I'd have bought the 1745 version. As for the inside of the pegbox looking 'cheap'--if you give an example of a less cheap one, perhaps I will see the difference? A trickier question comes up with the new Strad copy I own by this maker. A close copy but the varnish as well as being the 'wrong' colour--not as red--is quite soft and gloopy, and even has slight runs beside the fingerboard (he varnishes after attaching the fingerboard, considering that more authentic). If you ask the maker, he'd say that Strad's varnish has mostly come off, and do you really want your copy delivered with most of the varnish missing as part of the antiquing? If so, you will probably have a longer wait for delivery while the varnish is applied then worn off. The copy can reproduce the dings and cigarette burns and yet be delivered with varnish closer to what it would have looked like when new. The Strad copy has another 'fail' as a copy: the maker told me that original has a slightly thinner back on the bass side and he elected not to reproduce that. The bigger question raised by these copies is the collision of artistic intent between the original and the copy, given that the copyist has a strong visual sense, and yet is mostly aiming for a very close copy, with certain compromises. A copy which could trick some 'experts' (see https://www.thestrad.com/lutherie/can-you-tell-a-fake-instrument-from-the-genuine-article/1301.article) could be less pleasing to the eye of the owner than my self-evidently compromised copies are to my eye. If you were buying a copy would you prefer a more distressed pegbox, and would you disagree with the decision not to reproduce the slightly asymmetrical graduation of the back on the Strad copy? Would you prefer more effective suppression of the copyist's own visual impulse in favour of better faithfulness to the original, though possibly detrimental to the overall beauty of the violin? So, for Landolfi who started the thread wanting answers about what is 'good', can you see why it might not be realistic to expect an expert to dictate to you whether copy of the head of a great DG violin where the pegbox has been heavily distressed--as Danube Fiddler implies it should be and I as a buyer prefer it not to be--is a 'better' head than a copy where the antiquing is deliberately stops short in certain areas? Surely this is a personal matter with no right answer?
  14. John_London

    "Good" vs. "Bad"

    You are basically saying I am wrong. Thanks for the heads-up. I know little about competitions other than what I have read by various experts, including yourself, suggesting there is a tendency to standardization, so it was an ignorant guess on my part. If my guess was unfair, that is good to hear.
  15. John_London

    Your worst buy on Ebay

    The Craiglist cello reminds me of a viola I advertised for free because it had fallen apart. Stored on a boat. The violin survived without any open seams. The viola had been very pleasing play after a professional setup, and before the glue dissolved. I never bought on Ebay. Buying at Bromptions was for me a better way to blow a large sum of money, as there is no returns policy, and prices are higher. Looking forward to the September auction to make up my losses.