Jump to content
Maestronet Forums


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by John_London

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Hadelich is said to like heavy bows (67g according to a post on v.com). I have a DG copy with thick-ish plates, and a bare gut D and A which show no signs of needing replacement. I find it challenging to get it to sound well, especially the D. So I sort through my small bow collection looking for one which helps me make it sound (Stagg, 62g), and two more forgiving instruments I have with Eva Pirazzi and Passione strings (which do not feel or sound like "real" gut) get the left-over bows. Even covered gut strings like Eudoxa may not be as quick to sound under a light bow as synthetics.
  12. The whole UK, especially London, property question upsets me deeply. It has a terrible effect on businesses who are not Starbucks or similar, as well as on local people who needs homes. A violin shop in Bond Street (where Hills, and Chappels, were in my life time, and where Bromptons had rooms until recently) would probably now have rent and property tax a long way into the hundreds of thousands a year. Maybe similar in parts of the US. Home prices are also pretty crazy in the Alps, which I am familiar with, but the property market works differently, buildings tend to stay in the family, and low-profit businesses seem to survive better.
  13. It is pretty standard business practice to have some overpriced options to make what you genuinely expect to sell look cheap. On the secondhand car lot, or in the supermarket, or buying software. A friend who was an antiquarian book dealer told me about it. I even bought a painting from someone I know who had put just one in the series of near-identical items at double the price of the rest of the series, perhaps to make the others look more affordable. Yes a conspiracy theory, and like many conspiracy theories, something for which I have seen plenty of evidence. However, I have no evidence of it in the violin trade. What with senior figures in the US pushing for sanctions on China, and the Chinese wanting to shift their economy away from cheap exports, the dishonest violin dealers (if any exist) will in future jack up the price of Chinese fiddles to help them sell German trade instruments. Perhaps the ever-increasing overheads of a shop, with large chunks of the turnover being passed to landlords and tax authorities, will promote more direct sales from makers to end users?
  14. Gold is astonishingly dense. I have often wondered how how that affects the weight and balance of a bow. I bought a sovreign as a present for a family member, a small coin, and when my rucksack went through the airport scanner this deep black spot "jumped out" in the image. They asked me whether I had gold in there. Well, yes. I showed a friend a silver-mounted bow bought from Brompton's last week. He said, "very nice, is it a Pfretzschner?", then showed me a gold-mounted Pfretzschner cello bow which felt amazing in the hand. He had bought it for £300 before inflation started to bite. The gold did add lustre. But perhaps makes it more attractive to thieves.
  15. Excellent. Perhaps it will be published? I have often wondered where one can watch the documentary about Weisbord (not 'Wiesbord', by the way, which sounds different to German speakers) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0237463/ It would be interesting to see as he clearly deserves a higher profile, but is not available online.
  16. Whilst off the subject started by Musicmeister (since there is no sign yet that he /she /they has been back), I will observe there is an excellent entry on the etymology of "wine", Greek "oinos", etc. by Holford-Strevens in the Oxford Companion to Wine, as I recall. The Alps, like many places, are replete with odd and ancient, pre-Germanic and pre-Roman place names. One that always amuses me is Vomp. Absam/Absom is part of the Martha villages, some of which also have odd names: Mühlau, Artzl, Rum, Thaur, Hall, Absam. They are known for a radish festival (an foodstuff they grow in vast numbers), and for being one of these areas where they celebrate the Altweibermühl, a custom of ostensibly transforming men dressed as old women, through a rejuvenation process, into attractive young women. It is so screamingly politically incorrect that no English translation can be permitted.
  17. I read your travelogue with interest. Oeno/i- = river En/Oenus/Inn . Lat. pontum, Eng. "bridge", Ger. "Brücke" (in the local dialect probably pronounced "Bruck"). So Lat. Oenopontum, Ger. Innsbruck, would mean "Inn bridge". Wikipedia says that the name of the river comes from a word for "water", so like many Etymologies it is disappointingly pedestrian. The most central bridge in the town is called Innbrücke.
  18. One of the reasons for buying from a dealer is that they may offer a good trade-in price to promote customer loyalty. You chose to go to a dealer, and it was probably a good decision as a good dealer specialising in strings will have ensured it is properly set up. In theory this kind of instrument can go for quite low prices in auction (at last week's Brompton's auction many lots at this kind of level remained unsold) but buying privately does not make much sense when the chance of needing to spend a lot on renovation and setup is high. If you trade in where you bought it, the dealer who sold it as fit-to-play knows that it is probably still saleable without too much work, and can give a decent trade-in price. A propos of nothing, "Oenopontum" happens to be a place I call home.
  19. I like them. Would have been nice if they said what Mr. Widenhouse charges. Perhaps they get a discount--it is great marketing. Yes. I was hoping their "dark secrets" would be some of the more obscure things which only "real" insiders know. But for their wider audience this point about commissions to teachers was worth making. The reason teacher commissions are suspect--I'd argue, illegal in many jurisdictions, if it were ever tested in court (and I have published an article in a leading law journal on duties of good faith)--is that the parents who are affected are not aware of them. When my parents a contemplated a new instrument, they felt overhwelmed by the generosity and selfnesses of a teacher who offered to come to the shop in their own time and provide "free" advice on selecting a violin.
  20. It would be fantastic if he would play Stainer. I have been looking at the documents about Stainer's trial and imprisonment for heresy in Hall in Tirol (a place I know well), which it might be interesting to translate, if one can find the time and obtain any necessary permssions.
  21. They don't necessarily want anything improper. In addition to the prestige which goes with being a named benefactor, they probably want the violinist to raise the money for maintenance and insurance of the owner's investment. Whether that relationship, and the use of antique Italian violins to open doors, is fair, or healthy for the music world is a matter of perspective. No doubt the benefactors, the young violinists with Strads on loan, and the dealers who promote these "charitable" exchanges, have consulted their consciences.
  22. If you think true inflation is higher than official figures, an annual return of 5.54% is arguably close to zero purchasing power growth, when the violins are turned into other assets, or spent on consumption. Treating gold as a long-term benchmark inflation hedge, the Heinrich Th. Heberlein would need to have risen ~100% since 1928 to break even (i.e. the end-user, not just a dealer, would need to be able to sell at ~$25,000 to have done better than holding a small gold bar), leaving aside maintenance costs. When I bought a new violin I expected to lose money "the day I walked off the forecourt". Dealers can make money with years of experience and skill (and sometimes dishonesty). Having seen the antiquarian book trade from the inside, I suspect end users who think they are making money out of collectibles are just looking at the true inflation level. To be fair, the inflation phenomenon has benefitted wealthy holders of most asset classes in the past couple of decades, but that is just the growing gap between rich and poor generally, rather than violins or real estate being a particularly good investment.
  23. A great film actor. According to some, the best. Famed for My Left Foot, Lincoln, a couple with a N. Ireland theme, and a few others. And disappointingly for his fans, he has so far stuck to his promise to retire after The Phantom Thread, in which he plays a couturier obsessed with quality. I read he was training as a shoe maker. But who buys handmade leather shoes these days? Perhaps a few commercial lawyers. It occurred to me that violin making would be a better choice than cobbling.
  24. Thanks for the recommendation. I don't know the local makers so it is usfeul to have a thumbs up on one of them. I did notice from internet searches that Herr Costa, like Frau Unterkofler also in Innsbruck, had studied with Scrollavezza.
  • Create New...