johnms

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  1. johnms

    Would Like Comment about a Hill Bow

    I was finally able to speak with the seller. No question in their mind that the bow is 100% genuine. The bow is from file://localhost/Users/joannedavey/Desktop/IMG_0485.JPG estate and is being sold on commission. As to the date stamp, the dealer’s comment was that it was not necessarily always a date stamp as the stamps often recorded the fact that several bow makers had been involved in producing the bow. A point made by Jeffery Photo of the stamps is included if anyone wants to comment. Note how carefully the stamps are positioned. The 4 could be the year of manufacture (34). With hair fully relaxed the balance point of the bow is almost 10” from the end of the wood and that, together with the fact that the player of the bow was a woman may well account for the unusual wear on the thumb pad. I did show it to the knowledgeable, professional player as I indicated in an earlier post. Their key comments were that it is a very good playing bow and, due to the superb condition, he guessed the bow’s value as being 50% more than the selling price I have been quoted. Thanks to all who posted comments. They have been both informative and helpful.
  2. In reply to Connors question I'm not sure what you mean by first and third generation asymmetry. Can you explain? Sorry, I should have realized that this statement would not make sense. In the very first known violins the sound post is positioned on the centerline. By Amati the post had moved off the centre line to todays modern position, and for me this was the first of 3 major design changes aimed at modifying the sound. All three changes were a deliberate move away from symmetry. In my definition for asymmetry it is not the widely adopted visual appearance aspect that I was referring to. Rather it is the fundamental design concept changes that were introduced to modify the sound output of the instrument that is my determinant for asymmetry, Whether or not these design modifications produced better sounding violins may be a moot point, but the asymmetric design in the later Cremonese era does set a standard. The fact that the underlying design asymmetry is not appreciated does not mean it is not there. The resultant visual aspects that can be readily observed are generally dismissed as being not intended.
  3. In my professional field, it generally follows that the more sophisticated the design, then the more important are the details. It is important that details support the intent of the overall design concept. There is a lot of creativity in designing details, and it is usually the details that actually tell a knowledgeable observer how skilled is the designer. Note that designing and making are entirely separate activities and having skill in one does not mean you will have skill in the other, although they do tend to blend in crafts. What may be an appropriate detail in one situation may be quite inappropriate for another very similar object when the underlying design concept of the two is significantly different. As an example that ties this to back to violins you will find on first generation asymmetric design violins that have a symmetric outlines, (eg an Amati) that part of the appropriated edge detail is having an even overhang all round. First generation asymmetry has become the basic design concept for modern makers. But when you come to third generation asymmetric design, which Strad adopted (he didn’t invent it) for his golden age instruments, you have a significantly different design concept driving design decisions and these instruments exhibit varying width of edge overhang, as this is the appropriate detail for this design concept. You find the same details being repeated in instrument after instrument within each generation of asymmetric design because they are the appropriate solution. If you do not understand the underlying concept behind an asymmetric designed violin then the appropriate details may look to be wrong simply because you are not seeing them in the correct context.
  4. johnms

    Would Like Comment about a Hill Bow

    I noted in the first post that due to unforseen circumstances it is not possible for me to talk to the seller at this point in time. This will likely happen in another 3 or 4 days once they are back in town. I’ll report on the meeting It was not excitement driving my queries but rather my professional life wherein I have learnt to take note of factors that do not compute and to find out the cause of the problem and establish whether or not the situation might prove critical. The Hill bow exhibited a few aspects that I did not expect to see and the Maestronet replies effectively confirmed these aspects are not normal. The unusual thumb pad wear and unexpected camber have now been resolved. There is no way that the seller would be knowingly offering me a fake bow. Nor do I believe that it is a fake, but it would be comforting to have logical explanations for the abnormal aspects. In the meantime can any of you offer evidence to refute Tarisio’s statement that Barnes only made lesser grade bows? If not, then I have a possible explanation for the unusual aspects of this bow.
  5. johnms

    Would Like Comment about a Hill Bow

    Thanks to all for your replies. I will try and post photos. My own camera has proven it is not capable of doing the job as it cannot handle the subtle dark color differences, but I have managed to capture reasonable images of the under frog stamp images. Note that the camber upturn towards the head is relatively subtle, and is no where near as curved as the usual post Tourte type of camber. GeorgeH - the thumb pad wear is too far on top of the bow to be caused by a thumb, so not a left handed player. But more about the pad wear follows. While trying to photograph the thumb pad wear I noticed that there is also another area of excessive pad wear on its underside immediately adjacent to the visible lapping. I did not see this bit of wear earlier, in part because I did not look at this area, and partly because this latest damage is camouflaged as the completely worn away black leather is immediately above a black turn of the lapping. This latest noted area of wear, along with the wear described earlier, appears to indicate that the bow has had a lot of use, probably over a long period of time, by a user who had a non-standed hand position in that they placed their thumb on the end of the pad at its junction with the visible area of lapping, rather than in the conventional position touching the frog. What I now think I see is not the type of wear I would expect any self respecting faker would replicate in an attempt to convince a potential victim that a brand new fake bow was the genuine, near-antique, article.
  6. I have been offered a Hill violin bow that has some aspects that leaves this novice a little puzzled. The bow is from a legitimate source but unfortunately an unexpected death in the family has suddenly taken the dealer out of town just before I picked up the bow, and for an unknown length of time so they out of communication for many days at least. I have a meeting with a very knowledgeable professional player in 5 days but I thought I would tap into maestro reader’s expertise in the meantime. Sadly Maestronet rules prevent me posting photographs so it is up to words. This is a well-made octagonal stick that should be around 80 years old but it shows no signs of use or wear, except to the thumb pad. My limited experience has led me to believe that the part of a thumb pad to usually show the most wear, is the area under the thumb. However the first anomaly I see with this bow is the thumb pad shows only very minor signs of wear at the thumb position, but on the opposite side under second finger position, the leather is so worn that it has exposed quite a lot of the last wrap of the whalebone lapping that extends fully under the thumb pad. So is this wear pattern normal, or is it possible the bow been used by just one player for many decades, (I will be able to check this with the dealer)? The next item that disturbs me relates to the camber. My reading has left me with the understanding that the camber on Hill violin bows is based on Tourte. However this bow appears to have the camber design of a later generation of bow makers, which means it is flatter through the middle, with more upturn approaching the tip, than is typical of Tourte. Next. The number 5 stamp on the tip plate (seemingly in the correct position slightly right of centre), indicates the bow was made by Arthur J Barnes. Now Tarisio, on their web site, make the statement that while Barnes was a skilled craftsman, his communication disabilities meant he was not able to make top quality bows. Personally I do not see why his communication problem would necessarily have limited his skill level, but hopefully experts here may offer comment given that this bow carries the top of the line stamp W E HILLS & SONS. The lettering is about 2.2 mm high and is upside down. The adjuster is three piece silver and ebony and its end has a pearl circular inlay inside a very thin walled, but slightly off centre, ebony ring so the wall thickness of the ebony ring varies - not the best workmanship. The frog is high quality ebony, fully mounted with a very plain white, pearl, non-tapering slide. The under-slide is notched out to house the heel plate. Lastly we come to markings. The stamp that mates frog to stick is a small letter V. Also, on the metal slide on the other side of the screw eye, is stamped the number 7 - but it alternatively this could almost equally be an upside down 4. As well as the mating letter V on the stick there are 2 other marks very close together located between the V and the thumb pad. The second element of this mark is positioned higher than the first (through poor workmanship?) and it could either be a capital letter B but I think is actually the number 8. The front number of this pair I am confident is the figure 4. So this stamp reads either 4B or 48. I cannot see any other stamp markings on the bow. Now 48 could be the year that the bow was made except that the year 1948 and Arthur Barnes cannot be a legitimate match because Barnes left Hills in 1939. Does the possible number 4 on the slide have a link to the 4 on the stick and does the 4 indicate either 1924 or 1934 as being the year of making? Or do Maestronet experts have another explanation for this marking? Guess I am asking whether my near total lack of expertise is needlessly making me be slightly nervous about aspects of this bow, or can I consider it as likely to be totally legit? I am sure the dealer believes it is legit but we haven’t spoken about the bow. I was simply telephoned to say they had a bow that might interest me and we arranged a time for me to pick it up. The dealer had left town before I picked up the stick.
  7. johnms

    Cleaning your violin

    I am currently in the process of cleaning my early 1800s German factory instrument. This was very dirty when it came into my possession some years ago and at that time I sent it to a luthier for a clean and set it up. It came back about 30% cleaner but still very dirty. I could see maybe 2/3rds of the perfling after that clean. Subsequently I had a go myself using a non-solvent based hand washing cream which was a method recommended by a contributor here on Maestronet. With much elbow grease I did get further improvement but it was a long way from a good result so I never finished that task. Just 2 days ago I had a sudden thought about another possible cleaning fluid and did a small trial and found it was way, way better than both previous efforts but still not 100% as over a century of dirt takes a bit of removing. It is a water-based cream that leaves no residue and produces scratch free gloss finish (but not high gloss). What I using this time is toothpaste. Its main ingredient is Baking Soda, which is the basis of most household cleaning products. Handled with care toothpaste is absolutely harmless to you or your instrument. I apply using a wet squeezed out cloth (so no liquid water is present) putting a small dab of paste on the cloth and then quietly working using one finger on a very small area wiping off with a damp sponge and then a dry soft cloth. Still needs the addition of elbow grease. Try it for serious dirt and report back. Will almost certainly also work on bows including the metal work. But do not use either a budget toothpaste (they can have non-soluble powders added to bulk them up and that might cause scratching, or ones sold for tooth whitening as they usually have a bleaching agent added.
  8. johnms

    Degraded Mother-of-Pearl in Frogs

    While I'm not a bow technician and this is not exactly the same problem, I had a frog with deeply set mother-of pearl that I suspect was the end result of sweat corrosion from the previous owner, and when I asked my bow expert about fixing this I was anticipating the mother-of-pearl would be replaced. Instead she carefully put several coats of clear varnish over the eye and while this didn't completely flush things off, it made a big improvement visually, and this varnish has been fine for about 18 months but then I don't have corrosive sweat. Nevertheless a coat or two of varnish might well offer protection to the mother-of-pearl against sweat.
  9. johnms

    New Workshop

    One good window is all you need. I recommend something like a picture window. For optimum lighting I suggest north, you will have the most light and you won't have the intense sun rise or set to blind you. For those of you in the Southern hemisphere your workshop window should face South
  10. johnms

    Bottom and Top Block Depth (Thickness?)

    If you look very carefully at old instruments with flat-faced end blocks you will find that the block faces are never parallel to each other. Like so much of Cemonese violin design the little things are often subtly different from what you think. In this case I can only assume this avoidance of parallel faces is intended to prevent standing waves being set-up.
  11. johnms

    Lord Wilton

    I have read a lot of comments that indicate a mismatch between cross and longitudinal arch height is normal. From the drawings I have seen it appears that arch height is simply measured from the underside of the top plate at the location the arch height is required. One factor that might be producing this lack of correlation in top arch height measurements is a failure to account for rib height variation. I have yet to see a comment about making this adjustment. From what I what I have observed the bottom of a rib usually follows a straight line while the top edge is effectively a curve with its maximum height in the area of the C bout. Simply measuring arch heights relative to the underside of the top plate means you are taking measurements off different datum points. No matter what object you are measuring you cannot compare height measurements unless the measurements are adjusted back to a common datum. You have to either set up a common datum measuring line or else adjust individual measurements back to a common datum. For violins this means either increasing cross arch height measurement by the rise in height in the rib or deducting that measurement from the longitudinal arch. Without making this adjustment it is impossible for the measurements to match. Keep in mind that rib heights are often different on each side. I hope this first time poster is not telling experts how to suck eggs.