nathan slobodkin

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

1 Follower

About nathan slobodkin

  • Rank

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Not Telling

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. nathan slobodkin

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    True enough. I am afraid my "sweat shop" training has made it impossible for me to completely separate the price of an instrument from the actual effort required to make it. $16,000 for 120 hours of my time sounds good enough for me. So since this thread seems to be one which wanders where it pleases I will digress into this matter of pricing and marketing..... There are several ways of marketing instruments which have been in use since at least the time of Stradivari which boil down to showing an instrument or body of work and then promising someone you will make them an instrument that is very similar to that or contrarily, making instruments as fast as one can, getting them into the hands of dealers and letting people try them and compare the individual instruments to others until they find one they can't live without. Strad certainly came from the first camp where he was taking orders in advance and the client was pregnantly waiting for it's "birth" so that when finally presented with their child the client was so invested in it that they never objectively compared it to any other instruments at all and were convinced from the start that their violin was the sweetest, loudest, most beautiful, most sophisticated and most athletically talented violin ever created. Obviously he had to live up to a high and consistent standard of production but if his world was anything like ours I suspect he had to do a lot of schmoozing with potential clients and tinkering after delivery when their little darling was some how not living up to the potential the proud parent was sure lived within. I, myself, realized long ago that I was unlikely to be selling my instruments to Shmuel Askenazi or Joel Krosnick who already had pretty good instruments and I did not want to spend my time drinking wine at after concert receptions nor spending hours trying to explain to a buyer that I had no idea what "making the D more chocolaty" meant. I preferred to just get on with the next instrument and price my instruments so that people who needed a solid professional instrument to play music with and who are for the most part young people going in to conservatory or who have just graduated and had to give back the Peter Guarneri they were loaned all through college, can afford to buy an instrument which with they can make a living. The draw back of this is that rather than the proud parent accepting their cherished child from the hands of the doctor the analogy becomes more like applying to a snooty prep school or trying out for a professional sports team.There is an owner of one of my violins, who I have never met, who called to tell me that he heard one of my instruments in a shop while trying bows and then tried over a hundred violins from a dozen shops around the country with prices up to double mine before finally buying my violin which had started the search. So there we have it folks . My rant on violin pricing, and just like in Stradivari's time the guys who spend the time developing a persona are more financially rewarded than the poor Guarneri's down the street who got no respect but turned out to have been giving people a pretty good bargain.
  2. nathan slobodkin

    A few old violins compared

    Having spent Most of my life within 100 miles of the Canadian border I am certainly not a conneseur of Southern American accents but I will say that they are quite varied and imply anything from extreme gentility and education to minutely regional unsophistication. Among my Southern friends are a lady from Knoxville Tenessee whose speech evokes the ballroom scenes from gone with the wind to another from Louisianna whose geology professor voice has just the tiniest lilt to it whereas I could always tell when her mother was on the phone because she reverted to a half French patois that included regionalisms such as "making grocerys" and "saving the dishes" (meaning putting them away).
  3. nathan slobodkin

    Please help me put a makers name, to a good fiddle, for a good man.

    George, Are you the owner of an original Juzek Catalogue or are these reprinted or available in some other form? Great info to have.
  4. nathan slobodkin

    Please help me put a makers name, to a good fiddle, for a good man.

    Many discussions of Juzek in the past. My understanding is that there was a John Juzek in the business in the 1920s but there is no record of him being a trained VM. Depending on the grade, instruments with the Juzek label were either made in MK or assembled elsewhere from MK parts. The descendants of the family are of course still in the business and have their own version of things but the history remains a bit clouded.
  5. nathan slobodkin

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Once again amazed at the length of one of MN's discussions. My opinion on the original question is that Strad was a well trained, hard working, inventive and intelligent Violinmaker with an excellent business sense and a good publicist. As regards the central pin. It is obvious that most back grads on successful violins have a thick central point and some sort of circular pattern radiating from that. Marking the center and using a compass to guide the grads is a practical way to approach the job but it is equally efficient to make a template using the compass and then do the graduation guided by the template. One way uses a central hole the other does not. The other explanation for the central hole I was shown by Carl Becker who thought the Amati used a shouldered awl to mark the center and then thinned the area until the awl point could be felt from the outside which set the thickness of the acoustic center of the back. IMHO the secret to producing fine violins has been the same since the beginning of the trade and amounts to get the best education you can and then "shut up and carve".
  6. nathan slobodkin

    Doming pegs

    Not a dome . Slightly lense shaped is what is used in most good shops. I cut the peg off square where it sticks out at the upper side of the pegbox and file the surface smooth and flat.Then turning the peg in my left hand I file toward the center of the peg putting a 10- 15 degree bevel about 1/3 of the diameter of the peg and another bevel which is 1/2 that and takes off the angle between the bevel and the inside, flat part of the peg end. I then sand using 150,220, and 400 grit paper to form a smooth lense shape by turning the peg in my left hand and sanding with my right. Many people do the sanding by moving the peg in a rotating motion with the paper flat on a slightly yielding surface but I prefer to watch the curve as I work. Either way is just fine and after the lense shape is completely smooth and regular with no scratch marks the end can be polished using the rotating motion on a piece of newspaper or sand paper backing laid flat on top of your your bench towel.
  7. nathan slobodkin

    Tailpiece touching the sadle

    Manfio, Are you quoting Michael or is this your own personal experience?
  8. nathan slobodkin

    Mastic and purfing mitres

    James, Mastic refers to chewing gum in several languages and I don't know that references to "mastic" in Strad's purfling corners don't just mean putty rather than anything related to Gum Mastic.
  9. nathan slobodkin

    Decent violin. Old or new? 20's Trade or Chinese?

    Everything comes down to set up. A Rolls Royce with a flat tire won't get you to work. Among the labels you quoted you will find, pretty much at random, serviceable instruments and utter junk. The best bet is do some careful vetting of violin shops, go to one with a good reputation and let them help you find an instrument appropriate to your needs.
  10. nathan slobodkin

    Poplar viola grads?

    Finally a topic I actually know something about. Poplar and willow are extremely variable in density and other properties. Here in the US if you buy poplar commercially you get at least three different species and one is in fact not a poplar at all. I have made many violas and cellos out of poplar (although I currently prefer willow) and definitely make them thicker in the center of the back than maple judging how much by how different they seem from maple in weight and hardness. Some of the magnolia which is sold as poplar is about the same density as maple (which is of course also extremely variable) and requires very little adjustment while some of the lightest poplars can be left as much as 50%thicker in the center. Willows can be as much as twice as thick as maple. I do add at least some of the extra thickness to the arching height to avoid reducing the air volume too much. The flanks of the plates still have to blend to the edge thickness and therefore the difference in thickness between maple and softer woods is much less which gives more flexible edges and a different weight distribution which I think is responsible for the characteristic sound of the willow or poplar instruments. I have seen Lombardy poplar used by other contemporary makers although my experience with it is that it is nasty to carve which defeats my purpose of using softer woods in the first place. I think it likely that most of the so called "Poplar" antique instruments are actually willow although I have long wondered why microscopic examinations have not been done to determine this for sure.
  11. nathan slobodkin

    Bow ID

    Who is Albin Hums?
  12. nathan slobodkin

    What's going on here?

    Peter, screwed from the inside ? Was the neck mortised or just screwed and glued onto the upper rib?
  13. nathan slobodkin

    Opinion of origin desired.

    In Portland Maine there was a violinmakers society around 1900. I have seen work from at least half a dozen members that were very well made in some cases indistinguishable from European instruments ( one I believe has had a number of his instruments sold as Italian over the years) others more personal and recognizably American but not rustic in any way. I think it was a wide spread hobby and was fueled by such books as " You can make a Stradivarius Violin" and by articles in Popular Science magazine. Certainly many more MK crapboxes were sold through Sears catalogues and music stores but if you compare better quality MKs or French instruments the ratio to decent American fiddles shrinks quite a bit.
  14. nathan slobodkin

    Unusual, Possibly Unique, Violin by Hoel Hinman, Vermont

    I certainly hope it's unique!
  15. nathan slobodkin

    Bow ID

    Thanks, Guys.