Joel Pautz

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About Joel Pautz

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  1. Original Baroque Fingerboards

    One last idle question - the Jacob Stainer tenor viola at the NMM's fingerboard is supposedly pear (looks like a 1 piece board with no side borders built around a core to me by the way). Are any of the Amati fittings or Da Salo fittings pear? Stainer's lion head scroll on the 'King' violin is also pear if I remember correctly.
  2. Original Baroque Fingerboards

    Thanks for the responses everyone. It's getting late, so I'm just going to share some pics for now. The last two pics displayed in the gallery at the bottom of this page are supposed to show details of the c. 1574 Andrea Amati viola at the Ashmolean. The tiny reference book I own "Stringed Instruments" by Jon Whiteley states that "the tailpiece is old and probably original" and that the new fingerboard was built to match it. Another pic of this tailpiece is attached below. The Brother's Amati violino piccolo is remarkably well preserved, with original fingerboard and tailpiece intact. Whiteley says the Ashmoleon's Brothers Amati viola retains its original tailpiece, with a replaced fingerboard made to match. The Gasparo Da Salo 'Ole Bull' / 'Jewel Room' violin supposedly retains its original fingerboard, although it has been lengthed. A Google image search pic shared by Tarisio's blog is below. Whiteley supposes that the fingerboard on the Gasparo Da Salo viol below is original, with the tailpiece built to match it. He also suspects that the Da Salo viola (at the Ashmolean) retains both its original fingerboard and tailpiece. MS 129 (stradivari fingerboard) was posted here by Davide Sora. I posted 2 Google image search pics of the 'Lady Blunt' fingerboard (provided by Tarisio) below. As you can see, there isn't much to go on regarding fingerboard variations or tool marks here - I'd love to hear more on that if anyone has seen these up close and is willing to share. Perhaps someone has opinions regarding the originality of some of the fittings on the Ashmoleon's instruments though? I'd rather not go back and find the quotes tonight, but Whiteley, and Karl Roy agree if I remember right, but Roger Hargrave was more skeptical in the Jacob Stainer violin article I mentioned at the top. Oh, that reminds me, the Stainer Tenor viola in the NMM (referencing the Strad magazine article) supposedly retains its original fingerboard with a later tailpiece made to match it. Pic of the poster is added below. Joel
  3. Grooves along fingerboard

    Hi Bruce, Honestly I've never put much thought into it (d'oh!) - an unrestrained bow riding, jostling alongside the fingerboard made sense to me. As you pointed out this wear can be found on both sides of the board, and I've assumed that playing wouldn't do that; or that if it did, it would wear much more unevenly between treble and bass sides. I figured it was one of those odd quirks. Now that I think about it, I've been assuming lots of things - for example, that scrolls in the books often have more wear on their treble side than on the bass (I've never bothered to tally this up). Thinking about this, I figured that the majority of people are right handed, and therefore it made sense that most instruments would twist in the same direction while being put in their coffin case. Haven't really thought about it since. This is all probably grade 'A' bull though, and I shouldn't be so comfortable with my assumptions. Since even baroque necks were slightly angled back, and the drop off is so steep, I can visualize the top's edge at the neck acting as a fulcrum for the bow - but the wear that would be realized in that scenario would probably be fairly obvious to diagnos. Barring that instance, I can't think of of any reason off the top of my head why the bridge area wouldn't recieve the brunt of the wear. Thanks for indulging me, and since I don't think I've done it yet, thanks for participating on the forum! Joel
  4. Original Baroque Fingerboards

    Hi all, I've been reviewing what I can about the original set-ups of Cremonese and Brescian instruments (although I'm always interested in other traditions as well if anyone wants to share). I noticed a couple of the fingerboards had a centerline joint visible at the tailpiece end - 1664 Andrea Guarneri Tenor viola, and the 1690 Stradivari Tenor viola in Florence. I started wondering if it was common practice in cremona to use cut-offs from the top and back to build the fingerboard. Reading up on Hargrave's 1987 article concerning a relatively unaltered 1679 Jacob Stainer violin, he says "The top curve of the board is very flat, and it has a very tiny saw or file cut in the center at the end (see drawing). This "notch" is about the size that a string would fit into. I have no idea as to its originality or use". Centerline joints can be just as useful as a scribe line or notch, so I started wondering if these joints had a function. However, the original Strad fingerboard MS 129 isn't joined down the center at all - it's just a willow core with maple edges on either side (bass and treble). I think I can see joint lines indicating that the 1613 Girolamo Amati pochette fingerboard is of this variety as well. I don't see any centerline scribe line or notches on these two. The 1669 Andrea Guarneri viola seems to have a different variation of border edging as the fingerboard end face doesn't seem to correspond with the grain along the underside of the board. The 1721 Stradivarius 'Lady Blunt' fingerboard seems to have a single core with no edge border. Just was wondering if anyone else could add a little more concerning original baroque fingerboard variations, or about any tool marks they might display which could shed light on method or process. I'm assuming that the pinhole at the nut end of the 'Lady Blunt' fingerboard was added later for display purposes. Also, if anyone can offer some more definitive answers concerning which fittings might or might not be original in the Ashmoleon's collection, I'd really appreciate it. I haven't been able to purchase the new text yet, and I'm seeing contrasting opinions in the older sources I own. Thanks, Joel
  5. Grooves along fingerboard

    I associate wear of this type with the use of older coffin style cases that didn't restrain the bow properly, or the musician's handling habits of holding the instrument upright, neck and bow both in the left hand. In other words, wear caused by the bow resting along the fingerboard.
  6. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    This thread is already full of my chatter; I promise to deliberate before contributing to other threads, but I think I'll ride this one out to the end. I'm seeing some variations in the outline between Blank Faces's post and the OP's fiddle - I'm not seeing as much flatness across the upper and lower block (OP's outline looks like it flattens out there more), and the C-bouts on Blank Face's post look closer to non-converging lines when they terminate - the OP's C-bout curves definitely converge. Side note: I'm wondering if in some cases the rib joint angle can shed light on the construction methods used as well. At a certain point an obtuse angle just doesn't seem to lend itself to the clamped together ends we've discussed in the past, and I would think blocks would be much more necessary (until you arrive at a Chanot style fiddle of course ). The F-hole positioning in Blank Face's post is much more in line with the OP's than on the fiddle I shared earlier. I think I saw the curved lower wing and didn't pay attention to much else.
  7. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    Well, for what it is worth, I thought I saw similarities between Gerard's violin and these two Füssen diaspora-like instruments. If anyone would like to point out something I missed, please do. Thanks everyone, especially you Gerard. Joel
  8. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    It does seem like Gerard is walking a very thin and wandering line. The instrument has open seams - he wants to do more for the instrument than just glue the open seams shut, but anything further is constrained by the ticking clock. Removing the top makes an utter mess of the edge - he opts for a more permanent fix by replacing the edge, but doesn't (to the satisfaction of other professionals) make an equal effort towards addressing the other issues that require attention. Does anyone feel like sharing a bit about how they plan a targeted, well-coordinated repair? What issues would have taken precedence in this case, and where they might have sought compromise? Some constructive criticism? Blank Face, would you mind sharing your thoughts behind a Markneukirchen origin? You've been playing these ID games actively much longer than I. I'm also curious about impressions as to the overall age of the instrument (the lengthened neck seems the most credible evidence), bassbar (original? / premodern version, or simply a regional variation?), and any insight regarding the linings / block situation for built off back instruments (For example, do you expect to find extra thick ribs when encountering linings were likely not original to the instrument?) Thanks, Joel
  9. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    Thanks for the on point replies - hope we both get to learn something about this fiddle soon. I'm sure your wife will be thrilled with all of your work! Joel
  10. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    I've worked in shops where a very slight shim similar to the one you described was inserted in between the upper block and the neck root as a quick fix to raise the projection. We called it a 'New York Neck Set'. We didn't remove the top, we just trimmed the shim flush with the top edge before regluing the fingerboard back into place. Does your shim noticeably add length to the neck, or does it seem directed more towards adjusting the projection? I cropped your photo of the upper block. To me it looks like there is fresh (lighter colored) wood peeking out on the lower left and right corners. I guess in retrospect this could just be fragments from the top still glued in place. It looks like the original stain / finish applied to the instrument bled through - perhaps if the bottom of the bassbar soaked some of this color up you could tell that it is indeed original - but the glue barrier might have prevented this bleeding from entering the bar, so no color present would be inconclusive. I wouldn't read too much into the shallow height of your bar - this instrument was never intended to meet the standards we regard as the norm. As yet, I'm not seeing the other signs I'd expect to see in an instrument from the baroque era. Another detail I missed regarding the misleading age is the lack of bushed peg holes from a well loved, well handled instrument that's 200+ years old - when does that even happen? The outline/ rib mitres seem to indicate this instrument was built off the back to me, along with the pool of hide glue visible between the ill-fitting upper treble block and the top. If the rib structure had been built around the blocks I'd expect the work to be neater because it's much easier to do it neatly that way. If my suspicions are correct, I would not be surprised if this instrument never had any earlier linings either - it was simply built without them. I'll let someone else weigh in on this.
  11. Nicolò Amati / Stradivari connection

    It is very strange that Strad's other work doesn't feature decorative sculptures - all the rest of his cupids are simply inlaid, correct? He wouldn't be the first instrument maker to outsource figure carving to another artisan though. Pollens mentions a Cremonese sculptor Giacomo Bertesi (1643-1710) as a possibility, due to a similarities between his cupids elsewhere, and the one on the Stradivari harp. Not to get too off track from this great discussion on how decorative features / techniques get transmitted between regions, etc. but I've come across a few interesting side notes that I feel could add further context. First, in Roger's article on the 'Alard' Amati, he mentions that during this period we are discussing (1670's), Girolamo II had come onto his own and his hand is visible in the bulk of the shop's production. Girolamo II (born 1649 according to Pollens) would have been only about 5 years younger than Stradivari (born 1644), and Nicolò was already in his early 50's at the time of his son's birth. Pollens states that beginning in the 1670's the Amati dynasty began to face additional troubles from which they never truely recovered; it was then that they started "selling or taking out loans against their property. For example, in 1698 they borrowed 3,000 lira with the family home as collateral. They were later forced to forfeit part of the house when they failed to make interest payments on the loan. When several of Girolamo II's loans came due and a judgement was brought against him for non-payment, he apparently fled Cremona and did not return until 1715." In a "Stradivarius" exhibition essay "A Brief History of the Violin and its Makers", Charles Beare states that the "1680's are remarkable as the only period when the appearance of Stradivari's violins remained largely unchanged for several years, with pale golden-orange coloured varnish on well figured maple backs cut on the slab, but towards the end of the decade a stronger personality becomes detectable, in part because of purfling of more substantial width, but especially because the arching curves of both plates were better conceived for more powerful tone production." For what it's worth, Roger Hargrave mentions that Girolamo II appears to adopt these newer arching concepts in his work (I think it was in his post 1700's work?).
  12. Identification of approximately 200 year old violin

    Well, let's see if the student (me) has been paying attention in class . . . Without better photos of this instrument, I'm going to go with my gut and say that it probably isn't as old as it appears to be at first. I see the shim under the fingerboard, but that's not really an indication that there was a baroque set-up to begin with. The tiny corners of fresh wood visible seem to indicate the upper block was thickened with a fresh face added facing the end block, but through necks usually get an entirely new upper block when they are converted. I can't see any sign that the scroll has been grafted onto the neck, and I can't see anything regarding the bassbar that makes me think it is from the baroque era, or necessarily original. What do you see? It also looks to me as if the rib structure was built off the back, with the blocks and linings added later (especially in the case of the linings, I'm inclined to think much later, while in a shop for repair). The scroll has a lot of wear for sure, but some of the rounded features are in tight, hard to access areas that should at least be less worn down than their surroundings - I think whoever carved it had a heavy hand, and probably didn't have the time to attempt a clean chamfer along the edge, so they just rounded it off right away to begin with. So, withholding any estimate on age until more info shows up, I'm just going to say that it looks like something I've read Maestro Saunders refer to in the past as "Füssen diaspora". And now I think I'll give getting some sleep a 2nd (3rd, 4th?) try . . . More than likely I'll have nightmares now though!
  13. Nicolò Amati / Stradivari connection

    Thanks for sharing Peter, very cool! I think it might be possible that the variations in the diamond shape are the result of not being put in place exactly the same. The slight difference in angle when laid in the channel, and the distortion compounded when cut back to appropriate height / scraped after vanishing. What a headache! Edited: I didn't realize the diamonds were mother of pearl and not ivory. Ben has a good point that he may have been constrained by his materials.
  14. Nicolò Amati / Stradivari connection

    Ben, I took a look at Matteo Sellas's guitars and now I finally get what you were saying. Especially with the guitar attributed to him in the National Music Museum. My favorite observation is how both Sellas and Nicolò (on his 1656 violin) only used a rigid fleur-de-lis icon where symmetry was needed, and allowed it some freedom to take on a life of its own elsewhere. They kind of remind me more of birds in flight more than they do of lilies, but I like it. Aside from the dot - diamond - dot inlay design, I can see some similarities between the Sellas headstock pattern and the patterns Strad used on his first decorated instruments. Both seem to have a more gradual roundness to the curves than the patterns used by Nicolò on his decorated scrolls. The image of the 'Prague' Amati at the top is still the only photo I have seen of this instrument, and I honestly couldn't tell what kind of dot, square, diamond, etc pattern was used along the edge. Can you share a pic of a guitar with similar binding?
  15. Nicolò Amati / Stradivari connection

    Thanks Not Telling, I've checked out Roger's article (and thanks again Roger for posting your invaluable articles online!). That's a really fascinating (dendro informed?) date Peter ! That would place this instrument right next to Strad's first ornamented instrument, the 1677 'Sunrise' Stradivarius violin. A quick glance at some photos of Stradivari's 1677 'Sunrise', 1679 'Hellier', and 1687 'Ole Bull' decorated violins (dates given by S. Pollens) seems to show that they all have the same pattern along the ribs and scroll, with only small alterations between instruments (the 'Ole Bull' has a reversed pattern on a C-bout for example). The 1683 'Cipriani Potter' is a small violin, an although it had a similar floral theme, Strad must have made new patterns to accommodate its smaller size. Pollens doesn't mention a source for these floral patterns, and just implies that Stradivari was accomplished enough to design them himself. He does write about the patterns used for Strad's c. 1698 / c. 1709 'Greffuhle' violin, tracing them to a book of sewing and embroidery patterns by Giovanni Ostaus published between 1557 and 1591. Of course all of these patterns are different from both of the decorated violins by Nicolò. I think it's interesting that Nicolò's scroll's are no less decorated than Stradivari's - he just held back when it came to the ribs. I seem to recall reading that Stradivari reinforced the ribs on his decorated instruments with linen? Perhaps this structural concern is what caused Nicolò to hold back. Thanks everyone, this has been really interesting, Joel