Mark_W

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Everything posted by Mark_W

  1. I'd put the age at less than 120 years. As with Andrew, these pictures don't say a great deal to me. Perhaps a Boosey & Hawkes copy of Old Italian from the Brescian tradition; perhaps a German stab at the same thing.
  2. Mark_W

    A Darnton violin

    You must be hot, Michael. Your violin has been named! Is that the 1715 Strad model?
  3. Oded, I believe that--but I've still never heard of a test in which listeners could consistently distinguish one from the other.
  4. I'm not sanguine about Coke vs. Pepsi side-by-side tests, which is what most of these violin comparisons are. Remember when this methodology resulted in the discontinuation of Coke Classic? The mistake was believing what customers said. Once the old stuff wasn't in the market, we all realized what we missed. I'll take a risk here and guess that some modern violins are louder, if plainer, at short distances than the Strads. This convinces some listeners that they are hearing the projection of a great instrument, which they then misidentify as the Italian classic. My own observation, FWIW, is that listening tests are and always will be misleading. Players acquire their violins by playing them. Listeners' opinions are colored by too many distractions.
  5. They're definitely not limiting their work to indifferent fiddles. Their web page says they charge a minimum of $1,500 to change out the bass bar, which is three times what I'd expect. Since they also claim they charge 10% of a better violin's value, the implied value of a so-so fiddle would be $15,000. For that sort of money I'd seriously consider a new violin or an old one (with a standard bar) that had already been tweaked by a good shop.
  6. Ol'factory violins do not necessarily stink. :-) 150 years definitely falls into the period when Mirecourt and Mittenwald makers were having apprentices specialize in making just one part--scroll carvers, for instance. The same thing was happening in the cabinetmaking and carriagemaking trades at the time. As mentioned elsewhere, good tonewood doesn't always look first-class. I think that's been pretty exhaustively commented on in these threads. Some factory pieces have beautiful wood, too--there just wasn't time for the shop master to optimize graduation and joinery. IMHO there are shopmade violins out there that were good enough to start with, such that masters massaged them for sound and sent them on their merry way to end up as 'interesting' unlabeled fiddles at auction 150 years later.
  7. I can see why Jesse values that 100% feedback rating. However, like you, I look for patterns of behavior. I trace those negative-feedback leavers back through their previous transactions and observe what they bid on and how often they win their auctions. This usually tells me whether they're serious about what they're doing and how much they know. You can usually spot a provocateur or nutcase.
  8. eBay could improve the system by making a sharp separation between buyer feedback and seller feedback. Buyer and seller behavior are two different animals. Good buyer feedback is easy to maintain--communicate soon and pay promptly. Seller feedback involves myriad behaviors, including accurate descriptions, a fair return policy and so on. I might hesitate to purchase from someone with poor buyer feedback, but it's the seller feedback that would clinch it.
  9. DR.S., you did note the apparent problem with variant bassbar designs, and that is that they can improve response in a certain range at the expense of another. I replaced what looked like, but was not identified as, a Zaret bassbar in a Collin-Mezzin violin. The owner had requested a neckset, which I refused to do. The result was a little less power on the D, but better balance overall, especially above the third position. I don't know whether these bassbars make a violin better or worse, but it seems that most players' bowing styles favor a standard bar. The place for one of these devices might very well be a viola, in that it might ease sound production on the C. Just a guess.
  10. I don't have the books here, but that's a listed maker in a well-known family. I believe there were members right into the 20th century who were still making. As to authenticity, the age looks right. Might be some refinishing there. I wish this seller would publish side views and provide measurements.
  11. Jacob, my post wasn't intended to refute anything you wrote, but rather to answer yuen's question from my perspective. When answering any kind of query, it's best to know the experience level of the questioner. I'll confess I don't know that in yuen's case. I assume he could detect a really bad setup--the equivalent of (to use your analogy) a car with an old-fashioned point contact ignition system that wasn't firing on all cylinders. A good setup is certainly something without which we should not write off an instrument as inadequate to the task. I will say that I've seen by-the-book setups from professional shops that did not answer that description.
  12. You're right to play it in for a couple of months before making a snap judgement. My own feeling is that there is no magic. Setup can resolve many issues, but cannot change a violin's voice. For example, as a player advances and uses higher positions (5th & above) he begins to see the limitations of 'average' violins that are perfectly acceptable in lower positions. A really good setup can ease sound production and even add responsiveness to a degree. It can't turn a colorless fiddle into a gem. I'm not really qualified to give an opinion about the 'R' word as a final option, but I've never heard of a magical transformation from that, either.
  13. What do you think of jwesel? Prices seem to be near-retail, but like you he has a money-back guarantee and a 100% feedback rating. The descriptions and photos are so-so; no measurements listed.
  14. Mark_W

    Put A Label In?

    In general I agree with Chris--violin labels simply muddy the waters, inasmuch as the violin itself usually outlives the owner, leaving future generations to puzzle out the sometimes-not-so-obvious misattribution. In the end, though, the fiddle is yuen's property. He can do with it what he pleases. Personally, all the more interesting violins I've come in contact with have had no labels, making the mystery more fun.
  15. Mark_W

    Tailpiece Styles

    Quote: The exercise actually is to achieve a "standard" string afterlength using a 105 mm tailpiece. Hopefully this won't have the undesireable effects you mentioned. I shouldn't think it would, other things being equal. Nominalizing afterlengths at the 1/6 standard is fine, but I wouldn't take it as gospel for all violins. If you do experience difficulties as a result of the change, you should look first to the tailpiece weight rather than the afterlengths. Let us know how it comes out...
  16. Mark_W

    Tailpiece Styles

    I will add one word of caution. The temptation to go to a lighter tailpiece in search of greater resonance can lead to wolf notes in certain cases. The weight distribution through the tailpiece is a more speculative subject, and one I'd like to read more about if someone has looked into it.
  17. Mark_W

    Put A Label In?

    Ken, I'm sure yuen would not do anything amiss. I'm speaking of owners who wish to keep their violins, but need reassurance. I know for a fact that dealers have inserted labels for their clients as a sort of harmless and inexpensive attribution. Wasn't there an anecdote about that in A Thousand Mornings Of Music? I think I recall it.
  18. Mark_W

    Put A Label In?

    For motive, take a look at the Tarisio auction. Though February's sale is for 'speculative' instruments, one still finds that labeled violins attract more interest. I wouldn't be at all surprised if many of the false labels in older instruments were inserted at the behest of owners.
  19. Passaic County NJ is cactus land for anything involving violins or other high culture. Best to do a bit of research on Hudson Valley fiddlers' groups. Tie in with them and find out who plays, fixes and dispenses lore thereon.
  20. In regard to your point (1), isn't there a difference between visually understanding something and appreciating its underlying order? Plenty of people don't realize the rules of proportion employed in a Gothic cathedral, but they certainly appreciate the result.
  21. I propose a test: Select the ray-tracing or scan-line graphic technology of your choice. Use it to reproduce images of Cremona scrolls. The image would be purged of age marks, varnish particulars, cheek repairs, etc. Could experts identify recognize them and impute the mathematical (if any) methodology employed to produce them? Is this a fair test?
  22. You may get a better response on the Fingerboard. String brand discussions over here have a somewhat different focus, and even then it's very much a combination of factors.
  23. I agree with Oded that this can be done tastefully without unbalancing a bow. A certain number of hairs will disappear from the playing side between rehairings anyway, and that alone is not the reason the bow is brought in. The problem here is the low profit margin of the work (and perhaps the delegation of it to inexperienced apprentices), encouraging undue haste. It really should be farmed out to trained monks who contribute their time as a Godly work in the service of fine music.
  24. Jesse's comments seem right on to me. I find these days that I'm less interested in attribution than I used to be--it's an appraiser's game and good for business, I suppose. German violins get short shrift from purists, both for a too-rigid sameness in the case of factory models, and for variant treatments of scrolls and outlines in others. Nonetheless, one does encounter Saxon and generic German rat fiddles with numerous repairs, that sound surprisingly good.