Michael Darnton

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About Michael Darnton

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    Have knife, will travel.

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    Check out my photos: http://flickr.com/photos/mdarnton

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  1. When I started in this business I was plagued by recurring back pain and read something somewhere that suggested my chair was too high. I moved it down several inches lower than I thought was right, so I couldn't lean over my work, and haven't had a single backache since.
  2. A Finnish guitar company has been making guitars from Thermowood since at least the mid 90s. I started using baked wood around 1999 because of their lead and had zero failures from that. It doesn't crumble. Guitars are thinner, with much more stress than violins, so there isn't any reason not to use it for violins. I do NOT believe Vuillaumes were cooked, though that is the popular myth. Baked wood has specific traits that I have never seen on one, though I have seen a few that were treated with nitric acid. Nitric acid turns wood into something like dried burned toast. From working with bow makers Vuillaume would have known all about nitric acid except that it doesn't destroy pernambuco the way it does maple and spruce. There were a few other French makers from around the same time and later who also used nitric acid, and it is relatively easy to recognize once you've seen a few examples. https://landola.fi/en/thermotonewood/
  3. I do not see ideas that could not be derived from the earliest Amati instruments. Why credit the Brescians when it is all right there in your own tradition?
  4. All of the "Brescian" influence I see in Cremonese making always tracks back to the Bros Amati, who are, in my opinion, the best makers ever. Which basically means Hieronymus Amati, I guess. Long Strads, too, are basically just long Bros Amati violins, as are the late Strads. Whattaguy!
  5. i have not read Roger's method, but can say that there's a danger in doing all the antiquing at the end that it will look like it happened all at once. In reality, some scratches and types of wear get polished out through time, some don't, the various colors of dirt are different, etc., so if you are doing it all at once, you have to consider that. It sounds like his method will give a more natural result, as if it happened gradually.
  6. I agree with you about the A Guarneri sound. To me it's been a testament to the Cremonese method that one of their worst makers could make some of the nicer sounding violins. Perhaps it's as you say, that this exaggeration is a good thing.
  7. Del Gesu doesn't do this all of the time, and I don't copy it. My pet theory is this: it seems universally considered that Andrea Guarneri was the least talented of the Cremonese makers, and one can see that he often gets in trouble in places and doesn't know when to stop, and this is his most consistent example. When I saw my first one, the person showing it to me pointed to the big dents inside each corner on the back and told me that this effect, which looks like he pushed his thumbs deep into the wood, was consistent with him. And it mostly is. I don't think it's intentional--I just don't think he knew what to do there, and del Gesu learned that from him. You don't see the same thing in any other Cremonese maker. What you are referring to as a consistent Cremonese effect is probably something I don't even think about, since I started looking at violins critically long before I became a maker.
  8. 1732. Maybe a little early for your purposes.... Later, del Gesu has a consistent problem blending the arching from the central section into the upper bout, often expressed as a sunken area inside the corners, slightly up the arching. Andrea Guarneri does this to excess, normally, so I guess del Gesu inherited/learned the problem. You can see just a bit in this photo. I think it comes from carrying the scoop in the central area up too far north, then having to get out of it into something broader too quickly, rather than blending it out slowly.
  9. Byrdbop, I understand exactly what you are saying. Because I deal almost exclusively with better players and better violins, I associate it more with playing style, and different people can draw either effect out of the same violin, but I do also hear that when the violin doesn't have it, no way of playing will draw it out. In general, I have to say that I do prefer the sound of the violin, when it's a good violin. People who play the string sound tend to make all violins sound the same, and relatively dimensionless. Really skilled players can bring out both sounds, or switch as necessary, giving them more of a tonal range. That's what I hear, anyway.
  10. In the closet. . . literally. 4x5 foot cedar closet.
  11. I don't suppose that I'm the only person to have sat at a concert and been able to listen both live and through phones what was being recorded---I would definitely call it "distorted". I was surprised at how differet the raw feed was from the sound in the room. . . and how I'd been trained by recordings to prefer it--clearer, more transparent. Exactly the things people can never enough of when they are buying violins, and I think it's obvious that recordings have shaped tastes and lead them in a direction away from a good traditional sound. I'm fearful of what will be called a "good" violin sound in the future if this process of the snake eating its own tail continues, because the effect has the inevitability of being constantly cumulative as the actual violin in the field fails to achieve the recording's close-mic'd, volume boosted relative to the orchestra, "enhanced" clarity and brightness. I believe we have ready seen this detrimental process at work in many players' preference for thin sounding, boring, bright, loud POS violins.
  12. You need to read what you wrote, then: it is a speed vs dollar market if you choose to put something good in. That's what it is for "good" items and that is why the estimate is low. If you want dollar rather than speed, find an appropriate place to sell your bow. Apparently you already knew this when you started the thread, so why did you start the thread??
  13. No, Darlington. It's less than a mile down the road. :-)
  14. Any shop selling any violin should be willing to support a violin with their own reputation--their problem, not yours. If you are thinking of a private sale, you will be forced to do what the customer requires, which may vary. An appraisal is not a certificate and does not serve the same function.
  15. As is your objection, I am sure. We buy a lot at auctions. A huge percentage of it is attractive and nonfunctional in its sold state. Virtually none has ever been in a slap a bridge on and sell it state. I often find that someone has been inside recently and done a whole job, and the instrument still doesn't work. Things do sell for record prices at auction but most sales are not records . . . for good reason. To not know that auctions are dumping grounds--for widely varying reasons--shows total ingnorance. That's been their role for literally decades.