Michael Darnton

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

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  1. The current "Golden Age" of making

    Carl's posts have reminded me of some things I have seen over the years. I know what he is talking about regarding pushers, because I see them all the time. The way I hear it, and how it affects the adjusting I do, is that a pusher will pick up a violin, play around with it for a bit until they find the switch for the afterburners, and then away they go. They characteristically have a tighter sound without much warmth, with an underlying hum which is always there that they call "tone" and disparage as "lack of tone" when they hear others who can't get it out of a violin. In a very general way, when they find a violin they like, after a bit of adjustment to match the underlying balance and power curve to their playing and clean up a few of the more obvious defects, they are on their way. They have the habit of picking up violins sequentially and within a second or two are themselves sounding like themselves. Pushers are the people who even sometimes brag about having their own sound no matter what they play, and yes, they do. When I have talked about one-stop (an organ reference) violins, these players are very concerned about finding the afterburner pedal, less concerned with the stops on the board The ones I call finesse players spend a lot of time finding the basic tonal qualities of a violin and adjusting for them can take a long time because they're looking in the for a body of sound they can work with. In recordings you can hear the underlying violin much more than with pushers. I have spend literally hours adjusting for some of these, because they tend to remember everything their instrument ever did, and adjusting can sometimes involve bringing all of these qualities to the front without subduing any of the others. They are making sure all the stops are functioning, none missing. I would say they never look for the afterburner, they look for as many stops as possible In a *very* general way, in adjustment, for most American, recently-trained professional players that I run into, the adjustment process is very different than for foreign-trained players, who generally are the nuanced, finesse players asking a lot from the instrument itself. The reason I have never seen a violinist who plays both side of the fence is that the pushers are trained, by their pusher teachers, that a player without the afterburner dimension does not have tone. The finesse players, on the other hand, view that tonal quality as sterile and uni-dimensional. There is no reason for either to cross over to a side they don't value. This really has nothing at all to do with volume and it is not at all about "playing both ends"; it's about taking entirely different paths. A few years ago I had an interesting example of this: a Japanese-trained finesse-playing friend, playing in the US. She was taking every audition she could, and not getting a job. She did, however, land a two-year temporary position on the Cleveland Orchestra, and permanent sub status with the CSO, so you will understand that she is definitely a talented musician. One day as I was working with her, I suggested that maybe she was failing auditions because, I maintained, they were looking for the American afterburner sound. Humorously, since I'm not a player, not a violinist, and not very good with any playing, I was able to coach her to catch the afterburner wave, and instantly her sound changed. She played with it for a while and said it was interesting, but required too much energy to sustain. I understand that this could be overcome by proper training leading to a more efficient bow stroke, but that's way beyond my job description. So I suggested that for the next audition she find an appropriate place in the music and turn on the afterburners so that they could recognize her as a musician of unusually-varied talent (a Thibaut, Carl would note) and earn a job, after which she would never have to fire up the afterburners again because she'd be in the middle of 30 other pushers cranking out volume to subdue the brass section. She did not do this; she continued to take auditions; she continued to lose them. She then went to Europe to take her first audition there, in which she won. . . and it was a concertmaster position. I doubt that she will be back. David has characterized these players as ticklers, and my the sense that they are teasing out of their violins all the nuance that the violin naturally has, he is correct, but as Carl has sufficiently defended, Menuhin, Oikstrah, Francescatti, Perlman, etc, were not scorned by the public of that time and place for that sin of insufficient volume which seems to be the only characteristic that is important to modern Americans, and this is our loss, not our gain.
  2. Warchal Brilliant vs. Visoin Titanium Solo

    I just checked around--apparently he's now promoting a new Pirastro synthetic string,and immediately previous, another of their synthetics. For years, with a few diversions, all he used on the bottom was Olives, even up to when I saw him two years ago. But in that recording, those are gut, I'm sure, and they definitely sound like it.
  3. Warchal Brilliant vs. Visoin Titanium Solo

    Harrell has usually/always used gut strings and still does--one of the last hold-outs. The strings on the cello look like (wound) gut to me.
  4. Enescu Guarneri

    If you're talking about del Gesu, I'd say that given that Dad "filius" was able to peacefully retire to cutting scrolls (something which he probably enjoyed and was one of the best at, ever, in many people's consideration) the last ten years of his life while his son was making violins using the best wood in Cremona, I'd say they were delighted. Meanwhile, production in the Strad shop had slowed to a trickle, and the wood often looks like it came from packing crates. It seems pretty obvious who was making the big bucks in Cremona at that time and was the most respected maker of the time, so I'd say the customers knew a good violin when they saw one, even if some of the posters here don't. I don't like to steal good ideas without credit, so I should mention that I didn't make that observation, myself; it came from Bob Bein, supposedly from Charles Beare, though I don't know for sure. I'd echo what I take to be Melvin's subtle suggestion that if the average punter on the internet doesn't think it's good, whether it's Van Gogh or del Gesu, that vote probably doesn't really count for much among people who actually do know what they're looking at.
  5. Tire Kicking; When Is It Okay?

    When I was at B&F this was a definite policy that I learned from Geoff Fushi. I'd bring out five violins they could afford, and one Strad or something similar without mentioning it, tell visitors just to play and don't look at labels before they formed opinions, and let them try them all, then discuss with them what they'd liked and why. What I used to tell people was that the idea was to try to figure out what a great violin was, and then find as much of that as they could in their own price range. I was always happy to show people nice things, and I still will, if there's not some sort of time pressure on me. There is a definite protocol, though: if you handle the body with your fingers (neck and shoulder rest only, please), sputter on the violin, etc. you won't be shown the good things. . . and will probably never realize it. It's been this way in every top level shop I've ever been in, but they won't necessarily tell you. These things are worth more than many objects you'll see in museums, and if you go to a museum like the one in Vermillion, they'll be even fussier about it than we are.
  6. fingerboard edge

  7. fingerboard edge

    Normally the fingerboard would be around 32mm wide at rhe bottom of the neck. I consider that to be minimum. More is OK.
  8. How long will a violin top survive without a soundpost?

    Unless there's a new meaning for "collapse" that includes a slight temporary subsidence, this thread is nearly complete nonsense, and you people should be ashamed of yourselves spreading it.
  9. Conformation of one of my thoughts on design

    Reminding you that, as they say, there's no such thing as a free lunch, you might consider what you will lose by widening the c-bout, and whether it's important to you. There are a number of makers in the past who have done this, so there's no shortage of evidence to consider.
  10. Need Help on These Tuning Pegs

    Schaller friction pegs. They're the German, plastic version of Caspari pegs.
  11. Any consensus on sound post position?

    So, to answer your question: no, there is no consensus. This is the usual thing that happens when you get a bunch of people together who don't know what they're talking about. I like Polk's answer the best, myself, if he would throw the player and the music into his mix. I'm sure that was just an oversight on his part.
  12. Best fingerboard, where to buy

    Does this work have illustrative proof, or are we to take his word for it that he can tell tailpiece/string knot damage from bridge foot marks?
  13. Best fingerboard, where to buy

    Given that it only takes a couple of years for a bridge to leave marks on a top, if violins had been set up this way, there'd be marks in that position to prove it. I've never seen even one case. Even modern painters and illustrators make this mistake, as you'll see if you google a bit. In fact, the exercise is interesting just to see modern drawings that will provide fodder in 300 years for ideas about the strange way people hold violins today. In fact, if we're being precise about it, quite a few of the drawings and paintings have the bridge in a wrong spot. http://www.martin-missfeldt.com/images-pictures/oilpaintings-school/violin-music-oil-painting-detail-2.jpg
  14. Best fingerboard, where to buy

    Speaking for myself, here, I've always appreciated Carl's post because they prompt me to think about things. In this issue it's become really obvious that people--that's all of you-- don't want their models challenged, and being right has become more important than learning anything. This is NOT innovation; it's not even bad education. It's just a playground fight. It's a pity that people don't read anymore, but would rather bellow into the echo-chamber here. Back before the internet, and before pseudoacoustics took such a hold on violin making, there was a large body of shop-derived lore, both good and bad, that was based on what people actually did to make instruments work, and a lot of it was written down in works all of you could access. From that emerge several different ideas about what boards do. As I said, quite a bit of this was written down, and it didn't all agree. In the last week, for myself I've divided the ideas into three camps, with a lot of outlying data still churning. Also, there are some apparent direct interactions with other aspects of setup and making. I wouldn't be on this memory binge through things I've forgotten, or not previously connected to the issue, without the contributions of ALL of you, INCLUDING Carl's What posts like Carl's do for me is to force me to step back and look at the larger picture, and that's always a good thing. Ultimately the answers won't come from measuring and theorizing, but from doing the homework on many, many violins over a long period of time, which few of you will do, and many will do wrong because you'll still be looking at the problems as a way to prove your own present ideas. That's really unfortunate. I don't have a solution here, but I sure have a lot of new ideas, and to me that's a good thing. I suspect the very many people watching this discussion but not participating got a lot more out of it than the participants did.
  15. Best fingerboard, where to buy

    In response to carl stross, on 21 Dec 2015 - 3:08 PM, said: Hahahahaha! Don't mind me; I'm just going to lock this piece of idiocy from the Lurker down for posterity. I assume the rest of you DO recognize sarcasm when they see it. I see why Lurker stays anonymous.