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  • Birthday 03/01/1963

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  1. Just received the visit of violist Christine Rutledge for some viola test driving prior to the 49th International viola Congress. She plays a Burgess viola and will play a MANFIO one during the Congress.
  2. If you have made 6 instruments, you may still have basic things to work on such as corners, scroll, archings, purfling, model, and set up, that is, the basic things. As Christopher pointed out, the learning curve is long, and I would work on the basic things for the first years. This is a tough market, and Davide Sora is correct, you have not only to make excellent instruments but also have to sell them, and these are two different kinds of work. Focus on a model and develop it, if you keep changing models you can get lost. Whenever you find a good maker or top player ask him "what can I do better?". Keep asking till he say something, and keep your ears open.
  3. Hello! I will be in the 49th International Viola Congress in Campinas, Brazil, and will be exposing some violas made by me. I will also give a speech "Some Ideas About Viola Making". Is someone here going?
  4. I use a normal Hill fine tuner in this way. The string never breaks there.
  5. Thanks! I started using a madder lake made in Italy by Fantuzzi Pigmenti. The process is about the same I ever used, perhaps I have more experience now! I am 61 years old now.
  6. 15.5-inch viola, varnishing. An-lk3egoA11mik8nZCt5sMDRZvIzPIqzP0CLDsXBiXBN95SWudJx58HcH-3_8BdQWWmQtMMKhOdVm_RFjjkJg.mp4
  7. Viola, 15.5 inches, "Piazola sul Brenta", "arancione" color. An9JwFjjCgu6oLqeh2Whb0BUHr3uq47KH7rCeKsuQzbpjRHdhZOD4oC56w66o-4A1kJZWkcjPdrwFbqfeZpc5fkX.mp4
  8. As mentioned, more tension will not always result in more volume. Some violas will choke with Stark strings. Try to tune your viola half tone above the normal pitch and see what happens.
  9. Viola varnishing. Prima di cantare, la viola deve ballare al sapore del vento e sotto il sole! An961_4byRyqFwKlry6jU0wwt2jIOJmxzBoV4e2ripybvIjmLo-jry9p2988MTUqkw4iJ6w4hbYpeHGBNkWSDTqm.mp4
  10. I think it is a bit like cooking, a good cook will cook a good meal with humble ingredients. But the meal will be much better with high-quality ingredients. I made a viola about a year ago that sounded darn good, the only thing different in the "recipe" was the back which was very very light in weight.
  11. Many Italian classic violins were made with wood with "problematic" wood. Roger Hargrave mentions that del Gesù used unmatched top halves for his violins, as well as unseasoned wood.
  12. Viola "La Pastorella", 39 cm (15.3"), this is my smallest viola model, and sounds darn good with a powerful C string! The vibrating string is 352. It is a commission from a Belgian player. It is almost impossible to find small violas that sound good. Here it is played by Daniel Mendes. test drive viola LA PASTORELLA 39 CM.mp4
  13. Somedays ago I received Laurel Yu, a viola teacher at Valdosta University. I had 16, 16.3 and 16.5 violas. He prefered the 16-inch one, and mentioned that the response and clarity on the bigger ones was not so good as in the 16. Toby Appel mentioned to me that a good part of his students is constituted of "small Asian girls", and he is right about that. A dealer told me this good one "Violists say: size is ok but the sound is not, the sound is ok but the size is not, size and sound are ok but the price is not".
  14. The question is about popular viola size. As a viola maker, I would say 16 inches. I made many 17-inch violas under the influence of Michael Tree, but they were hard to sell. David Segal, my dealer in NYC, will not take my violas over 16 inches. Even 16.5 is considered too big by some dealers, that for contemporary violas, the market for old violas is different. Some players will say "I am tall and I don't feel comfortable with a small viola", and my answer to this is "Tall violinists feel comfortable with normal violins". When you are young you can manage to play a big viola but, as violists get older, many of them will downsize to smaller instruments, with some exceptions, as Michael Tree, who kept playing big violas for his whole life. The type of your work is another question. Playing in Opera houses with a big viola can be demanding. I sold small violas to very tall players of the Gewandhaus Leipzig, they mentioned that playing Wagner for almost six hours with a big viola was quite demanding. One of them was not young and got a 15.5 viola from me, he loved it for playing operas. Finding a small viola that sounds good is harder. But they do exist. With a 16-inch viola, it is easy for the viola maker to get a quick response, clarity, and sound focus. As we move towards bigger violas, we can get a beautiful sound, but sometimes at the expense of response, clarity, and sound focus. Here a recent viola I made, 16-inch, the reverberation is from the room.
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