Posts posted by SeeryStrings
I recently fixed up this violin for a client. It is unlabeled and doesn't even show signs of ever having been labeled. It is obviously a Stainer body shape, and the antiqued finish and interior construction suggest a workshop violin (probably German, probably late 19th early 20th century), but from there it gets more interesting. The f holes are the most curious part to me and I was unable to find any exact matches. They most closely match those of Italian violins from the early to mid 1700s from makers such as Tecchler (1737), Tononi (1725), Carcassi (1752), Guidanti (1740), and Bairhoff (1757). I also found a Benjamin Banks from the late 1800s with similar style f holes, but none a perfect match. The holes are pretty short, parallel to the grain, fairly wide. The unique part though is the degree of turn in the upper ear of the holes.
Another interesting point is that the long arch is not Stainer, but more Strad. The rather large ebony alignment pins are also a bit unusual, they are also present on the top.
On a side note- when I received the violin, someone had converted it to have 5 sympathetic strings running under the fingerboard, through the bridge, and over the saddle, attached to hooks in the peg box and very small threaded pins in the end block like small piano pins for tuning. Sort of like a viola d'amore/violin hybrid.
I thought some here would enjoy discussing this one. Those f holes kept me up a few nights for sure.
Rock and roll! Crafty people never cease to amaze.
I have very much enjoyed this discussion. For whoever said I'm disguising a desire to bash Tomastik by questioning Dominants, it simply is not the case. The most prevalent strings in my shop and showroom are Tomastik strings. I'm a huge fan of their luthier sets known as TI and Rondo. The TI is supposedly a variation on the Dominant, I find it to have a rounder sound tonally (which I prefer). The Rondos are supposedly a variation on the PI strings (which are also great), but are more affordable and generally bring more vibrant and refined tone qualities to the table. Tomastik also now has Spirits, Visions in 3 different varieties, Infeld Reds and Blues, and Alphas. Aside from the Alphas which I have only tried on a fractional violin thus far, I think all the other strings have their place. I am actually to the point now where among the 40+ violins in my showroom right now, I only see one with Dominants. They're just not my go to and I was mostly curious if anyone else felt the same way. Curious because I still see them everywhere and they still come standard from many distributors. Thanks for all the excellent insights and opinions, this is such a great group of people.
Dominants are a well established, superbly balanced string. If a violin does not work with Dominants ( or Tonicas ) the problem is somewhere else. Or it's not quite a violin. Just looks like one. It is often more beneficial to learn how a proper violin should sound through registers than to beat it down to the level of one's prejudices. This idea of "it doesn't work for me or my violin" has potential for a lot confusion as to who exactly the guilty party is.
Okay, but don't you think that strings provide a powerful tool that allows us to move an instrument's tone in a direction or to bring out colors that might be hidden behind the string? I admit it is possible that the string brings it's own colors to the table as well. I don't agree with the suggestion in a couple places here that if a violin doesn't sound good with Dominants than it must either be a bad violin or a bad set up. I have spent hours adjusting violins with Dominants only to find out that it really just needed a different string set. I have also had violins come in with set ups done by veteran luthiers known for their set ups and have a violin sound much improved just by changing the strings.
Dominants have a distinctive sound which, for me, cloud the actual characteristics and capabilities of individual fiddles. I hate trying out violins strung with Dominants at auction viewings because I find they have a certain tonal texture which homogenizes things. Yes, Dominants provide a standard - but its a pretty blah standard.
I once had someone tell me that Dominants have a tendency to "bend and instrument to their will." If I remember correctly this person liked that about Dominants, but I can see that being a problem too.
So..., The other day a very fine player was in the shop and we were assessing a violin I had recently completed a overhaul on for him. I had strung it with Dominants, a string that even a decade ago I wasn't a huge fan of. However, I had about 5 lightly used sets in my miscellaneous string box (because I never end up using them) but thought every once in awhile a violin sounds pretty good with them and I wanted to just put something on there to get a sense of the direction to go in. He played the violin for a few minutes then asked me to change the Dominants and I suggested Rondos (a bulk purchase only set also by Tomastik). The difference was stunning, where before it had a dull and grating sound, the violin now had a vibrant, colorful, and singing quality. This has played itself out over and over again over the years with many players and instruments.
My questions are as follows; 1) why are distributors and many makers, shops, and teachers still relying so heavily on Dominants? and 2) is the Dominant domination coming to end? On that last question, I'm sure it is already happening as synthetic string technology has clearly come a long way since Dominants first came onto the scene and there are so many choices.
I'm merely curious how others feel in general about this undoubtedly iconic string set. Love them? Hate them? Good for certain instruments? Do you use them much less now that there is such a panoply of choices? Any other comments about their continued success? Okay, unleash the hornets! Go!
P.S. If anyone needs a bunch of hardly used Dominants cheap, I know a guy .
Let us know the results!
Often these violins also have no corner blocks and the top (inside) is very roughly carved - instead of smoothing it out evenly and then applying a bass bar, there is a lump of wood left behind in the general vicinity of where the bass bar should go. Replacing the edging is difficult and expensive. I'd usually recommend using this for decoration rather than spending the $$$ to have it repaired to be played.
Check out my post about the Gaetano Pareschi 5 string cello. If you want any info about it, I'll do my best to answer. It is a very well crafted instrument by a very respected Italian maker.
I would avoid buying a violin from a guitar shop or music store unless they have a knowledgeable violin luthier on staff. Often times instruments in this price range have factory set ups which are definitely sub par. Go to a orchestral string shop, preferably one that is run by an experienced violin luthier who is meticulous about set ups. Violins in the $1000 range can sound quite good for the price with the right set up, but I have yet to hear one that comes close anything in the $10K range provided both are set up well. Remember that the more expensive instruments can require a very skilled musician to pull out all the colors lying in wait. The same musician can then play the $1000 violin and the differences will undoubtedly be stark.
I actually tested this with a variety of shoulder rests. Here is what we found from least dampening to most dampening; Linnd shoulder rest, Ever Rest, Kun, Bon Musica. The Linnd was clearly the winner too, the minimal feet and the extra support that keeps the rest from squeezing too hard combined to yield the most resonance. The Bon Musica which is the one I use because I have a long neck, dampened the instrument most with the Kun being only very slightly better than the Bon Musica. The Ever Rest is a great choice for the money and did not dampen nearly as much as the Kun and BM. We also tested with no shoulder rest, but dampening changed with bone structure of the player and playing position. I should repeat the test with some other rests, but I'm pretty sure the Linnd would win out every time.
Hello all! This very interesting Gaetano Pareschi 5 string cello made its way into my shop for repairs and consignment. Of note of course are the folk art additions most assuredly not by the maker. Any idea how additions like that would impact the value of a piece like this? Anyway, something you don't see every day, thought I'd share!
Violin ID- interesting mix of flavors
in The Pegbox
I wish I had taken pictures of the interior when I had it apart, but if you've taken apart many German workshop instruments, you probably have some idea of what is usual inside one of good but not the highest level quality. It is fully blocked, the top is well graduated with a bass bar positioned well and probably about a centimeter tall in the middle. The linings are spruce and well fit but not artistically done. Blocks same deal. Maybe I need to get one of those interior cameras, it's tough to describe this stuff with words.
The pins are indeed "cosmetic". One came out when I had it apart and they are basically like ebony "tacks".