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Posts posted by uguntde

  1. I haven't seen these f-holes in any Georg Kloz. Georg Kloz violins also are more rfined than this one. But is seems to be a decent Mittenwald violin but needs indeed a lot of work. Whether you can get these cracks properly repaired I doubt.

  2. 16 hours ago, Herman West said:

    Yuri Bashmet plays on a Testore viola; so does or did Shlomo Mintz on his album of Shostakovich violin / viola sonatas.

    Also a great recording of the Shostakovich viola sonata by Sara Kim on youtube, on Paolo Antonio Testore. Not sure this is the same Testore as Bashmet's viola.

    Nevertheless, this who business of scratched-in purfling and ugly scrolls is a sign of fast sloppy making of the instruments, not the best workmanship. This doesn't mean the sound was not good.

  3. On 7/29/2018 at 9:29 AM, martin swan said:

    The first ... I was responding to Jacob's post.

    The second looks very nice - is it a problem for you that the purfling is painted? Would you have the same concerns about a Testore for example?

    Testore violins would certainly not win any competitions today, and some of the scrolls a re really ugly. Some violas from that family have an amazing sound though. Overall I think many Testore family violins with painted-on purfling are not really nice workmanship.

  4. On 8/21/2018 at 11:25 AM, Quadibloc said:

    Well, I don't have a problem with Strads and del Gesus being slightly better than everything else. Nor with the big name soloists using them, whether it's because they're the best or because of the power of their names.

    However, at least a couple of soloists have claimed that Stradivari, Guarneri del Gesu, and Guadagnini were so much better than everyone else that the fact that they didn't make enough violins so that even upper-level students could have one... makes their progress much harder than it needs to be.

    That's what makes it seem like there's a crisis. One that only a hero like William Fry can solve by rediscovering the Stradivarius secret. However, I'm beginning to be convinced that people like Joseph Curtin, Gregg Alf, Sam Zygmuntowicz, and even our own Don Noon are perfectly capable of making violins that meet that need - violins that are, at least, not too far behind a Guadagnini.

    Then there's no problem? Well, those guys have waiting lists. And a violin takes about 180 hours to make properly - and luthiers have to eat.

    So, let's say that the least a well-made violin would cost is around $6,000, and one by one of the better makers is apparently around $45,000. Still a lot cheaper than a million dollars.

    A good violin teacher is also competent, from anecdotes I've read, to judge the merit of a violin. That is the one fact I've come across so far that gives me cause for optimism, that the right instruments have a chance of getting into the right hands.

    And so if Yamaha quit making the YVN500S and G because a Chinese firm was doing the same thing, cheaper, but with an end product of the same quality, that would be news leading to further optimism on my part.

    On the other hand, this article, which I came across when investigating whether Paulownia, a light and strong material in some ways even better than spruce at what spruce is good at, at the moment has me more skeptical than hopeful.

    I found further information on this page, which not only gave more detail on one additional distinguishing feature besides the use of Paulownia - the thickness of the ribs is varied between the bass and treble sides of the violin, but also showed that these violins have an unusual shape, and a different f-hole design; they're {-holes now.

    This video, while it shows some very impressive violin playing, did not lead me to think the sound of this type of violin is that impressive, but I cannot claim to be a particularly discerning listener in this field.

    Maybe this would deserve a new thread, but I often wonder why people spend 20-30-40k for a new violin when they can get an old for the same or less. There are also modern makers who make great instruments for less. My favorites in the last Tarisio sale were the ASP Bernardel and the Hel (the latter with a bad button repair). Both will have an excellent resale value and great sound. Whether a new violin retains value is very questionable. 

    Maybe a new fiddle has sound optimisation, is as good as a Strad or better in a blind test. But whether it carries in a concert hall most players will never experience. Orchestral players could just as well use a good sounding Chinese, and nobody would notice. For chamber music other tonal qualities count, beauty of sound is not always carrying power. For example, a good Kloz can be excellent for quartet playing.  I am sure there is lots to argue about in these lines.

    I really appreciate excellent modern making, but I would never pay that premium for a violin that I can never sell again. Nevertheless, that market of above 20k violins seems to be doing well.

  5. On 8/3/2018 at 6:12 PM, JacksonMaberry said:

    I've heard Stanley Ritchie's Stainer played in Auer Hall at IU, and it filled the space well. It's worth noting also that, per Charles Beare, a Stainer led the LSO for decades, meaning it would have been used for many a concertmaster solo and possibly a concerto or two. I would imagine that if it weren't equal to the task, it would have been replaced. 

    Melvin Goldsmith has attested on this forum that one of the best sounding violins he encountered was a Stainer with a fairly low arch.  

    I make Stainer pattern fiddles for baroque players and everyone who has played one has been pleased. I hope to make one in modern setup and see how it fares. 

    I think that there is only so much worth in repeating the wives tales that persist in the community of violin enthusiasts. The proof is in the playing. Not all violins from a single maker are equal in quality, each must be judged on it's merits. 

    I really liked the tone of the Stainer in the last Tarisio auction in London. Has anyone else played it? It was on the same table as the Oddone and the Fagnola, although much nicer in tone.

  6. 6 hours ago, Blank face said:

    It's not true as a generalization. To define a "German violin" is difficult, too, there wasn't a Germany as we know it today during this period, if you think of Austrian, Silesia or some bohemian regions producing rather "German" cultural artefacts, but aren't regarded as Germany actually.

     These can be easily separated from each other, as well as those from the big centers like Mittenwald and Saxony/Markneukirchen.


    It's true that many of the last can't be attributed to a particular maker  if they aren't featuring very idiosyncratic styles like some of the real good and well documented makers.

    It is hard to distinguish any different makers but Kloz from the Mittenwald school. Even with the early Hornsteiners it can be difficult without label, because they worked with Kloz family members.

    Many of those German makers put in wrong labels, Kloz family members took Stainer labels, and later others used Kloz labels.

    Regarding Italian violins I remember a Guarneri in an auction a few years ago with a Hamma certificate, which was proven not to be Guarneri by dendrochronology (probably a Voller Brothers).


  7. To get some sense into this: how do you distinguish Hornsteiner from Kloz violins when there is no label? Is the U-shaped insert in any way typical? ^_^ Also strange to replace a back with one with the U inserted, why not make a proper one? Maybe a secret signature from?

    As a general rule I find that violins of this kind (German 18th century) without label are almost impossible to authenticate. Although, this one actually has a label.

    With 'The German experts seem to accept this as Kloz' I meant solely the varnish, which is not the typical water soluble stuff. It seems to be accepted that this type of varnish appears on Kloz violins. They seem to have used different types of varnish.


  8. On 8/4/2018 at 7:56 PM, martin swan said:

    This one from our archive didn't have its original varnish, but you can see that the quality of work (as Blank face points out) is in quite a different league from the OP violin :


    The Kloz family varnishes vary. There is this famous glue varnish which is water soluble. But you also find other varnishes, like the one on the violin depicted above. The German experts seem to accept this as Kloz.

  9. 15 hours ago, MANFIO said:

    Here my two cents about choosing a good viola, as a player.

    Avoid monochrome instruments. Look for many colours and contrast, you can have that only when you have a good dynamic range.

    With a good viola you can work with the bow to create colours. In most violas you will change your bowing and nothing will happen.

    With a good viola when you draw your bow from the end of the fingerboard towards the bridge increasing the weight you will notice a big change in volume and colour of the sound. Just good instruments offer that.

    The viola must not choke when you play FFF near the bridge.

    Avoid hollow sound, look for a focused sound.

    Clarity is important too, when playing quick passages the notes should not mix. 

    Check the instrument in the upper regions of the C and G strings. You may not be using the 7th positions of the C string now but as you start studying more difficult pieces you will have to do that. Just good violas will sound good in high positions of the C string, in general you will have many wolves and rasped notes there.

    Playing confort: not only the size matters here but also string length, upper bouts width, rib height, weight, feeling "under the chin". Try to play in high positions of the C string. 

    Look for a quick response too.

    What string length and rib height do your instruments typically have?
    My main instrument has a 370mm string length, 38/40 rib height, 16 3/8" body.

    Among modern good violas I see two main types: Some persue a more nasal tone, a more traditional viola sound. I personally prefer modern violas with a more open, bigger tone (maybe this is what you call clarity).


  10. 1 minute ago, Danube Fiddler said:

    The use of pumice as a filler is a very classical thing, because it has this function in shellac-polish.  

    Plaster of Paris seems to be a more heavy thing - but it is extremely interesting, what you tell from Roger Hargrave about the general use of a mineral filler for sound !!

    Many years ago a maker told me, he would use pumice and glue for his ground.  This ground is similar to the use of lime and glue,  classical in oil-painting-grounds on canvas.

    The use of a mineral fillers like pumice, diatomaceous earth in combination with a drying oil could have these advantages :

    - the mineral particulates, which naturally have to be very fine ( << 50 um) thicken and bind the oil and therefore prevent from a deeper penetration of the oil ( at least to some extent)

    - in the bigger pores like vessels and rays finally there will not only be dried oil but also minerals and therefore a too strong dampening can be avoided, which dried oil for its alone could have for a longer period of time 

    I never have read the bass-making opus - but I personally don´t like it to bring a hydraulic material and a lot of water into the wood ( eventually only until I will have read this opus :)). 

    The bass making opus is excellent.Hargrave is not only a good maker, he is also an excellent writer. I read it in one night, could not stop.

    Zaal and Hargrave's view expressed in this article is as follows:

    "This was about the time that John Dilworth and I started looking at the possibility of analysing varnish samples. This eventually led to the works of Professor White, and Barlow and Woodhouse. I can clearly remember the influence that those first electron microscope pictures had upon my thinking. The conclusions I drew from their work may or may not have been correct, but from that moment I began reading about fillers and extenders and experimenting with their affect, both visually and acoustically. Shortly after, both the sound and appearance of my instruments improved dramatically."


    "What I can say is that the instruments where fillers were used, display one conspicuous characteristic; they all carry very well in large halls."

    He takes is plaster of Paris through a long-lasting procedure to remove the smallest particles. I assume this is to avoid getting a layer of hardening plaster onto the fiddle. He then applies it in water, not in oil. No protein, and he  makes sure there are no glue residues in corners.

  11. 9 minutes ago, Danube Fiddler said:

    At the moment I don´t have the B/G- book in my home, it´s on loan to a collegue. If I remember right, more than one later authors had difficulties to re-find these particulates in Stradivari-grounds.  

    However Brandmeir did find them in the ground of several J.B.Guadagnini - wood/varnish-samples as one can read in the book about the Parma Exhibition 2011. 

    Also, if you read Hargrave's bass maing opus he says having a minaral layer made all the difference in tone for him. He uses plaster of Paris, there are posts on MN that Neil Ertz later used pumice instead. At least I cam understand how fine mneral particles seal wood in a hardening linseed oil matrix.

  12. I would hardly ever favour a smaller viola for people who can handle a larger one. But I am only an amateur player and don't need to hold it 4-6h a day.

    In this price range I would simply go for the one that you find sounds best. I tend to judge violas based on their C string sound quality. If the C is good the G usually follows. It is also important that it speaks on the A.

    A bridge is lowered in a few minutes by a luthier. If you buy from a general music reseller this is of course more complicated. There are reasonably well agreed standards for string clearance over the finger board. The strings must not rattle on the finger board if you play forte.

    Play some scales to see how well you can handle the upper positions. D major over 3 octaves should work otherwise it is too limiting.

  13. On 7/1/2018 at 7:33 AM, Quadibloc said:

    Unfortunately, this may well be true.

    In searching for information about violins and violin-making, the most credible sources I came across provided the following information:

    - it is established that Stradivari used linseed oil for his first two coats of varnsh, and pine oil in his third, on at least one violin;

    - spirit varnish didn't become available until somewhat after his time;

    - the Guadagnini violins on which spirit varnish was used are less well regarded;

    - oil varnish tends to age well; spirit varnish tends to turn an ugly brown color and chip off after decades

    - the varnish Stradivari used may not have done anything magical to the sound of his violins, but it had a rich, beautiful appearance that made it greatly admired, leading to efforts to duplicate it, if only for its visual appeal

    And, as well, in a generally reputable, but old, source, spirit varnish was referred to as a "tone-destroying" thing that Stradivari would never use.

    In doing a web search specifically on this last item, though, I see that indeed the situation is more complicated than I thought. Part of the issue may be that there are many different kinds of both oil varnish and spirit varnish, and some of the references to spirit varnish I saw may have been applicable only to the bad spirit varnish... used in Markneukirchen.

    Since linseed oil polymerizes instead of really drying, and that slowly, it has more time to soak into the wood than spirit varnish, which dries quickly. (Walnut oil, however, does dry, for what that's worth. Since Stradivari didn't use it, I can't automatically plump for it as the miracle varnish that splits the difference; I will need to find out what results makers have had with it.)

    The fact that Eastman prefers spirit varnish to drying oil varnish under UV lamps - and the fact that Don Noon had said spirit varnish was not so bad - meant that I already had some doubts.

    After learning that the varnish situation was indeed far more complex than I realized, I tried doing some web searches for the varnishes on old tube radios, figuring that given the economic importance of this industry, someone there might have developed a varnish giving a similar visual effect to Stradivari's, but I haven't turned up a candidate secret Stradivari varnish with that angle.

    There are many 20th century Italian violins (Fagnola, Oddone, Bisiach ...) and French (Gand Bernardel school) with spirit varnish. Their spirit varnishes are based on a mixture of resins, not just shellac (which is max 30-40%). Many of these violins sound good, at least for my taste.