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Posts posted by uguntde

  1. On 4/29/2018 at 1:10 PM, David Burgess said:

    I only recall one like that which has been entered, maybe a couple of decades ago, made by Amnon Weinstein in Israel. It must have made quite an impression for me to remember that ;)

    I think it might have won a medal, had the judges liked the varnish better.

    The judges can only pick winners from what has been entered, so if certain kinds of instruments are rarely or never entered, they won't win very often. So it could appear to a casual observer that judges don't care for them, even if that isn't the case. 

    I am a fan of nice spirit varnishes altogether. Many of the 20th century Italians used it, Oddone, Ganola, Bisiach and m any others. The Vettory family has a nice spirit varnish, their violins look really nice. It is more elastic, not as chippy as oil varnish. Spirit varnishes are much harder to apply though, and one needs a good recipe, but it is all just mixing tree resins and shellac.

  2. On 4/29/2018 at 10:54 AM, David Burgess said:

    Aren't these people part of the market, and isn't it largely market forces which determine the monetary value of an antique object?

    If enough people find that a splined bow is worth more that zero, how do you justify claiming that it has no commercial value?

    A violin does not loose value from a neck graft, bushed pegs, repairs to the edge etc, and the older it is, the less from a sound post patch. I have violins where little pieces of purfling have been replaced and the repairs are of such quality that nobody would consider lowering the value.

    I would not be astonished if good quality splines did not devalue bows at some point in the future, especially when done well using modern glues. These may not be collector items any more but still good bows for playing. This changes with market forces, and the current auction culture accelerates these markets.

  3. UV spectrometry is commonly used in chemistry and biochemistry. What you typically see is transitions in metals and conjugated organic systems (as you would have in fused varnishes, although particularly in the parts that have not polymerised). If Vuillaumes varnish absorbs UV light this may just mean that he used metal pigments. In fact, a spirit varnish consisting just of a mix of resins would not absorb UV except if some of the resins had lots of aromatic substances or conjugated bonds. On the other hand an unpolymerised oil varnish (abietic acid or linoleic acid) have the type of conjugated bonds that would absorb UV light.

    The method used for these pictures is crude. because the light was probbaly notmonochromatic (a fixed frequency or small frequency range). Modern UV spectrometers, and this could be implemented for photography, use a monochromator after a mercury lamp and sweep the frequency of the monochromator to see absorption frequencies. From such an approach one can certainly  make some smart guesses of what is in the varnish.

    But I honestly think there are better methods. WIth modern solid state NMR you can look at tiny samples. a few milligrams of varnish and you can make some proper assignments. I thought occasinoally about applying for money to undertake such a study but the impact is too low to find a funder. Only the Wellcome Trust may pick something like this up.

  4. 4 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

    Only in more recent years, there has been an increase in “dumpster surfers”, who like to think that they are getting a free ride (e.g. Gold Nürnberger), although I consider them to be mistaken. They only consider and take the above mentioned value No. 1 (Türngerät) into account, and ignore the value No. 2 collectible, more or less sought after antique object. This can also lead to queries when repairing such an object, is it kosher to charge an insurance to mend something, which doesn't really have a commercial value afterwards? 


    I am sorry, but I am not a 'dumpster surfer'. I also don't call you a dumster repairer becasue you have to deal with lots of cheap German factory violins. And I am also sufficiently stupid to buy a repaired bow for value or as a collectible. I bought this once to play and never regretted it. If it ever brakes again I had a cheap bow for a number years, so what.

    I also know quite a few players (even professional players in the UK, where salaries in the music industry are quite low) who went for a repaired instrument or bow to something that is good to play. I also know collectors with sizeable collections who include repaired bows.

    On the other side I really appreciate nice repairs, whether on violins or bows. And well-done splines are from a technical point of view not a good reason to reduce the value of a bow, especially in times of superglue, even though the market sees this differently at the moment.  Lesser so for sound post patches, which are increasingly just accepted as almost inevitable on old instruments. 


  5. On 4/27/2018 at 10:36 AM, jacobsaunders said:


    Auctions are a funny beast in many ways. I wonder, had you come to my shop, if you would have chosen a splined bow, or if you might have spent all afternoon choosing one of the chest of drawers full of non-splined ones

    I don't know. I have many bows, bought in different places, one of them I bought in a shop.

  6. I bought a gold mounted Nürnbergera few years ago with a good head spline repair.  I still paid a fair amount at an auction (I forgot but between £1000 and 1200) - Martin knows the bow.

    I may have paid too much, but there were other bidders interested, and in the end that's what determines market value. Nürnbergers can of course not loose so much money as they are not as sought after as Sartories. Still, 10% would be more in the few hundred range.

    Although I have many bows, this continues to be my favourite violin bow and this amount of money is not really that much.

    If the repair is well done the head may be more stable than without the spline. I often wondered why bow makers don't add a spline with the grain rectangular in the first place, similar to what David Burgess does with his hardwood soundpost and bridge support patches. This could also be done in carbon fibre and we would not see as many broken heads.

  7. On 16/04/2018 at 9:32 PM, 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 happens in terms of volume and sound colour.

    With a good viola when you draw your bow from 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. But also try PPP.

    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.

    I play a modern viola with a warm powerful sound. But I realise that a lot of makers go for a rather nasal sound that you find in many older violas - I don't like these nasal instruments at all.  Modern makers often know how to generate this fuller clearer sound. This is what people like Hiroshi Iizuka achieve with novel shapes, it is also what Tertis wanted,

     There may be a change in taste as the viola is just gradually being discovered in its full value. There seems to be a change in paradigma regarding the viola sound and there is no largely agreed sound quality that is to be achieved. One needs to choose what one wants. And for this you have to play lots.


  8. 15 hours ago, Blank face said:

    Thanks for the new views. These don't look like mitred inside mould rib joints, so the violin isn't Mittenwald or from a related origin. Maybe someone like Peter Ratcliff or Martin Swan could give more information if it's English?

    What do mitred inside mould rib joints look like?

  9. 34 minutes ago, Blank face said:

    The main difference between old English and South German/Austrian in't the shape of the scroll (and there is much more and much different than "Kloz" within the last), but in the way to construct the ribs. While the British, as far as I'm aware, used a built on the back construction with symmetrical corner blocks and rib joints, sometimes the ribs in a groove of the bottom, the Mittenwald/Danubian school built the ribs with an internal mould, resulting in corner blocks shorter in the C bouts with linings morticed in the blocks and mitred rib joints. This features aren't visible at the photos. Furthermore you could look if the front scroll flutings are carved "to the bitter end" or stopping somewhere before.

    Thanks for ths advice. I don't have the violin with me but can look this up next week. I am adding a picture of the corner. What you describe as "built on the back construction with symmetrical corner blocks and rib joints, sometimes the ribs in a groove of the bottom" I have seen with some instruments, especially a Pamphillon owned by a friend. However, my Duke doesn't show this or I don't know how to identify it (how do I see when it is built on the bottom?).

    Considering that the bottom round holes of the f-holes are quite small it is hard to see the inside, it seemed that the lining is extemely narrow (3mm) and square shaped

    I added a few more pictures and can take a few more next week. The violin also needs to be opened and I will have more pictures from the inside in a few weeks.





  10. Why I assume it is English: I am in England and we always go for English first if it could also be German :).

    But also: The purfling, max 3mm from the edge, very narrow linings. I have a Duke with exactly these features. But I know, Mittenwald is the other option, and a Duke scroll looks different. On the other hand it is also not the typical Kloz scroll (if you look at it from the back it is too broad  towards the top, sideways widening continually where almost all Kloz scrolls have a distinct discontinuity). 

  11. High

    4 hours ago, Blank face said:

    I have absolutely no clue what's french about the linings or top block, nor "purfling thickness". This all goes along with usual Vogtland work (and "Czech", as it means the Schönbach region, is a part of it).

    Once more, at least the rib joints are untypical for a french outside mould used in the assumed period, as well as for the older built around preglued blocks method. Anything else sounds like guessing.

    The high linings are typical for French Mirecourt violins, and so are the square shaped blocks and wide purfling.

  12. I presume with the title that the violin shown here is English. I assume it is from the aura of Richard Duke. I am pretty much convinced that it is all from the same hand, although the front and back purfling is not identical. It has a peculiar label which is largely illegible except for the last name (Hieronymus) and the year (there seem to be 4 names). It has had some very well done repairs including a neck graft, strangely with a very low neck angle, and it needs more work. 5ad31d875d4b3_scrollfront.thumb.jpg.14a467b09a2ccdd636a07fda6f304d51.jpg

    Can anyone make sense out of this instrument? or the label?













  13. 3 hours ago, ClefLover said:

    The it possible that this is a French factory fiddle?  The thickness of the rib linings combined with scroll and thick purfling look more French, maybe Czech?

    Shape of the top blockis also French.

  14. Do we actually need solo violins?

    MN tends to indulge in these discussions about the best sound, and the paradigm is that we all want those Strads that the soloists play. But I would not be astonished if many old expensive instruments were not in the hands of soloists, or orchestra musicians, but rather interested amateurs who can afford this kind of luxury. At least here in the UK orchestra players have to refer to relatively inexpensive good sounding instruments as they often can't afford more. Such instruments are in fact available - excellent sound, nice looking, below 10k.

    Collectors often look for something else. Take for example the Geord and Dieter Walter collection that was sold by Bongartz: among two old Italians there were lots of beautiful German (Winterling and the likes) and French instruments (several Gand/Bernardels). These instruments are in the tenthousands, often cheaper than a new violin from a well marketed modern maker.

    For ambitious amateuer players a Stradivari sound may appeal or not. There are undoubtedly many other beauties, old Kloz, old English, Parisian 20th century etc - often giving a very different tone. I do actually like the high overtone characteristic of the later Bernardels. One of my personal favourites is a Duke, high arching, dark powerful tone. Whether it carries to the end of a concert hall is completely unimportant for the enjoyment I get from it. All I care for is beauty of workmanship, historical value (authenticity), and sound at the ear or in chamber music playing.

    I wonder what the experience of dealers is. Are customers really looking for concert hall carrying power? Maybe Martin can comment.


    On 24/03/2018 at 7:16 PM, Nick Allen said:

    Does that mean that one can tan wood with a blacklight?

    But much more effective with UVc - but there you have to be careful, as it is eye damaging. Sunlight has of course also a lot of UVc, but there everybody knows that it is eye damaging.

  16. The old masters would have been more likely to have used turpentine than petroleum extracts. Turpentine as a destillation product of treat is essentially alpha-pinene together with smaller amounts of other terpenes.

    Purity depends on how it was distilled. I can of course be purified to a high purity.

    Its double bond is of course reactive and can polymerise with the fatty acids and the abietic acid in the spirit varnish during the polymerisation process. As it is not a conjugated double bond it will be less reactive than those in the other components of the varnish. But with enough UV light, radicals and linoleic acid it can become part of the hard varnish product.

  17. On 19/03/2018 at 1:40 PM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

    Like I mentioned before, a naturally dark sounding wood has a low longitudinal speed of sound c.  The speed of sound c is equal to the square root of the elastic modulus E to density p ratio:

    c = (E/p)^ 0.5 

    So if you want a low speed of sound you want wood that is not very stiff (low E) and has a rather high density.

    You can measure the speed of sound with a Lucchi meter or use the method Don Noon has described here on MN.

    Or you can measure the resonance frequency of test bars or billets and calculate the speed of sound using the dimensions of the parts.

    If you always use the same size bars a low bar resonance frequency indicates that the final violin will also have low resonance frequencies which gives a darker violin sound.




    Does this mean that the thinning out of wood with funghi ( causes lower density with same stiffness and hence a brighter sound?