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Everything posted by EricSwanson

  1. Publishing a membership magazine is a far more ambitious task than just transcribing and publishing presentations from convention posts, so I salute those involved in working on The Scroll. I myself have reservations about the term "Peer Review" - we're not the American Medical Association, The Bar Association or The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences after all, but I understand the drive and desire to present the best possible methods and procedures in an industry magazine. Whether you call it "Peer Review" or "Editing" this situation could have been fixed prior to publication. Live and learn!
  2. Bass Article in The Scroll Scary looking cast making process Cast too small and thin Bass not clamped to cast while fitting patch? Is he working in the cast at all? No cleats around patch Potential over clamping?
  3. David, I totally agree with that. I have no problem with the spirit of inquiry and quest to learn new things through experimentation. As a matter of fact the violin makers and their community are miles ahead of the bow makers in that respect, due largely to the work of people who attend the acoustics workshop at Oberlin. In an effort to take the Curtin study seriously I read through it and all its attendant documentation and letters. We can have a discussion about the methods used and the various results, but the fact remains at least somebody is pursuing their interests in an effort to learn more. That being said, I find there is often too large a gulf between people in the violin business. and the people they seek to serve, namely musicians. Bring a practical guy, I'm just saying, in addition to creating studies and tests, let's bring more musicians into the picture and learn from them and effort to be better at what we do . Merci.
  4. No, the study is not billed as a competition between makers, although it kind of is. It's really an attempt to see if musicians can tell the difference between old instruments a new instruments. I personally judge all instruments equally on their own merits and I'm not interested in how old they are or where they came from. However, I don't understand maker's mania for blind testing. I remember everyone talked about doing this in violin making school over and over again. Isn't the bigger question, "What are the qualities of a good playing violin? ". I think learning the answer to that question would involve interviewing and talking to musicians rather than testing them.
  5. Slightly off-topic. I read thru the PNAS publication of the study by Curtin et al focused on musicians comparing Old v. New violins and one take away was this: Since it seems that musicians can't tell the difference between Old fiddles and New Makers (according to the results), the next logical step is to compare these new violins by makers such as Curtin to, say some Jay Haide, mass-produced Chinese fiddles. If we go by the reported results, musicans won't be able to discern the difference!
  6. Sticks and stones... Name calling may be a waste of time, but it's perfectly fine to call a spade a spade.
  7. I am a totalitarian socialist - look out!!!!
  8. I've tried the UV light test myself, and let's just say it's far less then conclusive.
  9. It's ok to be angry about stupid laws, but we still have to deal with the reality that presents itself and take responsibility as professionals for the wellbeing of our clients and their equipment. The unfortunate fact is that for the folks tasked with enforcing these new rules, mammoth ivory is just too similar to elephant ivory. The same may even go for some of the new alternative materials available for headplates that are man-made. I don't know about you, but I don't want to risk that any my customers beloved, invaluable bows might be confiscated during an international trip. This reality stands outside of what we may think of the effectiveness or intelligence of the new ivory law. Maybe metal headplates would be best? Just my two cents...
  10. I think there are plenty of very talanted kids out there who are drawn to music as a profession. However, I believe that in many parts of the country, they are failed by the educators, institutions and the low standards required of them. The state of higher musical education is such that professors are responsible for recruiting and building their own studios, oftentime under heavy pressure by administrators who simply want full programs. This is a diservice to the teachers and the students and is fundamentally corrupt. There is also the new reality of professional employment in the classical music world. There are fewer and fewer well-paid, full time symphony-type positions available. I'm not sure that pumping out large numbers of ill-prepared performance majors does anyone any good. Also, the prices in the violin business continue to spike, at least here in Chicago - seemingly out of step with these new economic realities. Take a look at this post in my blog if you are so inclined: https://swansonbows.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/reconsidering-musical-training-in-modern-era/
  11. This is very general: From a technical standpoint, there are basic issues such as length, weight, the relationship of weight and balance, camber, stick graduations, straighteness and issues like twist. From a performance standpoint there are considerations of smoothness and strength of the draw across the string from tip to frog - considering weak spots where the bow might collapse or wiggle - and the bigger issue of spiccato, which is really a more generalized term encompassing a number of different bow strokes - where the bow needs to leave the string and return in a way that can be easily controlled and manipulated by the musician. Great players can do amazing things with most any bow, but a great bow will make their already difficult job a little bit easier.
  12. I don't think its likely that someone is faking Claudots. At least not yet.
  13. It's basically an unregulated field, unfortunately. I'm constantly amazed at the things I see. That said, there are many hardworking, honest folk in this business who are doing the best they can, day in and day out. There are workshops, etc., where one can learn how do do a rehair, for example, if you can afford it. I think the main problem in many shops is that doing a good rehair is taken seriously enough. The responsibility to learn how to do something better lies with the individual craftsman. I agree with Jerry about the journey of craftmanship - it never ends if one is honest with oneself. One must seek to evolve and continue to grow - even when doing rehairs!!
  14. Yes, its a percentage of the retail price. Regarding questions of experts and expertise in the violin business, I wrote this article on my blog if you care to slog thru it: https://swansonbows.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/on-experts-and-expertise/
  15. What if the instrument in question were filled with Hungarian repair stamps? I wonder if that would add to the mystery? Love the fiddle biz!!!!!
  16. The Chinese market really hasn't taken off to the extent the Korean and Japanese markets did in the "golden era" of East-West fiddle dealing, when many folks here in the States made big money selling instruments and bows of varying qualities, prices and attributions to eager buyers. The above picture was taken by me in Shanghai a few years ago - so folks ARE trying.
  17. "I don't think it's going to stay forever like that." Carl, I hope you are right! I think there needs to be a reassement of violin valuation and pricing by dealers and customers. The mass-produced instruments and bows at the "bottom" of the market can be quite good, even though quality control isn't always the best. But one can find good, functional items if they search. I think the main problem with them is that they are often quite cheap for dealers to buy and the mark-up can be significant. This flood of mass-produced intruments has, in turn, pushed up the prices of the older pre-war trade-instruments from Europe, because the logic is that they must be worth more. The fact is that in my market, Chicago, chinese-made instruments are becoming more and more expensive. I find myself selling reconditioned pre-war violins for less than my competitors are selling newly made Chinese inventory. And the prices they are charging for basic older fiddles? How about a Medio Fino for $5,500? Or an nickel mounted, brazilwood Morizot Freres for $9500? I wish more folks would consider instruments by modern makers as a high quality alternative, but even here I've seen a surge in pricing. I think many new makers are raising prices becasue they see others doing so, but mainly because they aren't selling enough - so they need more cash if and when a bow or violin does sell. Add to this the fact that many dealers take 50% commission to sell a new makers instrument and you can see why prices are going up, up up. I think the concept of ever increasing violin values may not be a sustainable concept given the real economic situations of the majority of Americans. At the top of the market there will always be items that are genuine investments, but for majority of musicians something that works well first and foremost should suffice. It doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg!
  18. The truth is that the violin market is confusing. Attribution, age, geographical origin almost always trump function. The truth is that playability and tone are usually considered to be the least important factors when assigning price. The concept that more money equals greater quality pervades I believe. Don't forget that their is a power to naming a higher price, because psychologically this imples that an item has a higher value. Many dealers follow this model - this also why so many high end shops look like fancy 19th century drawing rooms, filled with antiques and oriental rugs, etc. This form of posturing or positioning increases the percieved value and helps justify higher prices. Unfortunately in many circumstances shops and dealers are judged by the price and status of the items they deal in rather than the quality of the services they offer, how they treat their customers or the functionality of the items they sell. And remember than a seller can name any price he or she chooses, regarless of auction results and other determiners of market value - there is no law against that, as long as the item is what it purports to be.
  19. I bought a bow in the auction and had the tip capably removed and received a $150 credit. The truth is that I was going to have to change that tip to an alternative material anyway, as I have been doing with all my inventory. I think the State of New York is dragging its heels, probably on purpose, to discourage the sale of any ivory - even items that meet the standards of the new law. I think Tarisio was put in tough spot, but has handled the situation well.
  20. The difinitve work on Kittel is the book by Klaus Grunke, Yung Chin, and J Gabriel. http://www.darlingpublications.com/wp/?page_id=40
  21. Financial poverty over there, intellectual poverty over here.
  22. Nice to see Michael! But I have to say I'm sick to death of these over-romanticized and superficial puff pieces about the wonders of extraordinarily expensive antique violins. The little bit about modern instruments competing very well against these antique instruments was the most interesting part of the report, but of course it wasn't explored. I'm not so sure these types of reports really help those of us who work day in and day out in this field . Mythologizing rather then edifying.
  23. Make an ebony replacement frog and retire the Ivory one...(?)
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