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The Violin Beautiful

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Everything posted by The Violin Beautiful

  1. It’s especially difficult to get cases now. There are other shortages—last year the shop began a huge increase in orders because all the other shops that usually ordered cheap Chinese cellos couldn’t get them suddenly. We were still getting our regular orders of European cellos in with much less delay, so we were uniquely positioned to fill orders. New shops began ordering and those that would normally order one or two cellos a month started to ask for 6 or 8 instead. Unfortunately, we still can’t get much in the way of affordable cases. This is less of an issue for the wholesale side of the business—we put most of the cellos in cardboard boxes for shipping anyway. The real impact is to the retail side. We’ve been able to scrape by with what we’ve had, but options are slim. We’ve told our suppliers to just send whatever they can as it arrives.
  2. With the use of matting agents it’s possible to apply varnish without the high gloss of plain varnish. Polishing the whole instrument to cover one crack isn’t necessary. The high end restorations often involve careful attention to the original varnish to retain the look of the original, and in some cases, the varnish used to touch up is an oil varnish matched as closely as possible to the original, not a spirit.
  3. I wouldn’t say the signature is so hard to fake. With a little practice and the right pen and ink, a forger could pretty easily reproduce it. I’d say the Vuillaume signature is a little more complicated, but that also could be reproduced with some practice and effort. Signatures, stamps, and especially labels are not absolute identifiers.
  4. It’s worth taking the violin to an expert in Paris to sort it out. If one is willing to write a certificate, that will be the final word. The signature on a paper label is a little dubious, but I’ve seen the same thing before.
  5. This is reminding me a little of Nietzsche’s book On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, a work well worth reading. History is a complicated subject, both in terms of our own attempts to objectively read it and in terms of our attempts to find a definitive meaning in an assortment of subjective accounts of the period. It’s very easy to overthink things while trying to reconstruct working methods. It seems likely that a lot of the irregularities that we see on instruments now are the result of wear and deformation. I’m a bit leery of the argument that the great old makers didn’t measure things closely, though. Perhaps the measurement tools weren’t as precise as what we have available to us now, but the fineness of execution in the work shows great attention to exactitude. A great eye and hand will detect almost infinitesimal differences.
  6. I was thinking about the Bender and Stahlhammer endpins, which come with aluminum sockets. If you have a lathe, you could probably cut them down, but they’re intended to be used at their full widths. Also, as I recall, one of them is threaded so the threads will bite into the bottom block. I don’t want to have to cut metal to fit an endpin.
  7. It’s good to have several size options available so that a larger diameter is available should one want it. If you can shave down the socket, that can solve the problem, but not all sockets are made of wood. If a hole has enlarged significantly over time or after replacements or repairs, I would much rather bush it and put in a socket with the smallest diameter practical than make things worse by removing more wood from the ribs and block. I only want to remove original material if there’s no way around it.
  8. Smaller is definitely better. Larger diameter endbuttons are exponentially more prone to splitting blocks. It’s much better to leave more wood in both the ribs and the bottom block. The same is true of cellos. If you can find endpin sockets with a small diameter, it’s well worth it to use them. One of my criticisms of several of the expensive endpins is that the sockets aren’t available in small enough diameters—for some you have to ream right to the end of the reamer, which I find excessive.
  9. If it’s an old bow, there’s a good chance the frog is made of celluloid, which was popular for imitation horn or ivory frogs at the time. You can see similar results in old fountain pen barrels. Here’s a link to a modern pen made in that style: https://www.stjohnspens.com/shop-pens/omas-arco-bronze-ogiva-fountain-pen-vintage-flex-ef-f-14k-gold-nib
  10. When I made my own mold for the Titian, I used the Strad poster and placed plexiglass over the CT scan of the ribs. I used a lot of light to see the lines clearly and picked the side I liked best. I drew a line down the middle of the scan and then cut out my half-template. In the end, my form may not be an exact match to the original (I chose not to copy irregularities), but I was not aiming for a complete reproduction of the measurements. I could be wrong, but I think I remember reading that the Huberman Strad and the Titian are made on the same form and share other traits that make them closely related.
  11. I recall going to the German violins exhibit at the VSA convention a while back, where there were quite a few Roths on display. I saw both styles of labels in the violins, although I dont remember how they were dated. As Roth values have jumped up lately, the incentive to falsify labels and brands has also increased, and more and more spurious examples are showing up. That’s not to say that the violin posted here is wrong, just that there are a lot of fishy violins with Roth labels. The record archives are a double edged sword—on the one hand they make identification easier, on the other, they provide more information to anyone who wants to make a more convincing fake. I’ve seen enough real Roths that have been backdated and altered to look older to be suspicious whenever even one detail is missing.
  12. This is what I’ve found as well.
  13. The Roth factory apparently made some models that were at their upper level and gave them labels that didn’t have German names so that they could be sold in the UK. I’ve seen an excellent example that was sold by Beare’s and stayed in England until just a few years ago.
  14. I agree that good glue and a good repairman can lead to a joint that’s strong enough to hold in most conditions. However, since I usually can’t be sure of at least one of those things, I tend to err more on the side of caution. When it comes to just gluing a crack without any cleats or a patch, I always make it clear to the customer that I can’t guarantee that the glue joint will hold. I haven’t had issues with cracks opening up, but I’m not close enough to retirement, dementia, or death to be comfortable taking on the risk!
  15. Here’s how I would think about it: How confident are you that the repair will outlast you as the seller? If it does eventually fail, are you willing and able to stand behind the instrument and either repair it free of charge or reimburse the buyer for the cost of the repair at a shop (if you don’t do work yourself)? Obviously, if there’s damage as the result of neglect or carelessness, that’s on the buyer, but if a repair fails, it’s on you as the seller to take care of it unless the instrument was explicitly sold as-is.
  16. Hello, Putting the post in about half its diameter behind the bridge and about 1 mm inside the outer edge of the treble bridge foot is a decent place to start. However, the post really needs to fit for it to work well, and you have to be very careful about putting too much tension on the top, which can lead to a sound post crack. Look in from the endbutton hole and check the fit at both ends and gently move the post to check the tension. Since you’re just getting into it, talk to Ken at International Violin for advice on fittings. He often works with those who are just getting started and he has lots of good advice and can point you in the right direction.
  17. I think the leather could work fairly well if applied carefully and with an adhesive that could be easily reversed, although it would be very noticeable. As for myself, I’d gravitate more toward a clear film like contact paper that can be applied and removed easily and won’t distract the eye. I’ve put a lot of them on for players who wear down varnish.
  18. Yes, it sounds like the oil was a problem. I’d switch to a different oil. Don’t put much oil on the cloth, just enough to allow the shellac to transfer. Once there’s too much oil, the polish will look clear for a little while but will quickly turn cloudy as it sits. If your cloth doesn’t seem to be applying anything, start with a drop of alcohol first, then a drop of shellac. Only apply more oil when you’ve already added some alcohol and shellac and it’s not getting anywhere. I keep some polishing cloths in a little tin and reuse them until they become too heavily built up or dirty. Usually all I need to do to get them going is add a couple drops of alcohol and let them sit for 30 seconds to a minute as the alcohol softens the leftover shellac and oil.
  19. When Sean Peak visited the shop a couple weeks ago to drop off his latest batch of violas, I took the opportunity to talk with him a while so I could set the record straight about this maker. He comes up every once a while on this forum and others, and there’s a lot of confusion. His name is Sichan, but he regularly uses the Americanized “Sean” for the sake of simplicity. He got his start in the William Harris Lee workshop, where he learned violin making from some great makers including Tetsuo Matsuda and Will Whedbee. Upon recognizing Peak’s talent, Lee offered to pay for the former’s tuition at the Chicago School of Violin Making. Peak accepted the offer and went to the school, but left after only a short time there, as it became apparent to him that he had already learned to make instruments and had no need of the school’s instruction. Lee accepted his reasoning and he returned to the shop. Eventually Peak left the Lee workshop to make instruments on his own. He moved to Hilliard, Ohio, where he still lives today. Although he no longer resides in Chicago, he is known as a Chicago maker because that was where he learned and developed his style. After starting his own business, he began making violas exclusively for The Violin House of Weaver. He developed a wide-body model that he referred to as his “Gofriller model, and he has continued making that model in various sizes for decades. A year or two ago, the shop bought a great viola by DiGiuni that intrigued everyone including Sean Peak. He took the viola with him so he could study it closely as he made copies of it. It has now become his second model and is a faithful reproduction of the original. When he finishes his violas in the white, he delivers them to Weaver’s, where each one is hand varnished by Bill Weaver. There’s nothing crude about his workmanship—he may be a fast workman, but that is a result of his experience and efficiency, and his work is always very clean and precise. He keeps to himself and works alone because he prefers to just spend his hours with the wood rather than advertising and networking. The demand for his instruments already exceeds his ability to produce.
  20. Yes, there are fake Dominants out there. All of the sets I’ve encountered have been very poor quality and have been easy to identify as fakes. They show up on a lot of factory Chinese violins, and there are sets being sold on Amazon. Several years ago the owner of one of the wholesale companies told me that there were better knockoff string manufacturers in China who would be happy to imitate the silk colors of any set of strings one wanted. His company had sets of these imitation Dominants made, but he chose silk colors that were completely different and gave the set a different name.
  21. Maybe I’m the outlier, but I usually consider anything from 348-352 to be 7/8. There’s no absolute rule, but I’ve seen plenty of violins in that range called 7/8. Body length isn’t the only thing that can make a violin feel smaller, though. A narrower neck, a shorter scale length, narrower bouts, or sloping shoulders can all contribute. It’s not uncommon for people to try some Guarneri models and think they must be shorter until they see the actual back length on a measuring tape.
  22. Sean Peak is a real maker who made his career in the Chicago area. He worked for some time at the W.H. Lee workshop alongside Tetsuo Matsuda before going out on his own. He keeps to himself and doesn’t advertise because he has no need to do so and so that he can devote all his working time to the wood. After finishing his instruments in the white, he delivers them to The Violin House of Weaver, where they’re varnished by Bill Weaver. Each one bears Peak’s signature on its back. For a long time he made only the Gofriller model, but a year or two ago he began making copies of a great-sounding viola by Luigi DiGiuni as well.
  23. It’s a small shop (only 7 people total), but we do a lot of wholesale business with about 50 different shops around the country. Two of us do the bass bars. In the lower end we import primarily new European instruments in the white and work on them to get them sounding better, then Mr. Weaver varnishes them. The same shops that order the new instruments typically want some good old instruments to sell to their customers when they get to a higher level, so we always keep a wide selection of old German, French, and Italian instruments. The nicer French and Italian instruments tend not to need as much to get them playing well, but the German trade violins almost always need more work because they’re very thick and have weak bass bars that make them sound terrible. With some care they can be made into good intermediate instruments.
  24. You’re right, words do matter. I chose mine carefully and did not use hyperbole. For a while I was doing at least four a day. The owner’s daughter, who has been working for the shop over 20 years works on bass bars exclusively and puts in 6-8 every day. Just imagine how many she’s done in that time. Please refrain from accusations without any actual basis.
  25. In addition to my repair and restoration business, I work half the week at the Violin House of Weaver. There we work on quite a lot of new and old violins, violas, and cellos. Haha, not at all. I quite enjoy it.
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