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  1. I know you've completed the task, which looks very nice. If you do not have a heating pad, a silicon pad from a cooking shop and a clothing iron can substitute in a pinch. I ended up buying a heating pad for a shattered cello neck repair and have used it a half a dozen times in the past ten years. The optional controller is nice because the pad heats up very fast and very hot the minute you plug it in. The controller helps manage the temps at a cost. It is also nice to get a cheap trigger controlled infrared temp sensor to look for hot spots. A guitar guy attaches a large piece of metal to the heating pads to even out the temp. Also very thin and short painter's pallet knives fit into tighter spaces to drip in alcohol.
  2. Just finished meeting with a nephew who is studying chemistry. "I hate subjectivity," was one of his comments. Spoken like a budding scientist. I agree, in part, that it is difficult to offer an assessment where my feelings are less than clear. I had to sleep on this reply. The Whedbees have been better. But they were also more expensive. I have heard many but have played only 4 larger >16" violas. Wheedbee sonic quality, perhaps, is defined more by his cellos as there are many more in the area with them and are more vocal about they own. I have not played a Whedbee viola recently, but there are exceptional models ( larger in volume and length, i think ) and ones that do not sound as sophisticated or complex. Also context from my perspective might make sense of some of these ramblings. I first looked into Wheedbee instruments in the early 90s because several friends and friends of friends purchased his cellos, which at first were good, but developed into very fine instruments. At the time they were relatively inexpensive compared to the other American makers. What was surprising at the time was they blended into sections with older instruments yet also played chamber music well. The finish was beautiful, with general antiquing. The forms were not standard if i remember correctly. The Whedbees were not as deep but they sounded a bit more effortless, sounding like a better older instrument. And blended beautifully. In that era, if a maker produced a fine sounding instrument, from a player perspective, the maker cares about the musician and was an advocate for the musician. Actually, blending too well can be minus, so having a bit of modern edge is good. This was also a time when players were divided into gut and steel. Starker and Rostopovich ruled in the old technical school and sometimes the power school. Taller players like Harrell and Tortolier had a sound and command of their own. The rest of us, students and young professionals, were looking for a sound, not knowing what it was or should be. The chosen school, teacher or orchestra , often dictated what sonic direction one might or should take, requiring the purchase of a new instrument or bow. During this period of my life, despite working in a shop, I started disliking the bigger eastcoast dealers of the time. My go to shop was Weishaars but younger makers like Robert Cauer and Rolland Feller, David Stone in Seattle and David Kerr in Portland were starting up. Strings Magazine had published many articles about living American makers and a few players who were able to afford them were adventuresome and started buying them. And the VSA awards were also starting a buzz. I learned a great deal during this time because I was able to purchase older instruments from the early-adopters and was able to closely notice the differences. New instrument paired with old bow, old instrument, paired with new bow... sounds were changing and once Dominants took over a certain younger set of players technique also advanced not for a select few but to many. Making it more acceptable for me to own a contemporary bow. Then a violist in a nearby professional quartet ( still the 90s ) started playing a Whedbee and I can not remember her name but her sound was bold, but clear and sweet. The loud playing of violas of the era were barky and shouty, in live performance. Ironically, larger instruments suffered a great deal in a larger hall. It is a different sound, live, when compared to being recorded with microphones like one might hear on a LP or CD. The struggle was often trying to be differentiated in the mass of sound. But this lady was rather tall and played fluidly and beautifully without much struggle ( which is a sign of an old-school pro. ) The cello was a locally-admired Seifert and Grubaugh which was louder and rounder in sound, so the viola, tonally, fit well nestled between the cello and the violins. If she is still playing I am curious what she plays now. I would also have loved to hear the pairing with a Whedbee cello in a quartet. In my search for a Whedbee, I played an instrument with a cello styled scroll/ pegbox which appeared to be wider than a Stradivarius pattern ( but not sure, did not measure ) which sounded and looked great. It was not as good as my borrowed modern Italian and that particular viola was also relatively expensive at an expensive shop. It might have been about 16 3/8" ( the Italian was 16 1/2" ) but was significantly easier to play than the bigger Italian. At the time, the price was reasonable compared to the established modern Italians of the time and close to the more famous living American makers but still not within my finances. I have also played the WH Lee label Whedbees ( older instruments ) which were not as good as i expected but were generally less expensive. I still am not sure how the pricing works on these instruments. Is it lesser quality wood? finish? I do not think it was an oil varnish. Or was it just psychological - bias not seeing a personal label? Certainly the graduation in his instruments are significantly more refined now. He certainly understands sound. I had to sleep on this response. The Whedbees i have played, about 4 violas, all were fine instruments. But for a more narrow assessment, I would argue that his finer instruments requires a level of expertise to achieve great sound. And i intend this to be a great compliment. Like my living American maker viola it had a narrow and dynamic sweet-spot. It requires a tremendous amount of work to sound and project, say within a mm or so, but then can be amazing and not at the ear but in a larger space. The best of the affordable instruments succeed in elevating a players skill level and musicianship sometimes to a great degree. Within many of the factors in achieving this leap in skill, i believe that it is the respect that a musician develops for a particular instrument that parallels the growth in their skills. A basic infatuation for the looks of an instrument with the added pleasure of a warmer, pleasant sound starts this development. If there is sufficient praise given to this player, an attachment develops to the instrument and players are more likely to take musical and technical risks. Frustrations are less focused on the equipment and perhaps patience will lead to better practice. Eventually there are limits and an evolution, if financially possible, takes place. The Whedbee instruments do appear to be unique in that individualized way and there are many qualities to admire and respect. Speaking in generalities is what i do here. If a student is choosing between two instruments, I have to assess how far and how soon the student will develop. A year's tuition at some music schools can buy most kids a top-tier instrument. For some players and their personality, one that is a bit more detailed or likes to practice scales, a more complicated instrument is the one to choose. The term mining might be appropriate for locating the sonic range of a complex instrument. One can play a Kiernoziak in a more moody and darker way, but my experience at the shop was that they were indeed an easier and more forgiving partner. Playing them tended towards joyful and reading new music was easier...nice to take to a reading session. But some of the instruments do lack a bit of complexity. If one were to study only 20th Century works in graduate school, i am not certain that the Kiernoziak has the most extreme sonic pallet. Also a bit minimalist in that they seem more alike than different - much like many of the Matsudas i have tried. The Cison are moodier and for many tall doubling violin/ violists, i think it is likely their last viola. It is a contrasting sound compared to a violin and most find that to be enough. If there is a fine Whedbee to be had, it will play rather easily and speak well. If one works harder it is more likely to overlap smoothly into the lower violin range and alto-chesty cello range. Working more, it could possibly match the violin a- string and cello g- string, another different tonal colour. This is what I had experienced. This instrument was not as loud as other violas including my borrowed Italian but general playability was superior. Note-to-note transitions were creamy. Attacks were quick and precise. Up bow spiccatos were generally easier due to response, which was immediate. Again, a very nice instrument set up nicely at a high-end shop. The inside also looked great. The other Whedbees with WH Lee labels were played in different cities over ten or so years They were not as good. It could also be high expectations, but were priced significantly less. They are very good, even, dynamic. I do not know the circumstances of the trade-ins but they were ultimately not recommended to the students trying them. Generalized, the overall tone had a lower midrange hue to them while the newer more expensive Whedbee spoke confidently and had a more prominent and a blossoming upper midrange when crescendo-ed. These other instruments could have been voiced to reach more of the expectations of the shop pricepoints. Which would be a deeper sounding viola in a smaller room. Viola projection is more complicated as it is only an issue when competing with some other instruments. Viola and harpsichord pairing is one of the best. To do justice to this response, there are two within two hours drive and i could go see one. The one i had seen but only grazed is >16" and sounds excellent but is expensive. It is a shop that spends a lot of time on the instruments and two of the excellent staff are violinist/ violists as well as a part-timer who makes violas. Perhaps finding a Whedbee at the right shop might be necessary. Sorry for the long slog. Each instrument, even from the same maker can be so different, but respecting the character of these three makers is important. You will have to try and assess what is best for your student. The student should also listen to more players to develop an understanding of what is liked, preferred and attainable. And these are my impressions. Whedbee has been at the forefront with the many of the makers here in the US, changing the sound of ensembles in the US ( and also as mentioned in the past the influence of modern strings. ) There are more sonic changes now, nearing 2020, but in chamber music.
  3. Saturday, and meet Bruce Babbitt. There will also be the most people. It is certainly quieter on Thursday. More time with the instruments, but the Bow Session would be worth it, i bet. You will rave about how much was learned... and being in Texas, you have already saved airfare.
  4. Yes, a student I coached played at the Tchaikovsky with her college orchestra on a Kiernoziak and it was outstanding. Her father wanted more brilliance off the stage but she still owns the instrument. Please try Kiernoziaks. What I meant by a "kind" sound was that it is accessible and expressive...
  5. This is a bit harsh. I have not heard of a Yoshiaki viola and now I am interested and grateful that it was mentioned. I have not played a Manfio instrument but have him followed his development as well Maestro Noon for the past decade and have seen their expertise excel. They are committed to what they do and my respect for that is overwhelming. My work has not progressed nary as much since the early 2000s and instead have chosen to purchased several 3d printers and more in festools than i have in artisan chisels. I have played at least 3 dozen ( tried many more ) Matsuda violins and violas because I have wanted one for decades and like his clean work which suits my playing when am performing well. I purchase wood from the same vendors that supply Matsuda as do many here on MN and have the same wood of the Plowden above my bench in suspended animation for 8 years. When the desired character was found, it was always too expensive... and this was expected. There were several Kiernoziaks that were at a shop i worked at and Sisson is also a favorite for larger violas. Kiernoziaks have a very generous sound and play well while the Sisson is beautiful but aloof or stand-offish, meaning perhaps they were harder for me to play and though playable, I struggled due to their size. I have not played a <16" from the artisans of our great patron WH Lee, though Lee's workshop instruments of the size are very nice and should be considered at a different price point - wider deeper bodies in the past. If one was in the central US, these are the instruments one would go to play. A Darnton <16" viola? if it were possible to find one... did he ever make one? Based on his violins it would be a bargain. A few weeks ago, I re-read a Darnton 2004 ( GAL #87 ) lecture that was so important to me at the time, that it provided the language allowing me to better articulate thoughts and "see" what could be discussed to greater detail than before. Re-read all because of the huge ( i will call, the ) Beard thread which I am also grateful for... The thoughts were always there but the common usage was not developed as richly as it is now thanks to many participating in advancing the art. Maestro Wallin, though I think she finds me unpleasant, has also grown the viola aesthetic. I follow Mr Brown and he has me 3 of 3. But would it be possible to find a smaller Dilworth? So the quest to play a Yoshiaki is new. There are several Iizukas in the area, none of which i have played but sound great because the players are great.
  6. Bowhair purchased in bulk is both expensive and a bargain because "sorting" for a fine stick becomes difficult. As mentioned above, if half the hair of a bundle is unusable, the cost of the hair doubles. On student bows, the labor is worse - as it requires more time - and strength matters more than texture. Hot humidity certainly has a different effect on the bow/ hair than cold humidity. With Andrea rosin ( an accessible, expensive brand, ) the coarser hair is definitely better for my playing in milder climates. In Asia and summers in the Southeast ( also northeast? ) coast in the US, less coarse hair is sweeter sounding at the string even with a softer-textured rosin like Bernardel or the harder Liebenzellers. I have been using these rosins on and off for at least two decades, but have not purchased a newer Liebenzeller cake in at least a dozen years. Humid air has a sonic effect, where further one is from the source of the sound, the duller and less responsive at the ear. I am not sure customers anywhere are immune from expert suggestions. Personally, I only use hair from the winner of the Palio di Siena, supplied to me every year from my annual contact at the VSA who stays in a motel several miles away from the convention. Joking aside, there are definitely stronger hair-types on the market, but a springier hair-type is very difficult locate. I do not measure the thickness of the hair but I do test the strength of every batch of hair. Generally, strong hair that is thinner, feels like it is springier ( on the bow ) but does not last very long. This indicates that the thinner hair is continually stretching eventually becoming unresponsive. I would argue that not including the time to sort, i use maybe 5% more hair when using thinner hair but the resulting ribbon is thinner. Since hair is not extruded on a machine ( working on it... i need a mechanical horse ), the shape can change along the length. Many players like the look and "silkiness" of "bleached" hair, i am ok and sometime prefer unbleached.
  7. The original question was about the choices of how to achieve a desired bridge height... and I am curious about the consensus myself. But Maestro Preuss' questions, the response, appears to be valuable. Guido are there more details? If i were to guess, the neck on the instrument might have been worked on, if not replaced, guessing from the condition of the varnish. The arching appears to be flatter and this just is an observation. I recently encountered an instrument with a fine voice from a reputable shop and the projection was rather low. This student, who is developing as a player wanted more volume and "power" from the instrument and someone had suggested changing the projection. He asked me about "standardizing" the projection. The instrument was nicely restored but might have been re-graduated as the top was measurably thin. The instrument has been owned for less than one year by the student so it could develop further. To be cautious, i suggested a fingerboard taper if any change is to be made, but to re-visit the dealer that sold the instrument for the best suggestions. There are optimized ranges for setting up instrument, and recently, the humidity had been relatively low and noticed the effect on several of my instruments. The effect was noticeable on this instrument too. Assuming Guido's instrument is healthy, should a reset over-compensate at least a 1mm or a bit? Do we live in a climate-change era? This would suggest a la Maestro Saunders, taking off the neck?
  8. It can take time. Sometimes i even forget what i had ordered. I certainly can not speak for this production, but would like to explain that somethings take time. When i purchase Japanese tools, and Japan Woodworker is now gone, it might take a year or more before the blade is shipped from overseas. When various parts are made by different suppliers or require a special process, it can take a long time. If that blade is to be fitted by a specialist, that also take additional time. Having been in manufacturing, there are headaches in not being able to ship a product until all the pieces arrive. This means that one piece can hold up production and that also means that the manufacturer - me - does not get paid until that last piece arrives. In the mean time the other suppliers want to get paid... I have this issue getting stronger, rolled, sterling silver sheets. Frogs do not get finished without it. Also before shipping to the customer any product, there needs to be process for fully-testing the finished piece. The design needs to meet or exceed the intended expectation of the original design. If not, the wait gets longer. And finally, i like hard-anodization on aluminum parts ( which is a dip ) steel texturing and prep can take time due to limited amount of skilled hands. As makers, i am sure we all have understood this process. If the construction was contracted out, there might be a few unknowns that can not be answered. I have been there too. Believe me, i always wanted to deliver!
  9. I like the head very much as it is very functional and strong. And does not require as much talent to make ( the way it is, without the details that give it a sweeter quality despite it's boldness. ) I use a similar design as it is strong and leaves space in the mortice. . The tip is a bit long. If the head was not swept back as much from the upper chamfer, there is a bit of Grand Adam, but without the elegance and implied strength. This could become a power bow for a young strong player. The mortise in the the tip looks defined and cavernous. But the condition of the bow is so rough... if one were to take care of it, putting it back together, it might play well as the wood looks workable.
  10. The size restriction can make it difficult to go shopping. It is also expensive to go to try instruments in NYC - and there are mark ups realated to cost of living. Off season, NYC is cheaper. I would only got for a performance or auction - and stay in NJ. If there is a way, NYC has better instruments, but i think there are better cities out there for great instruments. I find the location with expertise but narrow-minded. But yes, Ms Reed - Yeboah, should have instruments. Students do visit her shop. Sometimes, you just have to purchase what is available locally to save the additional funds for case and bow. Or even have one or two mailed to you. Cellos are so expensive... but a viola or a violin is do-able. Ask for a call-tag ( return tag ) as their rates would surely be better than your personal rate. Recently, i had to ship a bow to Chicago and FedX, ripped me off. Unfortunately, i did not have time to use USPS, DHL or UPS that day, but paid about $80 more than USPS. FYI- A day trip to NYC is a upgraded case. A few days is a fine BAM or GEWA case. If you include flight and stays in midtown, that is an exceptional workshop bow, especially if you stayed there last weekend for the marathon... three nights across from the park will buy you a contemporary French bow.
  11. They are excellent values. I like them, too. But pricing on finer American instruments are catching up and bargains are rarer and more difficult to locate. Yes, i am at fault for not having asked what instrument was liked by the daughter. I also neglected to account for how the instrument sounds to the player, as it can be more important if one is to study hours, daily. But many older American instruments have quirks better compensated by older students. Assuming the student is studying the Bruch in primary school? There are 10ths in the 3rd mvmt, twice, granted they are similiar. Some parents are more generous with their assessment of their children's skillset but this is do-able. He should get the long view.
  12. Would it also be possible to be more specific about what you look for in a quality? Eastcoast, Westcoast, Midwest? If the maker is living, it might be worth the travel. Sometimes, it is about the location as the needs might be artisitically specific Size is an issue. Last year, I think it was an Anthony Lane ( had to ask - but maybe priced a bit higher) instrument that was superb at a student recital ( with piano ) of a shorter Asian student borrowed... Only mention because it was by far the clearest and also expressive or sensitive i have heard this year. They had also borrowed a fine french bow. Definitely a newly installed string sound but that is direction that i desire for viola which is often lost in the texture of a chamber orchestra or a big, late Beethoven quartet. This was a bit after the Primrose competition at Colburn and i would argue that for a younger player, that particular sound would open doors. Manfio? though i do not know what is charged I recently heard a cello recital in a smaller academic hall ( 2- 300 seats ) where the unaccompanied Bach was played on a living American maker instrument with gut strings. Haunting, spine chilling complexity because the playing was very personal, expressive with long tapered diminuendos. Followed by a very strong Gofriller which was very good, but fighting a very fine pianist. Given that it is possible to hear a good cello sound that is familiar on CDs, in a car or at home, the quality of a solo, on a fine instrument in a nice hall was very special. How do you balance sensitive to power? What is your ratio? The viola texture is complicated...
  13. The hand size makes a difference. For smaller hands the thinner profile is necessary for access to the g- string, but the thickness of the neck keeps it slightly stronger. For small hands, smaller profiled necks are carved, but a synthetic reinforcement is inlayed into the neck under the fingerboard. Playing tenths on a piano or violin requires a leap for smaller hands and the flatter facet for the thumb can offer a more secure surface. On a contemporary American viola that was owned by a woman with spindly arms but small finger pads, the width at the nut was reduced so playing perfect 5ths was more easily manipulated. On her older Italian, she fingered the 5ths. The width at the nut sometimes requires the luthier to contour the neck and that it changes shape as it nears the heel. One Chinese maker generally sends me roundish, slightly over-sized necks because i will change them anyway.
  14. Professor Robson is well-intentioned, and an expert with connections to far reaching shops. No need to second guess... but by responding, Potter, you would give up the dealers - which might not be prudent. I would offer this strategy, knowing nothing of your daughters actual technique or ability or form. For an 11 year old who is talented, her first violin might not be her high school instrument, much less her college instrument. Navigating 150 years of violin literature may require a boost here and there from a better instrument. Assuming she completes a solid concerto every year, The Tchaikovsky is realistic pre-college, but a high position in a local youth orchestra may require a change in timbre or clarity in a particular range of the voice which might be strident when played solo. Which might also lead to some hearing damage. So much depends on the ensemble and the conductor later in high education. It appears that we are discussing more budget than details or specifics of instruments... Unless she is taller or tall-ish, I would suggest starting with the better Chinese or Eastern European, made from European wood or at least European spruce. The variety of patterns are better copied by the Chinese workshops and would suggest a shorter Del Gesu model as a starting point. Strad, Gesu Guad patterns are suggested. But some workshop bench models are hybrids capable of sounding great. But it also appears to be also limited by the instruments available at the dealers so choices might be limited. Re-sale value might also be restricted, but her instruments would likely be sought after as she improves. If she is looking at a contemporary American maker and the funds are there.... Older American made instruments can be problematic, though I have two students on very good sounding American instruments that were once fiddles converted back to more classical specifications. One has a laminated neck a la higher-end Jazz Guitars. Bow will be very important, as noted at this site. For Bruch, Mendelssohn, Wieniawski, medium to light tipped balance is probably a good bet and should be stiffer unless, again, she is tall for her age. Second opinions, if respected locally, would be essential, in addition to the teacher's recommendation. This is a common problem for all advancing parents with a bit of knowledge.
  15. Then is this still an education issue? Some buyers could possibly be dazzled by the appearance or perhaps the uniqueness of a particular 1pc back, and not examine the wood closely or for a maker to look at wood grain... There are plenty of wood dealers out there that know nothing about woodworking... These are on going thoughts. Is there a pairing of thicker 1pc backs and longer f- holes? Pre-Sacconi's book, how did the makers go about utilizing or optimizing 1pc violin backs? I do not recall reading about it in books. I have worked with American "Bird's eye" maple as many American violin makers in the past had and that required a special type of patience.