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Everything posted by KB_Smith

  1. I don't repair violins and have no expertise in any of the things discussed in this thread. I just own a couple violins and struggle learning to play them. But I feel compelled to commend Rmeuller9 for this beautiful repair. It's hard to believe you can patch an actual hole through the table with such excellent results. I also wonder how you can match the color and texture of the varnish so perfectly? Did you re-varnish the entire table? I would not have expected to find this example of really excellent repair work in a thread titled "The Worst Violin Repairs Ever." It is also so interesting to watch how the conversation wanders around in these threads. If you follow one thread long enough, it can morph to an entirely different discussion.
  2. How do you photograph the inside of a violin? OP photos look like a straight shot up the center, through the end button hole, but then how do you take the photos of the treble side corner blocks?
  3. then see their list of fine French violins in their inventory before you make too quick a judgment about their business. I owe you an apology Blank Face. You are absolutely right. You made no judgement about their business, simply an observation that this music shop is more specialized in wind instruments, which you saw from their eBay post about a violin. I assumed you were making a judgement on their business because of your reference to eBay. I've seen so many cautionary and negative comments on MN about any violin sold on eBay, I erroneously connected dots in my mind that should not have been connected (...many counterfeit violins on eBay; this violin is on eBay; therefore it is most likely counterfeit and this store is not to be trusted...). As soon as any of the experienced MN members, and I count you among them, reference eBay, I take it as a pejorative comment because more often than not, it is. And as is so often the case, assumptions are not valid. I'll try to be more careful about allowing my own biases from causing me to read intent into comments that just are not there. Thanks for calling me out on that.
  4. Yes, it does seem they are about band instruments. But they have a separate departments (and perhaps stores) that specialize in guitars (E.M. Shorts Guitar Shop) and violins (The Wichita Violin Shop). Yes, they have an eBay shop, which may sullen their reputability in some eyes, but they also sell on Reverb, direct online from their own internet store, and of course in their brick & mortar store. They are self-professed specialists in French violins and also sell violins from Italy, England, Germany, and USA. I'd encourage you to read their violin page here and then see their list of fine French violins in their inventory before you make too quick a judgment about their business. Do you really believe these are all low quality trade violins with fake labels? Several of you have encouraged OPs in the past, including me, to buy directly from a reputable violin shop, rather than eBay. If the violin shop happens to also use eBay to sell their instruments, does that disqualify them as a reputable violin shop?
  5. The label in this instrument actually says: “Fini sous la direction de/Caressa & Francais / Luthiers du Conservatoire / 12 Rue de Madrid a Paris / 1952.” So that translates to “Finished under the direction of Caressa & Francais ...). I spoke with the guy who runs the violin shop who sent this to me. His father, the violin shop owner, personally bought this violin in the 1990s in France. He has seen 1000s of violins and has no reason to believe it is not authentic. He also said the bridge that is on it right now was cut by a luthier who worked at W.E. Hill & Sons in England for 10 years and can validate this violin is authentic. I’d still be interested in knowing if the label, Fini sous la direction de/Caressa & Francais / Luthiers du Conservatoire / 12 Rue de Madrid a Paris, is a valid label for violins produced by Maison Emile Francais from 1938-1984. I found reference to a violin that was auctioned in UK in 2017 by Gardiner Houlgate with this same label, but it does not say what year that violin was made.
  6. Found these on Tarisio Cozio Archive. So I guess they each had their proprietary label. Still, I think they both may have produced some trade violins out of the shop with the Caressa & Francais label to take advantage of the brand recognition and popularity, but I have no evidence of that beyond the label in the 1952 violin I currently have in hand.
  7. Henri Francais and Albert Caressa started the business in 1901 and ran it together until Hneri retired in 1920. Albert Caressa continued the business until he retired in 1938. Henri Francais' son, Emile, actually married Albert Caressa's daughter and worked as a shop foreman for Albert until albert retired in 1938. Then Emile took over in 1938 and ran the shop until 1984. After he stepped down, the business folded. The question in my mind is could Maison Albert Caressa, who actually had his own label, also have continued to use the original Caressa & Francais label on some of the violins his Maison produced to take advantage of the brand recognition and popularity? and Emile could have continued that tradition from 1938 on. Would not be unheard of for that to happen, plus Emile was married to Lucille Caressa ...
  8. I think in the $4,000-$5,000 price range, there could be many violins with less familiar or ginned up trade names that were made for violin shops that wanted an exclusive brand name only they sell. There are hundreds of violins available in that price range in violin shops around Washington DC.
  9. I made the mistake of asking about Johann Anton Stark violins. Should have started a new thread for that. And this Stark violin is not $9k, like the Roth I took out on trial that started this thread. The Stark is $4,500.
  10. LOL. Yes, I thought the same thing, but I don't think that is the case. Although there are no photos of the violin n the 2017 MN thread referenced above, only the one photo of the label, there were apparently photos on the craigslist post to which the OP provided a link (which is no longer active). Blank Face commented "I'm doubting that the heavy damaged violin is worth the effort," implying that violin did not look to be in very good shape. This violin is in perfect condition. So, if it is the same, someone must have done a phenomenal restoration.
  11. Yes, you make perfect sense. When I tried 8 different violins in my local violin shop, we played them off in pairs, eliminating one violin each time. So we eliminated four violins on the first run through, then eliminated two more from the remaining four. I could not only hear clearer tones and resonance, but I could feel the difference under my my fingers and under my bow. The bow just seemed to glide more easily on these final two instruments and did not produce nearly as many wispy or scratchy sounds. I don't know how much that has to do with the set-up (what strings are on it, how far are they from the fingerboard, etc.) or how much that has to do with the instrument itself, but it was instantly apparent how much better both of these violins felt to play and sounded. The shop owner agreed these two sounded the best to him standing across the room. And while I doubt he would disagree with my selections when he sees a potential sale in the works, I think he was giving me his honest opinion. My wife also commented on how much better I sounded the other day. When I told her it was a $9K violin I was trying out, she choked. Nonetheless, that was affirmation that the better violin sounds better not only under my ear, but also to the listener across the room. I also used that violin in my weekly lesson last week and the Stark violin in my lesson yesterday. My instructor, a professional violinist in both the DC and Baltimore orchestras, agreed I play and sound better on both of these violins than my current counterfeit Alexandre Delanoy I bought on eBay (no surprise there).
  12. Moving of from the original topic... Yesterday I checked out a 1924 Johann Anton Stark Markneukirchen violin on a trial. When I originally tried about 8 violins at my local violin shop, and got it down to two violins I thought played and sounded best, this one was the second choice behind the 1936 Roth we've been discussing in this thread, and half the price. I know nothing about Stark, and the only actual reference to him I could even find online was to a very short MN thread here. I literally can't find any other online reference to him as a violin maker or mention of his instruments. One would think with thousands of them out there, some would pop up online either for sale in XYZ violin shop or on eBay, or in some discussion forum. I also just received about 15 min ago a 1957 Roth VII-R, which is a Strad 1722 reproduction from the EHR Master Line of violins (a step above the Conzert Line violins from which the 120-R hails) and a 1952 Caressa & Francais Paris violin to try. I unboxed them and they are acclimating to their new environment. It's 35 degrees in D.C. today and the instruments are quite cold from several hours in the UPS truck. I don't know how long to wait before trying to tune and play them. I might wait till tomorrow. I think I'll be busy for the next week doing a "fiddle playoff."
  13. By the way, there was a lot of discussion in this thread about the hard and shiny finish on this violin. I think part of the problem is the lighting I used to take the photos. Just like I am not a very good violinist, I am also not a trained photographer and don't have professional lighting. So, I positioned the violin right next to an open window with the morning sun streaming on it. The glare was intense and washed out the violin in several spots in my original shots. So I moved the violin back a little from the window and turned it at an angle to cut the glare, but I could not eliminate it. So I think the shiny finish you see is more attributable to the lighting conditions in which the photos were taken than the varnish used and technique with which the varnish was applied to the instrument.
  14. I emailed EH Roth a second time, describing some of the concerns raised in this MN discussion about this violin (including the finish, the new look of the wood inside, and particularly the brand anomalies). I asked if he is certain this is an authentic Roth instrument and received this reply back from Wilhelm Roth: Dear Mr. Smith, Thank you for your e-mail. Thank you for your mail and the beautiful pictures. These are original Ernst Heinrich Roth I instrument. We can give you information about your instrument, so far as we can. In our archive documents we can see, that this instrument “C - 410” is compare with your pictures and we can see, that this instrument is genuine and it is a Model No. 51 / 120-R. from the EHR concert line. It was made 1936 here in Markneukirchen. The rest of his email to me explained how to get today's price on the comparable violin, that he would normally charge 65 EU to provide this information but is giving it to me free, and how to order a new Certificate if I want one. and Mr. Roth also attached these comparison photos someone at EH Roth put together. I don't have the trained eye some of you have, but I would say these two instruments are remarkably similar, right down to that brand with the overhanging H at the end of the top half. I think I'll trust Mr. Roth's validation of this instrument:
  15. I am not an expert, but I trust many of you who are. I am not even a "serious player." I'm still quite the novice, but I can afford a better instrument than the low-quality violin I bought to try to learn this amazingly difficult instrument. So I want to progress, and I can tell I need a better instrument to do that. I wouldn't know the "right price" to pay for a violin, and so that is why I asked for opinions and advice on MN. I got plenty of input, which I appreciate, and I followed the majority advice. I guess Sospiri did not read through this thread. I think I've said at least 3 times I did not buy it. I only had the instrument out on trial and returned it.
  16. I built a new home in 2005. We ordered cherry cabinets because I loved the rich red-umber color or the cherry cabinets we saw in the model home. But when they installed the new cabinets, they looked very light - almost blonde. I complained to the builder that they had installed the wrong cabinets. He told me they take time to darken. Sure enough, six months later they were much darker and within a year they had that deep red-umber color. I wonder if violins also darken with time so the original "transparent brown" varnish appears much darker as the instrument ages?
  17. Wow! You got quite a deal for a IXR for $1,400. Sounds like a lucky find. I am going to return this violin to the violin shop. I now have my eye on an VIIIR selling for much less than this Strad 1700. By the way, I sent my photos to EH Roth the other day. I got an email reply this morning from Wilhelm Roth. It sounds like he is saying this is an authentic instrument, although he did not say that exactly. He said "Your pictures is [sic] ok...This instrument is from 1936... The style number for your instrument is 120-R..." and he offered to send me a written "Instrument Confirmation" for 170 EU. Collectively, that implies to me that he is confirming this is an authentic EH Roth instrument. Otherwise, I would expect he would have simply told me this is not an EH Roth violin. I called Roth today, but the very nice gentleman I spoke with could not speak much English and asked me to call back tomorrow when his son is in the shop. I'll do that and report back.
  18. The comments are all helpful, and certainly have given me options I had not considered. So I thank all for their input. I am going to return this violin to the shop and look at others. I like Alex's suggestion of spending the 170 Euros to have Roth authenticate (or confirm it is not a Roth) and then go from there. And there are many other very good violins out there. And, by the way, 170 EU is a bit over $200 at today's exchange rate, not $100. I don't see a $100 service available on Roth's web site. For 65 EU (about $80), Roth will tell you the model number and year made, but I don't see why anyone would request that service since each instrument is clearly labeled with year made and model. If the label were missing, it seems like it would take more time and effort searching the Roth archives to identify the instrument than it should take to authenticate a labeled instrument against the archive data.
  19. Regarding the size of the holes in the R's in the brand, I'd say the Roth brands I see can vary quite a bit. Here are two photos of the brands in and Roth 1928 Amati reproduction and a 1926 Strad reproduction that I found in the Cozio Archive at Tarisio (the third photo being the brand in my violin yet again). Both of these brands have the bigger holes in the R's and I'd say the brand in the first photo looks very similar to mine, including a smudge-mark in the center of the C in the serial number (assuming that is actually part of the brand and not a random stain it acquired sometime later). Although I must admit, I'm not wild about the appearance of the serial number on this violin. It does not look consistent with those in any of the other posted photos of Roth brands. I guess the only way to be certain about authenticity is to shell out the 170 EU to Herr Roth and have them look it up and compare these photos to those in their archives.
  20. I like GeorgeH's suggestion to shop more Roth's in the Philly-DC corridor. Brobst Violin, a very well respected shop in Alexandria, and who I trust more than my local violin shop, has a 1922 Roth Guarnerri reproduction available for the same price, but probably won't give me the $1,000 trade for my current violin my local shop will. As for the photo of the brand in the OPs violin, when I look inside the violin as perpendicular as I can, the apparent misalignment of the top and bottom halves of the brand my be caused by the angle at which the photo was taken. I was doing this solo this morning. And it was quite difficult to hold a flashlight in one f-hole with one hand, while trying to align my iPhone camera lens through the other f-hole AND press the button to take the photo with my other hand. It was a bit of a one-hand balancing act with the phone and I did not get completely perpendicular to the brand at the instant the photo was taken. When I look inside the violin, the brand appears to line up pretty well. I will say this Strad 1700 feels and sounds 100 times better than my current student-level violin, whether or not it is genuine Roth. But whether it is worth the $8,500 (plus my trade-in) is the decision I'll need to make. Thanks to all for your input. I always appreciate the comments and advice.
  21. I do plan to ask Herr Roth if I decide to buy it, but thought I'd first hear from MN experts. Roth charges 170 EU to confirm it is their instrument. I'm equally interested in hearing what MN community knows about this particular model - Reproduction of Strad 1700 - as I am in anyone's opinion of its authenticity. I'm assuming this is indeed authentic. But I've had great help on another violin from MN folks who seem to know what to look for. Thanks for commenting.
  22. I am considering upgrading to a better violin and would appreciate help and advice from the many Maestronet experts. I'm looking at this E.H. Roth 1936 Strad 1700 reproduction at my local violin shop in Chantilly, VA. Price seems to be in line with many other E.H. Roth violins from 1920s & 1930s ($9,500). See below what Wikipedia says about gradiation of Roth violins from its 1920s catalogues. But there is no mention of a Strad 1700 reproduction in the list. Perhaps Roth started producing a reproduction of a Strad 1700 in the 1930s? Or perhaps it is Roth's student-level product and did not get graded with the other models? Do any of you know anything about the quality of a Roth Strad 1700 model? Also, would appreciate if anyone thinks this is not a genuine EH Roth violin and why. Thank for the help. The following are the standard gradations as listed in the 1920s Roth catalogues - the closer to the top of the list, the higher the quality of the violin: - XIR: copy of either Stradivari or Guarneri, often made to order for specific well-known artists (look for an extra label inside the violin stating the commissioner's name) and always hand-signed across the main label by Roth himself (a guarantee of highest grade Roth instruments) - XR: copy of Stradivari 1725 - IXR: copy of Guarneri 1736 - VIIIR: copy of Stradivari 1724 - VIIR: copy of Stradivari 1722 - VIR: copy of Guarneri 1732 - VR: copy of Ruggieri - IVR: copy of Stradivari 1718 - IIIR: copy of Amati - IIR: copy of Guarneri 1734 - IR: copy of Stradivari 1714
  23. I can tell you that for my own situation, the price of strings was definitely a factor in my waiting 7 months to try another set. I had just recently purchased my "naked" violin (no strings, bridge or tailpiece) a month or two before I started this topic. I never even considered buying cheap strings. I put on a set of Dominant strings, per recommendation of my instructor. After all the feedback I received to this post in Dec, I knew I would want to try Obligatos next, but I was not about to spend another $90 until I felt I had gotten my money's worth out of the Dominants. I, for one, don't care to change strings that often at $70 to $100 per set in a trial and error attempt to find the best strings for my instrument. That process will just have to take time. Eventually I will find the strings that work best - and who knows, by the time I do that, perhaps my playing will have improved to a point that Dominant's or something else I already tried, and maybe did not like so much, will end up sounding great! After all, the "bow actuator" certainly has much to do with the sound that is ultimately produced, and my bow actuator still needs a lot of adjusting.
  24. Thanks Rue and Violadamore. I appreciated your comments on my other posts when I first bought my violin. You both gave me very sound advice and maybe a lesson or two about how easy it is to be duped on eBay! I'm learning though, and it is certainly encouraging to have support from people like you. By the way, I also put a similar post about my bow in the Fingerboard forum, as the bow topic relates as much to playing the instrument as it does to the construction elements of the instrument. Maybe I'll connect with a few more mentors on that side of the issue. But truly, thanks again to both of you, and Martin, and a few others who have helped me learn and grow. KB
  25. I learned an interesting and important lesson this week - just how important your bow is to the quality of your play and practice. I am a novice student, having just finished my first year learning to play a violin. I bought an "Old French Violin" last year on eBay. And, as you might expect, it is a German trade violin from one of the many workshops in the Markneukirchen/Shoenbach region with a fake French label in it. It is genuinely old, but just not a very high-quality violin. But it plays nicely and sounds beautiful in my instructor's hands (a professional violinist in the Washington D.C. area). So now about one-year into my playing, my bowing has improved significantly, but I still struggle with getting nice clean & clear tones from the instrument. My instructor suggested I go into any of the violin shops in the area and try some better bows. My bow is another $100 eBay purchase - supposedly an "Old German Bow" that is more likely a Chinese product according to my local violin shop. Shocking, isn't it (said in sarcasm)?! So, two days ago I went into my local violin shop to try bows. I noticed an instant improvement in the quality of the sound from my instrument. From the very first bow the dealer handed me to try, the feel of the strings under the bow was better - not grinding. Much smoother feel as the bow more easily flowed over each string, and with much less vibration (that grinding, growling kind of vibration) from my G and D strings. I tried 8-10 different bows, eliminating some quickly, then playing again the best 2-3 bows in a "playoff." I was absolutely amazed at how much better the violin sounded under these bows. And interestingly, I tried bows ranging in price from around $1,000-$5,000. The $1400 bow I finally selected actually sounded and felt better to me than the $5,000 bow I had tried, and I had no idea of the price of any of the bows I was trying until I made my final selection. So, I think the price of the bow is not as significant in determining the best bow for you as is actually playing your instrument with various bows and selecting the one that works best for you and your instrument. The sound from my violin is so much cleaner, and there is much more clarity in the tone. I know I'll enjoy practicing much more when the instruments sounds better. Lesson learned - the bow is the "other half" of your instrument, and probably just as important to your ability to play it well.
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