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Bownut

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  1. I see your point ( blank face) that varnish can look very different on differing woods and, in fact, some of the ribs are darker than the back, more like the table. But the purfling doesn't look, to my still-learning eyes, to be particularly similar, front and back. ( It must be admitted this cannot be easy to discern from these pictures!) How would one explain the fact of the top plate just ignoring the groove in the neck, surely cut for it?
  2. I haven't answered yet because I am still trying to work it out! I know, more or less, how to recognise beech used in purfling and linings but the back of this doesn't quite seem to conform to that. Can you give me a hint how to either recognise if it is indeed beech or how to ascertain which wood it is. I bought it, many years ago, for very little, at a flea market in Munich, not so far from Salzburg. I have just noticed that the wood inside at the back-joint makes a little ridge along the whole length. Looks to me like it was carved that way. Possibly intended to make the joint more secure, which hasn't really worked, as we can see! Setting it up would, sadly, be a rather quixotic enterprise, I fear!
  3. My describing this "fiddle" as "a bit of a dog's breakfast" was predicated on my assumption that the table, to my eyes distinctly inferior to the rest, does not belong. It clearly fails to slot into the noch for it in the neck and the varnish is not to be compared with that of the rest. Am I off target with that? Maybe the pictures do not do it justice but I find some, albeit somewhat primitive, quality in this violin/ viola. Actually, my principal interest was to find out if it was made as a big violin or a small viola, i.e. the probable musical function.
  4. This viola is very small, 37,4cm, and, as you see, a bit of a dog's breakfast! The table seems to have been, rather inexpertly to say the least, added later. The scroll ( but not the rest), at first glance, has certain similarities with a picture of one described as being by Ernst Busch, Nürnberg 1641. ( Sotheby's Nov.84, lot 67) On second glance, not that similar! Could it be that this was made as a " second violin", in contrast to a smaller " treble" and a much larger " contralto". I vaguely remember someone postulating this theory, in connection with early Venetian instruments. The neck and head seem, to me, to be of a piece with the back and ribs, varnish-wise, at least. I have not pictured the corner-blocks, as there simply aren't any! This seems to be a good argument for them, as only one corner is still hanging together! The top block is particularly trapezoid. Any ideas on age, origin? P.S. I have no intention of even considering a restoration: it looks just great on the wall! ( facing it, preferably!)
  5. Now I see what you are saying! However, surely, with experience, one can find a correlation between "looks", of course not merely superficial, and likely performance. Certainly not an exact science but with considerably higher probability of a positive outcome than the lottery. Also, a lottery win is digital; win or lose: this sort of enterprise has a wide range of more-or-less postive outcomes. I understand that the condition issues are crucial and one could, with learned-from experience, extrapolate from what one sees to possible results. The degree of neglect, which does not of necessity imply an inferior instrument or a " broken-down" one, can be taken into account and, in this case, I reckoned it wasn't too far gone to give it a try. I only hope for a viola that is a bit better than mine, not a Bros. Amati! Maybe, if there was a lottery with one of those as a prize, I might be tempted to play!
  6. I am unsure how your, certainly sound, advice connects with my post. I have never played the lottery, nor do I aspire to. However, there is more to life than solvency and I understand "intuition" to mean not guesswork but trusted knowledge used without thinking too hard about it. ( "Blink", by M. Gladwell) I also do not, of course, expect a " Collin-Mézin-like" varnish to produce Bros. Amati-like results! My repairman seemed pretty positive and set about the repairs. He measured 39,9cm backlength: maybe those 2mm give the air-volume a chance!
  7. I have played only two violas I really, really liked: both Brothers Amati! One was the Royal Academy of Music uncut 45cm monster; amazing sound but not a going concern for a medium-sized violinist with below-average stretch (anyway not for sale!) The other, (I think) cut down, but still to die for; an evening's chamber-music with an old teacher and friends, one of whom owned the viola. ( In Mr. Saunders' neck of the mountainous woods!) So, as my parents used to say of me, " Champagne-tastes on beer-money."! I have a sneaky, if not so well-founded, suspicion, based mostly on the Collin-Mézin-like varnish, that this viola could well have something to offer. I have absolute trust that my repairman can get the best out of it, he certainly did with my violin! The trick, as so often in life, is not to expect too much and be grateful for what one has.
  8. Rib-depth is a factor I didn't so clearly think about. The ribs measure ( a bit approximate) 35mm to 35,5mm. That seems deep to a violinist!
  9. Thanks for the feedback so far! I had guessed that it will cost me a goodly sum, hence the enquiry here to ascertain if my investment is likely to bear fruit, but the time and skills of a fine workman (in an expensive city) have to be remunerated. The double-act of Messrs Saunders and Swan are, for me, one of the most entertaining, endearing and educating on the MN-channel! Mr.Swan's run-down of the aspects of the build seems pretty accurate. Although I cannot say if the ribs are on the thin side, the table does seem a bit heavily wooded. As a violinist primarily indeed, I did, many years ago, play a lot of chamber-music on the viola and have always believed it better for me to have a clear, larger difference in stop-length to avoid confusion. Actually, I find the right arm more challenging when switching instruments, most especially back to violin after having played viola for a while! ( Fairly recently, I struggled with a Haydn Symphony on violin, straight after Brahms 2nd Serenade) I would, of course, prefer to find a fine old instrument to play: I am stand-in principal and there is a small solo but I wouldn't know who to ask to borrow one. I own a (slightly larger) Godliman viola, which has never really satisfied me, particularly on the lower strings, which may be a result of the comparison in quality with my fine old English violin, although I rather favour a fruitier, more alto-y sound on the violin. Would you then advise me, in this situation, to go with "the devil you know"? i.e. use the Godliman I (sort-of) know how to get the not-terribly-wonderful best from? (I have a few lovely viola bows: I am "The Bownut", after all!)
  10. Dear Mr. Saunders, I find myself strangely flattered by your suspicion I might be a maker! But, alas, I am a mere player of fiddles! I did, however, have that crack on my radar and will take it to the only repairer in my neck of the woods who I trust with my violin. Anything to add in answer to my query?
  11. Dear MNers, Here are, hopefully at least adequate, pictures of a viola I have been meaning to restore and have set up. I would like to know what the experts see here and, if possible, a prognosis for sound-quality. I have been asked to play principal viola in an orchestra where I normally play violin, so I need a good instrument in a hurry! It reminds me of a Collin-Mézin violin I owned, and rather ill-advisedly sold, a while back but has no label or signature. The blacking of the scroll is a bit shaky and the tail-button is way off centre, if that tells us something. Length of Back is 39,7cm. Thank you!
  12. I have found the box where I had hamstered old(ish) pegs: various. Mostly odd examples or not full sets. Will post tomorrow.
  13. Could these be 18th or early 19th? Very annoying I can only find or had from the start three!
  14. Dear Maestronetties, I must confess I chanced on this whilst browsing the Ebay Local Ads in Germany. I was, sort of, intrigued and prompted the seller to upgrade and upload the pictures. He has agreed to me asking your opinions on his behalf in this forum. The label is obviously a fake and nothing in particular looks anything much like the two ( wonderful-sounding) Gragnanis I have seen, played and pawed. However, the f's seem nicely done and the scroll is not so bad. The seller says two Violin makers ( Geigenbauer) have opined it to be Italian. What do you Ladies and Gentleman think? I am unlikely to be in the market for it as I couldn't afford the repairs to the table. Times are hard for freelancers!
  15. There are indeed two pins and I have just seen a ( much smaller and thinner) whateveryoucallit-crack symmetrically placed to the other side. So, what can be done, if anything, to save my nice old bow?
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