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crystal

violin models - Strad, Amati, Guarneri

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What are the differences between various models? I am assuming that they are slight measurement differences.

Is one generally thought of to be the largest, or one the smallest? Like Hopf violins, are thought to be on the small side. Aren't they Stainer copies?

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Good question. As I cannot give you the exact dimensions and measurements, I can give you an overall idea of my perspective as what these instruments (Strad, Amati, and Guaneri) sound like as I have played on all three at one time or another.

My favorite would have to be the Strad. The tone on Strads just have a certain sweetness that I haven't found on almost any other instrument made during that era. The Guanerius is an interesting fiddle in the sense that it sounds rather small in a room but projects rather well in a large concert hall. The Guanerius compared to the Strad has a more piercing sound I think. Amatis much like Rugeris are usually the smaller instruments in size and in sound. Amati violins sound small in rooms and have little power when it comes to large concert halls.

I am a strong advocate for modern violins, as I feel that a good one has as good if not better capabilities than a 300 year old instrument. I really would like to give an expert a blind fold test and play two violins; one strad and say one really good Phillip Injean (of Pittsburgh) violin. Most people will agree that the Injean has a louder more projecting sound. Let us not get caught up in the "name brands" as the real experts do not trust me.

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Hi Crystal;

Might get a few more responses to this question if you post it on the Pegbox... but here goes.

Like anything: What and how much you learn will depend on what kind of time you want to put in.

Anyway, Strad, Guarneri and Amati each made more than one model. Size is not always the best signal.

I think this is a case where a picture is worth a thousand words.... If you search the pegbox for the last photo ID quiz, two Amatis were illustrated. You can find Strads and Guarneris on a number of sites on the internet (Sheila's Corner, dealer sites, etc.)

Before you compare, remember that both Stradivari and the Guarneri family had connections to Amati’s workshop and were influenced by his designs.

There are (important) differences in arching and outline, but you may not notice how and where these vary right away. The details I would suggest you compare are the corners, f hole design, and scolls. The less wear to the instrument, the more you'll notice. Look at the length of the corners and the effect this has on the ouline. Look closely at the "wings" of the f holes and notice the shape. For example (how obvious the following is depends on the period of the instrument): Amati f hole wings get slightly narrower. Strad tends to run parallel. Guarneri wings tend to get slightly wider (and make the f hole look slightly "pointed").

If you have access to a library that has copies of the Hill's books on Stradivari and Guarneri, I'd recommend looking at these as well. I seem to recall both books are available in Dover releases now...

Have fun!

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If you need anything to add to what Jeffrey said, Hopf copies aren't Stainer copies, and most Stainer copies aren't much like the 'published' Stainer pattern--the one they sell with templates and drawings, that supposedly illustrates what Stainer was doing in about 1650. I suppose Stainer could be said to be closer to Amati than anything else. (Jeffrey, please correct me if this is wrong!) It had a relatively high arch.

Size? Maggini made some violins that were close to 14 1/2", but also evolved a smaller pattern. Guarneri del Gesu made a number of violins that were around 13 7/8" and his modern copyists are often too chicken to make anything less than the standard 14". I *think* the Amati Grand Pattern (which is not all that common) was fairly close to the standard modern size.

Mark_W

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Here's a photo of the Strad, Amati, and Guararius on display at the Library of Congress in Washington: lcweb.loc.gov/rr/perform/guide/mu066001.jpg

Can anyone say which is which?

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From left to right, Strad, Guarneri, Amati.

I haven't a clue. I've only heard that Strads are longer and leaner, Guarneris tend to be the largest, and Amati's are on the smaller side. I'm sure that's grossly oversimplified.

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A, S, G, IMHO. Going by f-holes, the Amati are a bit shorter, and the del Gesu have a crisp elongation with the wing--I mean that fragile bit that cracks if you press it-- very closely spaced near the end hole. (Sorry, my f-hole nomenclature may be off. Jeffrey, could you name the parts of the f-hole for us?)

Mark

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Mark, you got them just right. I've stared at those fiddles in person many times and, if I hadn't already known the answer, still could not have put them in the right order. I'm always struck by how modern looking the Amati is and how ordinary looking all three of them are.

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Glad to hear it, but I think it's a lot easier to place them in order, than to try to i.d. them outright! Probably an expert eye would have used other clues too. I looked at the f-holes because it was easier than looking at the outlines, which to me are hard to place stylistically. I remember staying out of the photo contest that Jeffrey referred to because I was away off in realm of guesswork.

In this case, a little mental detective work caused me to speculate that they sort of ordered the violins stylistically from early to later, with the almighty Strad in the foreground. It was fairly easy to mark the del Gesu f-hole, after which the other two sorted themselves out.

I relate these mental mechanics to show that one can sometimes get lucky with a very tiny bit of knowledge...

Mark_W

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It was quite easy to identify these just from Jeffrey Holmes' description. The only problem was that the image was pretty hard to see on a browser. By capturing the image, then magnifying it and brightening it, it was easy to see the f-holes (which I did after MarkW had already gotten it). The open C bouts on the Guarneri were also a giveaway.

Thanks, Jeffrey, that's the simplest and most useful description I have heard in a long time.

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Doh! Sorry Jeffrey, I was posting at work and failed to see that you had already used the 'wing' term, and very illuminatingly too. But what do you call end hole itself? That the wing projects into?

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On 8/28/2002 at 11:28 PM, Jeffrey Holmes said:

If you have access to a library that has copies of the Hill's books on Stradivari and Guarneri, I'd recommend looking at these as well. I seem to recall both books are available in Dover releases now...

As those books are in the public domain, there's an even easier way to read them: they're on the Internet Archive.

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Hard to just say what is an Amati like - lots of Amatis in that line over a pretty long period.  The earlier Amatis are sweet and rich, but not very powerful.  Nicolo Amati on the other hand is often credited with the development of the patterns, techniques, and training that allowed Strad and Guarnieri Del Gesu, (and many others) to do what they did.  And his instruments were more powerful.   Strad and his workshop pretty much 'perfected' the instrument and very consistently produced great instruments.  Guarnieri Del Gesu produced a few that are often considered among the greatest concert instruments ever produced (such as the Cannon that Paganini used), but they were not as consistently great as Strads and some are notoriously hard to play (i.e. the Cannon).  Earlier Guarnieris were more like Amatis - rich, warm, dark, but not powerful.   As far as the best moderns and old Italians compare,  I think it is true that if you blindfolded someone and played for them, they may not be able to tell you which is which, however, if you handed them the instruments to play, still blindfolded, most of the time they would be able to tell which is which quite easily.   It may simply be the effects of age, many of today's instruments, in a couple of hundred years, may develop just as good of a feel and nuance as the best old Italians (or French) violins have today.

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Ghee... that's not a particularly clear image...

My attempt to distinguish them was based on the C-bouts forms

and I can just about see the Amati, Strad & Guarneri patterns there I think.

On reflection, not that difficult, I suppose.

:D

 

mu066001.jpg

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As this is an old thread, the original poster is no doubt not around watching for his or her answer.

But I think the question was specific, and what it refers to is this:

If one is purchasing a newly-made violin today, from a supplier offering violins in the Stradivarius, Guarneri, Amati, and other paterns, will those violins differ in body size depending on pattern, and, if so, what will be the size for each pattern?

In the case of a violin sold as being of the Stradivarius pattern, it's likely to be modeled after the Messiah or Salabue, so one can take the actual body dimension of that particular violin as what modern makers might have as their goal.

It can be presumed that an Amati will be based on a violin by Niccolo Amati - not Andreas or one of the other members of that family.

The other question, of course, would be whether, in general, factory violins are authentic as to size, or whether the makers made the Stradivari pattern to the original size, and all other patterns to have the same string length - so that standard strings would work properly at the optimum tension. Apparently, though, tension and string length aren't as critical as I thought; one catalog states that violin and viola A and D strings are interchangeable.

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19 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

...

Apparently, though, tension and string length aren't as critical as I thought; one catalog states that violin and viola A and D strings are interchangeable.

Considering the size range of violas, I think one can safely say that tension and string length are less critical than most think. Some string makers make strings for "normal" and "long" violas, and just about everything except "Ritter violas" count as "normal".

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13 hours ago, Omobono said:

Why don't I check those OP dates...

Don't be hard on yourself. I'm the one who first replied to this thread after its long inactivity, so your confusion is my fault.

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