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Fagnolas have kind of small tone & lack of depth?


wdman

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Haven't we been through all this before--if not here, then on every other board on the internet over the last eight months or so? What do YOU think?

All violins are different--if you're thinking about buying one, and from all the other posts I've seen you seem to be--you should be trying them, not asking about them, and letting your ears do the judging.

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I am using Fagnolas I tired before as some sort of a yardstick, had tried others over the last few months or so, some from the turn of the century and some very recent a Candi, Ferrera, Morassi, etc. I still in a bit of a myst and just as frustrated as some of the violins I've tired were way too high in price as well. I wish I could travel further to try fiddles like Marcello Villas or yours!

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Amen bro'.

But I think I understand that there are different motives behind shopping for a violin. If I were a violinist with enough bucks to buy a Fagnola AND I wanted a really nice violin to play which I personally really liked, I would buy any Fagnola which I could afford, and keep some small change to buy a really nice violin to play for under $5000. Then I could claim to play a Fagnola - and play the other one when it really counts.

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Well, I suppose I prefer a few Fagnolas I've tried over the years, but if I have enough bucks to pay for, I choose a guarneri del gesu. Now I have known what sort of sounds I like, it comes to a question which modern italian I have a chance to try on. I like the Morassi, but I need more dark of a sound.

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Guys, I also have doubts on the graduations or regraduations on the belly of some of the violins out there in particular the modern italians whether they could last a life time without drop out tonewise after a few years of their brillance. Some mentioned it could only last for a 2-3 years then the sound would completely drop because of too much thinning on the belly. Any of the modern violin owner like to share their findings, I would dearly like to know...

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I think that virtually all of the violins I've seend "die" have been too thick. I've always assumed that when they were new, before the varnish and wood hardened up, they sounded OK, but then got stiff with age. I've not seen a single violin lose it's tone because it was too thin, though I've seen a few that collapsed because they were too thin. I think the "died because it's too thin" is an old fable that's caused by instruments not getting proper checkups--I've cured more than a few "dead" violins just by giving them a new post and a few other tweaks.

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I would add one thing to MANFIO's comment on listening with your ears. Listen with your heart. Unlike some other instruments, a violin is very personal. Treat your violin in a very personal manner. When I go violin shopping, in additional to listening through my ears, I've always gone with my "feel" and "emotions". I've had instances where the attraction between the violin and I was so strong, I felt if the violin was a physical part of me. Look for something "special" in your instrument. After all, this is something you will be playing frequently. A violin is very personal.

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One thing I often find with professionals is that they'll play anything and enjoy each violin for what it is--the extent of their evaluation is how well a violin "drives". Usually I get the "I have to find 'my voice'" thing from students and amateurs, not the pros, who *make* almost any violin do what they tell it, not the other way around.

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I'll have to weigh in very strongly with Michael on this. The approach taken by good professionals is very much what I see for violins and bows. Will the instrument behave well across the fingerboard, be loud enough, not be tiring to play. I can't recall a really good player commenting about tone particularly. Of course, they aren't playing the dark sounding beginner violins. Same with bows. None of this worrying about this or that, just concern whether it does the job or not. Is the bow useful? I've sold several quite modestly priced carbon bows to professionals precisely because they behave well and will be useful for outdoor or other more environmentally demanding gigs.

On thin tops, I had an ancient Austrian violin that really sounded quite good, very typical of the breed, but that had a top as thin as 1.8 mm. It wasn't particularly distorted, played out, or otherwise showing signs of excess stress except for the usual number of repaired cracks. I currently have a very similar Austrian violin of the same vintage that must have a 4 mm top. No one ever buys it. Thin, silvery sound that is pleasant, but not much power. The folding up violins I've seen had funny arching especially by the end blocks.

The "advanced" players are the ones who seem concerned with things that can be adjusted or that don't seem nearly as relevant. They'll sometimes have instruments that have serious flaws in response but they "love that G string" or whatever the rationalization is!

I've also yet to see a played out violin. I've had some traded in that had fixable problems of some minor magnitude. I'm always delighted to have something nice traded in that just needs a bit of this and that to do well again. But so far they all come back once the seams are tight and everything else is in order.

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Since we're on a roll here, let me say that almost every player's stereotype I've heard that involves violin construction has panned out to be untrue, so don't listen to what players say about this stuff. The one that comes to mind at the moment, in the present context, is that thin violins sound "hollow". Just not true.

Oh, and if you ever have a rattle-it's *never* a loose bass bar.

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Michael, you are saying that the top wont collapse and the gave way violin which you mentioned only coming from the thick top? There are rumours from (the chinese) that their violins are having their top thinned and shipped over to europe for final touch up before selling back to the rest of the world had problems with collapsing tops and losing sound etc...

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Hi All,

There are many makers in this world, I have no idea of Fagnolas, Morassi and others' violin. Someone threw in a few names and it makes me absolutely inadequate to agree with anyting they implicitely claimed. Are there world class soloists used their instrument to perform in public (or in concerts)? Are there some violin shops where I can go to there and try? Win any violin making contests? It must be something (facts) to back its reputations? Just my thought.

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I don't want to confuse people, just as I receive the information and make me feel unsecure about some maker out there are making a lot of money and destroying the principle of violin making and tarnish all the good piece of wood which in fact cost a fortune in this polluted world

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I've heard all sorts of rumors, but they rarely check out as true. In the 70s one big NYC dealer was saying that Peresson violins were overthinned and would collapse in five years--and five years later he extended his prediction out a couple more years, because it wasn't happening. I'm sure the main issue was that Peresson violins were at that time being sold exclusively by his major competitor on the east coast--every Peresson I've seen has been thicker by at least 1/3 than almost every other professional makers' violins. There's no depth that some people won't go to to discredit their competition. For decades "they're too thin" has been the favorite libel, because there's no way for most purchasers to check that out themselves. Notice that "too thin" is never applied to one's own merchandise--only that of the competition.

Also, the topic's a rat's nest because there are many uninformed folks, players and shops, out there spreading rumors. Many schools teach a thickness that's too thick and not ever found in good violins. Then the students, newly-minted "violin experts" go out in the world as dealers to trash everything that's not the way they were taught it should be--I think that accounts for a lot of the uninformed opinions floating around.

I had a friend of mine, a graduate of the Chicago school declare to me that a famous maker who came to the school to lecture told the students that a violin top should be 3.0mm thick, no thinner. I commented that this was interesting because his own tops were consistently 2.5mm thick, plus or minus zero, and had been for decades (we subsequently had the opportunity to measure several, proving what I was saying). This is a topic where you can't hardly believe anyone because of the fear makers have of being exposed to uninformed negative comments about their own violins.

My final comment in this regard would be to say that Stradivari violins, Stradivari being a conservative fellow, are usually around 2.4mm thick, often thinner in places, and they all seem to be doing just fine after all this time. Other great makers of that time often made their tops and backs regularly as thin as 1.9mm in places, and they're doing just fine. As Steve commented, the shape of the arching is much more important than the graduations when talking about strength and potential collapse. As for the tonal issue--the proper tool for checking that is the ears, not a caliper. Unless you know everything there is to know about violins, and a bit more, I'd avoid making comments as to the cause of a violin's tonal problems. I don't usually say anything myself until I've located the problem and fixed it, and even then I'm not always sure if what I did was the cure, or if it was something I unintentionally did in the course of doing what I thought I did. Be very wary of people who blow hard on tonal problems and cures.

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Other thing I've noticed when I take my instruments to top soloists is that thet pay very litle attention to varnish, varnish colour, purfling etc. They just see the violin to have an overall impression and start to play it imediatly. Most of them start with the G string, in the very upper positions.

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Michael, indeed I agree what you said up there. I just like to comment with the Strad's thickness, could that be some sort of natural compression (just guessing)

(with everything including the varnish and tension) as it lasted for 200 odd years, which in fact modern italian made violin has no such natural privilege but in doing so luthiers are trying to compete each other out to go straight to the limits.

I think you mentioned long ago that it is very difficult to meet the thickness of 2.4mm while some luthier go even further these days. And should we not worrying the collapsing of the modern italian made violin? But would there be any tonal difference with such a thinned top violin?

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