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Most Violins Have Not Been Played?


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Hi All,

I have a gut feeling that most violins, say 85% of them, have not really been played , but stored in closets or attics, violin shop glass cases, vaults etc. most the time.

Being played mean that it was taken out at least 15 min played by someone two times in a week, that sort of frequency

which is arbitrarily defined,just for our discussion purpose. Do you think so? ( There many more violins than players in existence so to speak ,true ?)

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That raises a question I have too...

...if Paganini left the Cannon in his will on the condition that no one ever plays it again...but now they let the winner of th Paganini competition play it...isn't that some sort of violation of his will? Or are wills dated?

And let's just say that if someone is playing it once a year...doesn't it need to be played consistantly in order for it to be sounding it's best for the competition winner? Then I'd assume someone is playing it regularily (a scheduale like Yuen suggested)? But if someone does have to play it regularly...then that REALLY violates Paganini's last request...right?

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On my two, the better violin has been worn to bare wood in patches and the other still has almost fully intact varnish - both are about 200 yrs old.

Both sat unplayed from 1930 till 1973, the lesser one was played for 6 years while the better was "too good for learning on" then they were basically set aside and sat until last year.

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I most definitely agree that a good instrument deserves to be played and the violin I mentioned above is now my primary instrument, being played daily. My #2 violin is now just sitting in a case mostly because I am playing the better instrument.

At the time it was "too good" I was 12 and just learning. By many standards, the "lesser" 150 yr old (at the time) Bohemian violin was also "too good" for a beginner.

On topic;

My primary point above, was that due to the path of ownership, the violins sat unplayed for many decades, despite their worth. Sort of the reverse of the Strads and Del Gesus which are being preserved by collectors and museums because of their worth.

Go figure.

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Yes, I remember of an story about traditional tool makers in Japan. They would feel disonored if the tools they had made were not in use by their owners because they were produced to be used.

That's how I feel about most things. I use chisels and gouges that my great grandfather used. These things were made to be used and used up. The great master violins are so rare and important as records that using them up is inappropriate. But ordinary things like I make should be used up! I expect that will take a long time.

On the old violins not being played, I've had a number of nice old violins in good shape that sounded terrible. These always had some construction problems, typically graduations suitable for a lifetime warranty and some type of girder for a bass bar. Suitable relief from these complaints generally bought them to life!


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  • 3 months later...
  • 1 month later...

maestramusica if you buy a lot of violins you should definately be playing more otherwise you're making the luthiers (such as MANFIO) around here feel bad. :)

But I think that the more expensive and nicer an instrument is the more I feel the urge to play it. Sometimes if it's too good I get the "I am not worthy" bug and others I feel "this violin deserves a better player.. better shape up". It really depends on how much the difference to me is.

I've actually wanted to learn more about fixing up violins so I've bought quite a few expensive books. Some have worked and others haven't (some have assumed knowledge in them which can be frustrating). But I'm having a blast with them.


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SCHONFELDER--A large family of violin makers in Markneukirchen, Germany.

It's most important members are Johann Adam, (1710-1763) and Johann Christian (1775-1821). Their instruments are well made, with good selections of wood, following the Tyrolean school. The varnish is usually yellow-brown or red-brown.

1999 prices: $2,000.00 - $2,500.00, depending on condition, etc.

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