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Is It Italian?

Bob A

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Well, I took a chance and won http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISA...me=STRK:MEWN:IT&ih=018 this ebay fiddle. Came in today's mail. The seller did not lie; between the repairs and the revarnish, it IS ugly.

Still, it has charm. And someone put decent work into it, where it can't easily be seen; there's a soundpost patch that is inlet into the underside of the belly that is a thing of beauty. Wing crack properly cleated, nearly invisible scroll graft. And the wood is really quite nice, even the belly, under all that slop.

Before its sound can be evaluated it will needs strings, maybe a bridge and tpiece.

But I'd like to know where it may have come from. I strongly suspect it's not a Strad, as labelled. If anyone would care to hazard a guess?

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If all these repair work are real (not artificially made) the violin must have been be good use

like a workhorse they say, for a long time. The previous owner took all the trouble to repair it.

It is a good sign. Of course, it is only a speculation. The fact that the wood are of good grade is

definitely another plus. And, the fingerboard seems a bit thick, I would put a minus there.

PS. The material used does not look like from China and its age was a bigger factor.

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I eyeballed the pegbox thoroughly, but was unable to decide whether any holes had been bushed; despite the fiddle's evident age, it didn't look as though it had been. But inasmuch as there's no guarantee that the scroll is original to the instrument, it's not a major determinant of use.

The repairs seem to have been by more than one luthier, if we wish to grace that bit of reptile dentistry on the f-hole as having been done by a luthier. Still, he did manage to get the wood in there. and it looked like a mighty struggle. The wing crack and soundpost patch were obviously done by someone who knew what to do.

I don't believe the overvarnish was done to antique the instrument - it's too bad a job.

FWIW, the button is pretty; thick, but not too thick, slightly ramped away from the back to give it a bit more substance for eventual wear. That gave me a good feeling to see.

I hadn't thought of a mouse. It's a pretty small hole, but then they're adept at getting thru small spaces. Nice to think of it as having played a nurturing role at some point. Without the rodent work and subsequent "repair", I doubt I'd have been able to afford it.

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Originally posted by:
If all these repair

work are real (not artificially made) the violin must have been be

good use like a workhorse they say, for a long time. The previous

owner took all the trouble to repair it. It is a good sign.


I used to think the same way when I saw such work done to an old

fiddle.  However, having hung out on this forum for a while, I

now realize that the opposite could often be true:  Many

luthiers, while they are learning their craft, will spend an

inordinate amount of time on some horrible old junker, just so they

can hone their skills. (You don't want to experiment or learn

difficult repairs on an expensive instrument.) After

such work is done, it would be a shame to just toss the violin. Why

not give it to some poor student?

And thus, untold numbers of marginal VSO's go out into circulation

with large amounts of work done to them.

It wasn't until the advent of Ebay that many of these were able to

find new homes, for better or worse.

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Oh dear. Not the most comforting of posts, Allan.

Considering the number of VSOs I'm accumulating, I may indeed endow some local school with a few. It's been an expensive tuition I've been paying for my violin-hunting lessons.

On the other hand, there's always ebay, and the Greater Fool Rule. . . . At worst, they might provide an evening's warmth in my impoverished retirement.

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 This particular seller, malibu

musical, has quite a habit of looking only on the good side when

evaluating his violins, his seeming preponderance of "Italian"

violins seems to indicate something fishy, also are you sure that

really has a neck scroll graft, I can see no evidence of it in the

picture, and the scroll doesn't look Italian to me, am I supposed

to take the sellers word for that, It suprises me with all the ebay

offerings from more reputable sellers you chose this one, doesn't

seem like a bargain to me, though I guess if the neck scroll was

real it would be worth that I guess, I stay away from revarnished

violins though, sincerely Lyndon J Taylor

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Well, the question of "Why?" is a large one.

Why this seller? His bio seems to indicate a knowledgeable individual with no particular reason to perpetrate fraud. He seems to have some decent stuff, and some junk, and what one would hope is something in between.

Why this fiddle? Well, if it were Italian and shabby, it could easily be worth putting right. The seller made large claims about its sound, and I was willing to speculate. Of course he's going to hype his products. No one sells stuff by apologising for it's being junk. And the price was not bad for what might be an istrument made by one set of hands (though admittedly trashed by another set).

Why ebay at all? Well, I've had some successes; a 409 mm Marc Laberte viola for half wholesale, a phony Sgarabotto (described as phony by the seller) that is quite a pleasant instrument; a H Th Heberlein that was not won from auction, but developed out of a missed auction instrument, again a nice violin for a reasonable price.

I have been burned: a Didier viola that was cheap German factory-made (i was fooled by the label - who'd pick such an obscure maker to fake?); an unlabelled viola that just looked nice - I suspect I overpaid, but not by too much; a Saxon bathtub baroque fiddle that actually ain't bad, and is probably pretty old. I have hjopes for that one, after a bit of setup and different strings.

Why not a dealer? Well, markup, and the inevitable suspicion that I was being taken. Why not a modern maker? $$$$. I hope eventually to acquire a decent violin by a modern maker of note, but I can't swing a 5-figure purchase; maybe by the time I've paid my dues in the jungle, I might get enough of my money back from selling my mistakes to cover a decent chunk of down-payment. Meanwhile, I get experience and exposure.

I must say I've learned a lot in a short time by this method, and all told it hasn't cost much more than a couple of college courses, and of course I have a way to recover some of my expenses, unlike being mugged in the groves of Academe, where there's little of actual substance being passed along, and you can't even get your money back for the inflated and generally useless textbooks.

Then too, there's the added bonus of increased humility, as I hang around sites like this with my metaphysical pants down around my ankles, an amusing spectacle for those who know better. Someday I too will know better, and I hope I'll be better able to pass on what I've learned in an effective way.

As final justification I take heart from Jesse's kind words. So long as he feels I didn't get badly taken, I assume I did something right.

Oh yes. Austrian? Why not? But more to the point: Why do you think so?

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If you're having fun, I'm all for it. Have at it.

Concerning justification, especially of the "why" concerning the seller (or instruments on ebay in general), I must say that I believe you're thinking to hard... and maybe convincing yourself of more substance than is really there... As tempted as I am, I'm not even going to bother "going" on the dealer thing.

Concerning the origin of the fiddle... man... I'm more interested in why Jesse thought there was a hint of spaggetti sauce in that fiddle than why wmeng thought of the Von Clapp family.

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The very uniform, light color of the back compared to the darker, redder color of varnish on scroll and some other hard to get to places on neck and ribs, would make me suspect that the back has been stripped of varnish and revarnished, maybe for the better. Varnish on top has been redone in part or in total.

If this fiddle sounds good and is healthy, then the price is ok. I wouldn't think country of origin would be a factor in the value of this instrument, because of what I see as extensive revarnishing, some of it over very visible repairs.

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Thanks for the kind words, Jeffrey.

I trust more contributions will appear, and I long for a bit of detail supporting the conclusions.

Thinking too hard? Maybe you mean "working too hard towards kidding myself"? Could be.

Even my granddaughter thinks I should sell a few of these things. And of course someday I will.

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I don't, actually. I'm a former silver halide guy, who's frustrated by the digital age. But I do have a digital camera on my ebay (sigh) watch list, so maybe I'll have something by and by. How about a whole thread of ebay horrors?

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