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Amati's maple


Joseph Liu
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I have been doing a lot of research on different maple species in the past year. One of the most intriguing is acero nostrano/acero oppio/Acer campestre/field maple/feld maple/hedge maple. It is the material other than plain tree maple/Acer pseudoplatanus that early violin makers used.

There was a talk given by an Ohio State University professor on this maple at the 2002 VSA convention and recorded in a VSA Journal. I do not have the journal at the moment. He talked about the tree being used in the wine making industry in Italy and also about the soil condition at Po river valley where many of the early Cremonese instruments' backs probably came from.

After searching all over the place for information about this tree, it seems like it is grown everywhere in Europe and used mostly for firewood. Most of the trees are not very big. Probably only big enough for two piece violin backs or one piece violin slab backs. I still don't have any wood samples because most of the tonewood suppliers don't carry it. I wonder why. I thought a lot of violin makers would be interested in it if it was offered.

Here are three web pages that you guys might find interesting.

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

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Ive used quite a bit of it and love it but its very hard to get in decent sizes without bad faults. I got it from Italy a few years back and it was supposedly from an area just east of Firenze.The largest tree ive seen had a trunk diameter of around 5 feet , it also had a split trunk but most are much smaller and very knarled and twisted.

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I have been doing a lot of research on different maple species in the past year. One of the most intriguing is acero nostrano/acero oppio/Acer campestre/field maple/feld maple/hedge maple. It is the material other than plain tree maple/Acer pseudoplatanus that early violin makers used.

There was a talk given by an Ohio State University professor on this maple at the 2002 VSA convention and recorded in a VSA Journal. I do not have the journal at the moment. He talked about the tree being used in the wine making industry in Italy and also about the soil condition at Po river valley where many of the early Cremonese instruments' backs probably came from.

After searching all over the place for information about this tree, it seems like it is grown everywhere in Europe and used mostly for firewood. Most of the trees are not very big. Probably only big enough for two piece violin backs or one piece violin slab backs. I still don't have any wood samples because most of the tonewood suppliers don't carry it. I wonder why. I thought a lot of violin makers would be interested in it if it was offered.

Here are three web pages that you guys might find interesting.

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

I had a wonderful slab 100 years old from Italy but I couldn't find anyone in the west who would make me a violin from it. They were all too nervous preferring to stick to what they knew. Several here on MN advised me to abandon the idea of using such unconventional wood. Eventually, I had two spectacular violins made from it in China.

Glenn

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Fiddle collector: Is there a Italian tonewood supplier that sells oppio?

Glenn: I read the thread where you posted pictures of the slab and finished violin. The wood looks beautiful. It looks almost like burl. The finished instrument looks great as well. Congratulations!

Joseph,

Yes, the wood was from low down on the tree close to the root so the grain was crazy. It worked so well in terms of sound an appearance that I had a second violin made although that portion of the slab was barely 14mm thick which I thought would give insufficient arching to the back. But it seems that the violin makers of Shanghai like a challenge and result was just fine. Telling you this reminds me of a detail you will enjoy.

The maker I used is a master of antiquing. It's really very clever the way he simulates the wear. So after I recived it back, I showed it to a local violin maker and asked him how old he thought the violin was. He studied it then pronounced that if was, of course, a copy of a Strad but made in about 1900. His explanation was not the antiquing but the fact that, over the years, makers have inserted the neck deeper and deeper into the upper block and the depth on this instrument corresponded to about 1900. So the maker had carried out a double trick to simulate age.

Is that correct about the overstand being an indication of age?

Glenn

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Fiddle collector: Is there a Italian tonewood supplier that sells oppio?

Glenn: I read the thread where you posted pictures of the slab and finished violin. The wood looks beautiful. It looks almost like burl. The finished instrument looks great as well. Congratulations!

Joseph ive sent you a pm .

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Fiddle collector: Is there a Italian tonewood supplier that sells oppio?

Glenn: I read the thread where you posted pictures of the slab and finished violin. The wood looks beautiful. It looks almost like burl. The finished instrument looks great as well. Congratulations!

I would love to see this, could you post the link for that thread?

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Is that correct about the overstand being an indication of age?

Glenn, I don't know that any maker try to antique a violin to resemble a 1900 neckset. Makers do try the old Cremonese neck set with nails sometimes for academic purposes or for the baroque setup. Overstand can indicate certain time period, but it can also indicate the maker's preference or training.

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