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Is there any way to play a Strad or Guarneri once?


T Ford

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I know this seems like a flaky question, naive curiosity. I'm not really expecting that there is any consistent way to do as I ask. But I cannot help ask, given what a dream it would be for any violinist to play a few notes on a Strad of Del Gesu at some point, is there any way for the entry-level person to do so?

I wish the Stradivari Society had a way for regular violinists who wanted to do so, to pay a fee and be able to play, for even two minutes in the presence of an overseer, a few notes on a legendary violin.

I remember reading some auction houses offer the opportunity at times for people to pick up and play an instrument they have no intent of buying. However, this wouldn't feel quite right, and I'm sure most people don't have the background to be allowed to do such a thing.

I know a few notes would not be enough for all to get great sound. Would some people leave this experience disappointed, do you think? Either way, it would be an unforgettable experience for myself and, I'm sure, many other mediocre (in the scheme of things) violin players.

Curious to hear your responses.

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Dealers are usually happy to let you play the good stuff if you're a somewhat serious customer and they're not busy. There are a number of shops around the country that at any time could have a Strad or del Gesu in the back. I think auction houses might be more restrictive (but I'm not sure).

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T Ford, Lymond,

We don't mind at Tarisio, and we currently have the 'Baron von der Leyen' in our April auction (tarisio.com/baronvonerleyen). If players are courteous, forthcoming with intentions, and flexible should the instrument need to be somewhere for someone serious, it's almost never a problem. We'd be happy to see you in New York if you can make it?

Ethan

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dealers are usually happy to let you play the good stuff if you're a somewhat serious customer and they're not busy.

My experience too, although I haven't tried for some years.

I remember being allowed to try a Maggini viola with a fine bow.....

only problem it was freshly rehaired and no one at the exhibition could find any rosin.

Bit like being given the keys of a Ferrari to find no fuel in the tank.

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Dealers are usually happy to let you play the good stuff if you're a somewhat serious customer and they're not busy. There are a number of shops around the country that at any time could have a Strad or del Gesu in the back. I think auction houses might be more restrictive (but I'm not sure).

Agree! I am quite familiar with the violin shops in the US. They always seem to be happy to take the good stuff out to let people try them. Of course, they won't let you the Strad when you walk in to the store for the first time. After seeing you for a few times, anything is possible. I am a shop-a-holic when it comes to bows. So I always ask to try bows on a variety of instruments, including the good stuff!

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I had the opportunity to play the Strad in the current Tarisio auction recently (for as long as I wanted which exceeded my repertory). Although I am a hacker and everything I say should be disclaimed as such, here are my thoughts...only from the point of view of the player (in a room that tends to not absorb any sound). In short there is a reason that certain instruments are valued more than others....

- very clean even in the high positions on the strings

- relatively easy to get a tone with minimal bow movement e.g. spiccato

- easy to play really soft

- can play as loud as you want and will not distort

- sound is always pleasing although I only had the vantage point of the player position.

I did not even get into the hardcore stuff like the Tchaikovsky concerto but I imagine the same trends apply. It seems to me that the real benefit to an internationally appreciated soloist (or an early facebook person with money to burn) of playing a unique violin like this is that you can confidently play anything you want however you want and it will sound good.

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T Ford, Lymond,

We don't mind at Tarisio, and we currently have the 'Baron von der Leyen' in our April auction (tarisio.com/baronvonerleyen). If players are courteous, forthcoming with intentions, and flexible should the instrument need to be somewhere for someone serious, it's almost never a problem. We'd be happy to see you in New York if you can make it?

Ethan

Ethan, your attitude is incredible. Cheers.

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Ethan, your attitude is incredible. Cheers.

I agree, Ethan and the others at Tarisio have a great, welcoming attitude...I tried the Baron recently, and it's a powerful instrument. All violins can teach us something, especially Strads...so it's good to play them, if you can.

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We do live in a remarkable age when access to and dissemination of information is almost seen as a right.

In a time not that long ago the privelege of learning about and playing great instruments was restricted to a narrower circle.

We can be quick to criticise aspects of the stringed instrument trade and some of its proponents

but overall forums such as this have provided opportunities and introductions to professional and authoritative resources across the planet that would otherwise hardly have been possible.

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  • 5 weeks later...

++++++++++++++

If an accident happened while you are trying it. How would you feel?

I believe you would feel really bad.

When you try other people's violins, there is always a risk of having an accident, such as dropping it,

scratching its top varnish etc. I rather not to take such a risk especially for an expensive violin.

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And by the way, you don't have to LOVE the Strad or del Gesu. It may sound exactly the same as any modern fiddle, but poseurs will claim otherwise.

I agree... but other poseurs may claim that a modern fiddle sounds exactly the same as any Strad or del Gesu. :)

I think that anyone can learn something from the experience of holding history in their hands... and there are some really wonderful classic fiddles (that modern makers use as inspiration for their own work) and others that may not be so wonderful in one aspect or another. What one walks away from the experience with will probably vary depending on their individual situation.

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When you try other people's violins, there is always a risk of having an accident, such as dropping it,

scratching its top varnish etc. I rather not to take such a risk especially for an expensive violin.

For 'violin' you can also read 'bows'. It is quite easy in trying a selection of fine bows to be careless with them. I was rightly corrected once for replacing one not so gently on a table and picking up another - especially when the surface is not covered with a soft cloth. Good bows command considerable prices and it is easy to forget how much of an investment you are holding in your right hand as well as the left.

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