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' Both vernacular and seasonal fiddle'


vathek

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Might be worth a look, I'd be interested in how it sounds, not interested in buying it but the chance to have somebody check one out in person for a change would be cool. I note it's in Georgia, and the carving style bears a resemblance to the Appalachian fiddle made by Clarence Rathbone shown (pages 123 to 125) in the "Fiddle making" article in Foxfire 4, and though that's a lion head, the treatment is similar and so is the wood used. It looks to be in the same tradition.

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I'd put this in the 'folk art' tradition, maybe even more so than 'musical instrument'.

Maybe, but I've heard old recordings of vernacular fiddles made by folk who'd maybe seen a store-bought one only once in their lives. But they were such superb craftsmen and musicians that just that one experience told them nearly everything they needed to know to make their own. And played for dancing, they sounded good! Not the usual sound, but fine for the dancing. Sort of like seeing the inventive work of an Andrea Amati or Gasparo da Saló, really.

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I think the "weird creepy thing" is a possum, you see enough of 'em around here. The traditional techniques are given in Foxfire 4 (see http://www.foxfire.org/ ) but are getting adulterated as more and more of us hillbillies get exposed to bad influences like MN and start to do it "right" :lol:

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someone should send a link to this to pahdah hound to show him what a hand made american violin looks like!!!

i say that because genuine hand made american violins historically were rather crude by comparison to european makers, when people see an american violin that doesnt look crude, they instantly label it a "good" american maker when 9 times out of 10, its a german or czech white violin kit finished and varnished in america, how in the world these kit violins can aquire a value above what the same violins would have finished in europe is beyond me.....

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It appears from the derisive comments as if none of you have experience with makers such as Bryant, Squier, the White bros, Becker, Gemunder, Stanley, Hyde, Wickes, Martino, Baltzerson, Gould, Burgess, Glier, Farley, Daniels, Rockwell, Ball, Curtain, Matsuda, Garavaglia, Alf, Zygmuntowicz, Darnton, Perreson, Sacconi and others. Many of their violins were in the exposition at the Library of Congress several years ago. Johnson strings has a collection of New England makers and excellent photos on their website. These are not Markneukirchen violins. However, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston has an Ira White labeled and certified violin in their collection that was made in Mittenwald in the late 1880s, I believe. While New York and Chicago makers were often of German lineage and made German-like violins, the Boston School and New England makers were rather original for the most part.

Does anyone here really believe that Carl Becker's or George Gemunder's violins were really Schonbach boxes? The negativism about American violins displayed here reflects more sophomoric ignorance than mature expertise, in my opinion. Auction records reflect higher prices are often paid for the top American violins than for the best German violins.

Kerry Keane, Christie's violin expert in New York writes, "Collectors are beginning to recognize the quality of the work done on American violins, which has all too often been overlooked, whenever it comes to the value and price of instruments, you will always get the best deal when you start collecting in a new field. And American violins are just that."

Jesse

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Kerry Keane, Christie's violin expert in New York writes, "Collectors are beginning to recognize the quality of the work done on American violins, which has all too often been overlooked, whenever it comes to the value and price of instruments, you will always get the best deal when you start collecting in a new field. And American violins are just that."

Every year they find some wine grower to come on the telly and say that this year is the best vintage of the century

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Jesse, I was looking at a John Friedrich (1904) today at Bonhams which was very pretty and sounded great. I'd like to know more about this maker.

There was also a George Gemunder (1888) which seemed pretty lumpy in construction and was a bit disappointing tonally after all the hype, cetainly in comparison to the Friedrich. Maybe it was a very faithful copy of a lumpy original but I couldn't get my head around it or its estimate of £8-10K!

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Real vernacular American instruments can really be rather amazing. The "yankee bass viol" tradition has produced some extremely elegant - if eccentric - instruments from New England in the early 1800s. Typically very large cellos with a very short neck. But it does look as if they reverse engineered German instruments in terms of technique, i.e. no corner blocks, and an integral neck and top block. More by accident than design, they end up having a lot in common with the Alemanische school and other 'primitive' or 'provincial' early European instruments.

Some years ago I sold a viola made in New York by Robert Horne, 1757 "Made by / Robt Horne / New York / 1757". It was absolutely typical London work (somewhere on a continuum between Alexander Kennedy and early Joseph Hill) except the wood and varnish. We sought a lot of opinions before calling it an American instrument, rather than English labelled by an American retailer... (mostly because it was just so interesting) but in the end the consensus was that the materials were just wrong for it being English, even though the maker quite clearly was trained there. It appears to be the earliest American label in a stringed instrument. Its now here: http://metmuseum.org...180017717?img=0

Here is Abraham Prescott, 1800s American making at its finest, quirkiest and vernacularest (is that a word?)... http://www.christies...bjectID=4269821

And this apparently is a Prescott too! Hold your breath!

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But it does look as if they reverse engineered German instruments in terms of technique, i.e. no corner blocks, and an integral neck and top block. More by accident than design, they end up having a lot in common with the Alemanische school and other 'primitive' or 'provincial' early European instruments.

It is quite dismaying how often I finish up pointing out on these forums that there were (simplified) two basic making traditions, 1. Through neck and carved bar, 2. Nailed neck and glued bar, both of which died out in the course of the 19th C. Quite why a mechanical glue joint should be “primitive” or “provincial” wheras a nail whacked in should be sophisticated, beggars understanding. And what are “German” instruments? Do these include the early Duch makers, like Jacobs and the English ones from Raymann to Kennedy. Did they make “German“ instruments in Mittenwald and if not, why not?

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Quite right Jacob - writing before coffee is never a good idea for me! :(

Having conflated construction techniques and stylistic eccentricties, I'll expand:

By accident or design, these have a lot of stylistic eccentricities that are likewise found in earlier instruments such as those of the Alemanisch school where following a classical tradition doesn't seem to have been a priority. All sorts of little things, like "%-holes" instead of f-holes suddenly re-emerge, similar scroll shapes and approaches to carving them, the likes of which can be really quite unexpected. I'm not using "primitive" or "provincial" in a perjorative sense (and there may be better words), but rather to say that these are outside of any attempts to follow in a Classical tradition, however diluted. (Unlike Jacobs, Rayman and Kennedy). - so there are specific German instruments by Hans Krouchdaler and that lot that remind me of Benjamin Crehornes and Abraham Prescotts.

And yes indeed, a technique far more elegant than whacking a nail into the neck is so sophisticated that it is still the main technique used by guitar makers in a much larger, more technologically inventive and progressive field than our own. :) And absolutely yes again, these techniques are not specific to Germany!

Time for another coffee! Hope I didn't ruin your morning!

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When you have finished your coffee, you might like to reflect that the "Germany" as we know it now, didn't really exist untill 1870ish. To speak of "German" in relation to 18th C. (and before) Violins will always end up as nonesense, since there were many different "schools", which belonged to either of the two "traditions" I outlined above.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I apologize for the tardiness, but it's been a helluva season (still is)!

I stopped by todayand gave the fiddle a try. The setup is prohibitive. The pegs are ill-fitted and the current bridge is very low (the fingerboard is also very thin). That said, it's well assembled violin. The finish apppears to be a tung varnish.

Despite the E and G strings breaking while tuning, I continued my trial and found the A and D strings a bit nasal, but inviting. I felt that the fiddle is rough, but has something to offer. If the sound was off, the interaction between instrument and instrumentalist was there. I would recommend it to anyone interested in "vernacular" instruments as a good addition.

I can request the auction be relisted, if there is interests. (It would just be a suggestion, I will not benefit from a sale...)

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