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Any idea what this is?


Tanjelynn
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I'm planning on viewing and possibly purchasing the violin pictured and am curious on whether anyone can tell me anything about it. The seller told me over the phone that there's a number written inside, but no label, and he can't see the number clearly. He found it in his deceased parents' closet when he was cleaning out the house and doesn't know anything about it. I thought the purfling work was unique and might be a clue in identifying it.

 

Of course, the sound will make all the difference on whether I buy it (he wants $150), but it's always nice to know more about an instrument. The photos are from his online listing. Can anyone help me? Thanks!

 

3Gc3J63Nd5K15Fd5J3d2d98ae57c37c7a1a7c.jp  3E83G23La5N35Gb5Hcd2d81620105b436148c.jp  3E23Ff3Hc5Lf5Gf5Jed2d2837ce3c8009169b.jp  3E43M93F25N55Fc5M3d2d6e7a7cea2b901056.jp   3Ed3Jb3He5I75K15Mbd2da8a4d278b55f1062.jp
 

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It was made by some self-taught amatuer as a hobby, and will have no commercial value

 

Well rats. Thank you. This will definitely impact my decision; although maybe even made by an amateur, it will have an amazing sound. It's not like I will play it professionally in any capacity. If I may ask, how can you tell? What are some deal-breaker issues or flaws I should look for in an amateur-made violin when examining it?

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While its not unheard of for really crude, hand made violins like this one to sound really good, its rather unlikely, because usually knowing how to make a violin that sounds good, and being a good craftsman, go hand in hand. If an amateur maker was no good at carving the violin, he probably wasn't any good at graduating the violin's thicknesses for the best tone, or quite possibly didn't know enough to select the best sounding wood, or varnish etc, etc Not as a 100% rule, but usually poorly built violins sound quite poor as well.......

 

But there are dramatic exceptions like the Italian maker Scarampella who made quite poorly constructed violins that sounded incredible, so you never know, hearing the violin would be a good starting point.

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Well, it is CERTAINLY amateur, and very likely American.  I also find it charming and showing some talent.  The fact alone that while he was not capable of doing the purfling in a traditional way, he was able to do something that "hangs together" artistically; that impresses me.  

 

In my opinion "no commercial value" might not equal "worth nothing."  But all in all, if you are buying it to play you simply MUST try it out; and you must get it for so little that you can afford to have it set up well.  And that might cost several hundred dollars.

 

If you like it after playing it, I'd ask to arrange to get it to a good shop to find out the exact condition and how much to put it in perfect playing condition.

 

One more consideration, if you are a fiddle player rather than someone striving to play the Mendelssohn perfectly in Carnegie Hall, you might have more leeway in the matter.  MO

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Well, it is CERTAINLY amateur, and very likely American.  I also find it charming and showing some talent.  The fact alone that while he was not capable of doing the purfling in a traditional way, he was able to do something that "hangs together" artistically; that impresses me.  

 

In my opinion "no commercial value" might not equal "worth nothing."  But all in all, if you are buying it to play you simply MUST try it out; and you must get it for so little that you can afford to have it set up well.  And that might cost several hundred dollars.

 

If you like it after playing it, I'd ask to arrange to get it to a good shop to find out the exact condition and how much to put it in perfect playing condition.

 

One more consideration, if you are a fiddle player rather than someone striving to play the Mendelssohn perfectly in Carnegie Hall, you might have more leeway in the matter.  MO

Will,

 

I agree with you pretty much here, but there is a point I would like you to clarify.  Is there something about the maker's treatment of the purfling that tells you that he was incapable of doing it in a more traditional way if he had chosen to?  I assumed that he was breaking with tradition as an artistic expression.  Am I missing something?

 

Mac

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Pegs are not fit properly, Bushing job in order. Top looks like lumberyard fir.

M L,

 

Those were the two things that I picked out as well.  I'm glad to see that I am beginning to develope an eye for these things.

 

I have an interest in "folk fiddles", and my wife and I have a small colletion of them.  They frequently have pegs that look like they were fitted with brute force and a pocket knife.

 

Mac

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Thank you for all the replies! It gives a good idea of what to expect when looking at the violin tonight and to be extra careful to test the sound quality for oddies such as buzzing etc. I intend to use it for personal fiddling, so I'm going to worry about my opinion on its tone and not necessarily the professionalism of its construction. After all, there are great amateurs out there in all sorts of hobbies, and this one may have been exceptional at luthuring.

 

No, the bow unfortunately does not come with it; that went to someone else.

 

I will certainly update with additional information when I have it. Again, thanks so much!

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R MacPherson, on 15 Feb 2013 - 10:04, said:

Will,

I agree with you pretty much here, but there is a point I would like you to clarify. Is there something about the maker's treatment of the purfling that tells you that he was incapable of doing it in a more traditional way if he had chosen to? I assumed that he was breaking with tradition as an artistic expression. Am I missing something?

Mac

No, I don't have any reason, but just assume that IF someone could—and/or had seen enough violins to treat the corners in a more traditional way—they would. But it's only a thought. You could well be right and he decided to get clever. (I like him better thinking he was NOT trying to be unique for its own sake) But either way, I find to my eye that his corners have a certain logic that speaks well of the maker.

And maybe others have seen the interruption of the purfling on other amateur work, but I don't remember seeing it. It's quite considered and controlled; so, either he was being logical like some say of the same approach by GB Guad, or he realized his lack of skill and was willing to compensate for his lack in a pretty individual way; most people would have just continued and butchered the work. Either way, I just seem to like this violin. Still doesn't mean it's worth buying, Tanjelynn.

Also, I have a question. I can't see well enough, but are there 3 strips of black in the purfling?

edit: Mac, after thinking about it, maybe he WAS intentionally trying to be creative. His outline certainly seems nice and elegant, to me, and makes me think he'd seen some "real" violins. And with what does look like unique purfling at second glance, I think your point is right on.

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I agree about the neck, which I forgot to mention to the OP, because it looks like it might not be well shaped.  But why do I seem to like the violin as much as I do?  Am I losing it?  :)

 

Will,

 

You like it because your sense of aesthetics was developed in the turn of the 20th./21st. Centuries, and not at the turn of the 17th/18th.  It's OK, (maybe even normal) to find that you like something that Stradivari never dreamed of. :)  If Strad were still alive and building fiddles today, I'm sure he would have ditched the Baroque styling a century or so ago.

 

Mac

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As an American I'm always puzzled by the peculiarly American psychology of the "free lunch."

We constantly hear stories of people hitting the jackpot, etc., but if your goal is to become a millionaire, buying lottery tickets every day is a very sub-optimal strategy to achieve that goal.

This fiddle is like that story of the princess having to kiss thousands of toads to find the perfect prince.

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