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I have been hesitant to post about my latest purchase because I'm still recovering from the pain, disappointment, and embarrassment that resulted from my original Plunge thread. But to heck with it, after corresponding with a few legendary MN members, I've decided to declare Open Season on my latest eBay conquest. I again purchased this instrument with my little girl in mind, now she's almost 17 months. I've been wanting to get her a nice little violin that she can play around with. She does enjoy plucking and bowing and throwing the The Heidegger, which is adorable, but I thought she deserved something smaller.

 

So for Xmas, as promised, my sister got her a 1/64 through eBay that I picked out (not the subject of this thread). The $40 Mendini 1/64 arrived and my little girl was thrilled to open it on Xmas day. It's very cute, especially for photos, and the bow is much better for her than the full sized bow, but the 1/64 only works properly on the E string, the others degrading more and more till you get to the unusable G string. The bridge slips out of place and falls down with minimal pressure in any direction. Overall it's complete junk besides looking nice and cute. The pegs are impossible to tune and always slip.

 

So I've been on the lookout for a vintage fractional for her. I like the vintage instruments and the more I looked the less I found in 1/8 or below sizes for older instruments. Tarisio had 2 1/8 violins in their last Speculative & Restorable auction which were cute but in need of much repair. they both sold for between $200-$350 if I remember right.

 

Then much to my excitement I saw a listing for a 1/8 violin that appeared to be pre-war, adorable and in decent shape (I'm sure Lusitano and others might not agree though) (looking forward to such comments actually). Even better was the buy-it-now price of $35 which I made an offer on and purchased for $27 plus shipping. It's set to arrive at my apartment on Monday and I am very excited for its arrival. Needless to say, I've got some questions and comments about the violin and other fractionals that I'll list below. I very much look forward to your comments/judgments/opinions/lambastings, etc.

 

1.  What is this violin? (Where, when, who, rarity, condition, etc.)

2.  What needs to be done to it to being it into functioning condition for my 17-month-old to be able to bow and pluck without issue?

3.  Is the neck graft fake?

4.  What can you tell me about the construction techniques etc. Is it hand made or a "factory fiddle" or both?!

5.  I am considering purchasing a nice set of fittings for this 1/8 (pegs, tail piece, nut, chin rest) - what's the best and least expensive place to buy a quality set for this 1/8?

6.  Did I get a "good deal"?

7.  What do you like/dislike about the little violin?

8.  Any general advice/comments that might not be covered by the above questions?

9.  What are the most valuable and highly sought after fractionals under 1/2 (1/4, 1/8, 1/16)?

10. Are there any famous or well respected examples of Master fractionals in the 1/4 or below size?

11. What is the general price range for top quality fractionals under 1/2?

12.  What can you tell me about pre-war fractionals?

13.  What are some of the earliest examples of fractional violins, particularly those under 1/2 size?

14.  Would it be "wrong" to allow my little one to bang this around like she occasionally does with the The Heidegger?

 

Cheers and thanks for reading my thread.

 

Link to eBay purchase: http://www.ebay.com/itm/390739140456

 

Photos from the auction attached

 

(more pics in the auction link)

 

Cheers & thanks in advance for reading over my thread and for your participation, which has been very helpful and entertaining in the past.

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Our three kids play violin and they grow through fractionals very fast. We've found that some of the newer Chinese instruments sound and are made much better than many of the older mostly german fractionals found about. Infrequently you might find a nice older french or hungarian fractional (1/4 or 1/2) but I've not found much else that compares to the newer hand made chinese instruments, below 3/4. Once you get to 3/4 then there seems to be a wider range in quality out there.

 

$79 and it comes with a case and bow and lasts a semester if you are lucky before they are into the next size (we use better bows then what generally come with these)......

 

an example-

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Strad-style-Song-meastro-violin-1-4-huge-and-resonant-sound-8952-/281236122061?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item417afaa9cd

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I hope you realize that you're teaching your daughter to break instruments.  You may eventually come to regret this, or she may.

 

And I'm mystified why you're so obsessed with quality, setup, and bass bar cracks for an object that you're just going to give to a toddler to break.

 

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but it actually looks like it might be a fairly nice instrument.  Not the usual child's factory instrument.  Certainly very nice for $27.  I can't judge condition very well either (unsure about possible cracks), and I can't tell if the purfling is painted or real.  There's no telling how it sounds.

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Tut tut, has your little girl made a cigarette burn in the back already?

 

No, little Wolfi used to play by candle light - but Pappa Leo took care and saved child and instrument (but it was close)

 

 

I hope you realize that you're teaching your daughter to break instruments.  You may eventually come to regret this, or she may.

 

And I'm mystified why you're so obsessed with quality, setup, and bass bar cracks for an object that you're just going to give to a toddler to break.

 

 

 

There are other well known and adult musicians breaking their Guadagnini on the stage..,

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Tut tut, has your little girl made a cigarette burn in the back already?

 

When Casals died they found a bunch of burnt match sticks inside his Tononi / Gofriller.

Maybe it created a "smokey" sound? I don't think he went so far  as to empty his pipe tobaco in there.

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Face desk.... PM me your address and I will ship you something appropriate FOR FREE, PLEASE stop dishing out cash on this stuff! If you added up every penny you spent (and will most likely spend)  on "toys" you could have a enough for a commissioned instrument from a good modern maker or even a very respectable piece of history waiting for her...

 

Why this instrument btw? Burn damage is yet another piece of work which is literally impossible to fix, at least with a bass bar crack there are protocols and techniques (expensive as hell and difficult to do well with no assurance the instrument will sound the same after) which can restore an instrument to proper playing condition... Burn damage, not very easy to repair as even the areas visually not singed have been compromised... Heat + wood = not a good mix

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Our three kids play violin and they grow through fractionals very fast. We've found that some of the newer Chinese instruments sound and are made much better than many of the older mostly german fractionals found about. Infrequently you might find a nice older french or hungarian fractional (1/4 or 1/2) but I've not found much else that compares to the newer hand made chinese instruments, below 3/4. Once you get to 3/4 then there seems to be a wider range in quality out there.

 

$79 and it comes with a case and bow and lasts a semester if you are lucky before they are into the next size (we use better bows then what generally come with these)......

 

an example-

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Strad-style-Song-meastro-violin-1-4-huge-and-resonant-sound-8952-/281236122061?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item417afaa9cd

Thanks, this might very well make sense if she takes up the violin and grown through the sizes. Have you purchased any older fractionals that you'd be willing to share photos of and give a review on? What's the best sounding fractional that you've encountered?

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I hope you realize that you're teaching your daughter to break instruments.  You may eventually come to regret this, or she may.

 

And I'm mystified why you're so obsessed with quality, setup, and bass bar cracks for an object that you're just going to give to a toddler to break.

 

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but it actually looks like it might be a fairly nice instrument.  Not the usual child's factory instrument.  Certainly very nice for $27.  I can't judge condition very well either (unsure about possible cracks), and I can't tell if the purfling is painted or real.  There's no telling how it sounds.

 

Purfling looks real to me from the photos.

 

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Thank you for your nice comment about the instrument. Do you think it's German? As with food and toys, toddlers tend to throw things as a part of their development, but they all grow out of this stage. I had to consider this seriously when giving her an instrument at this age. Either don't expose her to the instrument at this age or give her one that she's allowed to toss aside after she's done. I don't encourage it and I do ask her to be gentle with the instrument when she does toss it around. Given the abuse both I and the The Heidegger took on the Plunge thread, I doubt anyone is horrified with the situation (the The Heidegger does have a wonderful tone though). I consider the The Heidegger to be a throw-away instrument and was wondering if this one was also a throw-away. If it's nice in any way or worth preserving, I'll prevent her from damaging it. That's why I asked.

 

I don't presume to know your situation (whether or not you wear adult diapers) but regardless, even if you do (and there's nothing wrong with that), I'm sure there was a stage in your life when you grew out of your habit of shitting your pants (as all toddlers do). As such, my kid is not taking her first steps down a destructive lifestyle, but rather being a normal toddler who is being exposed to wooden instruments. Thanks for your post!

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No, little Wolfi used to play by candle light - but Pappa Leo took care and saved child and instrument (but it was close)

 

 

 

There are other well known and adult musicians breaking their Guadagnini on the stage..,

Perhaps they are wearing adult diapers as well? Where & when do you think this instrument was made? You've given me some interesting opinions through PM and I was hoping to kick start a discussion about possible origin. Thanks and thanks for your lighthearted and kind words. I know MN can be a rough place and I expected a few members to come out swinging. I like your approach though!

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Re neck graft, even if it is fake, nice touch. :)

Thanks for your positive comment. I didn't make the post expecting anyone to be nice, so it's always heartwarming when a Senior MNer like yourself takes the time out of your day to write something nice. Any ideas about that the violin might be? Have you ever encountered vintage fractionals?

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When Casals died they found a bunch of burnt match sticks inside his Tononi / Gofriller.

 

Maybe it created a "smokey" sound? I don't think he went so far  as to empty his pipe tobaco in there.

No doubt he was encouraged to abuse instruments at a young age by horrible parents. What a shame!

 

:)

 

Any thoughts on the OP violin?

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Face desk.... PM me your address and I will ship you something appropriate FOR FREE, PLEASE stop dishing out cash on this stuff! If you added up every penny you spent (and will most likely spend)  on "toys" you could have a enough for a commissioned instrument from a good modern maker or even a very respectable piece of history waiting for her...

 

Why this instrument btw? Burn damage is yet another piece of work which is literally impossible to fix, at least with a bass bar crack there are protocols and techniques (expensive as hell and difficult to do well with no assurance the instrument will sound the same after) which can restore an instrument to proper playing condition... Burn damage, not very easy to repair as even the areas visually not singed have been compromised... Heat + wood = not a good mix

funny-gif-guy-open-a-camping-chair.gif

 

Thanks for your help and advise. Do you build instruments? How much do you charge for fractionals?

 

How much would it cost for "a commissioned instrument from a good modern maker or even a very respectable piece of history"?

 

When I PM you my address what will you be prepared to send me for free? I trust you've bookmarked my poopsenders.com link?

 

The reason I purchased this instrument was pretty much covered in the OP. I want to introduce her to a small violin that works. For my own sake I wanted an old vintage instrument because they are much more interesting to me than newer factory instruments, which truthfully I can't stand to look at. At $27 I though I couldn't go wrong, but I expected you to question everything. I have come to count on it, and I rather look forward to it! The burn mark doesn't bother me too much, it's really meaningless when it comes down to it, this is not an investment instrument, but I could probably flip it as it sits for a few hundred percent profit without blinking an eye, so what have I done wrong again? Thanks for your post. I hope your holidays were festive and grand. I was going to ask if Lusitano meant "little devil" in your native tongue but I think you may have touched on this already?

 

What can you tell me about the instrument besides the obvious (repaired?) bass bar crack and burn mark? I value your experience and eye when it comes to this.

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I hope you realize that you're teaching your daughter to break instruments.  You may eventually come to regret this, or she may.

 

Little does he realize that he's raising a future lutthier.  He'll regret it when, after spending a fortune on tools and carving lessons, she decides to become a neurosurgeon instead :lol:

 

You got a nice little fiddle, Bass.  I can appreciate it, though I don't do fractionals.

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funny-gif-guy-open-a-camping-chair.gif

 

Thanks for your help and advise. Do you build instruments? How much do you charge for fractionals?

 

How much would it cost for "a commissioned instrument from a good modern maker or even a very respectable piece of history"?

 

When I PM you my address what will you be prepared to send me for free? I trust you've bookmarked my poopsenders.com link?

 

The reason I purchased this instrument was pretty much covered in the OP. I want to introduce her to a small violin that works. For my own sake I wanted an old vintage instrument because they are much more interesting to me than newer factory instruments, which truthfully I can't stand to look at. At $27 I though I couldn't go wrong, but I expected you to question everything. I have come to count on it, and I rather look forward to it! The burn mark doesn't bother me too much, it's really meaningless when it comes down to it, this is not an investment instrument, but I could probably flip it as it sits for a few hundred percent profit without blinking an eye, so what have I done wrong again? Thanks for your post. I hope your holidays were festive and grand. I was going to ask if Lusitano meant "little devil" in your native tongue but I think you may have touched on this already?

 

What can you tell me about the instrument besides the obvious (repaired?) bass bar crack and burn mark? I value your experience and eye when it comes to this.

 

I have built a "few" instruments, Handriel is semi up for sale... sort of?

If you want Violas da Terra or Portuguese Cavaquinhos I have a selection on hand made a few years ago by yours truly out of azorean laurel, red cedar and Portuguese pine :) 

 

Respectable pieces of history can range from 100 dollars to 4k euros or higher depending on maker history, geographic origen (unfortunately) and demand/sound quality and luck. People Like VDA and Martin Swan as well as many other wonderful luthiers with shops on here are more than happy to advise and show you their current stocks of restored instruments which fit all budgets, the idea that luthier bought instruments are expensive is cliche 9/10 times ! I guarantee you will buy something which at least has retail and investment value as well as conditioned free of charge with a perfect setup :)

 

Prices depend on maker popularity and demand as well as geographic location. You can buy bench made Bulgarian violins/eastern european in general of very good quality (surprisingly better than most modern Italian) for as little as 1.5k dollars. If you want a specific maker from all other european areas, the general commission price varies from 4k euros to 6k. 

 

I have not looked at your link for fear of a virus that would induce a bass bar like crack across my mac book's mother board! XD

 

Fractional sized instruments are normally a double whammy. They are cheaper (normally which is good) than full sized instruments but (the vast majority) lack craftsmanship and quality materials (NORMALY). It gets complicated when you demand quality of materials and sound as the already minute range of choices becomes even more minute as these instruments by nature are harder to produce with sound which rival their full sized brothers and sisters.

 

My guide lines for buying an instrument.

 

1- Define a budget 

2- blind test the sound and forget the mysticism around geography unless it's old and you want to spend a ton of money.

3- avoid....

 

Bass bar cracks (unless the instrument is extremely fine and the restoration price is justified and can add or restore value to an already valuable instrument)

Burns of any sort - normally the damage is not reversible and restricted to the visibly charred area as the surrounding wood and structure would have been effected also.

Wood worm or fungus damage - 9 out of 10 times the visible damage is a fraction of the total problem and results in the buyers having fits when the news breaks.

structural deformities or hack job repairs - same as the above, beware of the costs to repair or adjust....

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Perhaps they are wearing adult diapers as well? Where & when do you think this instrument was made? You've given me some interesting opinions through PM and I was hoping to kick start a discussion about possible origin. Thanks and thanks for your lighthearted and kind words. I know MN can be a rough place and I expected a few members to come out swinging. I like your approach though!

 

I told you my opinion about the age and the origin and that it might be a kind of rare instrument and worth to be preserved - but also, that this fractional instruments don't have a really "commercial" value (except some small violins from italian or "great" other makers).

IMO a child can start earliest at the age of 2 or 3 years to learn step by step, that a musical instrument is different from a toy and has to be handled carefully, so don't worry about the comments.

I'm wondering, if anybody is expecting, that such a small instrument, played or treatened by a small child, can ever sound "good", or if a soundpost crack or a bassbar crack really matters here. Even the same with the burning stain.

It should give the impression, how it feels to play the violin and should be able to be tuned, also have a kind of "aesthetic", so that children can get used to the right way, that's all what I'm expecting from a 1/8 fractional - bassbar cracks are immaterial.

 

Edit: The Suzuki Method is using selfmade paper violins and a bamboo stick as bow.

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BassClef, to me this violin looks eminently "fit for purpose" ie. it's a nice old instrument which is a bit knackered, therefore it wouldn't be a tragedy if it got written off completely. The repairs and damages seem quite irrelevant to its function as an "encouragement" or musical toy for a toddler. I agree (as usual) 100% with BlankFace - the damage is completely irrelevant, provided the violin functions on a practical level.

 

Incidentally it looks Bohemian to me, not quintessentially German and not French, but with the elongated and out of proportion nature of a tiny instrument, it's really very difficult to be sure. I recently saw an FA Homolka 1/2 size which was very simply built on the inside, so it can be difficult to use the usual clues to make an identification.

 

I've seen quite a number of very good 1/8th (or thereabouts) violins by well-known makers, but they're very collectable, therefore valuable, and not really for playing, since what child under 5 or so could be entrusted with such a thing unless it's kept in a state of abject terror ...? Not a good state in which to discover the joys of music. I remember when Maggie was 5 we got her an 1/8 size cheapo violin - she tried to take a few peoples' eyes out with the bow and showed a marked tendency to stand on the violin, but the whole thing couldremain quite relaxed because the instrument was worth £30.

 

I buy and sell a lot of Mirecourt 1/2 size instruments - small violins are very fiddly to set up and I just hate that work (perhaps because I can't play them afterwards), so I sell these unrestored to a shop in London which seems to have an infinite demand, even though the set up violins retail at well over £1000. Sound-wise they can be very good indeed. All the bigger workshops such as JTL and Laberte made them in quantity, starting at 1/4 size,and the quality was exactly the same as for 4/4 instruments. Nowadays the 1/4 size violins are pretty rare (mostly destroyed by kids!), 1/2 size are less rare but not plentiful, 3/4 size are all over the place and you can't give them away. But I would never pass by an exquisite 3/4, even though I know it will take me years to sell it ...

 

A final observation is that fullsize violins are a lot bigger than they need to be! Some of the best sounding violins I've played have been classed as 7/8 (back lengths well under 35cm), and some 3/4 instruments are fully realised tonally. 1/2 size violins can also sound great, though it's more of a challenge! I once heard a 1/4 size that really sounded like a good normal violin .... if a bit quiet.

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Incidentally it looks Bohemian to me, not quintessentially German and not French, but with the elongated and out of proportion nature of a tiny instrument, it's really very difficult to be sure. I recently saw an FA Homolka 1/2 size which was very simply built on the inside

Oh dear, Not another Homolka!

The construction surely excludes “Bohemian” whatever that should mean. It looks like what my dad would have called a “Tiddle-Lamy” (or neighbour).

I agree with “Fit for Purpose” although one should perhaps point out that the bridge looks like it is from a rather larger sized violin (as does the tail piece), and someone appears to have wanted to glue it onto the belly. Also at least one peg seems broken, so I hope BC is able to tune it.

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