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H. Clotelle


hungrycanine
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I'm looking at an old pawnshop violin labelled "H. Clotelle" that is in terrible condition. From my limited understanding, it is likely French and from the first quarter of the 19th Century. Is it safe to assume that it is most likely a factory fiddle not worth spending money on repair (it needs a bridge and tailpiece, and the belly and back surfaces are seriously marred, pegs might well need attention), or am I wrong about violins so labelled? It is cheap, cheap, cheap, but I've no way of knowing what it sounds like until some basic work is done. Does the label "H. Clotelle"  tell me all I need to know to run quickly in the opposite direction? I'm not looking for concert-hall quality, but I don't want a VSO either.  Thanks for any advice.

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Hi. Clotelle is a Laberte Workshop label dating from the late 19th/early 20th century, indicating a low to mid-price model. Although such violins were made and assembled by a lot of different workers in a large shop, they often work very well as student instruments, and tend to fetch significantly higher prices than German violins of the same period showing similar visual qualities of workmanship.

However, if it's not currently playable and it needs a bit of money spent on it, I wouldn't recommend buying it ...

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Thanks Martin,

   No, it is certainly not playable, but since the price is next-to-giveaway, I wondered if it wouldn't be worth spending $100 or $200 getting it fixed up. I've heard some terrible-sounding student violins for which people pay far more money (although they are usually more shiny!). I might try to figure out a bit of the elementary work myself just to learn, but bridges, tailpieces, fine-tuners, strings and the like DO cost money. The cost of the violin itself might well be the smallest cost!

  By the way, as you've likely figured out, I meant "first quarter of the 20th Century," not 19th. I'm still working on getting used to this 21st Century stuff...

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Well in that case if the violin is free from cracks and the varnish isn't too horrible to look at, I would consider it.

An H Clotelle in good condition and with a good set-up would retail for £1500 plus. If it can be had for next to nothing it's a good thing to learn on since you might actually have a decent sounding fiddle at the end of the process.

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