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GeorgeH

The "Usual" or something else?

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I am not sure if this is “the usual” or something else.

Length of back is 358. There are “blocks” in all 4 corners, but I can’t tell if they are real or not. The rib miters are practically invisble, but run down the center, so I am thinking it is probably built-on-back. There is a grey spot where it appears that there was once a label.

Several people who have seen it (or seen pictures of it) have suggested it is very early American, mostly because of the wood used in the back and the idiosyncratic construction. I have my doubts about that, but it doesn’t seem to slot easily into the Saxony bin, either. Parts of it are very well done, and others look amateurish. The linings appear wider on the top than on the bottom, except on the C bouts. The endpin hole was reamed below the center. The button is odd, but may have been malformed when the neck was repaired. (The neck was broken at heel at some point, and fixed with a pin that you can see on top of the neck.)

The wood used for the back is gorgeous.

I am interested in what others think this might be.

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It seems to be by some autodidact, a woodworker who worked out for himself how to make a violin without any instruction and without any profound knowledge of what a violin looks like. Such people have existed all over the globe. Americans are only exceptional in America.

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23 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

It seems to be by some autodidact, a woodworker who worked out for himself how to make a violin without any instruction and without any profound knowledge of what a violin looks like. Such people have existed all over the globe. Americans are only exceptional in America.

 file this under " daily hate towards Americans"

 

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26 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

...Americans are only exceptional in America.

How do you figure that?  Americans are the norm here.  I see them everywhere.

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On 5/15/2018 at 9:48 AM, jacobsaunders said:

It seems to be by some autodidact, a woodworker who worked out for himself how to make a violin without any instruction and without any profound knowledge of what a violin looks like. Such people have existed all over the globe. Americans are only exceptional in America.

What is so odd to me, Jacob, is that a violin like this can have so many things right and well executed, and then have the something like the endpin hole reamed below the center of the ribs. Since the measurements are generally good, there has to be at least some knowledge of what a violin looks like.

But, as you imply, autodidact violins have been made all over the world, so it is hard to pin down the the geographic location of where it was made or the national origin of the maker. Maybe it was made in Northern Italy. ;)

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16 minutes ago, Delabo said:

Is it painted inside ?

Limewash ?

Cut down from a viola ?

Composite ?

No.

No. 

Not that I can tell, but interesting thought!

No.

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Hi George,

The internal photo of you violin intrigued me because of the blue stain on the wood.

Is this caused by blue stain fungi ?

If so, is it also found in other violins ?

Does it indicate new wood that was not properly selected and dried ?

 

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Hi @Delabo,

That blueish color appears to be some kind of photographic anomaly. I don't see it when looking at it "live and in-person."

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and interests in this old violin. I am enjoying it a lot. It has a lot of charm, and its asymmetry makes it visually interesting to me. 

George

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2 hours ago, aletrop said:

If it was done by an autodidact its interesting to see the reinforce of the neck heel. Its the top one piece?

Yes, the top is one piece. The pin in the neck was used in a repair. See picture.

09neck_join.png

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On 5/15/2018 at 9:48 AM, jacobsaunders said:

It seems to be by some autodidact, a woodworker who worked out for himself how to make a violin without any instruction and without any profound knowledge of what a violin looks like. Such people have existed all over the globe. Americans are only exceptional in America.

As a collector of American fiddles and German violins,  i actually agree with this statement... i think that there is a shallow cheap bluegrass sound that,  i know sounds radiculous,  you just dont find in the higher end violins. Being from the mountains of East Tennessee, i am drawn to the sound of the German factory violins and the American craft fiddles because these pieces make “our” sound.

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3 hours ago, RBB said:

As a collector of American fiddles and German violins,  i actually agree with this statement... i think that there is a shallow cheap bluegrass sound that,  i know sounds radiculous,  you just dont find in the higher end violins. Being from the mountains of East Tennessee, i am drawn to the sound of the German factory violins and the American craft fiddles because these pieces make “our” sound.

That's very interesting...I have hundreds of American fiddle LP's...old time, stringband and bluegrass and I have to agree that there is a certain sound.

If you consider the majority of these fiddlers were dirt poor and could not afford the expensive higher end instruments.

Then there are a few old time fiddlers like Clark Kessinger who had a much more smooth refined sound....Also when bluegrass came on the scene the fiddles took on a smoother sound.

I think I understand what you mean and agree somewhat. Some of that raw (early/old timey) "sound" can be reproduced by using the same quality fiddles (many of them having terrible set up's) and strings (ie.,Bell Brand) that that people of the mountains used back in the early recording days. 

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Long Live,  Red Lables....: )

My 2 cents

 

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21 minutes ago, lpr5184 said:

That's very interesting...I have hundreds of American fiddle LP's...old time, stringband and bluegrass and I have to agree that there is a certain sound.

If you consider the majority of these fiddlers were dirt poor and could not afford the expensive higher end instruments.

Then there are a few old time fiddlers like Clark Kessinger who had a much more smooth refined sound....Also when bluegrass came on the scene the fiddles took on a smoother sound.

Yes!  I have a nice old violin that I play most of the time, but I also have a early 19th-c. Saxon with some worm damage and many repairs.  This fiddle has a dark and oddly echo-ey viola-esque sound that I think is the archetype of the American fiddle sound--it almost sounds like there's some kind of mute on it, except it is still pretty loud--and I think that sound has been alive and well into the bluegrass era (Vassar Clements, Kenny Baker, Byron Berline, etc).  Whenever I have a client who wants that classic fiddle sound, I'll play whatever it is on my good violin, and invariably they will prefer the tubby sound of the old Saxon.  It does have a decent setup, and I go with Dominants on it...I'm afraid that if I put steel strings on it that it might disintegrate in a puff of wood dust.

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Although I'm sure that “American fiddle” playing is important over there, I would like to point out that there are very much folk music “fiddle” traditions elsewhere. The Irish one is perhaps internationally better known than many, The Austrian or Bohemian folk music tradition also prominently features the “fiddle”. After all it is from this folk-tradition that the likes of Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms or Mahler got all their tunes from! For this reason, one cannot assume that an instrument must be American as opposed to anything else, just because it is suitable for “fiddle playing”.
 

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I have no idea of how this violin is going to play and sound once it it set-up (good, I hope!), but its origin is what is intriguing to me.

One may speculate that it was created by an autodidact, but there is enough to be gleaned from the workmanship and high-quality of materials to surmise that the maker was somewhat skilled in and knowledgable about violin-making. He (likely male) got a few things wrong, but got a lot of things right. The arching is good, the violin is light, the varnish is nice, and the dimensions are right. My optimistic guess is that it is going to sound pretty good!

Asymmetry and idiosyncratic form by themselves are not necessarily indicative of an autodidact. There are many nice Italian violins that exhibit both.

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4 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

Although I'm sure that “American fiddle” playing is important over there, I would like to point out that there are very much folk music “fiddle” traditions elsewhere. The Irish one is perhaps internationally better known than many, The Austrian or Bohemian folk music tradition also prominently features the “fiddle”. After all it is from this folk-tradition that the likes of Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms or Mahler got all their tunes from! For this reason, one cannot assume that an instrument must be American as opposed to anything else, just because it is suitable for “fiddle playing”.
 

No, it was not my intention at all to say that only American fiddles can recreate the American fiddle sound... In fact, i would say that  the German product most accurately recreates the “Appalachian” sound to my ear,  Preferably a German violin that is beat up, scratched up, been carried around in a flour sack for 50 years, with rattle snake rattle in the belly, haaaa. With absolultely Every ounce of pretense sawed out of it !!!

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6 minutes ago, RBB said:

No, it was not my intention at all to say that only American fiddles can recreate the American fiddle sound... In fact, i would say that  the German product most accurately recreates the “Appalachian” sound to my ear,  Preferably a German violin that is beat up, scratched up, been carried around in a flour sack for 50 years, with rattle snake rattle in the belly, haaaa. With absolultely Every ounce of pretense sawed out of it !!!

Don't forget played to death...The folks back then didn't have all the entertainment choices we have today. Music was their mainstay. Thank goodness we have a recorded history of those hardy souls.

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7 minutes ago, lpr5184 said:

Don't forget played to death...The folks back then didn't have all the entertainment choices we have today. Music was their mainstay. Thank goodness we have a recorded history of those hardy souls.

Exactly the sound that i hope to get out of that little mittenwald i posted earlier...

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