Another violin ID quiz


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1 hour ago, GeorgeH said:

I have never played in a symphony orchestra, but I wonder if orchestra players are all sneaking peaks inside at the labels of each others' violins?

Some are nosey, and some don't care. But there is always a bit of peer pressure. If your instrument is not up to tonal standards there is a very good chance somebody will suggest that you start shopping around. But if it sounds fine most will not care.

 

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11 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

I have never played in a symphony orchestra, but I wonder if orchestra players are all sneaking peaks inside at the labels of each others' violins?

Given the inability of most violinists to identify the origin and age of a particular violin, even on close inspection, I doubt that the OP's violin would raise any eyebrows at rehearsals if it plays well and sounds good, unless those brows were particularly high.

I do know that some (many? most?) orchestra players have separate instruments (including bows) for orchestra work to avoid damaging their most cherished and expensive instruments. 

 

Absolutely. Most of my friends at the NY Phil for example have an instrument for rehearsals and touring (usually a solid contemporary instrument) and a cherished antique of some sort that fulfills the need for chamber music or solo performances and the “name” factor. For many musicians these instruments are their retirement supplements and believe me they don’t take them on tour...

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5 hours ago, germain said:

Absolutely. Most of my friends at the NY Phil for example have an instrument for rehearsals and touring (usually a solid contemporary instrument) and a cherished antique of some sort that fulfills the need for chamber music or solo performances and the “name” factor. For many musicians these instruments are their retirement supplements and believe me they don’t take them on tour...

There are only so many "antique" "name"  instruments that can realistically serve as retirement investments. If most A-list orchestral string players own such instruments, and (of course) soloists do too, the question rears its head where all these name antiques are coming from. Or whether some people are falling for the marketing...

That doesn't mean these instruments aren't totally delightful to play on.

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On 8/19/2018 at 8:14 PM, Violadamore said:

Sounds familiar.   flog.gif.d1cc086038e7d8823e5a8998483df57c.gif

Are we going to discuss this again? popcorn-and-drink-smiley-emoticon.gif.a3a0748ba683eaacad54f6728769156a.gif

Well, I don't have a problem with Strads and del Gesus being slightly better than everything else. Nor with the big name soloists using them, whether it's because they're the best or because of the power of their names.

However, at least a couple of soloists have claimed that Stradivari, Guarneri del Gesu, and Guadagnini were so much better than everyone else that the fact that they didn't make enough violins so that even upper-level students could have one... makes their progress much harder than it needs to be.

That's what makes it seem like there's a crisis. One that only a hero like William Fry can solve by rediscovering the Stradivarius secret. However, I'm beginning to be convinced that people like Joseph Curtin, Gregg Alf, Sam Zygmuntowicz, and even our own Don Noon are perfectly capable of making violins that meet that need - violins that are, at least, not too far behind a Guadagnini.

Then there's no problem? Well, those guys have waiting lists. And a violin takes about 180 hours to make properly - and luthiers have to eat.

So, let's say that the least a well-made violin would cost is around $6,000, and one by one of the better makers is apparently around $45,000. Still a lot cheaper than a million dollars.

A good violin teacher is also competent, from anecdotes I've read, to judge the merit of a violin. That is the one fact I've come across so far that gives me cause for optimism, that the right instruments have a chance of getting into the right hands.

And so if Yamaha quit making the YVN500S and G because a Chinese firm was doing the same thing, cheaper, but with an end product of the same quality, that would be news leading to further optimism on my part.

On the other hand, this article, which I came across when investigating whether Paulownia, a light and strong material in some ways even better than spruce at what spruce is good at, at the moment has me more skeptical than hopeful.

I found further information on this page, which not only gave more detail on one additional distinguishing feature besides the use of Paulownia - the thickness of the ribs is varied between the bass and treble sides of the violin, but also showed that these violins have an unusual shape, and a different f-hole design; they're {-holes now.

This video, while it shows some very impressive violin playing, did not lead me to think the sound of this type of violin is that impressive, but I cannot claim to be a particularly discerning listener in this field.

Edited by Quadibloc
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3 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

... claimed that Stradivari, Guarneri del Gesu, and Guadagnini were so much better than everyone else that the fact that they didn't make enough violins so that even upper-level students could have one...

That's what makes it seem like there's a crisis...are perfectly capable of making violins that meet that need - violins that are, at least, not too far behind a Guadagnini.

...So, let's say that the least a well-made violin would cost is around $6,000, and one by one of the better makers is apparently around $45,000. Still a lot cheaper than a million dollars.

A good violin teacher is also competent, from anecdotes I've read, to judge the merit of a violin. That is the one fact I've come across so far that gives me cause for optimism, that the right instruments have a chance of getting into the right hands.

... but with an end product of the same quality, that would be news leading to further optimism on my part....

:huh:

I think you are still confusing marketing with reality.

There is no "good violin" shortage. No crisis. No need to funnel optimism.

Antique shortage, money shortage - sure. But there are enough "good" violins out there to supply everyone who wants one. :P

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5 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

On the other hand, this article, which I came across

"This is called the "craftsmanship spirit", a term made popular by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in this year's Government Work Report. It calls on the relationship a craftsman has with his work, a special relationship which values quality above all else."

Captures something about totalitarian socialist states.

Aside from that...China does okay as far as violins go.  Not sure what your concern is.  The links are breakthrough bs, like you might find anywhere.  There are good craftsmen in China, whether their goal is to please themselves, Li Keqiang, or ...

 

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Since this thread is pretty thoroughly jacked anyway, I am wondering what the "components" for setting up a high quality instrument workshop would be (probably been discussed a hundred times on MN, but if you are reading this you probably don't have anything better to do anyway :) ). I had joked earlier about cellos and shipwrights (which I stole from someone else on MN), without considering Gofriller and Montagnana's location in Venice, and that maybe having generations of woodworking craftsmen in the area might actually be an advantage. Obviously it would be nice if raw materials can be had without extra travel or expense. Environment may be a factor that would preclude some areas with extreme temperatures or humidities. It would seem that a culture that still respects the master/apprentice model may go a long way as well. 

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On 8/21/2018 at 11:25 AM, Quadibloc said:

Well, I don't have a problem with Strads and del Gesus being slightly better than everything else. Nor with the big name soloists using them, whether it's because they're the best or because of the power of their names.

However, at least a couple of soloists have claimed that Stradivari, Guarneri del Gesu, and Guadagnini were so much better than everyone else that the fact that they didn't make enough violins so that even upper-level students could have one... makes their progress much harder than it needs to be.

That's what makes it seem like there's a crisis. One that only a hero like William Fry can solve by rediscovering the Stradivarius secret. However, I'm beginning to be convinced that people like Joseph Curtin, Gregg Alf, Sam Zygmuntowicz, and even our own Don Noon are perfectly capable of making violins that meet that need - violins that are, at least, not too far behind a Guadagnini.

Then there's no problem? Well, those guys have waiting lists. And a violin takes about 180 hours to make properly - and luthiers have to eat.

So, let's say that the least a well-made violin would cost is around $6,000, and one by one of the better makers is apparently around $45,000. Still a lot cheaper than a million dollars.

A good violin teacher is also competent, from anecdotes I've read, to judge the merit of a violin. That is the one fact I've come across so far that gives me cause for optimism, that the right instruments have a chance of getting into the right hands.

And so if Yamaha quit making the YVN500S and G because a Chinese firm was doing the same thing, cheaper, but with an end product of the same quality, that would be news leading to further optimism on my part.

On the other hand, this article, which I came across when investigating whether Paulownia, a light and strong material in some ways even better than spruce at what spruce is good at, at the moment has me more skeptical than hopeful.

I found further information on this page, which not only gave more detail on one additional distinguishing feature besides the use of Paulownia - the thickness of the ribs is varied between the bass and treble sides of the violin, but also showed that these violins have an unusual shape, and a different f-hole design; they're {-holes now.

This video, while it shows some very impressive violin playing, did not lead me to think the sound of this type of violin is that impressive, but I cannot claim to be a particularly discerning listener in this field.

Maybe this would deserve a new thread, but I often wonder why people spend 20-30-40k for a new violin when they can get an old for the same or less. There are also modern makers who make great instruments for less. My favorites in the last Tarisio sale were the ASP Bernardel and the Hel (the latter with a bad button repair). Both will have an excellent resale value and great sound. Whether a new violin retains value is very questionable. 

Maybe a new fiddle has sound optimisation, is as good as a Strad or better in a blind test. But whether it carries in a concert hall most players will never experience. Orchestral players could just as well use a good sounding Chinese, and nobody would notice. For chamber music other tonal qualities count, beauty of sound is not always carrying power. For example, a good Kloz can be excellent for quartet playing.  I am sure there is lots to argue about in these lines.

I really appreciate excellent modern making, but I would never pay that premium for a violin that I can never sell again. Nevertheless, that market of above 20k violins seems to be doing well.

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On 8/20/2018 at 10:48 AM, deans said:
 

I have never played in a symphony orchestra, but I wonder if orchestra players are all sneaking peaks inside at the labels of each others' violins?

In the orchestras I play in almost everybody is completely apathetic about instruments. It’s sad, but for most of them an instrument is just a tool. They don’t have any interest in the instrument itself so long as it plays acceptably. I ask every cellist I meet what kind of instrument and bow they play.

Most of them don’t really care. I find that very sad.

Edited by PhilipKT
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1 minute ago, PhilipKT said:

In the orchestra is where I play, almost everybody is completely apathetic about instruments. It’s sad, but for most of them an instrument is just a tool. I ask every cellist I meet what kind of instrument and bow they play.

Most of them don’t really care. I find that very sad.

That's been my experience as well.  Even to the point of "reverse" evaluation/pride:

"Yeah! Got this violin for $50 from the Surplus store! Can you believe all those idiots who spent more? Suckers!"

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On 8/21/2018 at 7:27 AM, germain said:

 

I heard Zygmuntowitz violins can reach $100,000. In this case I’d still prefer a Carl Becker for $50K

 

Yes you would. I wonder what his fiddles would be selling for if Isaac Stern hadn’t bought one.

But Carl Becker’s violins have had 80 years to prove their worth.

a colleague subbed in my orchestra last season for a production. I was sitting right in front of her and her cello sounded magnificent. It had a dark burgundy red color, not especially attractive, but sounded incredible.

I asked her what it was and she answered, without any expression at all,” a Carl Becker.”

I stammered a bit.” Is it on loan to you from a foundation?” And she gave me another look devoid of any expression and said, “no.”

At the end of rehearsal, I asked if I could try it. This time her face was NOT devoid of expression. Her voice said ,”hmmm.... let me think about that.” But her face said,” Not in this lifetime, bub.”

what an incredible cello.

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On 8/21/2018 at 12:14 PM, glebert said:

Since this thread is pretty thoroughly jacked anyway, I am wondering what the "components" for setting up a high quality instrument workshop would be......................

First, hire competent luthiers.  Then let them draft the equipment orders.  This leaves you more time to schmooze at parties and shop for castles.  Oh, and get photographed at the bench in a leather apron, holding a violin, for ads.  :ph34r:

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1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

In the orchestras I play in almost everybody is completely apathetic about instruments. It’s sad, but for most of them an instrument is just a tool. They don’t have any interest in the instrument itself so long as it plays acceptably. I ask every cellist I meet what kind of instrument and bow they play.

Most of them don’t really care. I find that very sad.

Well you know musicians don’t make much money. So as long as an instrument sounds good who cares who made it right? Many players  have that attitude. Others such as dealers don’t even care what an instrument sounds like. All they care about is condition and authenticity.  They forget we’re talking musical instruments here. 

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3 hours ago, uguntde said:

Maybe this would deserve a new thread, but I often wonder why people spend 20-30-40k for a new violin when they can get an old for the same or less.

Well, I can think of only one good reason.

It certainly is not true that one could get a violin made by Antonio Stradivari, Barolomeo Giusseppe Guarneri del Gesu, or Giovanni Battista Guadagnini for $40,000 or less these days.

There certainly are, though, plenty of old violins - even quite good ones, and by makers whose names are remembered - available for $20,000 or less.

And so, when one considers a new violin for which the luthier is asking $40,000, the question is: to which of these categories of old violin does it compare - in sound quality and projection, but even more in the qualities of playability that are harder to judge from a distance?

If the former - then the fact that the violin may have less resale value is of smaller import, since it is a performer's job to stand up before an audience with a violin, and play well and sound good. Whatever tool best serves that job is the right choice; if the musician wishes to start a sideline in musical instrument investing, that's another matter.

(Oh, and by the way, this rationale applies just as much to a Yamaha YVN500S as it does to a violin by Sam Zygmuntowicz or Gregg Alf; if it sounds good, and if it works good, and if you're a musician that needs an instrument that sounds good and works good, that comes first.)

Edited by Quadibloc
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2 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

At the end of rehearsal, I asked if I could try it. This time her face was NOT devoid of expression. Her voice said ,”hmmm.... let me think about that.” But her face said,” Not in this lifetime, bub.”

Ah, you have educated her about the value of instruments!

 

3 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

In the orchestras I play in almost everybody is completely apathetic about instruments. It’s sad, but for most of them an instrument is just a tool. They don’t have any interest in the instrument itself so long as it plays acceptably. I ask every cellist I meet what kind of instrument and bow they play.

Most of them don’t really care. I find that very sad.

I think it's reasonable to expect a violinist - or a cellist - to know something about instruments, and to have some interest in their history. And, of course, they should be aware if the instrument they are playing is so expensive that it is at risk of being stolen.

Of course, even cheap instruments are at risk of being stolen as they are worth enough to buy an addict his next fix. More so for a violoncello, as even the (relatively) cheap ones aren't cheap (in absolute terms: see, I'm not contradicting myself).

But if the instrument one is playing happens to be not particularly interesting along those lines - it came out of Markneukirchen, but nobody in the orchestra has come up to me and told me I'd better get something better if I want to keep playing here, if you must know - that such a cellist is not fascinated with the story of his or her own instrument is hardly surprising.

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