PhilipKT

Have you found your “lifetime” instrument?

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I love my cello, it has some foibles, Just enough to give it character, but it has never let me down and it brings me joy every time I play it. I’ve owned a few other cellos, but this is the cello I will play for the rest of my life. I have played a very few cellos( Becker, Gand, Carletti, unknown Italian) that were better, And that unknown Italian, offered by David Brewer, mannnnn, that was somethin’....

But the cello I have is the cello I have, for now and for always. My question to you is, do you have your lifetime instrument? The instrument you will never put down for another even if you find another that is better? 

How did you get it? I’d really like to know. It’s an amazing feeling, having an instrument, new or old, that satisfies you completely, And if you know that feeling, please share.

CAC039E9-BA7F-42D9-A358-0B179650B8D6.jpeg

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I understand your fascination! :)

I love my violin. Can't imagine finding a better "go to", "forever", or "lifetime instrument for me.

I went through the "finding a violin" adventure as well, which was an eye-opener. Started with the VSO I had as a child, then several inexpensive (but ultimately frustrating) purchases, until I found a local luthier who was able to make me an instrument I could afford.

The nice thing, for me, is knowing I'll never outgrow it. If something I'm playing doesn't sound right, I know it's me, and not my violin. I wasn't able to tell on the less expensive models.

Mind you, as you become a better player, you are able to get more out of the lesser instruments, but that doesn't make them sound better!

I also have my teacher play it for me periodically so I can hear what it's capable of.  It's really nice.

The most telling moment came when I had the happy opportunity to try out several Big Name violins. Some were better than mine - no doubt, but not so much better (at least at my playing level) that I was in anyway unhappy with mine! :)

Mine is a DG Plowden copy.

20190210_093541.jpg

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I fall in love and then back out with lots of instruments. I find myself gravitating to the instrument that does what you want it to do. So, a lot of it, at least to me, is about performance.  You can be fooled by the newness of a different instruments “sound” for a while, but equilibrium quickly sets in.  At a certain point people hit a wall between what they can afford and buy.  Probably a lot of people would fall out of love with their forever instrument if they didn’t have to be concerned with taking out a new mortgage to upgrade to the next level 

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I believe I have my lifetime instruments, a violin and a viola.  I had something of a search for both but not especially arduous.  I had a much more difficult looking for my best bows for the instruments.  The search was reduced by consciously applying satisficing, Simon's idea of choosing among many options.  Basically instead of looking for the best something one looks for  something that satisfies.   If you look for the best you might never actually choose something because whatever you are considering there might be something better out there.  As an adult re-beginner, after decades of not playing, I had begun playing and reached a point where I wanted two things, a viola to increase my opportunities to play chamber music, and also a better violin to give me limitless room to grow yet be more satisfying than the workshop violin I had been using.  I went to a luthier who lives about half an hour drive from me and asked to look at violas.  He had a few in his studio.  I tried them all and chose the one I liked best.  I've had it for 25 years and am still satisfied with it.  After I recovered financially I went back to the same luthier to look at violins.  That took longer, but after trying five or six I picked one out, took it home and went through the routine of trying it: in various venues, home, smaller and larger rooms, a hall, having good players play it, etc.  I kept the violin.  In both cases the instruments are interestingly responsive to my moods and consistently give me thrilling episodes of playing.  Every now and then I may think I don't like how the instrument sounds but soon I find myself really happy with the sound and I can't imagine giving it up.  The search for bows was long.  I tried dozens of bows and I was unhappy with the process and wasn't satisfied with anything.  Then I decided the problem was the way I was doing the search.  I went to a well regarded shop which had a stock of hundreds of bows  and connected with one of the staff there.  He suggested the problem is I had tried too many examples and I found myself not remembering what bows I had played to be able to compare with my current candidates.  So we took about twelve or fifteen bows that the sales person felt might be interesting to me given what I had said about what I didn't like in some bows I had tried and what I was looking for in a new bow and I tried these against each other using my instruments and narrowed it down to three bows for each instrument which I felt I was willing to take home for more in-depth trials.  For each instrument I did find one of those I would be satisfied to keep.  I've had the viola for 27 years and the violin for 15 years.  At age 75 I'm aware that a time might come when I could not play the viola comfortably since it is somewhat large (16.5", 382 mm string length).  If that time arrives and I'm still fit to play at all I'll consider getting a smaller instrument.

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11 hours ago, Rue said:

I understand your fascination! :)

I love my violin. Can't imagine finding a better "go to", "forever", or "lifetime instrument for me.

I went through the "finding a violin" adventure as well, which was an eye-opener. Started with the VSO I had as a child, then several inexpensive (but ultimately frustrating) purchases, until I found a local luthier who was able to make me an instrument I could afford.

The nice thing, for me, is knowing I'll never outgrow it. If something I'm playing doesn't sound right, I know it's me, and not my violin. I wasn't able to tell on the less expensive models.

Mind you, as you become a better player, you are able to get more out of the lesser instruments, but that doesn't make them sound better!

I also have my teacher play it for me periodically so I can hear what it's capable of.  It's really nice.

The most telling moment came when I had the happy opportunity to try out several Big Name violins. Some were better than mine - no doubt, but not so much better (at least at my playing level) that I was in anyway unhappy with mine! :)

Mine is a DG Plowden copy.

20190210_093541.jpg

I I like your story, thank you very much. I agree that that’s a very interesting top, how is that texture achieved? 

And do you mind sharing who the actual maker is? I noticed you said what it was a copy of but not by whom. No wish to pry…

Edited by PhilipKT
Grrr voice software

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10 hours ago, Jwillis said:

I fall in love and then back out with lots of instruments. I find myself gravitating to the instrument that does what you want it to do. So, a lot of it, at least to me, is about performance.  You can be fooled by the newness of a different instruments “sound” for a while, but equilibrium quickly sets in.  At a certain point people hit a wall between what they can afford and buy.  Probably a lot of people would fall out of love with their forever instrument if they didn’t have to be concerned with taking out a new mortgage to upgrade to the next level 

That’s exactly what I mean about “lifetime” when you find it, you know it, even if it’s not perfect.

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The top is absolutely "normal"...^_^

The photo is a little wonky. Not sure why.

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11 hours ago, Rue said:

. Some were better than mine - no doubt, but not so much better (at least at my playing level) that I was in anyway unhappy with mine! 

Yes exactly. I have played better cellos, but none that filled me with envy.

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Here’s mine:

Workshop strad copy.   I played every violin in and out of my price range and this one kept jumping out at me.   I don’t feel the need to get a different violin, it’s the one.

 

B5C6FB4E-5CE2-4376-BD74-92CAEA4E2027.jpeg

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I found my lifetime violin in the late 1970’s. I had a "Wanted" ad in the local paper classifieds looking for violins, and somebody called me and so I went to look. There, in an old case, was a John Friedrich violin, New York, c. 1914, and a silver-mounted August Nurnberger bow. I believe that the violin, case, and bow were all part of the original outfit sold by John Friedrich & Bro.

It had been in the seller’s attic for years, and had a crack in the lower right bout. I thought it looked nice, but I had never heard of John Friedrich. Since it was an “American violin” I only paid $200 for it. (I knew nothing about bows at the time, and paid no attention to it.)

I dropped it off at a luthier to have the crack repaired, and he called me that night to tell me that this was a very fine violin and it should have the top removed to be properly repaired. The repairs and restoration cost me twice as much as I had paid for it.

The violin is a masterpiece. In the ~40 years I have owned it, I have owned dozens of different violins and played dozens more, but I never found a violin that I would trade it for. I am still delighted every time I open the case to play it.

And I still have the August Nurnberger bow, though mostly just for sentimental reasons.

John_Friedrich_1914_sm.jpg

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54 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

I found my lifetime violin in the late 1970’s. I had a "Wanted" ad in the local paper classifieds looking for violins, and somebody called me and so I went to look. There, in an old case, was a John Friedrich violin, New York, c. 1914, and a silver-mounted August Nurnberger bow. I believe that the violin, case, and bow were all part of the original outfit sold by John Friedrich & Bro.

It had been in the seller’s attic for years, and had a crack in the lower right bout. I thought it looked nice, but I had never heard of John Friedrich. Since it was an “American violin” I only paid $200 for it. (I knew nothing about bows at the time, and paid no attention to it.)

I dropped it off at a luthier to have the crack repaired, and he called me that night to tell me that this was a very fine violin and it should have the top removed to be properly repaired. The repairs and restoration cost me twice as much as I had paid for it.

The violin is a masterpiece. In the ~40 years I have owned it, I have owned dozens of different violins and played dozens more, but I never found a violin that I would trade it for. I am still delighted every time I open the case to play it.

And I still have the August Nurnberger bow, though mostly just for sentimental reasons.

John_Friedrich_1914_sm.jpg

Beautiful, hard to even imagine finding this today with a nurnberger bow for $200.  

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On 2/10/2019 at 9:55 AM, Jwillis said:

I fall in love and then back out with lots of instruments. I find myself gravitating to the instrument that does what you want it to do. So, a lot of it, at least to me, is about performance.  You can be fooled by the newness of a different instruments “sound” for a while, but equilibrium quickly sets in.  At a certain point people hit a wall between what they can afford and buy.  Probably a lot of people would fall out of love with their forever instrument if they didn’t have to be concerned with taking out a new mortgage to upgrade to the next level 

In 2007(?), one of my students’ father flew me to New Mexico to go to the Robertsons shop to find a cello for his daughter. I took with me a colleague so we could play instruments back-and-forth, and my best friend who is a local violin shop owner so he can give his professional opinion.

We spent all day there, open to close, and played perhaps 50 instruments over and over and over. I have rarely had so much fun. At the end of the day, we had narrowed the choices down to a Guy Cole and a Raymond Melanson.

After much back-and-forth, we chose the Melanson, and I took it back to Dallas and delivered it the same night to the girl.

It’s a beautiful cello, and she loves it even now. At the time, my own cello was still Fairly new, and I remember several times over the first month or so wondering if maybe I had made a mistake in my own choice of instruments.

We joked frequently about trading instruments, but overtime, as each cello grew, The difference between them  became more apparent. Fast forward to today, and we are both very happy, but the importance of putting first impressions into perspective was emphasized.

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My current violin (1920s Mirecourt workshop) has been with me for more than ten years so far, and I really love it. I know it has some limitations, it being rather inexpensive, but I also know that it has so much more to give if I could *just* find a luthier willing to work with me and spend some time on carving the bridge and playing around with the soundpost. I can hear it trying so  hard to open up, but there's something that keeps holding it back. I may have to go to Montreal or something to get some proper attention for it.

 

I could never sell it, and thankfully, since it's worth not-too-much, I shouldn't need to. However, someday, if I ever make it in this post-Canadian-dream world, I would really love to either commission or otherwise acquire a north-american-made contemporary instrument from a living maker. I think it would be really nice to be the first part in the violin's story, and to care for it as well as I can until it is time to pass it on to someone else. And judging by the workbench photos posted by the talented makers here, I hope there will be plenty of beautiful contemporary violins available if that time ever comes for me!

20181130_191723.jpg

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Maybe.  But I'm with Sig. Ceruti in that it's too cheap to get rid of :) It is one of the fiddles described here, 7th post down. https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/120861-chinese-instruments/&page=2

Actually I have two of them.  The first one needs some repair.  I would sell that one.  The second one is better than the fiddle I had i n college, which was made by the shop of an American VSA winner.  First one might be as good or better if it was fixed up some.

 

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My viola. It is mislabeled and looks like it has been abused- crushed bout from an overtightened chinrest clamp, scars on the treble side table. But it sings in the upper positions like a violin, even on the c string yet the lower register is rich dark and full. I can play it for hours on end without fatigue. It has a nimble diminuitive neck that facillitates the most difficult passages, polyphony, and etudes. It is so well balanced that I rarely play with a shoulder rest.  Many of my colleagues have offered to buy it if I ever want to sell.

It is labelled 1926 West Germany (hah, learn your history) EH Roth with a convincing label but it doesn’t look like any roth I’ve ever seen and it lacks the brand marking on the inside.  could have been built by daffy duckenheimer for all I know, but I don’t care. I’ll grieve if it goes before I do.

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11 hours ago, Etorgerson said:

 could have been built by daffy duckenheimer for all I know, but I don’t care. I’ll grieve if it goes before I do.

 That's how violas are. Mine's big and fugly (a Tertis), but like yours, she has a slender neck and does what I want. People always comment on her sound ("like Devonshire clotted cream")--of course, that's me--and wonder why, when they play on it, the instrument doesn't seem remarkable. 

I've had her for 26 years. I knew the maker, and we played a quartet of his instruments in the ICU as he lay dying on a respirtator. I could afford something fancy, and occasionally covet another player's instrument. I keep thinking about smaller instruments and own one that I practice on. But when it comes concert time, there is no substitute. She is my voice.

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I love my violin and bow, and for practical reasons I expect they will be "lifetime" equipment, but I honestly thought that about my previous violin and bow, too. And twenty years from now when I'm at retirement age, I think I might want to commission a 7/8ths, which would be less hard on my small hands, which would probably mean that I'd sell what I currently own.

I'm both deeply attached to whatever violin and bow I have at the time -- and not so sentimental I'm not willing to sell to upgrade. 

My current violin was a lucky find, at a time when I wasn't actively looking and indeed thought I already had my forever violin. Finding a bow to match was a multi-month, multi-state search.

Identification of both is left as an exercise for the reader. B)

 

Bow-and-Violin.jpg

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1 hour ago, lwl said:

I love my violin and bow, and for practical reasons I expect they will be "lifetime" equipment, but I honestly thought that about my previous violin and bow, too. And twenty years from now when I'm at retirement age, I think I might want to commission a 7/8ths, which would be less hard on my small hands, which would probably mean that I'd sell what I currently own.

I'm both deeply attached to whatever violin and bow I have at the time -- and not so sentimental I'm not willing to sell to upgrade. 

My current violin was a lucky find, at a time when I wasn't actively looking and indeed thought I already had my forever violin. Finding a bow to match was a multi-month, multi-state search.

Identification of both is left as an exercise for the reader. B)

 

Bow-and-Violin.jpg

That’s a lovely violin. I won’t hazard any attempt at identifying it but I’d sure buy it if I found it in a pawn shop.

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I have a 1943 J.R. Carlisle, # 1142, with a completely handmade label with thumbprint.  It is a very formidable violin, a deep reddish orange, one piece back and is the Guarneri model.  It is incredibly resonate and has a deep and very focused sound.  IMHO I think this is one of the 75 or so masterpieces  and completely made by his hand.   So far this has been my favorite instrument, even more than some more illustrious and expensive fiddles.

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On 2/23/2019 at 11:26 PM, crazy jane said:

 That's how violas are. Mine's big and fugly (a Tertis), but like yours, she has a slender neck and does what I want. People always comment on her sound ("like Devonshire clotted cream")--of course, that's me--and wonder why, when they play on it, the instrument doesn't seem remarkable. 

I've had her for 26 years. I knew the maker, and we played a quartet of his instruments in the ICU as he lay dying on a respirtator. I could afford something fancy, and occasionally covet another player's instrument. I keep thinking about smaller instruments and own one that I practice on. But when it comes concert time, there is no substitute. She is my voice.

Beautiful story.

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