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Dom40

Best British violin maker?

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Is there one particular maker that stands out above all the rest in terms of quality of work and tone of instrument? Sorry it may be a stupid question but I’ve often thought if I could have any British violin who would be the maker? ( not makers still alive) 

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2 hours ago, Dom40 said:

Is there one particular maker that stands out above all the rest in terms of quality of work and tone of instrument? Sorry it may be a stupid question but I’ve often thought if I could have any British violin who would be the maker? ( not makers still alive) 

I think it depends on the period really. Each century had its own stars, but not all of them have fared well, as subsequent makers used better, more accurate, or currently more popular models.
Some of the earliest makers, such as Urquhart, Pamphilon, Norman, Cross and their contemporaries work is fairly rare now, and not always in good condition. Worm has blighted many old British instruments, sometimes to a shocking extent.
A lot of the best British makers are famed more for cellos than violins.

Parker, Banks, Betts shop at its height, Hill, Duke, Panormo, Kennedy, Hardie, Fendt, Lott, Voller, Hudson and so on.

Compared to the work of similar makers in other countries, British violins do not always seem to attract the high prices, so can be excellent value if you can find something you like. I feel they are quite underappreciated outside the UK for the most part.

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 When I read your comment titled my first thought was, “English, or UK?“

My understanding about Betts was that he was more a dealer-and a crook- than a maker, and although he could make, most of his instruments were made by his “people”

My own vote would probably be Banks, because I’ve played several of his cellos that I loved.

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11 minutes ago, A432 said:

Not the Voller brothers ?

Not Nathaniel Cross ?

 

Yes I was thinking Voller brothers would be in the top 3. But I have no idea how one sounds compered to the copy. Anyone ever played a Voller violin? 

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Some very personal impressions ...

Vollers can be very poor in sound, though the best are good.

I would say Martin Fendt is number one for me, closely followed by Jacob Fendt - some of the most sublime copy workmanship and exceptional tone.

Vincenzo Panormo of course but we can't call him English.

Daniel Parker - very inconsistent in sound, from very good to highly problematic. I think his reputation stems mainly from his early adherence to the Strad model and the fact that Kreisler had one.

John Lott - very good copyist but examples I have played were a bit flabby in the bottom end.

 

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15 minutes ago, Ron MacDonald said:

Late in life, Alfredo Campoli acquired a John Lott which he said reminded him of a Del Gesu.  His last recording was made with this instrument.

Famously Ida Haendel owned a del Gesu which turned out to be a John Lott, at which point bizarrely it stopped sounding any good and she dumped it.

A lot of makers owe their reputations to having made something which passed for classical Cremonese, and yet the violins suddenly lose all quality when properly identified. Then the market bumps up the price because ta famous name has owned one ... funny old world ...

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Joe Fuchs (Lilian's brother -- both taught at Julliard for decades) had a Lott and seems to have been pleased with it.

The Ida anecdote reminds me of Maud Powell, who fell out of love with her "GdG" when it turned out to be a Gemunder.

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56 minutes ago, A432 said:

Joe Fuchs (Lilian's brother -- both taught at Julliard for decades) had a Lott and seems to have been pleased with it.

The Ida anecdote reminds me of Maud Powell, who fell out of love with her "GdG" when it turned out to be a Gemunder.

Yup - suddenly those violins don't project any more ... :lol:

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1 hour ago, scordatura said:

I vote for Melvin Goldsmith. Although he seems alive and in good health!

Sorry, Melvin has to wait his turn until he dies just like everyone else :lol: rules are rules 

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5 hours ago, Thomas Coleman said:

Just curious, why not still alive?

Yes, why not? I respect so many makers from the Newark School.

 

4 hours ago, martin swan said:

Some very personal impressions ...

Vollers can be very poor in sound, though the best are good.

I would say Martin Fendt is number one for me, closely followed by Jacob Fendt - some of the most sublime copy workmanship and exceptional tone.

Vincenzo Panormo of course but we can't call him English.

 ( ... )

I have been shown two Voller Bros instruments. In both instances, bows were not provided. My impressions were that they were much like some early 20th century Italian instruments that looked great but were impossible to play. They felt dead in the hands. 

If we exclude the Panormo, early 1800s, then Barney also?

Chanot, non? No Hill - close to Panormo? No Hesketh.

 

6 hours ago, Dom40 said:

Is there one particular maker that stands out above all the rest in terms of quality of work and tone of instrument? Sorry it may be a stupid question but I’ve often thought if I could have any British violin who would be the maker? ( not makers still alive) 

My experience has been that this is such a niche area, that the best examples are in collections. It is difficult to find many finer examples in American stores. The traditional English instrument has been a darker more complex sounding then that of American counterparts. Warmer, Set up from what i can tell and historically read about in older issues of Strad. While there is an Italian school, would it be via Paris?    

During my wanting-to-play period instrument days, i was lent a Cuypers, which i really disliked. It had a strange arching which i was unable to "feel" but working with stepped dynamics of keyboardists, it had a wonderful clear quality even though it felt i was skating over the strings. Without vibrato, it was almost glassy in tone.

There was a man from London in the ensemble who would always comment on how the Cuypers sounded like an English instrument. I think he was making fun and in my naivete, i took him seriously. Of course, it was not how I had imagined the sound and it puzzled me. To this day, i have no idea what he meant. Maybe it was a joke. At the time i had an inexpensive Hill which was sold to a dealer. It was warm and friendly and full, and I thought of those qualities as being the English sound.  

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17 minutes ago, GoPractice said:

If we exclude the Panormo, early 1800s, then Barney also?

Anything certificated to a purple dinosaur could be collectible.  Dunno about the sound, though. :huh::ph34r::lol:

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28 minutes ago, GoPractice said:

 

Chanot, non? No Hill - close to Panormo? No Hesketh.

 

 

Joseph Chanot made creditable violins, as did WE Hill & Sons, nothing to blow your socks off. Joseph Hill, Lockey Hill - not my thing.

Hesketh is in my view another maker whose stylistic gifts outweighed his understanding of tone.

Alfred Vincent violins can be very good, though some of them are very drab.

The idea that there's an "English sound" is absurd - one English violin will be wiry and plangent, another fuzzy and dark, another flute-like and sophisticated. 

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Why do I keep thinking about "The great British baking show"? Maybe we could change this topic into that format.

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Currently reading "The Violin Makers" by Alberger. Interviews. All in all not a bad read. Always wondered about Luff violins. Never seen or played one. Maestronet's own Jacob Saunders' father is the first interview.

20190930_193331.jpg

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