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Garth E.

Violin collecting...when do you have enough?

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I have one cello, and I only want one cello...Not really limiting myself on bows, however.

I have often mentioned my colleague Bob. He was the rarest of rare connoisseurs. He was a cellist with taste, talent, the wherewithal to indulge each, and to play his acquisitions at a professional level. A Neuner, a Rugeri, a Rogeri, a Becker Jr, Two Gaglianos, Some ghastly Italian thing that offers the greatest possible inverse ratio of physical beauty to aural appeal, and his daily driver was a 1907 Colin, so beautiful I was quite surprised to learn it was just a trade instrument( and don’t get me started on his bows...)

That’s lots of cellos, but he loved them all and played them all, every day.

so, “not so many that you can’t love them all.”

Edited by PhilipKT

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I have very little space for storing my collection so this limits numbers to ten or less. If I want another instrument I have to let go of my least favourite. This has meant a gradual increase in quality over the years so that’s a plus. I have sworn off Violas though, they are fiendishly difficult to sell.

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22 hours ago, Delabo said:

I absolutely agree with you.

You professionals should stay in your workshops repairing stuff and never bother checking any of the local auctions (one less to bid against).

And keep away from car boot sales and Gumtree - (Craiglist) , because I can absolutely without question assure you that its all just junk and not worth having.

Personally, as an amateur I have never found anything of any value going this route and it was all a terrible waste of time financially. :lol:

As a private individual, things are different.

If for example, you buy an instrument which has really worn and broken belly edges, corner tips snapped off, C bout edge chewed up by the bow, varnish completely worn off the upper treble rib, a bit of wear to the fingerboard, bridge a little warped... None of this prevents you from using and enjoying the violin.

I can't sell something like that, customers would not accept it, and I wouldn't want to sell anything less than at its best.
By the time I've replaced the edges and corners, retouched it all, trued the board, set it up, new strings, new fittings, glued seams, cleaned it etc. There is little to no margin left, especially with tax/vat to come off too.

So the boot sale bargain is a good buy for you, not necessarily a good one for me.

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I love playing all my "keeper" violins by rotating them. I keep 3 in my "current players" cabinet, and usually rotate one in and one out every 6 weeks or so, or when the strings die, which ever comes first. 

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I don't have violins because I don't play, but cellos--that's another story. Here's my inventory as of today:

1) Mirecort JTL cello that belonged to my grandfather, ca. 1890-1900

2) Saxon cello, 7/8 ladies size, ca. 1770s prob.

3) Yinfente (Chinese) 5 string cello bought on Amazon new

4) Eastman 1/4 cello tuned as a tenor violin (one octave below violin)

5) New England church bass, 1836, made in New Hampshire

6) 1/8 size cello of unknown, probably Chinese origin, strung as a viola

7) a nice European cello in pieces in the workshop

8) an old cello of unknown origin arriving in a month or so

9) not a cello but a converted cello to bass viola da gamba, needs to be redone

10) tenor viola da gamba waiting to be assembled

I'm done for now. I've run out of space. But, what a way to go. Then there are the repros of Asian instruments I've made, such as a 2500 year old Chinese zither called a "se," a guqin, etc.

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6 minutes ago, Craig Cowing said:

I don't have violins because I don't play, but cellos--that's another story. Here's my inventory as of today:

1) Mirecort JTL cello that belonged to my grandfather, ca. 1890-1900

2) Saxon cello, 7/8 ladies size, ca. 1770s prob.

3) Yinfente (Chinese) 5 string cello bought on Amazon new

4) Eastman 1/4 cello tuned as a tenor violin (one octave below violin)

5) New England church bass, 1836, made in New Hampshire

6) 1/8 size cello of unknown, probably Chinese origin, strung as a viola

7) a nice European cello in pieces in the workshop

8) an old cello of unknown origin arriving in a month or so

9) not a cello but a converted cello to bass viola da gamba, needs to be redone

10) tenor viola da gamba waiting to be assembled

I'm done for now. I've run out of space. But, what a way to go. Then there are the repros of Asian instruments I've made, such as a 2500 year old Chinese zither called a "se," a guqin, etc.

How did your 5-string Amazon purchase turn out?

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9 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

How did your 5-string Amazon purchase turn out?

Pretty well. I had to make some adjustments. I adapted a vdg bridge, put on new strings, etc. Here's my review I wrote on Amazon:

This instrument has a really good clear tone and a good volume. It is responsive when played. I play mostly in a community orchestra in which there are about 5 or 6 cellos counting me. I've been playing for about 35 out of the last 50 years and have used a family instrument, which sadly has reached the point that it needs a significant amount of work that I can't afford right now. So, I decided to buy a student instrument, and thought a five string cello would be fun.

There are caveats with this cello, though, which explains four stars instead of five:

1. Get some good strings. The strings that come with the cello are awful. They're heavy and sound cheap. I bought a set of La Bella Helicore strings which set me back $126 and they were worth every bit. They are lighter in build but the tone is superior and you lose nothing in volume.

2. Mine came with a regular bridge for a four string cello. It's too narrow. I took a spare bridge, cut off the very top and spliced on a piece of hard maple and shaped it so that it gave me around 8.5 cm in width instead of 6.5. That's enough to space your strings out a bit more. The fingerboard is wider than on a regular cello so it can handle a wider bridge. Otherwise you're bumping into the adjacent string. Unless you have the skills to work on your own instrument you're going to have to get a luthier do it for you, and also to set the soundpost. If they can't or won't do the splicing you might suggest they use a bass viola da gamba bridge or a baroque cello bridge, either of which is wider. UPDATE: I have bought a bass viol da gamba bridge and will be fitting it soon.

3. The "gut" piece that holds the tailpiece is plastic. The threads strip. Spring for one made of aircraft cable that has metal threads. Otherwise the threads will strip and you'll have an explosion as I did. I couldn't keep it in tune, and finally the threads gave way and it exploded.

4. This isn't really a caveat, but just a thought. You can string this instrument to have either a high E or a low F. I quickly decided that I would rather have a high E for the tenor and treble clef. Any cello player knows that once you get into the upper range on the A string you have very little to go on for benchmarks. The low F could be useful for hitting the low notes along with the basses, but that struck me as less advantageous.

I have seen comments online that a five string cello is going to have less volume because of the extra string, but I have not found that to be the case. With the Helicore strings the high E has a wonderfully clear and sweet sound and lacks nothing in volume. The overall volume of the cello does not suffer either. This prejudice, I believe, is simply that--a prejudice based on assumptions rather than experience. Granted, this is not a Stradivarius or Amati but I can't afford those anyway. For a middle aged guy who finds playing in a community orchestra with friends is a good escape from the trials of life, this is a very good instrument.

With the above caveats, this is a good instrument, and putting in a couple hundred extra for better strings and a wider bridge still puts you ahead. I can't wait to bring this to orchestra practice next week and see how long it takes the other cellists to do a double take and ask how many strings it has!

43 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

by who?

David Marston of Hampton, NH. He married a Dearborn. As far as I know it is a one off. It has some strong resemblances to Prescott church basses. He may have worked for Prescott but I don't know. The scroll is my avatar.

 

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The Scroll Is My Avatar would be a helluva good name for:  a rousing (not necessarily arousing) wizardy adventure movie/novel/action figure set; a middle-aged emo band; a role-playing video game about literate orcs; a hip-hop musical about the library at Alexandria; et cetera.

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2 hours ago, Tom O said:

The Scroll Is My Avatar would be a helluva good name for:  a rousing (not necessarily arousing) wizardy adventure movie/novel/action figure set; a middle-aged emo band; a role-playing video game about literate orcs; a hip-hop musical about the library at Alexandria; et cetera.

You had me more-or-less agreeing until you mentioned the musical.  A fantasy novel about an enchanted cello has possibilities.  :lol:

Being a have-it-for-use-or-resale type of buyer, I'm not terribly fond of collectors, except when their clueless heirs dump their hoard on the market, of course.  :ph34r:

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3 hours ago, Violadamore said:

You had me more-or-less agreeing until you mentioned the musical.  A fantasy novel about an enchanted cello has possibilities.  :lol:

Being a have-it-for-use-or-resale type of buyer, I'm not terribly fond of collectors, except when their clueless heirs dump their hoard on the market, of course.  :ph34r:

My instruments aren't for looks. I play them.

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5 hours ago, Tom O said:

The Scroll Is My Avatar would be a helluva good name for:  a rousing (not necessarily arousing) wizardy adventure movie/novel/action figure set; a middle-aged emo band; a role-playing video game about literate orcs; a hip-hop musical about the library at Alexandria; et cetera.

ROTFLOL!

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On 7/2/2020 at 10:55 AM, Mystic said:

No.

or, I should say, having one very nice one fueled my interest for crap that I could work on and not feel I was ruining something valuable.

Yes to the second. And, it would be easy to rationalize that you wanted one or two practice instruments so that you wouldn't get the good one dirty.

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On 7/2/2020 at 10:55 AM, Mystic said:

No.

or, I should say, having one very nice one fueled my interest for crap that I could work on and not feel I was ruining something valuable.

Yes to the second. And, it would be easy to rationalize that you wanted one or two practice instruments so that you wouldn't get the good one dirty.

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On 7/2/2020 at 10:55 AM, Mystic said:

No.

or, I should say, having one very nice one fueled my interest for crap that I could work on and not feel I was ruining something valuable.

Yes to the second. And, it would be easy to rationalize that you wanted one or two practice instruments so that you wouldn't get the good one dirty.

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On 7/2/2020 at 10:55 AM, Mystic said:

No.

or, I should say, having one very nice one fueled my interest for crap that I could work on and not feel I was ruining something valuable.

Yes to the second. And, it would be easy to rationalize that you wanted one or two practice instruments so that you wouldn't get the good one dirty.

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On 7/2/2020 at 10:55 AM, Mystic said:

No.

or, I should say, having one very nice one fueled my interest for crap that I could work on and not feel I was ruining something valuable.

 

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3 hours ago, Craig Cowing said:

My instruments aren't for looks. I play them.

Sorry, but you weren't the inspiration for my comment.  It wasn't limited to string instrument collectors, either.  Obsessive collectors inflate market prices for many useful antiques.  :)

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If everyone violin player had just one instrument where would we store the huge excess?

And they keep making them. Tons of new handmade professional instruments from all over the world. And working student instruments are shipped around on container ships.

No need to feel guilty about enjoying a collection 

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