MODERN LOW GRADE VIOLINS


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 55
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

My interest in the lower grade instruments is based on the research into English vernacular music making, undertaken by a good friend and playing partner of mine. He notes that the increased accessibility of cheap, factory-made fiddles, mouth-organs, concertinas and melodeons during the last thirty years or so of the nineteenth century, made it possible for greater numbers of ordinary working people to make their own music. 

I've just remembered that I have this cheap looking, unlabeled fiddle. If you think that it is similar to those that were made in those last decades of the nineteenth century, I will put some gut strings on it and perhaps find out how the music may have sounded back then.

IMG_20200920_181820.jpg

IMG_20200920_181948_burst_01.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

This is a stupid thread, since the OP question is not being addressed. The difference between a cheap Markneukirchen Dutzendarbeit from the 19th C and a cheap modern one, say Schrotter or Paesold, is that the new ones are largely machine made and the old ones were made with dirt cheap labour. I didn’t notice any question about mass produced Chinese instruments, and would be unable to comment on that, since I don’t have anything of the sort.

For those who may be confused, IMHO the majority, Jacob is addressing only German/Czech products being produced "at the same old stand".   Believe it or not, there are still student-grade violins being mass produced in the Markneukirchen area, as well as at its Cold-War spinoff, Bubenreuth.  AFAIK, those producers are using highly-engineered automation exactly as described by Jacob. 

For example:

https://www.metmusic.com/instruments/wilfer-violins-violas/

https://www.metmusic.com/instruments/

You'll note that "John Juzek" instruments are still being made, though their less-expensive grades are reportedly coming from China.

IMHO, trying to compare modern (post WW II) trade violins of any grade with 1865-1925 Dutzendarbeit is simply "apples and oranges".  The production techniques which give each their characteristic acoustic peculiarities are not comparable.  A better comparison might be between modern trade fiddles and Mirecourt factory products.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As I have said in a different thread, I try to apply an Historically Informed Performance approach to English vernacular fiddling :lol:. However, I am not obsessed with it and so far as my initial question about achieving the sound of a mass produced, nineteenth century fiddle on a newly made one is concerned, it was more out of curiosity and I did suspect as Violadamore has suggested, that it would not be possible.

It is though, fascinating to read your comments!

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, ALCO said:

 

I try to apply an Historically Informed Performance approach to English vernacular fiddling .

If you could explain what you understand under “English vernacular fiddling” I would be curious to know. Should you take your studies a little further back, you will also have to consider the effects of the “Continental Blockade”. In the 18th. C the English manufactured their own “cheap” violins (Thompson etc.) After the ending of this blockade this production died abruptly since Mittenwald and Markneukirchen imports were vastly cheaper.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

No clamps to glue in the bass bar, that's insane. I have heard that some of these Chinese factories have a show factory set up just for tourists, where the real mass producing workshops is strictly off camera.

At the extremes, Chinese string instrument production methods run the gamut from "German Engineered" (which, at one time, some brands boasted about) mechanized production with interchangeable parts, to individually benchmade by hand in small storefront shops.  One can safely assume that every possible intermediate combination of these exists as well.  Some posters here on MN, who know all about buying from Chinese manufacturers, have stated that, for a price, the Chinese can make whatever you contract for.  The days of "one big factory" with quotes from Mao painted on every wall, being the norm over there, ended some decades ago, about the time that Jiang Qing got slung in jail.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, ALCO said:

As I have said in a different thread, I try to apply an Historically Informed Performance approach to English vernacular fiddling :lol:. However, I am not obsessed with it and so far as my initial question about achieving the sound of a mass produced, nineteenth century fiddle on a newly made one is concerned, it was more out of curiosity and I did suspect as Violadamore has suggested, that it would not be possible.

It is though, fascinating to read your comments!

There's a particular (IMHO revolting) brand, imported to the USA by one violin shop which has an eBay outlet, that amounts to "fake rubbish", but it's made on an outside mold, not B-O-B.  Imagine a Scherl & Roth with some Saxon "Stainer" traits, made in China.  I can PM you a link if you're curious.  They still had some left last month.  :lol:

[Mutters something about "A Skylark by any other name, would sound as sweet, even if varnished brown".]  :ph34r:

Link to post
Share on other sites

When talking about low grade (cost) instruments arguments about how they are made don't matter.  None are works of art and they all involve some level of both hand work as well as machine. It only matters how serviceable they are and can you get them to work. 

I started in the bad old days of low cost instruments, your choices were something like an bright orange Scherl and Roth, or some crappy Saxon "Stainer" or similar. I think the Chinese production in the last 25 years changed this situation for the better.

Actually the Rudolph Doetsch instruments offered by Weaver's were something of a game changer where I lived, but they weren't really that cheap (relatively speaking), you were a hot shot if you had one of those. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, ALCO said:

My interest in the lower grade instruments is based on the research into English vernacular music making, undertaken by a good friend and playing partner of mine. He notes that the increased accessibility of cheap, factory-made fiddles, mouth-organs, concertinas and melodeons during the last thirty years or so of the nineteenth century, made it possible for greater numbers of ordinary working people to make their own music. 

I've just remembered that I have this cheap looking, unlabeled fiddle. If you think that it is similar to those that were made in those last decades of the nineteenth century, I will put some gut strings on it and perhaps find out how the music may have sounded back then.

IMG_20200920_181820.jpg

IMG_20200920_181948_burst_01.jpg

Go for it!!  :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Violadamore, I'm always curious, so yes please.

Jacob, I must stress that it is not quite the HIP as applied to baroque and classical music by professional musicians.

It is my friend's academic work on traditional music in the British Isles and Ireland and also as a fiddler, his association in the 1950/60s with country musicians in the south of England, all of whom were born at the end of the nineteenth century, that has encouraged me try to make music that they would recognise as their own. A number of them had learned from older family members or older musicians in their community who themselves would have been active in the first half of the nineteenth century. So, as we know the repertory and how it was played, I feel that it is important to try to replicate the sound as far as it is possible.

I have an eighteenth century English fiddle, another one that is possibly from that period and the home-made one that you advised me on in another thread. I also have three, possibly better quality examples of 'the usual' variety, but I don't know when they were made. 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok Violadamore, I'll do it tomorrow ;). What do you make of it? I think it's a 7/8 size, it had a horrible brown tailpiece and chin rest (not that I use one!), the paint on the fingerboard is chipped and the creaking pegs set my teeth on edge!! 

I have no idea where or when I got it, but it seems perfectly awful:lol:

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, ALCO said:

 

Jacob, I must stress that it is not quite the HIP as applied to baroque and classical music by professional musicians.

It is my friend's academic work on traditional music in the British Isles and Ireland and also as a fiddler, his association in the 1950/60s with country musicians in the south of England, all of whom were born at the end of the nineteenth century, that has encouraged me try to make music that they would recognise as their own. A number of them had learned from older family members or older musicians in their community who themselves would have been active in the first half of the nineteenth century. So, as we know the repertory and how it was played, I feel that it is important to try to replicate the sound as far as it is possible.

 

 

 

I don’t know if it is of any help, but I can redirect you to a thread I did on a Scottish “vernacular” violin. The violin has a short string length, and is “home made”, presumably for Scottish folk music use.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the link Jacob.

I also don't know why it has a short string length. I play mainly in first position but set all my fiddles with the same scale length. I honestly don't know enough about the physics of a 'correct' set up!

There is a chap called Tim Macdonald with whom it might be worth making contact. He is a champion Scottsh fiddler that plays a lot of Neil Gows' music on period violins and bows in a baroque style. He also duets with Jeremy Ward playing a period cello. They have a number of videos on their youtube channel, but I am far too technically dim to post the link. Definitely worth watching though.

Ian.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.