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Burnham Violin Co.

Favorite Luthier Quotes

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What are your favorite things you've heard a luthier say?  My favorite was when one day I was showing an instrument of mine to luthier Nick Frirsz.  He looked it over for several minutes with a rather inquisitive expression and said:

 "Well, it's pretty cool.  It was made by someone, who was sitting next to someone, who knew what they were doing."  

I got a big kick out of this and will never forget it.  I still have the instrument, which has since been restored and is really quite exceptional, and I think about that line all the time.  

IMG_1226.jpg

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My favorite, though, was what my teacher Tom Sparks always said when you showed him something, regardless of whether it was good work or terrible work. He'd take it in his hands, look it over for a moment, and hand it back to you saying "s'nice". You had to get good at reading his body language to determine whether or not he meant it in a good way or a bad way.

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I think my favourite quote was from Jacob a few days ago in regards to worn corners on violins, it had me in tears.

Quote

If they were all the result of “wear” they would all be different. Otherwise it is tantamount to believing you can get two separate accidental dents in your car, exactly symmetrically, one on each side. One is tempted to ask if you believe in fairies.

 

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I don't know where it came from originally, but I heard repeated: "You can make a bad violin out of good wood, but you can't make a good violin out of bad wood."   I know the first part is true, the second part is debatable (and has been).

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I can't remember the exact words, but when I was at uni studying instrument making one of the lectures (I think) said: 

Violin makers spend half their career trying to build the perfect instrument, they then spend the next half trying to find the instruments they made in the first half and destroy them.

Anyone heard something similar before?

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When I was working in the Weisshaar shop, and Jacques Francais dropped by for a visit:

Hans: "Take a look at this violin (one I had made).

Jacques, upon examining: Prolonged silence.

Hans: "It's his first violin."

Jacques: "Oh, then that's quite nice."  :lol:

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16 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

When I was working in the Weisshaar shop, and Jacques Francais dropped by for a visit:

Hans: "Take a look at this violin (one I had made).

Jacques, upon examining: Prolonged silence.

Hans: "It's his first violin."

Jacques: "Oh, then that's quite nice."  :lol:

I bet you couldn’t get your head through the door after that:)

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34 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

I bet you couldn’t get your head through the door after that:)

Actually, the experience was quite humbling. I had access to teaching and feedback from some really experienced and talented people, so it was difficult to place blame on anyone other than myself. Afterwards, I resolved to try harder. :)

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When I was a teenager in rural NSW I knew an old luthier ( Hugh Cumming ) who showed me how to carve and fit a bridge. After my first attempt he quietly said... " not bad.....open your other eye next time !! ":D

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When I was a student at the violin making school, showing my just finished first violin to Francesco Bissolotti (who in those times was an irreducible rival of my teacher Gio Batta Morassi), after a quick glance he said to me :

"When you are eighty years old you will be an old luthier".

However, ignoring the subtle irony, he basically told me that I would go up to eighty making violins...:P

 

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20 minutes ago, Dominik Tomasek said:

Not exactly related to violins (at least I hope so) but my teacher used to have this conversation with me all the time - "How are you?" I asked..."It is bearable" he replied.

You clearly weren't asking that question in 2020.

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On 11/23/2020 at 8:36 AM, Burnham Violin Co. said:

What are your favorite things you've heard a luthier say?  My favorite was when one day I was showing an instrument of mine to luthier Nick Frirsz.  He looked it over for several minutes with a rather inquisitive expression and said:

 "Well, it's pretty cool.  It was made by someone, who was sitting next to someone, who knew what they were doing."  

I got a big kick out of this and will never forget it.  I still have the instrument, which has since been restored and is really quite exceptional, and I think about that line all the time.  

IMG_1226.jpg

Nice violin.   

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