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Burnham Violin Co.

Favorite Luthier Quotes

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2 hours ago, Laurentius said:

Nice violin.  Looks pretty good to me.

Thanks, I'm quite fond of it, whatever it is. I've also grown accustomed to luthier's generally unenthusiastic responses. Just have to read between the lines sometimes, and ones like that just make me smile! 

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35 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

The best quote to have at the tip of your tongue, when having to comment on an autodidact made violin that is being hopefully held under your nose is “oh! that’s nice wood”

Yep, I use it quite often;)

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A rather pleasant, highly regarded, luthier/expert (who shall go nameless) taking time to carefully and thoughtfully look at a rather poor violin for an nice elderly couple at a convention (said very kindly): "Well... It's really not much of a violin, is it?"

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14 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

The best quote to have at the tip of your tongue, when having to comment on an autodidact made violin that is being hopefully held under your nose is “oh! that’s nice wood”

Reminds me of my first visit to an NYC luthier over 10 years ago. He refused to hold it and looked from afar. 

Brought a few old bows of no value (I didn't know) to my luthier and he asked me if it was already tomato season. 

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14 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

The best quote to have at the tip of your tongue, when having to comment on an autodidact made violin that is being hopefully held under your nose is “oh! that’s nice wood”

That's much more diplomatic than I would expect, Jacob. But possibly for the best. I sometimes get the chance to show my work to more experienced makers, and I always ask them to be very honest with criticism. It's a good way to learn.

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This thread seems to confirm that professional luthiers can determine the quality of a violin with only their eyes.  An amazing development of their senses and skills, ears not required.............:P

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Back in the early 2000's, I spent some time at the bench studying under Luigi Lanaro who imparted me with this:

"A Master is one who has made all the mistakes, so he knows not to make them again"...I always liked that one...

DGSR:)

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On 11/25/2020 at 9:54 AM, jacobsaunders said:

The best quote to have at the tip of your tongue, when having to comment on an autodidact made violin that is being hopefully held under your nose is “oh! that’s nice wood”

Do you know the famous story about Brahms complimenting a particular piece of music? It’s been claimed of both Bruch and Goldmark but I heard it as Bruch playing a piece for Brahms, who afterwards, explained,” First-rate! Excellent” and went to the piano and turned over the leaves of the music while repeating himself, and then turned to the Unfortunate and said,” first-rate music paper! Wherever did you get it?”

 

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1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

Do you know the famous story about Brahms complimenting a particular piece of music? It’s been claimed of both Bruch and Goldmark but I heard it as Bruch playing a piece for Brahms, who afterwards, explained,” First-rate! Excellent” and went to the piano and turned over the leaves of the music while repeating himself, and then turned to the Unfortunate and said,” first-rate music paper! Wherever did you get it?”

 

And you still don't like Brahms?

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38 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

And you still don't like Brahms?

That made me laugh, and no, I do not care for Brahms. And sadly, I’m not keen on Joachim Raff, either, And he was one of Brahms’ favorites...I must be missing something...

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4 hours ago, Roger Hill said:

This thread seems to confirm that professional luthiers can determine the quality of a violin with only their eyes.  An amazing development of their senses and skills, ears not required.............:P

Probably no more than professional players think they can determine the quality of a violin by hearing one...

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5 hours ago, Roger Hill said:

This thread seems to confirm that professional luthiers can determine the quality of a violin with only their eyes.  An amazing development of their senses and skills, ears not required.............:P

Well, you can judge a book by just looking at it, you just can't judge the writing inside.

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54 minutes ago, David Beard said:

Well, you can judge a book by just looking at it, you just can't judge the writing inside.

 

And based upon that, it is only a matter of 250 years or so until a good quality Chinese import has value equal to today's Strads and Del Gesus?

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47 minutes ago, Roger Hill said:

 

And based upon that, it is only a matter of 250 years or so until a good quality Chinese import has value equal to today's Strads and Del Gesus?

I realy can't agree with any notions that time makes trash good.

Each of the first 3 generations of Amati beat the world and the earlier Amati's in their lifetimes.  The later generations of Amatis beat noone.  Strad beat all three first generations of Amatis in his lifetime.  Paganini recognized the greatness of Del Gesu in under 50 years from his making.  And noone has out done either Strad or Del Gesu in the very long time since them.

Vuillaume established the level of success he still has in his lifetime.

No. Age is certainly good to string instruments, a plus.  But who is good and best is found out quickly and doesn't really move or change with time.

That idea that aging will turn modern corners into classical ones, and medicore instruments in tongreat once is just wishfulness.

Didn't want to say anything serious today, but oh well...

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

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1 hour ago, David Beard said:

I realy can't agree with any notions that time makes trash good.

Not saying that, only that the meticulous work coming out of China equals that from 18th century Cremona in appearance.  If appearance is all you value, there is a surfeit of apparent quality coming out of China.  I have a hard time understanding why the comments of professionals here concern only appearance.  Age has a way of increasing desirability of violins, my guess is that the better new violins from China start life having appearance equal to those that started life in Cremona 250 years ago.  But would any established luthier accept them as equals?  If not, why not?  Doesn't tone count for something in the market made by professional luthiers, numerous comments neglecting tone notwithstanding?

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Former boss. Customer came in with an old violin. Customer was told that it was,as we say here, "the usual" and in poor condition at that. After making the boat paddle motion with the instrument and the tomato stick motion with the bow shaped object,  the owner protested that the fiddle was old and must have value because of that. The shop owner replied, "Old shit is still shit." 

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2 hours ago, Roger Hill said:

Not saying that, only that the meticulous work coming out of China equals that from 18th century Cremona in appearance.  If appearance is all you value, there is a surfeit of apparent quality coming out of China.  I have a hard time understanding why the comments of professionals here concern only appearance.  Age has a way of increasing desirability of violins, my guess is that the better new violins from China start life having appearance equal to those that started life in Cremona 250 years ago.  But would any established luthier accept them as equals?  If not, why not?  Doesn't tone count for something in the market made by professional luthiers, numerous comments neglecting tone notwithstanding?

If everything is beautiful, nothing is beautiful. If everything is outstanding nothing is outstanding.

You can get some excellent Chinese instruments these days, by the countless thousands. And every year there are more countless thousands. And in 100 years countless thousands will remain, Even if countless thousands are destroyed in the meantime. There’s just no comparison.

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2 hours ago, Roger Hill said:

Not saying that, only that the meticulous work coming out of China equals that from 18th century Cremona in appearance.  If appearance is all you value, there is a surfeit of apparent quality coming out of China.  I have a hard time understanding why the comments of professionals here concern only appearance.  Age has a way of increasing desirability of violins, my guess is that the better new violins from China start life having appearance equal to those that started life in Cremona 250 years ago.  But would any established luthier accept them as equals?  If not, why not?  Doesn't tone count for something in the market made by professional luthiers, numerous comments neglecting tone notwithstanding?

PS.

The value of an instrument is based on what it is, and its condition. The worst Strad ever made remains a Strad, Even if it was trampled on by the charge of the light brigade. The best Chinese factory instrument, or German or French or American for that matter, remains just that.

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7 hours ago, Roger Hill said:

Not saying that, only that the meticulous work coming out of China equals that from 18th century Cremona in appearance.  If appearance is all you value, there is a surfeit of apparent quality coming out of China.  I have a hard time understanding why the comments of professionals here concern only appearance.  Age has a way of increasing desirability of violins, my guess is that the better new violins from China start life having appearance equal to those that started life in Cremona 250 years ago.  But would any established luthier accept them as equals?  If not, why not?  Doesn't tone count for something in the market made by professional luthiers, numerous comments neglecting tone notwithstanding?

The reason is that making since Vuillaume's time is copy making.

Modernized copy making.

Experts can by eye reliably enough tell what something is.   And what something is turns out to be quiet a good indicator of the upper limit of how well it might sound or play.    

And the market pushes for modern copy making to look either very clean and perfect, or very like better old making.   Even though those things are appearance only, they tend to influence many buyers, and therefore price.

For 2 centuries, many buyers would rather buy something that they can be confused about and believe is a better thing than they paid for, above buying something that is clearerly and unconfusingly what they paid for.

These aren't the buyers that drive the market by actually wanting and discerning the best instrument they can afford, and would spend more for better if they could. No.

But these people who want to he confused about what they bought are the most numerous buyers.

 

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