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William Lewis & Son / Einsele with problems


Tom_R
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5 hours ago, matesic said:

I'd say their tonal shortcomings fall into three main categories:

 1. dull and lifeless

2. nasal and shrieky

3. boomy and unfocused

1.  Dead wood.  Not much hope of creating life.

2.  At least there's sound... and potential to reshape it.  Often too thick, which is also a good thing for rework.

3.  Too thin.  Adding wood is too much work and not likely to turn out well.

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18 hours ago, Violadamore said:

So, basically, despite your username, you have no real dog in this fight or any hands-on experience in the business, but you like to argue with the rest of us anyway.  I'll be nice and not unleash a certain pithy Jacobism on you, but I'm thinking it very loudly.  :P :lol:

Having made my living from playing for several decades, I have plenty of hands-on experience, for if nothing else, violins are to play.

If, on the other hand, you meant I have no experience at wasting my time regraduating a beaver chewed Schonbach rotter, and thinking I've become a hero for doing so, then you are right.

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We always seem to be on slightly different pages during these discussions.

A 'good', classical violinist isn't at all interested in the not-totally-rubbish. ^_^

But...beginners, some fiddlers, etc. are.  And that's fine.  If they are happy with the way the instrument sounds, plays and looks, who are the enlightened among us to tell them they shouldn't be? 

So...if the market exists...and everyone is happy...why are we trying to make them unhappy?

I'll also add that personal taste and perception is always being overlooked on MN.  I can tell a talented vocalist from an average singer from a poor singer.  But I don't  always want to listen to the best vocalists...I tend to prefer a rougher, less polished voice to listen to.  My tastes aren't 'wrong' because they don't lean towards 'the best'.

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The thread has shifted mainly to how much can / should be done to improve sound quality but here's something to close the loop on a comment about the Lewis instrument's finish.

21 hours ago, Blank face said:

I was talking about the outside; at the photos I've marked the zone of obvious difference in colour. I'm just wondering why the person who stripped the original varnish from the rest just left it there?

1631453782_Scroll_side(Phone).jpg.211df04927e1a3f6db97d0be7964fec0.jpg

I think this is more likely an artifact of flame patterns, lighting and camera angle. Inspecting it "live" the varnish looks pretty uniform and has clarity. Brush marks are evident in some places. See below for two lighting angles and note the shifting flame highlights even within the area you circled. In some diffuse lighting that area doesn't stand out in contrast to the rest of the instrument. I can't say if the current finish supports concluding it was stripped.

Pegbox varnish 2 (Small).JPG

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49 minutes ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

But a lot of Schonbach instruments genuinely sound good.  In my experience, which I readily admit may be limited, the nicer ones that have figured wood and proper varnish usually sound alright, and once in a while they sound really great.  You have to go on a case by case basis.  I know professionals who own violins by well-respected makers (even one old Italian violin), yet choose to perform on Markies.  

That is indeed true. And when re-worked by somebody who knows how, they might also be reasonably pleasant to play. Seeing that you are a bit of a fan, I am happy to inform you that a Markie was used at the Paganini Competition. And it won. That was however, quite a while ago.

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51 minutes ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

But a lot of Schonbach instruments genuinely sound good.  In my experience, which I readily admit may be limited, the nicer ones that have figured wood and proper varnish usually sound alright, and once in a while they sound really great.  You have to go on a case by case basis.  I know professionals who own violins by well-respected makers (even one old Italian violin), yet choose to perform on Markies.  

Depends what your comparison violins are and what you're used to playing and/or hearing as to what sounds "good."

"Good" is both relative and subjective. 

But the point about cottage industry Markies is that they were made from parts by piece workers who did not care about making a "good" sounding violin. So if you find one that sounds "good," then it is by either by luck or it may have been re-graduated (as Carl points out).

 

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23 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

Kavakos ?

Good violinists, classical or otherwise, are always interested in violins which sound good and are reasonably easy to play whatever the provenance.

Sure!  But I wouldn't classify those violins as 'almost rubbish'...^_^

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1 hour ago, GeorgeH said:

Depends what your comparison violins are and what you're used to playing and/or hearing as to what sounds "good."

"Good" is both relative and subjective. 

But the point about cottage industry Markies is that they were made from parts by piece workers who did not care about making a "good" sounding violin. So if you find one that sounds "good," then it is by either by luck or it may have been re-graduated (as Carl points out).

 

It's well known that they were intentionally made and marketed in different grades at different prices.   Evidence of which grade a particular Markie was to start with, has often been lost to time, which complicates both this discussion and the finding of good ones.  :)

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Just now, Violadamore said:

It's well known that they were intentionally made and marketed in different grades at different prices.   Evidence of which grade a particular Markie was to start with, has often been lost to time, which complicates both this discussion and the finding of good ones.  :)

Indeed. But in cases of generic cottage industry Markies, grading was based on appearance, not anything to do with the sound. When you read the descriptions and pricing in the trade catalogs of the day, it is pretty clear what they were graded on, such as:

- Quantity and quality of flame on back, neck, and ribs

- Quality of the ebony and fittings

- One piece or two piece back

- Quality of the exterior carving

- Real or fake purfling

- Quality of the varnishing

- Number of (fake) corner blocks

In the trade catalog marketing, the more superlatives that could be applied to an instrument's appearance, the more superlatives could be applied to the sound.

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Here's another dollop of my wisdom, FWIW. It's not how the violin sounds that matters (what James Beament would call its inherent "timbre") but how you can make it sound - in Beament's lexicon the "tone" in which the contributions due to the instrument, the bow and the player are hard if not impossible to evaluate independently. The combination that sounds best is also influenced to a considerable degree by the particular demands of the music.

I regularly play on 3 instruments using either of 2 bows. One instrument I prefer for its timbre and ease of playing, another for its strength and depth, so I'll use it for different pieces. On the easiest instrument I prefer one bow for slow romantic music (using it I can extract greater strength and depth), the other bow for music requiring greater agility. In technically demanding music I'm unsure which violin/bow combination would work best but I'd start by changing the player.

I take Rue's point that beginners may be satisfied with an instrument that an expert would reject, and that personal taste varies inexplicably. But there's still that elusive wow factor that some violins possess, most players and listeners perceive and is the reason we all blow so much hot air on this site.

Edit - and there's also the acoustic (lack of) that causes some otherwise impressive violins to "die"!

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7 hours ago, matesic said:

It's not how the violin sounds that matters... but how you can make it sound...

In my view, how you can make a violin sound is very closely related to the inherent capability of the body to produce sounds, or the response curve.  If there is a dropout in the response curve, then there is a "sound" which can not be accessed by the player. 

My mental model is an equalizer.  About the best control you can get is 31 band, or 1/3 octave across the 20 - 20000 Hz spectrum.  But the violin response curve has extremely sharp peaks and dips, densely packed in a critical frequency range, and I estimate you'd need a 1/20 octave equalizer or more to be able to mimic that curve.  If a number of those 1/20 octave sliders are dropped down randomly, you might not be able to notice a "tone" difference... but something would be missing.  If the response curve has broader features, that's more of a tone issue.

In looking as response curves for many years, IMO the "better" ones have less dropouts... less missing, more available to the player to make it sound (mostly in the range of ~1400 - 4000 Hz).

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On 8/4/2021 at 8:02 PM, Tom_R said:

I think this is more likely an artifact of flame patterns, lighting and camera angle. Inspecting it "live" the varnish looks pretty uniform and has clarity. Brush marks are evident in some places.

So it was a misleading impression from the photos. Probably your violin was overcoated then with some clear shellac or French polish. Compared with stripping this is rather good news, though still a certain devaluation.

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