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J.B.Vuillaume cut-down


Gtone
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I posted this youtube clip to invite people,especially those with experience in these matters,

to discuss the procedures and results.

I know some if not most will not agree with it being done in the first place,to a Vuillaume or other famous makers instruments.

Understandably,but as previously mentioned on other forum discussions it may be rendered more viable otherwise.

It has been done though and I was interested to hear your collective thoughts on how he(Mr Godliman) went with the endeavor.

I also realize that it isn't great to talk about others work,(but he did publish)so if you'd rather not say that's fine,maybe post...no comment.

Made for interesting viewing though and I thought others may like to watch it

 Also,although I don't know him,I respect his skills and hope that the discussion remains courteous.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdd5o8nz9y4

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Thanks Dwight,

I err on this ethical side of the discussion as well.

But it brings forward the question of ,if the owner/paying customers requested you

and the notion of whether they will take it elsewhere to get the job done if one

refused to. I wouldn't have squirmed if it were a skylark.

 

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3 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Just buy a Hopf to start with

Yes too right or even adjust your playing.

You struggled with this question yourself recently Jacob about cutting down a lrg cello.

I know you have been glad not to have cut it down but what if it were a customer(let's say a pesky one)asking you to do it?

Someone without your skill set may end with the job should you refuse,which wouldn't be great.

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6 minutes ago, Gtone said:

Thanks Dwight,

I err on this ethical side of the discussion as well.

But it brings forward the question of ,if the owner/paying customers requested you

and the notion of whether they will take it elsewhere to get the job done if one

refused to. I wouldn't have squirmed if it were a skylark.

 

There are a lot of violas that got the treatment.....  I always thought one of those big violins would be nice for violists who need to play violin too, that said my violin is a rather small Del Gesu model.

DLB

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I'm not an advocate of cutting down instruments. With that said cut-down violas are part of the history of the instrument. Many decades and centuries of viola playing has been done on cut-down instruments, including some of the best players. They seem to work. So much so that some fine modern luthiers make copies of cut-down versions of violas, seems a little odd when you think about

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17 minutes ago, deans said:

I'm not an advocate of cutting down instruments. With that said cut-down violas are part of the history of the instrument. Many decades and centuries of viola playing has been done on cut-down instruments, including some of the best players. They seem to work. So much so that some fine modern luthiers make copies of cut-down versions of violas, seems a little odd when you think about

I do have a wonderful John Dilworth viola based on a cut down Linarol probably Lira. You have a great point. 
the whole history of viola design and production (or lack there of) is not a straight and level road!

DLB

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I suppose that cutting a fake Maggini down is oddly appropriate, considering the number of real ones that have been reduced, but It seems like there's probably a fiddler out there who wouldn't mid the longer back. 

That being said, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Roisman/Steinhardt cut down Storioni, so I guess I shouldn't judge...

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I have two minds about cutting down. 

On one hand, if those historic villas and cellos we're never cut down, they might not have survived the test of time and perhaps had been forgotten because of their unwieldy carapace. 

On the other, it is modifying an original work, and can lead to bad things if not done properly. 

But I take no ethical stance. Violins are not living. If a paying customer wants their instrument modified, I don't see any ethical lines that have to be crossed. It's an interesting process that takes much skill and knowledge to accomplish. 

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I can't imagine any player/owner would take such a risk as this unless it played like a drainpipe. If we could hear a little of how it sounded then and now (also the opinion of an experienced player as to how the changes affected the playing characteristics) we'd have some proper information. In the event we learn nothing.

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I had never seen any instrument cut down so I was intrigued how it was done

and what others who had done this go about it.

In the absence of hearing before or after we can't say much.

Maybe it was about making it more marketable/investment,still speculative I know.

Thanks for the comments from others as well,I knew it was kind of impolite of me to ask

about others work practices,but I thought I'd run it up the flagpole so to speak.

Interesting about copying cut down violas and other Maggini's being cut down as well.

 

 

 

 

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Hi Bob,that may be a bit of a sidebar question.from my perspective if an unfound box of Antonio's violin/violas/cellos were found today I think it would probably be unanimous that they remain untouched.

And maybe ethical is a stretch, that I used before,but like Nick said they're not living, important historical pieces nonetheless.

A Vuillaume instrument I would think fits into that myself.

 

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Gtone, I thought it was a very interesting clip and thanks for posting it.

Several of the comments above highlight the dilemma of whether a venerable old instrument is classed as a tool for musical expression or a work of art that should be preserved in a museum (or someones bank vault)? 

I would also have loved to hear a before and after. 

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One way of summing up the pros and cons is to answer the question if it would be worth more money now or before, say, if you put it to a Tarisio auction with global attention.

It would not be clear to me, but I would guess it may have been worth more before the intervention.

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These Maggini Vuillaume's you can pick up for a dime compared to the strad/guarneri models.

I have no issues with cutting them down, the one's I tried all sounded poorly.

I'm wondering if it wouldn't be possible to get rid of the double purfling instead and make the cut more towards to the edge and in doing so cutting away the first purfling (from the inside). Personally, it's the main thing I dislike about Maggini models apart from the extra scroll turn.

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3 hours ago, Bob K said:

So do folks also think it unethical for a Stradivarius to have had the neck replaced and head grafted back on just to suit some players expectations of a modern instrument?

 

2 hours ago, Bob K said:

Gtone, I thought it was a very interesting clip and thanks for posting it.

Several of the comments above highlight the dilemma of whether a venerable old instrument is classed as a tool for musical expression or a work of art that should be preserved in a museum (or someones bank vault)? 

I would also have loved to hear a before and after. 

The longer replacement neck increased the string length which I believe is beneficial for playability issues.  Also think the body size should have increased to increase sound output but of course this is not possible unless you make a new instrument like only a few makers have done.

String length: 

The wolf note and playability problems that violas and cellos often have is partially due to their relatively short string length.  Their strings have to be heavy to produce a low pitch while still having adequate tension.  The combination of a heavy weight M and tension T produces a high impedance Z:   Z = (TM)^0.5

The high impedance a short heavy string makes it difficult to bow.   The string's energy is also more readily transferred to the instrument body which makes it vibrate with more amplitude (makes the sound louder) but this causes any wolf notes to get worse.  So at a given tension you are better off with a longer light string than a shorter heavy one. 

Body size:

Sound output is directly proportional to the source's area so big bodies are generally louder than small ones.  However sound output is inversely proportional to the weight of the source so light bodies are generally louder than heavy ones.

But making the instrument body larger also makes it heavier which implies there is probably an optimum size which will produce the maximum output (loudness) for a given frequency.

I suspect that Stradivari with his long forms and  Maggini was trying to find the optimum size however the gut E strings available at their times were not strong enough to be made much longer.  Modern steel strings (380mm Helicore viola E string is an example) are strong enough but we're so stuck in tradition that no one will want to experiment with larger body violins.

I've never seen an experiment done where the violin's size was varied to see what happens.

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There has been a trend lately to increase the body length of some "cut" violas (return them to their original dimensions). Even that is a decision I'd rather not make.

As far as violas go, I can state that in notable cases, based on comparative sales studies that an alteration of the body length did decrease market value... Example: In the case of a fine Bologese viola I appraised, an unaltered example sold for more than reduced examples despite the fact that the stop length and body geometry made it harder to play.

The above viola was rare (few examples exist), so that comparison does have its caveats (considering one or maybe two existing unaltered violas by the maker and a majority of altered ones).

Still, in general I don't see alteration as a plus.

Large fiddles, small violas (like Gagliano), and big 'celli were often altered in the past, with the aim of making the instrument useful to players in general.  Some still are occasionally being altered... For me, considering doing so would be agonizing and would ultimately result in turning down the job.  My thoughts are be that there are probably enough instruments of usable size around and that it wasn't necessary... and if there weren't I'm sure a contemporary maker would step up and produce one. Rather save what is...

Times change... and conservation considerations change. These instruments would not have been altered in the past if there was not an economic reason to do so. In the case of the 'cello Jacob posted about a while back, the reasoning that it would not be played unless cut was compelling... or maybe even agonizing... though moot if a museum were interested in it as it is.

I believe Mr Godliman is ex-Hill is he not?  I assume he worked there in a slightly different "climate" than we live in presently. A time when sizing and arching reduction was more common.

 

 

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