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Violin ID - How bad is it?


Ted_B
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Hello,

What kind of violin is this? It looks so weird to me. I got it for only $30 bucks and already regret it. Is it same or even worst quality than "the usual" ? Is it worth it at all to have it set up? I would appreciate your thoughts.

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It is a cheap Schönbach "Dutzendarbeit" from the end of the 19th C in a state of grave neglect. If it belonged to a violin maker, he could revive it to a usable school violin, but if you are a musician, it would probably be to expensive

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It's pretty bad.  If I saw this offered at my local flea market for $30, I would have left it there.

I was initially amused by the term "violin hospital" on the label, but on further reflection I realized that I am the proprietor of a violin hospital.

Kindig's entry in Wenberg's book says that he was an amateur maker working in Kansas City around 1900.  He "made a violin with the back, ribs and neck carved from a solid piece of maple.  The top is fit inside of the ribs and is firmly affixed.  The label reads 'don't try to regraduate this because it's impossible.'"

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43 minutes ago, Ted_B said:

So, it was made in the end of 19th C in Germany? I'm so confused by the label. Was it added later after a repair in US?

Looks like it. Definitely hastily made Shoenbach work, as Jacob says, so the Kansas City 1919 repair label must be from later. If the dimensions check out, it would probably make an OK player, but I'd probably pass on it, too. Not worth my time any more. Good one to practice on, though, because there's not much at risk. Might get $100 on Ebay, as is.

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54 minutes ago, Ted_B said:

So, it was made in the end of 19th C in Germany? I'm so confused by the label. Was it added later after a repair in US?

It was absolutely standard practice for shop-keepers the whole world over (not just in America) to buy such school instruments and to stick their own label in, as if they had made it themselves. Calling themselves a “hospital” is a bit over the top though:)

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Thanks for the clarification, Jacob! Beside pegs, bridge, tailpiece, does it need major work to get it in descent playing condition if one doesn't particularly care about the esthetics?

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49 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

It was absolutely standard practice…to stick their own label in, as if they had made it themselves…

It was standard for many, but in this case Kindig did not claim to have made it.  He wrote “Repaired, June 1917” on the label.

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4 hours ago, Michael Richwine said:

If the dimensions check out, it would probably make an OK player, but I'd probably pass on it, too.

Michael, can you, please let me know what to measure? I would like to see if dimensions are OK at least. Thanks.

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5 hours ago, Ted_B said:

Thanks for the clarification, Jacob! Beside pegs, bridge, tailpiece, does it need major work to get it in descent playing condition if one doesn't particularly care about the esthetics?

Despite not being Jacob, I would say it will certainly also need the fingerboard trued, the nut adjusted, and a sound post. Strings too, and I’d expect open seams somewhere.

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6 hours ago, Ted_B said:

Thanks for the clarification, Jacob! Beside pegs, bridge, tailpiece, does it need major work to get it in descent playing condition if one doesn't particularly care about the esthetics?

The fingerboard looks pretty trashed, and will either need work or replacement. The neck angle may also be too low.

I think it may have come from the morgue at the violin hospital.

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3 hours ago, Ted_B said:

Michael, can you, please let me know what to measure? I would like to see if dimensions are OK at least. Thanks.

I work on old German violins a lot, and even the expensive ones from as late as the 1930s aren't exactly paragons of dimensional consistency, so I don't worry a lot about minor details. However, some old violins from this time period have really short necks. The distance from the top edge of the violin to the front edge of the nut should be close to 130mm. The distance from the top edge of the violin down to the inner notch on the F-hole should be in the neighborhood of195 mm to allow you to set up a comfortable playing length. Biggest problem I see is the fingerboard, which looks pretty badly misaligned toward the E side, although it might just be the  angle of the photo. It costs far more than the fiddle is worth to reset the neck.  Also even though the fingerboard appears to have been shimmed once, the  projection appears to be low, Nominal fingerboard projection at the centerline of the bridge is 27mm or so. You'll need saddle, bridge, sound post, strings, tailpiece, tailgut, end pin and some serious attention to the badly worn pegs just to get it to play. Plus seam work, no doubt. There's more to add to the list, but I'm beating a dying horse, here.

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Thanks, Michael!

The distance from the top edge of the violin to the front edge of the nut is 130mm.

The distance from the top edge of the violin down to the inner notch on the F-hole is 191mm.

Fingerboard projection at the centerline of the bridge is 25mm.

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On 5/28/2022 at 8:05 AM, Ted_B said:

Hello,

What kind of violin is this? It looks so weird to me. I got it for only $30 bucks and already regret it. Is it same or even worst quality than "the usual" ? Is it worth it at all to have it set up? I would appreciate your thoughts.

It doesn't need a lot of work, it's hardly been played. Ignore the negative comments.

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4 hours ago, uguntde said:

Firewood. Get it chopped up and burn it. 

That would be a shame... someone of serious financial limitation would love to spend time ... with your guidance ... and make it somewhat playable with your used parts. It is still better than nothing for some.

I have never trashed a violin, but have spent some time and given several away to those in need. If it is a client's violin I have also done work at minimal or no cost, depending on the circumstances. 

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2 hours ago, Mat Roop said:

That would be a shame... someone of serious financial limitation would love to spend time ... with your guidance ... and make it somewhat playable with your used parts. It is still better than nothing for some.

I have never trashed a violin, but have spent some time and given several away to those in need. If it is a client's violin I have also done work at minimal or no cost, depending on the circumstances. 

Of course, this was a joke. But it would not be worth a lot of repair work. On the other hand I know one man who has learned repair work using such instruments. 

 

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11 hours ago, uguntde said:

Of course, this was a joke. But it would not be worth a lot of repair work. On the other hand I know one man who has learned repair work using such instruments. 

 

I agree Uguntde... It surprises me at times how little it takes to make an instrument like that "playable" ... just have to ignore all the little things like a broken corner, mismatched pegs, fingerboard that is slightly off center, or a bit warped. etc. An instrument like that is often enough to get a young student player started and if they are a natural, they will soon find a way to upgrade, and then they keep the old relic as a keepsake.

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Personally I think these are worth salvaging and think that if you don't want to that someone else probably does. The thing that gives me a small clue that regardless of who made it or what it cost, that some of that wear on the fingerboard is "telling us something" that is its a player. Someone at some point used to play it quite a bit it seems which is a potential indicator that it sounded {could sound} good...probably as a "country fiddle" based on all that first position wear 

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On 5/28/2022 at 10:02 AM, jacobsaunders said:

It is a cheap Schönbach "Dutzendarbeit" from the end of the 19th C in a state of grave neglect. If it belonged to a violin maker, he could revive it to a usable school violin, but if you are a musician, it would probably be to expensive

I have an almost identical model, I suppose You've seen lots of them?

The label says Made in Austria

So that would be Schönbach,  Austria-Hungary before 1919.

On 5/28/2022 at 3:20 PM, Shelbow said:

I think the guy was obviously a bit of a comedian. I like the label, good craic.

I like it too

On 5/29/2022 at 2:01 AM, Michael Richwine said:

I work on old German violins a lot, and even the expensive ones from as late as the 1930s aren't exactly paragons of dimensional consistency, so I don't worry a lot about minor details. However, some old violins from this time period have really short necks. The distance from the top edge of the violin to the front edge of the nut should be close to 130mm. The distance from the top edge of the violin down to the inner notch on the F-hole should be in the neighborhood of195 mm to allow you to set up a comfortable playing length. Biggest problem I see is the fingerboard, which looks pretty badly misaligned toward the E side, although it might just be the  angle of the photo. It costs far more than the fiddle is worth to reset the neck.  Also even though the fingerboard appears to have been shimmed once, the  projection appears to be low, Nominal fingerboard projection at the centerline of the bridge is 27mm or so. You'll need saddle, bridge, sound post, strings, tailpiece, tailgut, end pin and some serious attention to the badly worn pegs just to get it to play. Plus seam work, no doubt. There's more to add to the list, but I'm beating a dying horse, here.

Is the fingerboard misaligned or is that an illusion of perspective?

Has the neck been shimmed or is that an illusion of the grain? It could be either.

If it has been shimmed it could be planed down at the nut end to raise the projection to 27mm, but I would leave it at 25 if it didn't affect the E string bowing. It is very low arching though, so maybe a 33mm bridge height might help?

1 hour ago, jezzupe said:

Personally I think these are worth salvaging and think that if you don't want to that someone else probably does. The thing that gives me a small clue that regardless of who made it or what it cost, that some of that wear on the fingerboard is "telling us something" that is its a player. Someone at some point used to play it quite a bit it seems which is a potential indicator that it sounded {could sound} good...probably as a "country fiddle" based on all that first position wear 

I don't think it's been played much. I don't think those are string grooves, just string debris. It might just need cleaning.

On 5/28/2022 at 6:19 PM, Ted_B said:

Thanks for the clarification, Jacob! Beside pegs, bridge, tailpiece, does it need major work to get it in descent playing condition if one doesn't particularly care about the esthetics?

The missing saddle is probably typical. It was sitting on a tiny portion of the end block. Not enough glue surface for the job.

I think it's early 20th century and the plates were machine carved, then quickly hand finished. They had a plentiful supply of low density wood too and these things contribute to a good sounding instrument.

2 hours ago, Mat Roop said:

I agree Uguntde... It surprises me at times how little it takes to make an instrument like that "playable" ... just have to ignore all the little things like a broken corner, mismatched pegs, fingerboard that is slightly off center, or a bit warped. etc. An instrument like that is often enough to get a young student player started and if they are a natural, they will soon find a way to upgrade, and then they keep the old relic as a keepsake.

I love mine, it's dark and bright in sound with very little mid range, but very loud.

 

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The label says it's a "valuable" violin, so who's to argue!  Nice figured maple on the back, an obviously hand carved scroll, and of some character.  That could make a nice practice violin -- if not for a player, than for a budding luthier.  You'll get your 30 bucks out of it one way or another I think.

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I'll pay you $30 for it!... But remember, I am in Canada so that means $30 CAD.:o ... and you pay the shipping:D

BTW... looking at the bass bar , It appears the bar is of good quality, so it has likely been replaced... probably better than the original , but, then you lose true authenticity of the instrument.

Good luck!... Mat

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