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Mario Gadda violin (sigh)


Filippo Sciarra
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Hi friends.

I'm a violinist and aspiring weekend luthier in Italy, who's looking for a new instrument.

I've tried quite a few in the last months, and recently saw a Mario Gadda's violin near where I live, and decided to go there to try it. I'm also going to try other instruments that the guy has.

I know that there are a lot of stories about Gadda's workshop and all the fakes that go around, so I'm a lot suspicious, but I still wanted to give it a try.

I know that you really can't do much just by looking at the pictures. The writing in the certificate seems legit, and also the label, but still, it's Gadda. I probably wouldn't believe him if he directly gave me the instrument saying that it was made by him.

What do you think?

 

For non-italian, the certificate states "Me, Mario Gadda, confirm that this instrument, labeled as from 1973 and with my first stamp, "Gadda Mario", is mine and has been made entirely by my hands. I used a Leandro Bisiach's form, since I'm a fan of his instruments."

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Edited by Filippo Sciarra
Wanted to add the translation to the certificate.
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Master Sciarra,

As a teacher, I know there are many thoughts swirling through your head. Is she? Is not she? Let me roll up my Financial Times and let me swat your over your head!

Will you practice? Will you build her a home? A Family?

Bisiachs and Gaddas are nightmares if you want the absolute truth. Bisiachs here, more in the US ( where is Waldo Gindin? ) but Gadda in Asia. Can not say for the colour but the outline can possibly be many of he Bisiachs offered. But think! Who did the Bisiach's copy? My favorite Bisiach ( early 20th century, not saying how labeled ) is a Strad copy that can peel the paint off of the ceilings of auditoriums. Simply one of the best violins in existence. Is it a nightmare to play? Yes. if you barely scrape the neighboring string, the sound collapses. And that is the best case consequence. I might mention that audience members courtesy flight bags.  

You have to get on your feet and do the homework.

Everything looks too neat but reasonable. Given the Gaddas I have played, I would try it. I have mentioned an Oddone, but with some Gaddas, even the fakes can be reasonable to play. I recently heard a Gadda, real or not, the young lady was an excellent violinist.

Is this a complex question? If this will make you a working musician... You must try it and report back to us. Being a collector, which I have become, is lame. If you think any instrument will make you better long term, get it.

I worked ( no tail feathers ) intially into a position. From there, it was easier to make choices. If people care what you play, that is nonsense ( but one might have to conform ) while if you play well, then some might respect you for the art.\

I like this Gadda, but I am so far from telling you what might be the truth. Also, historically, the sound from the instruments from the 1970s do not coincide with the sound from the late 80s and 90s, which did change the shape of classical music in my circles.

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It's true that the name Mario Gadda has become radioactive for the last ten years or so since it has become general knowledge that he did so much fakery and that there are all sorts of "Gaddas" out there, but that sort of fear will probably be cyclical. There was a time when no one wanted to buy a Scarampella because buyers learned that many of the later ones were made by Gaetano Gadda (even with Scarampella's approval). In time, the market shook itself out, and fake Scarampellas were winnowed out, Gaetano Gaddas appreciated for what they are, and "real" Scarampellas going for higher prices. Some violinists I know actually prefer the sound of a good Gaetano.

This violin looks good, and the edgework and corners look a lot like a violin I have that experts who knew Mario personally and even worked with him say is most likely a personal work of his (though labelled and branded as a late Gaetano...). If the sound of this violin pleases you, don't be scared away by the reputation of the maker, but don't pay too much for it! In 5 or 10 years, Mario Gaddas will probably stop being radioactive, but in the mean time, they're not as easy to sell as a lot of violins of similar quality.

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1 hour ago, Michael Appleman said:

Mario Gaddas will probably stop being radioactive, but in the mean time, they're not as easy to sell as a lot of violins of similar quality.

Gaddas are “radioactive” for a reason, namely that I don’t know anyone (that I take seriously) who could authenticate one. I can’t see how your scenario for the future could happen, apart from a universal dumbing down, where people couldn’t care less, if he made them or not

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11 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Gaddas are “radioactive” for a reason, namely that I don’t know anyone (that I take seriously) who could authenticate one. I can’t see how your scenario for the future could happen, apart from a universal dumbing down, where people couldn’t care less, if he made them or not

I personally know some people who worked for him and dealt with him whose opinions I do take seriously. At some point, the better fiddles will get seperated from the chaff, and we'll have a "body of work" that will be considered as "real Marios," (even if some of those were made by Sri Lankan outworkers...that would be the "dumbing down" you're talking about...) Seriously, the guys I know are pretty good about telling the Marios from the Sri Lankan outworkers...

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Of all the zillions of violins you could buy in this price range, you chose to focus on this one, knowing the issues associated with the shop. Is there something particularly compelling about this violin? playing qualities? is it standing out in some way? I have to think that if it was an average violin, you would have just moved on and no reason to post here.

If you have looked a lot of other instruments and this one is beating them hands down, then you might just want to ignore the chatter. 

 

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I worked for a long time with a very good contemporary maker, and to me, a violin is a tool for making music. I've also been an antique dealer and collector, so I respect the value of rare and special instruments. In all these cases, the specific value is determined by "the market", i.e., what a willing and informed buyer and seller will agree upon.  Since Gaddas are "radioactive", it seems a person with confidence in their judgement and a slight contrarian bent might have an opportunity to pick up a pretty good bargain that they can enjoy for a time, and possibly profit from as the market's mood changes. Sam argument for buying from good contemporary makers: you get wonderful performance for a fraction of the cost, if you trust your own judgment. I agree with Deans.

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1 hour ago, deans said:

Of all the zillions of violins you could buy in this price range, you chose to focus on this one, knowing the issues associated with the shop. Is there something particularly compelling about this violin? playing qualities? is it standing out in some way?

I still haven't tried the violin, I'm going to do so on Monday. I came in contact with it because at first and, frankly, ignorant glance I only knew that Gadda had been a great Mantuan maker in the past. Only after deciding to go there and contacting the guy who sells it, who is kind of a renowned ethnomusicologist in Bologna, I discovered all the fuss around the Gaddas in general.

And, as I said before, I'm also going to try other violins. A confirmed Gino Antonelli violin made out of poplar in 1971, with a Carlson and Neumann certificate priced at about €7000.

A suspected Carlo Carletto violin made in 1915 with a fake label and a second one in the bottom block which indicates the name of the maker, which costs €9500.

A very suspicious Predrazzini violin with only the label, probably fake, that I still want to try out of curiosity, of which I don't have any picture.

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10 hours ago, Michael Appleman said:

I personally know some people who worked for him and dealt with him whose opinions I do take seriously. At some point, the better fiddles will get seperated from the chaff, and we'll have a "body of work" that will be considered as "real Marios," (even if some of those were made by Sri Lankan outworkers...that would be the "dumbing down" you're talking about...) Seriously, the guys I know are pretty good about telling the Marios from the Sri Lankan outworkers...

I had no idea there was contracting in Sri Lanka. I'd love to learn more.

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Thank you Maestro Appleman.

Get a note book. Really try to get to know the instrument. That if you meet it decades later, that you recognize it. What an opportunity. The sound is what we can not assess. I know nothing of your playing, but if it does not work? 

Your choices appear to be a variety of instruments. What is the common thread between all? Antonelli, from Mantua. I spent nearly three months with a Carletti ( Bologn- ese? ) on loan. You would ask your friend, but I do not think that that a Carletti would be close to the price of a Gadda? I would be there before you to purchase. Find out why it resembles a Carletti except for the thin sheet of cellulose and HP laser printer ink.

I have tremendous respect for Bologna and its makers. I likely have more favorite instruments ( that I might have purchased ) from Bologna than Cremona. Some were missed opportunities. Opportunities are about timing. I do not want anyone to rush into a purchase. Do more research. Some research is stupid. Some research makes you a better player.

I love Mantua, and Rimini too. Rental cars become a must in Italy. From Ventimiglia to Pisa to Venice, get a car.

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17 minutes ago, germain said:

Brands/label  look different 

That may also be because yours is 20 years younger. From what i remember, Mario Gadda adopted your label around the 1990s.

For the stamp, that's one of the most suspicious things about this violin. I haven't seen any other violin with this "Gadda Mario" label, always "M. Gadda - Mantova" or the "MG" stamp.

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15 minutes ago, Filippo Sciarra said:

That may also be because yours is 20 years younger. From what i remember, Mario Gadda adopted your label around the 1990s.

For the stamp, that's one of the most suspicious things about this violin. I haven't seen any other violin with this "Gadda Mario" label, always "M. Gadda - Mantova" or the "MG" stamp.

Correct… although I’ve seen earlier instruments with that label

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On 8/5/2022 at 10:24 PM, JacksonMaberry said:

I had no idea there was contracting in Sri Lanka. I'd love to learn more.

I learned from a maker who worked in a big Mantuan shop that one of his last jobs before leaving ca. 1980 was to train a group of Sri Lankan workmen who were brought in to keep costs down...

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10 minutes ago, Michael Appleman said:

I learned from a maker who worked in a big Mantuan shop that one of his last jobs before leaving ca. 1980 was to train a group of Sri Lankan workmen who were brought in to keep costs down...

Thanks! Do you know if this planted the seed for a Sri Lankan violin trade that continues to this day? Fascinating 

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I got the violin yesterday, I can keep it for about a week and then let him know if I like it or not (the price is €6700).

It certainly came out of the workshop of Mario Gadda, since he got it directly from his heirs who sort of sell old instruments of him that they still have in stock from the 80s.

The sound is very potent, strong, and is extremely clear, especially on the second and third strings. I tried a lot of violins there. Also one from the 1600s which didn't project much but had an extremely complicated and developed sound (it costs in the hundred of thousand, not what I was looking for but very nice).

The tone is quite nice, pretty standard sounding.

I don't think it was made by Mario himself, probably some other people in his workshop, and honestly I don't really care about that. Still, I don't think I can or could get anything better in this price range. I'm going to show it to my teacher and see what she says about it. I'm pretty satisfied with it.

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5 hours ago, Filippo Sciarra said:

I got the violin yesterday, I can keep it for about a week and then let him know if I like it or not (the price is €6700).

It certainly came out of the workshop of Mario Gadda, since he got it directly from his heirs who sort of sell old instruments of him that they still have in stock from the 80s.

The sound is very potent, strong, and is extremely clear, especially on the second and third strings. I tried a lot of violins there. Also one from the 1600s which didn't project much but had an extremely complicated and developed sound (it costs in the hundred of thousand, not what I was looking for but very nice).

The tone is quite nice, pretty standard sounding.

I don't think it was made by Mario himself, probably some other people in his workshop, and honestly I don't really care about that. Still, I don't think I can or could get anything better in this price range. I'm going to show it to my teacher and see what she says about it. I'm pretty satisfied with it.

How does the G string at very high position sound? Does it have a hoarse/tight sound or relaxed/rich sound?

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6 hours ago, Filippo Sciarra said:

 

It certainly came out of the workshop of Mario Gadda, since he got it directly from his heirs who sort of sell old instruments of him that they still have in stock from the 80s.

 

Good luck selling it to some third party at some time in the future with such an invincible logical provenance

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55 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Good luck selling it to some third party at some time in the future with such an invincible logical provenance

Jacob, you missed one thing ...
The boy is still studying. Maybe he will become an outstanding violinist.
Then, their "old story" will be irrelevant. Even if they sound like baboon poop ... they will be the violin of a great violinist.

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