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What do you find attractive?


MacCeol
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after having seen a fair number of violins(tho no doubt far fewer than most of the fingerboard users have seen) i began to notice that i have general preferences in violin appearnace.

it appears that i like a thick, even opaque finish in particular and that i dislike violins that seem to "round". oh, and can you say red? smile.gif (note, i am not a total "red violin" junkie, but i must say i found the instrument they used in it to be very very attractive smile.gif )

so now, what i'd really like to hear: what do you guys(and gals!) find attractive in a violin? (of course, if you prefer violas, cellos, or some other stringed instrument, please do espouse their aesthetic virtues for us! smile.gif )

oh, and if you didn't know the smithsonian has a great pictures of some strads on their web site(errr, i guess that should have an f.y.i. on it smile.gif )

[This message has been edited by MacCeol (edited 03-18-2001).]

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I play the viola, but I'll just describe the general characteristics I find attractive (they can and do apply to violins, etc. as well).

I don't like a finish that is too shiny, because I hate seeing a beautiful wooden instrument glossed up until it's like plastic. Oil varnish with a sort of silkier look that doesn't hide the "personality" of the wood surface looks better to me.

I seem to be drawn to "Strad-style" models and deeper colors (brown, red-brown), and maple backs with a moderate flaming. I also like ebony fittings.

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I go for sound. I don't care what the violin looks like. If it projects well and has a nice, even sound, who cares what it looks like. My violin has a reddish tint. It's a Verzi 1925. Its a very nice instrument.

However, if I had to pick between 2 instruments that had great sound, etc. I'd go for a brown, Italian-looking instrument. I'm also a fan on the Grafted Scroll. It adds character to the instrument smile.gif

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Before I used to like antiqued instruments, but now, I prefer the new, shiny looking ones. Antiguing instruments is like putting a century-old wrinkled old man's face to a newly born child. laugh.giflaugh.gif This business of antiguing instruments is an outcome of our like for old violins for all its splendors. I can imagine that if I am a top violinist (of course I am not), and probably own an old Italian like a Stradivarius, I would like to be seen playing on such, and not playing a new instrument. But if my Stradivarius is hard to maintain, and playing it so often will harm it further, I will have an antigued copy of my original. Nobody is going to suspect that I am using a new one. That is assuming that nobody rush up the stage to take a peep at what's the tag inside. blush.gifblush.gif Antiguing serves this purpose well. But I now prefer new instruments, because it is unique in itself, allowing the maker to give birth to a new face on a new body. But of course, I can imagine that antigued ones will be easier to sell. So, nothing really wrong about it, and I own one myself.

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I like reddish varnish with a complex, luminous color, crisp edges, relatively flat arching, dramatic flamed wood, one piece backs, and dramatically carved scrolls that look almost like horns from the front (any scroll that has personality, also, and i don't care if it's symmetrical, i love the scroll on the Canon del Gesu). I also like birdseye and quilted maple backs for looks (one of the prettiest violins i have ever seen pictures of was a Seraphin with bridseye back), and very crisply cut f-holes. Nice boxwood fittings look great, so does real ivory, but i hate the look of gold on a violin. I like purfling that is clean and elegant, but does not draw attention to itself.

Bottom line, though, given a certain amount of money to spend, i will buy the best playing violin i can afford, regardless of looks.

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I am a violist and the things that attract me visually about a viola are: Short corners, I don’t like the drawn-out, droopy Cremonese corners, I like the stout, no-nonsense type seen in some Brescian instruments. I like a varnish anywhere from fairly golden to dark brown, but without much red or orange, no antiquing please, let nature take its course. I like ebony pegs usually, and a black tailpiece without the Hill-style line down the middle. I like a simple, rounded shape for all bouts; big round lower bouts give the instrument an Earth Mother shape I find appealing. The fewer sharp angles and dramatic tight curves the better. The instrument should look mellow and easy, the way a viola should sound. Fairly small flame (narrow stripes). I like both one- and two-piece backs. I wish makers would experiment more with scrolls. I would be interested to see one with fewer turns. F-holes that are not too vertical. The large simple f-holes on my teacher’s Helmut Keller viola are lovely and seem to reflect an aesthetic of antiquity.

I’ve been thinking about these things a lot in the last year, since I am having a viola built for me that should be finished in a few weeks. It is a slightly enlarged copy of the Kievman Gaspar da Salo viola c. 1580.

Brian

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How exciting Brian- who's your maker? My Michetschlager is cornerless, with wide lower bouts, and the scroll is cut out to make it significantly lighter. The color is a dark honey, very little red, and the f holes are graceful and widish.I dream about her all day long, and can't wait to get her out of the case when I get home.

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R. Montgomery,

By the end of the month or beginning of April I'll be finished with my latest violin. The back and sides are quilted black walnut. No stain will be applied to any part of it. It will stay 'au natural'. I've got the top plate hanging in the sun to darken it a bit (there's your tan top). It will have a satin finish.

How's that for service? (I guess this is my 1st advertisement).

My favorite violin has bloodwood back and sides and light top with ebony fittings - again no stain.

[This message has been edited by wolfnote (edited 03-19-2001).]

[This message has been edited by wolfnote (edited 03-19-2001).]

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Randy,

Don't know about walnut as a tone wood. I have read about experiments performed in 'tuning' both the top and bottom plates in an attempt to make them the same note. The result is that it's a bad thing to do. If the plates differ by a sconch (that's a technical term for tad) they produce beats, like a dual prop airplane whose engines aren't turning at exactly the same RPM.

If they do happen to be the same note the resultant tone is flat, without dimension. According to the pros, the plates should differ by a note. Of course, proper tuning of the soundboard is the top priority.

The interesting fact I learned about spruce/deal is that its rigidity parallel to the grain and flexibility normal to the grain is what makes it ideal for the major generator of the sound produced.

I've also tried straight grained white pine with favorable results.

Okay, I'll shut up now.

Pete

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I am absolutely bonkers over birdseye maple...particularly if the varnish is a golden yellow....I don't have one of these, as yet....I like a golden yellow spruce top with back and sies in the birdseye.

I have bid on several on ebay...but didn't have the wherewithal to decisively win.

I also like the so called "red violins"

due to captured imagination...but I really

like a "graceful looking" instrument...hard for me to describe since I am not familiar with the subtle differences in describing

a guarneri style vs a strat style, amati styel...etc...I also like unusual scrolls...but none of Donuel's "devil violins" for me...where does he keep finding these things?

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I've been translating/reading Olga Adelmann's "The Alemannic School," and I have to say that a lot of the design of those instruments speaks to me somehow. Those long, straight f-holes, the stiff C-bouts, and purfled scrolls with a spiral that moves towards the eyes by equal steps with each turn just seem right. I don't, though, particularly enjoy the ornamentation on the bellies and backs.

Altgeige.

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A nice deep mahogany red-brown (is mahogany a tonewood? laugh.gif ) But, I do like other browns as well, except for really dark or really light. Lots of flame and grain. I did see some new violins once that were a dark brown shading to an almost yellow around the edges. Yuck.

Antiquing? Well, mine's antiqued and looks nice. I don't really care one way or the other; however I like a non-shiny varnish.

Laurel

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