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  1. Today
  2. Just heard...and watched...James Ehnes perform it. Brilliant! I'm gonna just enjoy my bubble of violin repletion as long as I can...
  3. Bit of a story behind this one. In about 1992, I was reaching the end of one year of doing violin repairs for a con artist. In all I must have set up about 50 violins for this guy. I don't use the term 'con artist' lightly or carelessly; this fellow turned out to have stolen, conned, cajoled, or otherwise unfairly acquired a LOT of violins from a LOT of widows and old timers over the years, and was known before his violin trading years for similarly horrid dealings in horse trading, real estate and other fields. He is no longer with us as of a handful of years ago now, and as I know nothing of any kin he has living, it's probably better not to say his name publicly. Anyway, at the time I came into possession of this violin I had almost decided to stop working for the man, as he was owing me more and more money and was becoming ever more controlling in his demands of my time. I made some calls to colleagues around my region, heard a lot of stories and requests for current contact information, and finally made the decision to break off my dealings with the fellow. He had brought me this (what turned out to be) last violin in a degraded condition, the varnish almost entirely sanded away, and had asked me to varnish and set it up. He called it 'Venetian' from about 1800. At the time I had some varnish I'd cooked from spirit of gum turpentine and linseed oil, but as it took rather long to cure he pressed for something faster. I used a commercial German varnish from a tin. Not great, but then the fiddle was in such rough shape, so heavily patched inside, that I felt it didn't much matter and went ahead with the factory varnish. When I was almost finished the job I had decided to break off doing business with this man, asking that he pay me the amount outstanding for various jobs if he wanted this fiddle back. He refused, swore and yelled over the phone, and I never did see him again. Thus I 'inherited' this violin. I finished the work, then some years later met my wife-to-be and she fell in love with this instrument about the same time she fell for me. It has been her faithful companion ever since, taking her through a few albums of Appalachian oldtime recordings and a few festival tours and making a lot of good music at late night jam sessions in kitchens and campgrounds. Cutting to the present - this past summer was especially hot and at times very humid, and some seams at last started opening. There was a small buzz besides. So I decided to open the thing up, at last. I was immediately surprised by a few details. What I had taken for maple patching in the belly were in fact a number of slab-cut veneers of some sort of pine, apparently intended as much to strengthen the belly against modern stringing and neck angle as they were to bridge old cracks. Someone in the period between about 1840 and 1870 (my best guess based on glue condition and other clues) had undertaken the job of mending some bad belly cracks and a completely separated back seam (this repaired with a long strip of maple), while also apparently strengthening against modern stringing, and lengthening the neck while changing neck angle and overstand. There is a maple block added to the neck end which brings the string length up the the modern standard, and projection determines a bridge height now of about 33mm at centre. Someone long ago decided to leave the original baroque bassbar in place while strengthening the plates as much as they could around it. This work held up surprisingly well. Now some might say it'd be more appropriate to remove these various patches and start over, but considering how much my wife started missing her dear friend only a few days after I removed the belly... well, it's just not going to happen at this time. Some day down the road, perhaps. There has been worm activity near the bottom and top blocks but there is no recent residue, so it seems efforts to kill them prior to my inheriting the instrument were successful. I wicked some low viscosity CA into a few exposed tracks in the ribs when I first got the instrument 24 years ago, but doubt that did the job. Bits of repair veneer were loose, so I glued those down, then trimmed away old glue which had cracked along the edges of those repair pieces. After washing the interior I proceeded to apply raw silk patches wherever it seemed more strength was needed, saturating a couple of times with hide glue, adding perhaps 5 grams to the overall weight. The violin weighs about 45 grams less than average when strung up - a very delicate thing, constantly surprising me with its ability to survive. I'd best get on with some pictures. If it would help in identification to take some better pictures I can make the effort, just ask for specific views and I will take it out on a sunny day. Peter Horner of Brompton's auction house was visiting this summer to fetch two violins I had away for his October auction in London, and I bothered him with my wife's fiddle to get his opinion. He thought perhaps Venetian school... but was leaning more towards somewhere in Southern Austria or perhaps Switzerland. A couple of the characters legible on the label seem to point to the latter. My impression after having it apart for a week is of the work of an elderly, somewhat impatient luthier, someone with a lot of talent but not wanting to waste time on 'trivia' like fully formed linings - the linings in this are in places more like bent toothpicks. The wear on the scroll is severe, all from tuning, the palms of many hands grinding away maple over centuries. I'm guessing construction happened around 1790 to 1810, with revamping to more modern standards about 6o years later. What think you all?
  4. Nicolò Amati / Stradivari connection

    It's seems there were fashions in Cremona making to some extent. In many ways, it seems that makers from different families tried similar things around the same time. So perhaps that goes to the OP's to whether or not these similar ornamented instruments suggest a student/teacher connection. I would tend to think not. And, as Ben points out, the techniques aren't really the same when you get down to details. Just an opinion, but it seems that Strad not only influenced others, but also was influenced by others throughout his career.
  5. Violin I/d

    I can see the Saxon qualities but my first guess would have been Caussin school. the overhangs at the corners and edgework looks distinct and the scooped corner blocks sound kind of French? note, I have had a saxon violin before that I thought might be Caussin related but it had rib corners extending out to or past plate corners, and fake or missing corner blocks. the scroll is pretty rough but I like it, the fluting on the f-hole wings looks nice. ??
  6. 18th Century Violin?

    Josh, the whole reason for the existence of the 'Scroll is "for sharing opinions on instruments listed and offered for sale online on this site or any other. It is for the civil exchange of ideas and opinions about the instruments themselves." (taken from the rules of the forum). What is frowned upon is posting one's own stuff in the hopes that the discussion of said stuff might up the interest in it. That being said I have nothing to add since I know nothing and am here to learn. For those who may be interested the hammer price was $2100.
  7. Cellos made after 1950 - American or European

    Susan, There are tens of thousands of cellos that fit your description including the one I finished last month. They are all going to be different in many ways. You don't mention your experience as a player but I think it would make sense to go to a good violin shop and look for a cello that you like to play and can afford rather than starting with limits on date and place of origin.
  8. Yesterday
  9. 18th Century Violin? Saw this one a few days ago. Thoughts? Didn't bid on it but since we can't post things for sale so I thought I'd wait till the auction was over. Not sure how to enlarge the image on the site however if you download the imagine it downloads the original size which is much more view-able (at least, for me it is) Here are a few images anyway.
  10. Instrument documentation photography

    On the other hand, should the violins be hung a little higher?
  11. Instrument documentation photography

    Is your camera tripod too high? My impression is that the camera is tipped downward a little. I see a lot of the upper surface of the bridge in the photograph. The lower portions of the back's C bouts are also visible. Should the camera be a little lower?
  12. Instrument documentation photography

    I'm not saying these shots are super fantastic, far from it,,, They will have to do in a pinch.
  13. Instrument documentation photography

    I'm not speaking with any sort of photographic expertise, and not pretending to,, I took these shots on the fly with nothing special, camera, tripod, and light. A pro stressed to me that absolutely the single most important item is the light,, and lots of it. When I explained the problems with the flashing of the reflective ground, he said the right light angle is critical,, then let the camera tone it down, and use slow speed,,,,, I was in this situation where I needed to capture some shots,, the wall was non movable as was the hanging light, so I gathered all the extra floor lamps in this guys house and set them up till it looked ok,,,,,, You can see the reflection of all the lights on the side of the pegs, so there you go,,
  14. re-gluing the fingerboard

    My pinky is also the wrong size also,, and while my wife has a gentle and tolerant temperament most of the time,,if I'm pulling an all niter and I get her up to use her pinkies over three times in one night,,, I am in big trouble. If I have two boards I need to glue ready to go I can just use both of her pinky's at once,,,but then again I occasionally have to pick her nose for her,, as she's all tied up at the moment. Sometimes I have doubts about the Da Vinci / Fibonacci way of doing things, it seems that being dedicated to "IT" is not worth the trouble it can cause,, I keep threatening to buy a ruler,,,,,,,,,,,,
  15. Violin I/d

    May want to axe the habit of laying instruments on abrasive surfaces, unless of course you are out in the alley working on your "antiquing" skills.
  16. French Polish ( Article )

    Thanks for your affirmation. It is not ME, it is just the physics I have studied. I have made a lot of comments on line by just taking a simple model of physics. Of course, that was my college major, and many of the things one can say about a violin are "elementary." Of course, fine points stemming from our ignorance of the materials with their celluar structure etc, complicate things. The real reason the problems become difficult is because it is difficult to make a MODEL whose physical behavior can be studied. Physics never takes the complete reality of something... there are always simplifications (models) in order to make the problem and its math tractible.
  17. Und was ist das? curious about this cello

    Yes. Well. There are a lot more violin players floating around these days than cellists, even (and maybe even especially) in New York!
  18. Nicolò Amati / Stradivari connection

    Also interesting - I missed Peter's comment, but yes the "whites" look like ivory - except that the system here seems to be that the diamonds are banded by ivory then a single black - look how close the diamonds are to the ivory. This is very similar to Sellas's technique, but Stradivari's system is to use double purfling and to excavate the channel between the two. It's probably an easier technique, and it looks better proportioned, so Stradivari's technique as we know it is significantly different from Amati's. Strad did have different thoughts at different times, some of his early instruments have mother of pearl dots with ivory diamonds, and later they are all ivory I think... please correct if I am basically right, but essentially wrong.
  19. Instrument documentation photography

    My Jenga game is composed of a sturdy wooden shipment case for violin, a black cardboard to avoid reflection from the floor and from the white case (now painted black...), the cello stand upside down, the violin stand and the violin. This is for shots of the complete violin and for soundbox details not to have to lower too much the tripod, for the scroll I take away the cello stand not to have to climb too high to reach the camera viewfinder One of the weak points of my set up is the time to mount it, I need about 30 minutes!!
  20. Und was ist das? curious about this cello

    Nothing reminds me of a Saxon "Dutzendarbeit", but I would prefer to wait for Pictures that I could enlarge
  21. re-gluing the fingerboard

    Well, I have some ideas... But they won't solve the problem as after careful inspection I realized I won't be able to measure 9.5" reliably.
  22. Nicolò Amati / Stradivari connection

    Thanks for sharing Peter, very cool! I think it might be possible that the variations in the diamond shape are the result of not being put in place exactly the same. The slight difference in angle when laid in the channel, and the distortion compounded when cut back to appropriate height / scraped after vanishing. What a headache! Edited: I didn't realize the diamonds were mother of pearl and not ivory. Ben has a good point that he may have been constrained by his materials.
  23. Nicolò Amati / Stradivari connection

    Whether it's diamonds or squares, it's the problem that of the points don't match to one and other it will begin to look sloppy, which doesn't happen if you have the backside of a triangle or a circle instead. But yes they don't seem to be perfectly even. Ivory, which Strad mostly used has the advantage that you can shape strips and saw them up, or cut them from a large flat sheet, whichever way allowing for consistency. You are far more constrained with mother of pearl.
  24. re-gluing the fingerboard

    I like jaganfiddle's method. But I have found that as I put on weight over the last few years my pinky has got fatter, and is no longer a reliable measure. Any suggestions as to what I should do?
  25. Conrad Gotz bow

    Hi, I'm not sure that it is. I have a Conrad Gotz violin bow in at the moment, restoring it for a colleague from the Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra. He bought it in 1970 from a well known London firm (I won't say who). It's octagonal, silver mounted, the frog is far superior to the frog on that bow. I will try to upload a photo, which is the best way rather than explaining.
  26. Instrument documentation photography

    I can see that 1) Davide is a total perfectionist, even hiding potential glare off the tripods, when doing his photographs... and 2) Davide has invented a new game of violin Jenga! I need to be able to setup and dismantle my rig within 5 minutes, and still get a high quality image, but I am probably more conscious of how I could create a totally professional image than you'd expect, and mine really do fall short of book quality. You can see the end results on
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