Two Violins [and two bows] – Part One
February 2, 2021 at 2:59 pm #45751Nick WilkinsParticipant
It’s getting on for six months now since I got my first violin [a Gliga Gems II, which is lovely]. It has Pirastro violino strings and it came with an unbranded octagonal brazilwood bow [and a nice Hidersine case and rosin, so a complete outfit] and, here in the UK cost £365 delivered [about $500]. I’d seen the violin alone on sale for more than the cost of the complete package so I bought it.
Anyway, about two months ago I was idly looking on Ebay when I saw a lovely instrument which had written inside the f-hole ‘Repaired by A Shepherd 1866’. It said it was in good condition with no issues. So I got the auction bug and ‘won’ it as they say [won it?] for £255 [$350]. Actually, I could see that the bridge was fitted the wrong way round, so I had it sent straight to a wonderful local luthier [Hannah Sedgwick] and asked her to fit a new bridge and strings.
Here’s her reply, once she’d received it:
Your violin has safely arrived.
The neck has moved forwards (which commonly happens) so the string height would be too high if I put a new bridge on without resetting it.
This violin looks like the neck is dovetailed into the top block. I would advise opening up the ribs and back of the block from the back and reshaping the button after re-gluing it at a steeper angle.
The top of the fingerboard has quite a bit of wear. It is laminated but the top laminate looks thick enough to resurface.
Alternatively I could replace the fingerboard with a solid one and put a wedge of maple under it to achieve the correct angle?
If it was my violin I would replace the pegs with hardwood ones. Otherwise I can swap the one that has gone slightly oval with an old one as it is too close to the pegbox wall to shave round.
I will put a bit of glue in the open seam at the tail block. Other than that it looks in good condition.
Probably made in Saxony (Markneukirchen) 1875-1925 as the dovetailed neck and narrow button was a feature of these violins. There are also milling marks on the right hand c-bought rib and the corners of the ribs are joined in a way in-keeping with these violins.
It should sound nice, probably a darker tone compared to your other violin.”
The part where Hannah said ‘Other than that it looks in good condition’ made me laugh out loud. Anyway I had all that done, including a new fingerboard, beautiful new tamarind pegs and matching tailpiece and chinrest and new dominant strings – all for £185 [$250]. Obviously I won’t actually be eating any food for the next few months, but I do have a beautiful violin.
Anyway, finally, here is the interesting thing that happened [at least I thought it was interesting]: I fitted the new bridge [Hannah had sent it to me ‘bridge down’] according to her very full instructions, tuned it up and started out with Wabash Cannonball, Tennessee Waltz and a couple of lovely Scottish tunes I’ve learned [Marie’s Wedding, The Skye Boat Song and Fear a Phige], and it sounded just awful. I gave the Gliga an affectionate look and shot something much darker at the Shepherd – it seemed like my love affair was at a premature end!
None of this was Hannah’s fault [and actually so I’ve learned, not mine either] but it has actually all turned out rather well. I’ll tell you what happened next in Part 2 soon!
February 2, 2021 at 4:02 pm #45752OwenParticipant
Goodness Gracious, Nick!
Definitely think it’s a good idea to have a local luthier. I have made one visit to a shop here in Virginia,. a couple of years ago and should probably make another appointment soon; let her put her eyes and ears on it.
Waiting for part II.
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