Posted by Mandogryl on Monday, November 2, 2009
I took an autumn drive yesterday on the back roads here in Maine, taking time off from revising a manuscript, and came upon an auction hall. I figured "what the heck, I like antiques" and parked the car. Soon I came upon this neglected violin situated in one of those Godforsaken Coffin-cases (that should have been outlawed). I gently picked it up and studied it. Now, I am relatively new to this fiddle stuff, so I am still learning. The label said Trade Mark Made In Nippon. As we all know, that means that because of the McKinley Act it could be dated from 1914 to 1921. Could even be older. This fiddle seems to have a cherry back and sides. The only real damage is the lower C-bout corners that can be restored, and I think I have a scrap of cherry in the shop, but matching the stain and finish would be hard. Unfortunate, it doesn't have an Ebony fingerboard, seeming to have one of Rosewood instead, meaning that at the time (and still now) it was a cheap instrument. I thought to myself "...no more than $70" and even that is pushing it, and I won it for $55. For another 45 bucks I can string her up, and if the tone can be adjusted nicely I might invest in her with some better parts such as new tailpiece and chinrest. But for now I just want to hear what she sounds like, and then see if I can adjust the post for a better tone if need be. The sound post, for what its worth, is still standing. I looked in the endpin hole and the post is beveled and secure - well-fitted. One thing of interest is that it has the handwritten testimony of a repair person from some distant point in time, in New York, who had "...remodeled, and rehaired..." it. It even has his address and name. Someone, possibly he, did a sloppy hide glue job, as there is glue squeezeout on the ribs here and there. I will likely take the plates off anyway, and measure their thicknesses. If it seems overly thick, hence, rush to market, I might regraduate it. I also want to inspect the tail block. [If anyone wants to see pics of it, I uploaded some in my photo album.] I probably won't do anything to this instrument till around Thanksgiving. There is just something special about finding an old fiddle.
Monday, November 2, 2009 @3:50:02 AM
My new fiddle is apparently Japanese and of the same vintage and I LOVE it. Nice find for you, I think! Cynthia
Monday, November 2, 2009 @5:06:10 AM
I'd listen to it before screwing around with the plates. Nippons have a great rep for sounding fabulously fiddley, and there's a good chance you won't have to do anything to those. Jose, my fiddle buy/sell teacher, loves it when he finds one. I think there might be one in my future.
How bad are those corners? Most older fiddles have dinged corners and it doesn't hurt the playing none. Old fiddles are supposed to look like old fiddles. :-)
Monday, November 2, 2009 @5:06:58 AM
Oh, and congrats! That was a good buy!
Monday, November 2, 2009 @5:23:53 AM
Thanks, but dont worry: I wont mess with the plates unless I am sure. Still would like to measure their thickness at some point. We'll see how she sounds first.
Monday, November 2, 2009 @2:34:23 PM
Let's see........I got a shoulder rest, you got a fiddle..........you win. Congrats! Hope it sounds great.
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