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Jun 4, 2023 - 3:34:14 AM
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Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

I found a second hand fiddle on a second hand page. The owner says it's an old French JTL violin with a full and warm sound ... which gained my attention, I really also want one that sounds totally different than my current rather briliant fiddle. I asked if I can come over to test it. He let me know in a pm that he is prepared to sell it for 450 euro.

I added a picture, probably the dimensions are not right because when I downloaded it, the image was small, had to enlarge it.

This man is on the other side of the country but since it's a small country I would be prepared for a longer drive, he lives like 90 minutes cardrive away from me.

What do you guys think? I can test it out he says but there are old strings on it.




 

Jun 4, 2023 - 4:34:30 AM
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2589 posts since 10/1/2008

Well... if you like the sound and playability of the strings that are on it you will most likely be happy with it and a new set of strings. JTL instruments are well produced violins. 90 minutes would be a good investment for an afternoon outing. You may want to take a friend, one that plays so you may hear the instrument a little better and just "back up" if needed. The stated price sounds reasonable. Good luck.

Jun 4, 2023 - 6:22:19 AM

Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

quote:
Originally posted by UsuallyPickin

Well... if you like the sound and playability of the strings that are on it you will most likely be happy with it and a new set of strings. JTL instruments are well produced violins. 90 minutes would be a good investment for an afternoon outing. You may want to take a friend, one that plays so you may hear the instrument a little better and just "back up" if needed. The stated price sounds reasonable. Good luck.


After doing research and knowing my own peg skills, I cannot tune like a classical violinist using the pegs, I would need 4 fine tuners so I can continue to tune on my lap or a table.It would mean a trip to the luthier for a new tailpiece.

I am now first arranging a meeting with a guitarist a bit closer to me, he has an old violin with suitcase and bow that is ready to be played, but he never came to it to play it. I can test it out. He asks 300 euro for the complete set, says he only knows the violinist who he bought it from assured him it was an old decent violin. It won't hurt to try it out but having a look at the dirty old bow, I'll bring mine and also my own shoulder rest.

Jun 4, 2023 - 6:30:46 AM

DougD

USA

11933 posts since 12/2/2007

Anja, it looks like that violin is strung with synthetic strings - that's why it only has one fine tuner. You can tune it with just the pegs. It looks worth investigating to me.
Why are you in such a hurry to buy another instrument? I thought you got a second fiddle - didn't you keep it?

Jun 4, 2023 - 7:19:51 AM

Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

I did I have vacation and instead of planning a trip I thought why not yet another instrument ...besides the described warm sound I like to further explore crosstuning and it just seems handy.
My black stagg instrument and the violin my mother gave me is what I have in my house now. But an old fiddle just seems so attractive.
I worry because the one with one tuner , if it has synthetic strings on I myself might have major problems to test it out or would maybe break the string it has on it , I'm scared of the unknown on this matter. But an old fiddle sounds just like ... a present I should allow myself.

Edited by - Quincy on 06/04/2023 07:21:39

Jun 4, 2023 - 8:37:40 AM

DougD

USA

11933 posts since 12/2/2007

I think you should go look at this violin. At least it will be a little trip for you. Take your current fiddle, tuner, and bow. I wouldn't worry about tuning - just take it slow. Does the owner play? Maybe he can help you tune it. Synthetic strings are not as different as you might think - you may not even notice a difference in playing.

Jun 4, 2023 - 11:13:59 AM

Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

I will give it a try, I am making an appointment with the current owner. I explained the other guy that I had two fiddles to try, so he knows. Best is to first visit the one who is nearby and then the other seller, I will take no decisions till I played them both.

Jun 4, 2023 - 11:22:59 AM

Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

youtu.be/NoRhBEzorrU


If I may believe this guy it means it's a decent instrument if it has only one fine tuner.

I wonder what the story behind this violin is.

 

Also I wonder if  should always play it with synthetic strings then?  Will it give problems when one would put metal strings on it?

Edited by - Quincy on 06/04/2023 11:25:55

Jun 4, 2023 - 11:38:05 AM
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DougD

USA

11933 posts since 12/2/2007

That is the opinion of a violin dealer (and violinist I suppose) not a fiddle player. Its not wrong, its just that fiddlers have other needs and preferences.
I did a little survey of YouTube advice on another topic, and found that 1/3 was very good, and 2/3 was completely, possibly harmfully or dangerously wrong. YMMV.
You can easily switch between steel and synthetic strings, but most instruments will benefit from a little setup adjustment. One change is that you'll probably want four fine tuners for steel strings.

Edited by - DougD on 06/04/2023 11:40:18

Jun 4, 2023 - 3:06:26 PM
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3642 posts since 9/13/2009

That video explanation is misleading.

The type of strings that come on an instrument have no bearing on the quality, how well made the instrument; or sound potential. As well, they make cheap synthetic strings... and very good quality metal strings.

The fine tuners, are just that, offer a finer ratio for "fine" tuning;  can use them with synthetic, for the "fine tune" part. 


Also I wonder if  should always play it with synthetic strings then?  Will it give problems when one would put metal strings on it?

You can put metal strings on and won't give problems. 

Friction tunes if well fit/maintained, can get in tune. But that solid metal core is a bit stiffer, so makes a little more difficult to get in fine tune with just friction pegs (but not impossible). That's why folks put fine tuners on e string, or if using all metal strings; offer a little "finer" ratio, to make easier to get in fine tune. 

After doing research and knowing my own peg skills, I cannot tune like a classical violinist using the pegs, I would need 4 fine tuners so I can continue to tune on my lap or a table.It would mean a trip to the luthier for a new tailpiece.

Takes practice. But even then, pegs, or peg holes can start to wear uneven... want to slip, be very hard to get in tune. Some folks try to use fine tuners to compensate, but that's not really the purpose. (not a fix for poor friction pegs; and probably should address the pegs if problem)

As alternative to 4 fine tuners, tailpiece... many folks switched to replacing with internal geared pegs, they don't slip and offer fine enough ratio to not need tailpiece fine tuners.  Work on synthetic as well as metal core. Makes switching for various cross tunings easier and faster. 

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 06/04/2023 15:12:32

Jun 4, 2023 - 8:28:05 PM
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390 posts since 12/2/2013
Online Now

One piece slab cut back speaks of a more mellow tone.

Jun 5, 2023 - 2:32:33 AM

Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

I am very excited I have arranged a meeting on Wednesday and Thursday with both sellers. The french violin would get a new tail piece then, it's worth it I guess. The other violin is of unknown origin, with this one I would know what I am buying and I must say owning an old violin from a well French known atelier speaks to my imagination also. This violin must have been played well.

Jun 5, 2023 - 4:22:04 AM

gapbob

USA

901 posts since 4/20/2008

I have found that it is easy to buy an instrument that has a little "something" that is different from what one normally plays on. A nice sounding e string, that rings perhaps, though the fiddle might have a lesser g string—it is easy to buy an instrument that is a little different than what I have already, but in the long run, it is usually not much better than (or at all) my current instruments.

I would suggest finding a coupld music stores that have a good violin department that can give you advice—it might be that what you have can be improved through setup.

Your comments about buying an instrument because of the maker is valid, but that is more of a path towards collecting.

Jun 5, 2023 - 10:15:24 AM
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1511 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Quincy

youtu.be/NoRhBEzorrU


If I may believe this guy it means it's a decent instrument if it has only one fine tuner.

I wonder what the story behind this violin is.

 

Also I wonder if  should always play it with synthetic strings then?  Will it give problems when one would put metal strings on it?


That video is utter nonsense. Having one fine tuner is absolutely not a guarantee of the quality of the instrument. 
 

Synthetic strings can be tuned just as easily with fine tuners. Because the material is more elastic, you may need to turn the tuner a little more to change the pitch, but there's no reason you can't use a Wittner tailpiece with any good set of strings on the market.

Fine violins are less likely to have four fine tuners on them because the players that play them are typically skilled enough at using their pegs that they have no need of extra tuners on the G, D, and A. That being said, Yehudi Menuhin couldn't tune his own violins until he was 16--he'd always have help tuning before concerts before that age. Fine violins tend to have better fittings as well that are installed properly, so the pegs work better than what you find on cheap or beaten up instruments. Another reason why you don't tend to see fine tuner tailpieces on expensive instruments is that many people feel that they look cheap and ugly, but that's an argument about aesthetics, not functionality.

If you struggle with the pegs or have hand issues that make tuning difficult,  use a tailpiece that makes it easier for you.

There are arguments about whether the plastic in the Wittner tailpiece is as good for the sound as the wood in a good traditional tailpiece, but that's really splitting hairs and won't make a big enough difference to outweigh the benefits of greater ease in tuning.

Yo-Yo Ma popularized the Akusticus tailpiece, a plastic tailpiece with fine tuners for cello, and many cellists now swear by it. 

Jun 5, 2023 - 1:13:35 PM

Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

My favourite violins are French instruments made at the beginning of the 20th century by the Jerome Thibouville Lamy workshops. JTL produced thousands of violins in all sorts of shapes and sizes, to suit all pockets and aesthetic sensibilities. All of these violins sound good, and most are exceptionally good, rivaling the best single-maker instruments of the period. JTL achieved their success by using good tonewood, getting the thicknessing & bassbars right, and never compromising the structure of their instruments.

https://www.martinswanviolins.com/faqs/what-makes-a-great-violin/

 

Maybe I am just lucky lol maybe not.

Jun 5, 2023 - 5:53:29 PM
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1511 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Quincy

My favourite violins are French instruments made at the beginning of the 20th century by the Jerome Thibouville Lamy workshops. JTL produced thousands of violins in all sorts of shapes and sizes, to suit all pockets and aesthetic sensibilities. All of these violins sound good, and most are exceptionally good, rivaling the best single-maker instruments of the period. JTL achieved their success by using good tonewood, getting the thicknessing & bassbars right, and never compromising the structure of their instruments.

https://www.martinswanviolins.com/faqs/what-makes-a-great-violin/

 

Maybe I am just lucky lol maybe not.


The Lamy workshop produced good instruments for the money, and they have stood up to the test of time pretty well. I'm not sure I'd go quite so far as to say that they all sound good or that the thicknesses and bass bars are always right (I've worked on hundreds of them), but it's true that in general they have good bones and CAN sound good when given the proper attention. 

Jun 5, 2023 - 11:00:35 PM

Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

What made me most curious is that the owner repeatedly mentioned the strong and superb sound.
From the pictures at first sight this looks to my untrained eye as a violin that has been taken care of.
I just hope it will be what I am looking for and that I can actually play it.

Edited by - Quincy on 06/05/2023 23:03:46

Jun 7, 2023 - 3:23:11 AM

Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

Today I tried out the first old violin. It took a bit of time to get it in tune using the tuning pegs and then it appeared as a very nice brilliant loud and very easy to play violin, very comparable in sound to what I already have.
But then all of a sudden this man notices I play folky and he tells me he has a bluegrass fiddle as well that he got from some ambassador.
The fiddle itself was kept as decoration and stood there for years in a corner. I plucked the strings and then said somewhat surprised: this one is pretty well in tune! I could reach perfection by only using the four fine tuners ! The fiddle had a very nice set of easy to handle fine tuners on it and the sound was completely old time which made me smile but it played less easy than the first one I tried because you easily had two strings same time. It had a yellow label inside saying 'Memphis Bluegrass. Memphis, Tennessee. 
He is prepared to sell this one for 300 euro.

Now there is the French JTL violin that is left to try out.

Does anyone meanwhile have further information on this bluegrass fiddle? Is it a factory made fiddle?

Edited by - Quincy on 06/07/2023 03:25:06

Jun 7, 2023 - 3:53:58 AM

DougD

USA

11933 posts since 12/2/2007

Sounds like you're perfectly capable of trying out violins and judging rheir sound yourself. Now on to the JTL. Hope you find something you really like!
Not sure I understand you exactly, but easily having "two strings same time" is likely a matter of setup, specifically the shape of the bridge, and can easily be changed.

Jun 7, 2023 - 4:05:46 AM

Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

Sounds like you're perfectly capable of trying out violins and judging rheir sound yourself. Now on to the JTL. Hope you find something you really like!
Not sure I understand you exactly, but easily having "two strings same time" is likely a matter of setup, specifically the shape of the bridge, and can easily be changed.


I am not sure even how this was possible, I inspected the bridge, it didn't seem flattened but the fingerboard was thicker or something like that, you had to be subtle , but I LOVED the sound and the way it played it was different from what I have here.The fact it has been produced in the USA only adds to the value for me (the chance you find a USA produced fiddle over here is not that big I guess), but I cannot find anything on these violins. It had a serial number I believe 0423.  My overall impression was to have a good instrument in hands.

Edited by - Quincy on 06/07/2023 04:08:37

Jun 7, 2023 - 4:31:38 AM
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DougD

USA

11933 posts since 12/2/2007

I couldn't find much online about Memphis violins, although the question has been asked here before. One rescued from the trash, and one for sale at a Goodwill for $61. I seriously doubt it was made in the US - more likely passed through here here on its way from China to Europe.

Jun 7, 2023 - 7:57:55 AM
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Earworm

USA

542 posts since 1/30/2018

You really need something to compare it with in real life. Yes, try that second fiddle on the list - but Violinists who recommend "folky" instruments are a red flag to me. I doubt they have much respect for or understanding of the music. It's also a talent to pick a used instrument when strings are old and the fiddle is in current need of TLC. Nevertheless, trust yourself. You'll feel its potential and quality. But doing a comparison between two fiddles (and what you know of your current one) is much better than just testing one fiddle. Test more if you can. Many more, even if they're way out of your price range or seem like junk on your first impression. There will be surprises. Good luck to you, and have tons of fun with your search!

Jun 7, 2023 - 8:28:43 AM

Erockin

USA

937 posts since 9/3/2022

Love the back of that one!

Jun 7, 2023 - 9:15:48 PM
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Quincy

Belgium

896 posts since 1/16/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Earworm

You really need something to compare it with in real life. Yes, try that second fiddle on the list - but Violinists who recommend "folky" instruments are a red flag to me. I doubt they have much respect for or understanding of the music. It's also a talent to pick a used instrument when strings are old and the fiddle is in current need of TLC. Nevertheless, trust yourself. You'll feel its potential and quality. But doing a comparison between two fiddles (and what you know of your current one) is much better than just testing one fiddle. Test more if you can. Many more, even if they're way out of your price range or seem like junk on your first impression. There will be surprises. Good luck to you, and have tons of fun with your search!


Thanks Donna, the first old violin I tried was in sound comparable to my own good instrument, but this old violin was really easy to play, I judged this old violin to be of far better quality than my own, I don't know but it felt a lot stronger and more solid than my own instrument and the sound was superb for a loud brilliant fiddle. I still keep this fiddle in mind because 300 euro seemed like a nice price for this one, there was a nice old case included and some very old deformed bow I wouldn't dare to take to my luthier. 

I am glad I checked here on the 'Memphis Bluegrass' fiddle, the sound was excellent, very old timey,  but it was absolutely not as easy to play as the first old violin  which belonged to a violinist. The fine tuners however were so easy to handle and it's very strange it was almost completely in tune after years of decoration.

I had a lot of fun yesterday when I came to the conclusion I actually can get an old violin in tune using the pegs and fine tuners , did not break any strings and surprised the good man who is selling it about the excellent sound this instrument could make. He wants to keep one of the two violins as decoration. 

In the early afternoon I'll start my trip to the province of East Flandres for the JTL violin, I am very excited. I have no idea where I will end today, I just hope the seller is the violinist and that he can tune it for me. From our messaging I conclude he actually speaks french and it is possible he did not understand my questions about the origin of this fiddle and known reparations, but I will ask more info today.

Jun 8, 2023 - 4:25:32 AM

Earworm

USA

542 posts since 1/30/2018

That’s fabulous. Best of luck to you. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

Jun 8, 2023 - 4:52:11 AM
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102 posts since 4/11/2022

My advice is to buy the best sounding instrument. The ease of playing can be adjusted, especially if you know why the instrument is hard to play, (or you know why the other one is easy to play). Even if the neck is too thick, it can be taken down.
I really like the back of the fiddle.

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