FORUM

Please have a look at our Forum Rules. Lets keep this forum an enjoyable place to visit.

A A A
Avatar

Please consider registering
guest

sp_LogInOut Log In sp_Registration Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —






— Match —





— Forum Options —





Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

No permission to create posts
sp_Feed Topic RSS sp_TopicIcon
Help Identifying Old Violin - Please?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
Avatar
FinalPatriot
NW Atlanta
Regular advisor
Members

Regulars
September 8, 2012 - 8:21 pm
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 100
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hello everyone!

 

I'll try to keep this short and to the point but after being very reluctant to inform my family that I had been trying to learn the violin, I felt, for some reason, that I should speak to my parrents and let them know about this change in my life.  As for why I wanted to keep it private, it's somewhat difficult to explain.

During our conversation, my mother informed me that when my grandfather was a child, he spent a few short years playing a violin that had been handed down through the family.  Though he never really put much into his study, the family kept the instrument for sentimental value.  Until today, it had remained in storage for about 80 years.  After doing some research into family history, we were able to determine that it was given to my grandfather somewhere about 1914-1920.  Prior to this, it was handed down from one family member to another round about the time they immigrated to the US from Germany.  Prior to this, we don't have much information.

My question is how likely do you all think it will be for a skilled craftsman to be able to identify who made it and about how old it is?  The problem is that the identification markings on the inside have all but faded away with time and so I've not a clue how they will ever be able to tell me more about it.  My intent is to see if it can be restored as there is just something very special about being able to play an instrument which has been in the family for over 100 years.

Overall, the instrument appears well preserved and though the strings are shot, the sound is simply amazing. 

 

Do you all have any suggestions or guidance?

 

Thanks!

 

Here are a few shots I took of it a moment ago:

 

P1000017.JPGImage EnlargerP1000016.JPGImage Enlarger

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
Avatar
KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
September 8, 2012 - 8:30 pm
Member Since: March 14, 2012
Forum Posts: 1651
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I don't have an answer to your question, but wanted to say that's a cool story and a beautiful instrument. I'll be interested to hear what you find out, if anything. Good luck.

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

Avatar
FinalPatriot
NW Atlanta
Regular advisor
Members

Regulars
September 8, 2012 - 8:36 pm
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 100
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

KindaScratchy said
I don't have an answer to your question, but wanted to say that's a cool story and a beautiful instrument. I'll be interested to hear what you find out, if anything. Good luck.

Thanks!  The interesting part of all this is that I had been praying that somehow I would find a way to save the funds necessary to purchase my own violin once my rental expires next month.  Sometimes answers come in ways we never would have considered.  Honestly, I never would have expected to hear my mother say "well I just happen to have this family heirloom that's been sitting around collecting dust for the last 80 years.  Would you like to have it?"

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
Avatar
Barry
Members

Regulars
September 8, 2012 - 9:20 pm
Member Since: June 30, 2011
Forum Posts: 2661
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

beautiful old girl !!  Like to see some more pics including the scroll and peg box.

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

Avatar
FinalPatriot
NW Atlanta
Regular advisor
Members

Regulars
September 8, 2012 - 9:36 pm
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 100
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Barry said
beautiful old girl !!  Like to see some more pics including the scroll and peg box.

Here are a few of the scroll and peg box.  Sorry, these aren't the best of shots....

 

P1000018.JPGImage EnlargerP1000019.JPGImage EnlargerP1000020.JPGImage EnlargerP1000021.JPGImage Enlarger

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
Avatar
Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
King
Members

Regulars
September 8, 2012 - 9:37 pm
Member Since: January 21, 2012
Forum Posts: 2637
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Beautifull instrument, FP, a skilled craftsman in violin's is called a Luthier. My suggestion is to find a good one in your community and get his opinion.

By appearance, it doesn't look all that bad, have you done anything to it at all. I'm asking that because the bridge looks kinda recent  / new and with the plastic or fiber cap on the bridge under the E string.

The string's have kind of a copper tint to them and look kinda tarnished over the fingerboard, this would be common for that period, copper was one of the various materials they used to wrap string's.

At any rate, she's a beauty, I hope you get her up and running for minimal expence. I hope you have the bow stick, won't have any hair's but the stick is the important thing.

 

          thumbs-up

Avatar
FinalPatriot
NW Atlanta
Regular advisor
Members

Regulars
September 8, 2012 - 9:57 pm
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 100
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Other than cleaning off the piles of dust and goo, I've not done anything to it yet.  As for the bow, the stick is still in the case but it's completely trashed at this point so I'm not sure what they would be able to do to salvage it.  The frog will not respond when you try to tighten it.  The case itself is "strange" to say the least but it's in very poor condition as well.  It would appear that it took most of the abuse over the years.

I noticed though that the violin doesn't have any fine tuners on it.  Was that normal for the time?  I tried to tune it a bit with just the pegs but the strings are so aged that the end result wasn't all that effective.

As for the bridge, it was set very far forward and appears to have been in that position for some time as the strings have a harsh bend in that area.

The only other issue I've noticed so far was that the fingerboard appears somewhat lose though I wouldn't think that would be too difficult to repair.

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
Avatar
Barry
Members

Regulars
September 8, 2012 - 10:41 pm
Member Since: June 30, 2011
Forum Posts: 2661
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

the lack of fine tuners suggests she most likely had gut strings on her. She reminds me a lot of my German, lots of similarities in the scroll  carving. You'll need to add at least one fine tuner for the E string when using a modern perlon set. If you use a steel set, you'll need all 4 fine tuners.

 

Love the flaming on the back

thumbs-up

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

Avatar
fishnrodds
northwest minnesota
Regular advisor
Members

Regulars
September 8, 2012 - 10:53 pm
Member Since: August 3, 2012
Forum Posts: 117
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

nice piece of wood! treasure it and put it to work, the more you play it the more it will come to life with the echos of past generations of your family, let them speak!!

Avatar
coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
Members

Regulars
September 8, 2012 - 11:22 pm
Member Since: January 11, 2012
Forum Posts: 3767
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
10sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

wow... I so want an old soul violin to come and live with me someday.  Not for any reason than to have an old soul around.  Thank you for sharing.  It is quite lovely. Congratulations.

 

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

Avatar
cdennyb
King for a Day, Peasant for many
Members

Regulars
September 9, 2012 - 1:34 am
Member Since: February 13, 2012
Forum Posts: 1774
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
11sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

If there's still a label inside and just the ink has faded beyond readability, you can sometimes use a blacklight and see the remaining pigments of the ink that are UV excited.

Just a thought.

It's in beautiful condition for that age...

Awesome find...sometimes things happen for a reason so enjoy the beautiful gift and play it forever.thumbs-up

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

Avatar
Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
King
Members

Regulars
September 9, 2012 - 5:14 am
Member Since: January 21, 2012
Forum Posts: 2637
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
12sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

You were posting the last 4 picture's as I was making my last post and didn't see them.

Looking at the string's close up now, they appear to be all gut string's, I don't see any change in the contour of the string in the peg box. I also notice the difference in length's of the peg's, the peg for the D string is much longer and was never fitted properly as the other 3. The peg for the G string is not a match to the rest, it has some sort of white inlay dot in the end.

The tailpiece look's to be in good shape, although you will need a new tailpiece gut string, rather cheap.

The F hole's seem to be long and slender and the nitche's are barely visible in the photo, which kinda indicate's a German style. F or sound hole's as they are also known as have different shape's and are placed in different location's dependent on their origin.

One thing for sure, it's definately not a Chinese fiddle.  rofl

It's a beautifull thing, i'm anxious to hear it sing.

Avatar
FinalPatriot
NW Atlanta
Regular advisor
Members

Regulars
September 9, 2012 - 7:56 am
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 100
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
13sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

I really appreciate all the help and information!  I spoke to a music company here in NW Atlanta that informed me they would have a technician on staff Monday who has a background in identification and restoration of violins.  As a history buff, I can't say how excited I am to meet with him tomorrow and unlock the.... mystery!

 

So yeah... I got about 3-4 hours of sleep last night.  laugh

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
Avatar
Kevin M.
Nicholson, Pa
Members

Regulars
September 9, 2012 - 3:21 pm
Member Since: September 10, 2011
Forum Posts: 1957
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
14sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Looks to me to be German.  The violin had been poorly refineshed.  There are bubbles in the varnish on the scroll and the neck is varnished.  There is a chance that the label is inside the violin just floating around.  It might be worth it to repair the finish, fix the fingerboard, change the strings, repair the D string peg and check the sound post.

Avatar
ftufc
SoCal
Honorary tenured advisor
Members

Regulars
September 9, 2012 - 5:23 pm
Member Since: February 24, 2012
Forum Posts: 727
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Great story Mark!!!!  And it's a beautiful instrument.

Everyone's given you such sound advice that I don't have anything to add except this; you might ask Denny if he'll run a sound analysis on it once you've done the things that Kevin and Ken and Denny and Barry have suggested and it's playable; it will give you some great insight into it's origin, i.e., handmade v. factory made, because it looks like a factory made turn of the century (19th), but you think it's older than that right.

It's very funny because the top plate looks handmade but the scroll and back look factory (German factory) made.  And yeah, the pegs are all jacked up, so you know there's been amateur repair on it.

Monday should be an exciting day for you!  I wonder if there's any additional info you can uncover within your family.  This is VERY cool; good luck.  We're dying to see it finished and hear it!

Avatar
FinalPatriot
NW Atlanta
Regular advisor
Members

Regulars
September 10, 2012 - 5:22 pm
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 100
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
16sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

UPDATE:

 

Ok, here is what we are able to find out today after having it inspected -

As many of you all already mentioned, the violin is German made though there isn't any signature inside.  He believes that it was hand made by a master craftsman though whomever the craftsman was was not working through any company.  As to the identity of whom the person who made it, sadly, we'll likely never find out. 

The neck and scroll are not original as there is evidence where they had been replaced.  Also, someone tried to remove the varnish on the front which is why the color is somewhat distorted.  Still, the main body of the instrument is in remarkable condition.

Based upon records, family journals and his knowledge, it is estimated to be well over 100 years old and likely to have been made somewhere around mid to latter end of the 1800's.  It is also believed that someone in the family either brought it from Europe and then carried it across the plains during the Mormon migration into the Salt Lake City valley or that a family member purchased it off one of the early German settlers.  In either case, someone cared enough for the instrument to carry it all the way to Utah.

Sadly though, there isn't much else we know about where it came from and how it got to Utah but it's interesting to think that somewhere back down the line, an ancestor once cherished it as much as I do now.

Another great bit of info is that it will be restored and should all go well, they will have it ready to play again this Thursday afternoon.  After 70-80 years of silence, she'll sing again in just a few days.

 

I'm pretty darn excited!

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
Avatar
Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
King
Members

Regulars
September 10, 2012 - 5:49 pm
Member Since: January 21, 2012
Forum Posts: 2637
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
17sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

WOW,, that's great new's FP,,, I'm so glad you found some valuable momentous information. Not having a label inside could also be that whom ever built it may have built it for themselve's. In any event, it's great new's.

I  have a violin that has been handed down through the year's, it was my stepfather's grandfather's violin and was built around 1880-1890, I wouldn't part with it, even though it doesn't have the real quality sound I would like. It's just sentimental.

I can't wait to hear your girl singing sweet lullaby's.

 

            violin-1267       dancing

Avatar
Barry
Members

Regulars
September 10, 2012 - 6:02 pm
Member Since: June 30, 2011
Forum Posts: 2661
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
18sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

very cool !!!

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

Avatar
cdennyb
King for a Day, Peasant for many
Members

Regulars
September 11, 2012 - 3:26 am
Member Since: February 13, 2012
Forum Posts: 1774
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
19sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

regardless of the info you've found out, I'd write it all down on paper (hand write it) and tuck it under the lining of the violin case. You never how who will be interested in that info in the future. Date it also with todays date so they know when you investigated it's history and pedigree.

nice job on the slueth work. thumbs-up

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

Avatar
Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 11, 2012 - 8:39 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11717
20sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Great story. Thanks for sharing.
Any details about what work they will be doing to your violin before you pick it up on Thursday?

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

No permission to create posts
Forum Timezone: America/New_York

Most Users Ever Online: 231

Currently Online: yellowdresses, Charles
34 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Members Birthdays
sp_BirthdayIcon
Today None
Upcoming Mad_Wed, Prudence, ButteryStuffs, kit, makinnoise

Top Posters:

coolpinkone: 3767

Mad_Wed: 2849

Barry: 2661

Fiddlestix: 2637

Oliver: 2439

DanielB: 2379

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 1

Members: 3562

Moderators: 0

Admins: 2

Forum Stats:

Groups: 16

Forums: 56

Topics: 6446

Posts: 80405

Newest Members:

EKBanjo, charlieD, Folky fiddler, Morgenes42, stringo, sexymom04

Administrators: Fiddlerman: 11717, KindaScratchy: 1651