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Can someone explain, in simple terms for me the difference between a French style violin and a German style violin? Google hasn't been that nice to me.
I've seen mention of the weight of the violin, where French style is lighter because the plates are a little thinner (which is confusing to me because I thought that some areas on the back plate for instance are supposed to be 3mm, other areas 4.1mm, etc. How can you vary that?). There's also mention of the colour of varnish where German is redder. And even the way the scroll is carved, but nothing that could be considered 'definitive'. Can the differences even be defined as 'definitive'?
Any comments would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance for your time
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Sorry, don't think it's that easy. There is more than 1 French style violin and more than 1 German style of Violin.
You can have a Luthier make you 2 identical violins - and they will probably sound different.
I can't link you to any competitor, but you can do a search for:
- "the history of Mirecourt for French Violin making",
- "the history of Mittenwald Violin making",
- "Markneukirchenand's Violin making history"
To get even more details, look up the famous violin makers of those areas to find out what they did that set them apart from others.
You need the historical roots in these areas to find what their Luthiers based their designs on, so you may also want to look up the "history of Violin making in Cremona, Italy".
You also might want to do a search for people playing famous, or replicas/copies of famous French & German Violins - to hear differences.
@Gordon Shumway -
Can you help out here?
Describe general differences between French and German violins?
Not really. My French violin is a league above my German violin, whose parts were probably made in a factory in China 4 years ago and assembled in Germany shortly afterwards. France and "Germany" - i.e. Bohemia, including Czechoslovakia and many other places - Germany as such didn't exist until 1871 - had dozens of factories each and hundreds of small workshops in the 19th century and no national standards. They both had access to more or less the same timber. Both their traditions ultimately probably stemmed from Italy.
My French violin sounds mellow and viola-like. It sounds fine in a room, but doesn't project well in a hall (unless it's just my ears). The varnish is more towards yellow than red and it has a one-piece back. Those things are typical of the Breton model, not of French violins.
To summarise, I doubt there are national "schools". You'll have to try out every violin individually.