Giovanni Battista Guadagnini is one of my favorite makers! Guadagnini is regarded as the greatest maker of the second half of the 18th Century! Not one of the greatest, but thee greatest… His career expanded of 44 years and his original style produced some of the best sounding instruments in history!
Guadagnini lived an interesting life and unlike most makers he moved from city to city quite a bit throughout his violin-making career.
He finally ended up in Turin in 1771, where he met the well-known Count Cozio who later became a patron of his work. Cozio was responsible for the commission of some of Guadagnini’s finest works. In 1774 Cozio gained control of the remaining articles of the Stradivari workshop from Stradivari’s grandson, Paolo.
This allowed Guadagnini the opportunity to acquaint himself with the great Stradivari’s work first hand. After this time he adopted Stradivari’s models, using them more frequently. What a lucky guy!
This is my latest Guadagnini copy, which is a 7/8 cello! As a modern maker we are spoiled with great articles and books about old masters. I love taking the time to study fine instruments to see the details that the maker left behind!
F.N. Voirin- Bow maker: 1833-1885 was the cousin of Jean baptiste Vuillaume and his work in the Vuillaume workshop gave him access to most distinguished bow makers of the Peccatte school. But Voirin was largely inspired by the work of Pierre Simon and Vuillaume himself.
Most of the bows coming out of the Vuillaume workshop of the perior, which features an eye with a tiny lens microfilm are by Voirin.
Voirin later left the Vuillaume firm setting up his own workshop where he hired Louis Thomassin to assist him and Joseph Lamy later joined the shop. Both worked along side him until his death in 1885. Voirins bows are among the best and most important in the history of the trade!
I am happy to own one of his bows!!
A fine cello, handmade by Hermann Bachle, also spelled Baechle. Although it is almost 40 years old, this cello is in near mint condition. It was purchased in 1977 at the Meisel Violin shop in Owatonna, Minnesota and was rarely used by its owner who was an instrument collector.
The cello is modeled from Guarnerius Del Gesu. The back is two-piece European maple with medium curls and is a very clean, beautiful back. The top is European spruce and has a very straight grain with quite a few bear claw markings.
The scroll is beautifully carved in the Guarnerius tradition matching in material and structure on the back. The instrument is stamped with the makers mark on both the inside and back of the instrument near the button. With all that said, it is overall a very fine cello, especially considering its age. I have in my possession the original sales slip and appraisal dating back to November 19th, 1977.
Bachle has won many awards for his sound and craftsmanship.
Hermann Todt made this violin specifically for William Lewis & Son of Chicago in 1929. Todt was a violin maker from Markneukirchen. This violin was made with exceptional wood for the maker. The top spruce is very even with tight grain, while the maple has a deep medium width flame.
It is branded on both the back plate near the button. And on the inside of the back plate above the William Lewis & Son label.
The William Lewis & Son was a Chicago based music store that specialized in violins and bows. William E. Lewis the founder, was the son of a cellist and he became a violinist. At the age of 8 English critics elected him as a musical prodigy. The family moved to America in 1850.
The William Lewis & Son firm was established in 1874 and lasted 80 long years building a nice collection of instruments including Stradivarius, Guarneri, Montagnana, Storioni, Rugeri, Guadagnini and many more fine instruments made by old masters.
Cello progress! Finally! I never get to build instruments as much as my heart desires but I do love taking the time to bring old instruments back to life so someone can enjoy playing them again. So I guess the trade off isn’t so bad…
But back to the progress on the cello, I am working on the final graduations before gluing the back onto the rib structure and fit a bass bar. The scroll is just about finished except for some light scraping. I am anxious to see how this petite, little cello ends up sounding!
It is in the final weeks of the instrument build process that you see the instrument really come together. So the next steps are to glue the back onto the ribs, fit the bass bar and shape it, then glue the top on to complete the sound box!
Then I will carve a fingerboard and set the neck before the cello spends a few weeks sun tanning before I can start the varnish process!
Check back for a finished product in a few more weeks.
Small repairs can be as tedious as large restorations. The trouble is finding the perfect piece of wood to match the original 100-year-old violin top.
Luckily when I removed the top to start the repair I found the old bass bar was carved into the top rather then fit to the top the proper way. This allowed me to split the old bass bar out, and use the piece of spruce that was original to the top! A perfect match, so the hard part is done, right? Next I was able to fit the spruce onto the edge at the broken corner leaving plenty of extra so I could match the corner to the outline of the instrument.
I will spend the next few weeks varnishing the corner to match the original varnish. Then I can fit a new bass bar before closing the top and doing the final set up.
This instrument should sound great with a well fit bass bar and proper set up!
It will also look pretty having all of its corners back!
I always seem to grow attached to my instruments as I build them, how could I not? I spend so much time focusing on every little detail that I get so use to having them around and working on them! But this violin is going to be hard for me to see go off to a new home.
This violin means a lot to me because I made this after James Fegley. Although I was never lucky enough to meet Jim, I am fortunate because I wouldn’t have any of this without him.
He started Fegley’s well before I was alive and I think he would be proud that I am carrying on the Fegley name.
This is a Stradivari copy that I made over the last few months. It has a mostly original James Fegley scroll that he started to carve and never finished.
Making this violin truly one of a kind. Normally I would have just kept the scroll but I thought it would mean a lot more to be completed and go on to enjoy making music. So “King James” will forever live on to make music!
Proper set-up goes a long way when wanting the best sound out of your instrument. It is important to keep a close eye on your bridge, sound post and strings along with a few other key parts on the instrument. You wouldn’t buy a brand new car and plan to never get oil changes or service.
This is a relatable topic to instruments; these instruments are made out of wood… things do move around! The weather is a key factor in things moving around on instruments from one season to the next!
That being said it is important to properly maintain your instrument. Bring it in for yearly check ups and get it looked over!
I know, I know… lately all I have been writing about are modern instrument makers, but I can’t help myself. Being a modern maker myself I cannot help but admire newer instruments. This Stopka violin is no exception, made in 1991 it is a great violin for the value and very hard to compete with.
I have seen Stopka violins sell for over $10,000! And even at that price I believe that they are a bargain. Stopka is well known for his tone and has won many awards.
Wladek Stopka specializes in Stradivari copies, don’t we all copy Stradivari and follow in the masters footsteps! This Stopka violin is very fairly priced at $6,500 and I do not see it lasting very long!