How to Try a Violin

Over many years I have observed all manner of tonal tests by retail buyers in the string instrument market. Some of these tests are more effective than others, but no one method for testing an instrument can tell players everything they need to know in evaluating an instrument or bow for purchase. Continue reading

Categories: Marketplace, Players |

Where Do I Shop for a Violin, Anyway?

There are various places to buy a violin and a myriad of issues to consider. Stefan Hersh walks the prospective buyer through those considerations… Continue reading

Categories: Marketplace |

My eBay Experience

I recently joined the ranks of the innocent who have been taken advantage of by an unscrupulous seller on eBay. Regrettably, I decided to purchase a violin sight unseen over the Internet in a quest for my “sound.” I will try to detail my thoughts behind this, and some of what I have learned. Continue reading

Categories: Marketplace |

The Morning After (How to Buy a Violin: Part 2)

We live in a culture which expects glistening perfection from its professionals. Never has the public’s sense of entitlement been so high. Concerts must be note perfect or the artist may not be re-engaged, politicians must never have transgressed or they may not be electable, and medical professionals are expected to make no errors lest they be faced with a messy malpractice lawsuit. Continue reading

Categories: Marketplace |

Giovanni Baptista Guadagnini, by Duane Rosengard

When Ernest Doring’s The Guadagnini Family of Violin Makers was published in 1949 it was a watershed event. At the time relatively few books were available on the subject of master violin makers. The Guadagnini family had not yet commanded the full attention of those who were researching and writing about the classic luthiers. Continue reading

Categories: History, Makers, Reviews | Tagged: , , |

Photographing a Violin

The photography of violins and other similar instruments is surprisingly uncomplicated. Photographers will probably immediately recognize the principles of copy photography, rather than more artistic forms. Continue reading

Categories: Marketplace, Workshop |

Profile: Michael Darnton, In His Own Words

Michael Darnton will be familiar to many of our readers as the author of numerous informative (and sometimes controversial) postings on internet string-related sites. In view of this, it seems that some readers might like a more complete view of this talented artisan. Continue reading

Categories: Makers, Workshop | Tagged: , |

How to Shop for a Fine Instrument or Bow

Entering into any market as an uninformed consumer can be a scary proposition. The string instrument business is no exception. The esoteric and arcane nature of the objects, the clubishness of the dealers, and the stories of fraud and deception in the business all combine to give the impression of peril waiting at every turn for the would-be buyer. Continue reading

Categories: Marketplace |

Workbench: Restoration, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

(Editor’s note: This article, written before Jeffrey Holmes left Shar Fine Instruments in 2003 to work in his own studio, is as timely today as it was when written in 2000.) As vice president of Shar Fine Instruments, part of my job is to evaluate instruments and assist in the planning of required restoration work. Our goal is to ensure that the instruments passing through the workshop leave in optimal physical and playing condition. Continue reading

Categories: Makers, Workshop | Tagged: , , |

The Stradivari Workshop, circa 1700

From many perspectives, but particularly the personal one, Antonio Stradivari found himself in a much different position at the opening of the eighteenth century than he had been only a few years earlier. In May of 1698, his wife of more than thirty years, Francesca Ferraboschi, died. The great maker was married again in August of the following year, to Antonia Zambelli Costa, who was perhaps twenty years his junior. Continue reading

Categories: History, Makers | Tagged: , , |