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Gaetano vs Mario Gadda

Instruments: How do they match up?

From Pieter Viljoen
Posted July 3, 2005 at 05:57 AM

What is the difference in quality between Mario Gadda, and his father Gaetano? Being that the father was Scarampella's only student, his instruments are more desireable, but how do Mario's match up?

From Jon Styles
Posted on June 14, 2006 at 06:01 PM
Pieter,

Mario's violins are the roughest built violins of the Gadda family, so it really depends on which of Mario's violins you will be comparing to Gaetano's. However, if you were to compare one of Mario's finer built violins, you will find that, while it is not as nice sounding as his fathers violins, it is certainly not terrible sounding. Of course, that being said, Gaetano was a student of Scarampella, who is arguably one of the finest makers of the 20th century. As a result, Mario's violins will not be as nice sounding, or as projecting as one of Gaetano's. I hope that helps you out.

From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on June 14, 2006 at 07:44 PM
Jon... I have been told that Gaetano was a great maker, and that his work sometimes suprassed that of Scarampella's, but I've also never heard the word "rough" being used about Mario. Maybe he wasn't as good as Gaetano? In fact, if the word rough were to be used, it might be in discussing Scarampella.

Someone recently took a look at my violin and definately thinks it's Gaetano's hand, while someone else in Toronto thinks it's a colaboration. I'll probably never know, and because I got a good price, it's not too much of an issue.

From Jon Styles
Posted on June 14, 2006 at 08:02 PM
What I meant by "rough" is that the work of Mario is not as refined as that of Gaetano. Mario still makes a lovely violin, I have one of his and I really enjoy it. However, Gaetano's work will surpass Mario's. As well, much of Scarapella's later works were actually done by Gaetano's hand, and Scarapella's label was placed in the instrument. Do you have pictures of your Gaetano? I would love to see it.
From Jeffrey Holmes
Posted on June 14, 2006 at 09:31 PM
"Mario's violins are the roughest built violins of the Gadda family, so it really depends on which of Mario's violins you will be comparing to Gaetano's. However, if you were to compare one of Mario's finer built violins, you will find that, while it is not as nice sounding as his fathers violins, it is certainly not terrible sounding. Of course, that being said, Gaetano was a student of Scarampella, who is arguably one of the finest makers of the 20th century. As a result, Mario's violins will not be as nice sounding, or as projecting as one of Gaetano's. I hope that helps you out."

Huh??? I don't think so... What might be said is that violins bearing Mario Gadda's label vary a good deal... as he had/has a number of others helping to produce the instruments. Mario himself is quite talented (I believe he was a sculptor before he was a maker) and some of his copy fiddles are quite good and plenty "refined".

How "fine" the work is does not always have a direct connection to how much the violin costs or how well players like them. Scarampella was not a "fine" workman. He was rather rough... as was his assistant, G. Gadda. In terms of refinement, G. Gadda might have the edge... but it's a matter of degrees. Both produced "fine" fiddles, in terms of their performance, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder... and Scarampella's being beautiful have little to do with how accurate and meticulous the maker was. If you're hearing otherwise, it may be sale-person B. S. :-)

The design is classic, and the form and execution (arching) of G. Gadda and Scarampella is quite good... but the truth is, what many end up "sounding" like is due, in great part, to whoever re-graduated them later on. They were made very thick, as a rule... a fact that shops like Wurlitzer and Hermann found handy when importing and "improving" them earlier in this century.

Jeffrey

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on June 14, 2006 at 09:10 PM
Jeffrey, does the quote around "improving" mean they weren't improved? Would this work have been done in Cincinnati, or in NY (post-WWII?). Or was it done in some other location, under contract to Wurlitzer? And, was Wurlitzer a large importer of Italian violins?
From Jeffrey Holmes
Posted on June 14, 2006 at 09:33 PM
Hi Jim;

It means "altered". In terms of sound, I think it was actually an improvement. I've played a few unaltered Scarampellas... Razor blades came to mind...

Many of the large shops, like Wurlitzer, Hermann and Moennig imported modern Italians.

I assume the Wurlitzer work was done in NY and OH, but I certainly don't have any way to confirm that... The information I do have was verbally passed along. There are a few others I didn't mention who imported and re-graduated this type of instrument as well, but I figured I'd already put my hand far enough in the fire already. :-)

If I felt like really getting in trouble, I might have mentioned the German parts that Postiglione was using in some of his later instruments, or that while Varagnola did exist, he seems to have died before many of these instruments were made and imported to the US... Ooops... there I go again...

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on June 14, 2006 at 09:13 PM
There was a flock of violin makers in Cinci in the employ of Wurlitzer, I think, or somehow associated with W. Maybe underrated today, especially price-wise, and I was wondering if they might have been tasked that.
From Jeffrey Holmes
Posted on June 15, 2006 at 03:27 AM
Yes, a number of European makers came to OH, Guilio Degani among them I believe... and from Germany, the Gliers. A number of others passed through the NY shop as well.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on June 15, 2006 at 01:16 AM
Yes, Glier is one name. There are maybe a half dozen other names I'd recognize if I heard them. Typical prices:

Robert Glier 1894 $2000
http://www.elderly.com/items/110U-4545.htm

Robert Glier, Jr. 1928 $5000
http://www.gruhn.com/photo/VF2434.jpg

From Jeffrey Holmes
Posted on June 15, 2006 at 03:27 AM
I've seen some of the better Glier instruments going a bit over 5K recently (as much as around $7K). I haven't any problem with that... They are good fiddles for the money.
From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on June 15, 2006 at 05:44 AM
So who are the experts on modern italians? I've heard Mr. Eric Blot, but that's pretty much it. I have no idea where to find him (I think he's in Cremona?). Will he charge the regular 5%?

If anyone is interested in seeing (crude) pictures of my Gadda, drop me a line with the messaging or whatever it is.

From Jeffrey Holmes
Posted on June 15, 2006 at 06:23 AM
There are a few good, reliable experts for modern Italian instruments. Eric is one of them. He's in Cremona and I'm relatively sure he has a website (although I haven't checked). Please give him my best wishes.
From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on June 15, 2006 at 05:21 PM
Yes, he definately has a website, which I just found. Thanks a lot once again.

For anyone who needs it: http://www.ericblot.com

From Henry Flory
Posted on June 19, 2006 at 02:27 PM
Gadda makes very clean instruments, except when his instrument was to be labelled as a scarampella, in which case they were less clean-cut in order for them to be more similar to scarampellas work. and yes, many scarampellas were worked on after being imported to the US

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