My first love with regards to string music is Baroque music, and I love the sound of historically accurate instruments. I've toyed with the idea of buying one, but I really have no idea where to look. Do you have to find a specialty violin shop, or do most violin shops have one or two? And how much should one expect to spend on a good quality Baroque violin?
I think you could get a close approximation to a baroque violin by using a 'modern' violin, buying (or making) a baroque tailpiece, stringing with gut, and replacing the saddle and bridge with appropriate versions.
They're fairly hard to find, I'm afraid. Depends on regional circumstances, though.
There's always this one: https://www.corilon.com/shop/en/item1011_1.html
In the UK conversions back to baroque start at around £2000. Played a nice one in Cardiff for about £4000 last year.
I have a baroque set up violin for $1500, its actually a violin made in the very early 1900s by an American maker of Scandinavian descent, but for some reason (perhaps because of his Scandinavian roots) he made the neck shorter and of a lower angle as per baroque spec, it is set up with baroque wedged maple fingerboard and tailpiece, baroque bridge and Damien Dlugolecki gut strings. You can contact me for more info by clicking on my name here, its a beautiful instrument, with a good sound.
You might find a Jay Haide instrument to your liking and within your budget.
Aaron, I have also been looking for a Baroque-style instrument and bow recently.
Timothy Johnson makes replica baroque violins which sound especially good. I think they are around $10000. http://www.timothyjohnsonluthier.com/
I regularly restore early 1800s and late 1700s transitional violins that are basically made to baroque specs, smaller bass bar, shorter, less angled neck, wedged fingerboard, baroque tailpiece and bridge, plain gut strings. These are original authentic instruments that usually sell in the $1000-2000 range at my shop, all of these new options are much more expensive with the exception of the really crappy Chinese models. I mostly wholesale my baroque violins to a large dealer in Los Angeles. And as I mentioned I only have the one available at the present time.
Lyndon, I am trying to dig OUT of credit card debt but holy cow have you got my imagination messed up right now!
No worries, I usually have at least one Baroque set up violin for sale, but I don't take credit cards!!
I believe that baroque violin pics in the middle of this page, the one on the right and the one in the center are the instrument I have for sale, the back of the scroll is beautifully carved with a heart instead of the usual shape.
Thanks Lyndon, I checked out your webpage and bookmarked it in my "luthiers" folder. There will come a day when I buy another violin, as close to authentic baroque as my budget and intuition will take me at the time. I see some beautiful violins on your website, but I guess there's no buying my way into a better sound anyway. I'm on a break from practicing, now back to it! The day will come when I sound good....
Thanks for the information! I don't think converting my main instrument is really an option, cause I still want it to play with non-Baroque ensembles. Didn't realize you could get authentic 17th/18th century instruments so cheap! Seems like that would likely be my best course of action, though making a trip to your shop, Lyndon, would be bit of a long trip. Possibly will consider that for a graduation present to myself in a few months though!
Aaron, try contacting Bristol Violin Shop (in England). They may be able to help. I've seen their own baroque violins for sale in their store (and was tempted!), and I believe they made a set of baroque instruments for the Music Department of Bristol University.
I think Lyndon's shop in California would be a better bet, since I'm in Texas!
Aaron, oops! somehow I got it into my head that you were based in the UK!
Authentic 1700s instruments are usually more expensive, its early 1800s instruments that are still built the same way that can be cheaper.
A good "modern" violin strung with gut strings (maybe changing out the tailpiece and bridge later), and a good baroque bow, will be a better start than a poor "baroque" violin. Avoid them. Yes, it is nice to have the right neck (especially if you want to play chin-off), but if you don't have a money to get a high quality baroque instrument, look around for a modern one that will play well with lighter tension gut strings.
A good baroque violin shouldn't be any more expensive than an equally good modern violin, except perhaps for the extra investment in fittings. If shops are charging outrageous prices for crappy baroque violins, that's on them.
Yeah you're right, certainly at bottom end of market you can buy anything now quite cheap, and I suppose that's what you'll get. I really meant something a bit above that, not as much to choose from and harder to find a good'un so probably cost a bit more than a similar quality modern set-up fiddle. Interested if anyone's had that experience. Might be talking through a hole in my head, but still reckon you'll get more value fitting a good modern fiddle with baroque strings / bridge / tailpiece, and later fully converting if you're really keen.
strings and tailpiece are only half of it, the shorter bass bar, shorter and reduced angle neck, wedged fingerboard and less curved bridge and fingerboard are the other half
So what (other than strings, obviously) gives a Baroque violin its different sound? I can see how tailpiece and bass bar would change the sound; what effect does the different neck, fingerboard, and bridge have?
Aaron, I think the effect would be the way the modern player is able to replicate the Baroque style of playing as it was in that time, particularly when executing shifts without CR or SR, and playing 3-part chords (with the appropriate bow!). I also suspect that the shorter fingerboard would have some effect (marginal?) on the sound by not blocking vibrations from so much of the top plate, and it would make the violin that much lighter, perhaps enabling it to resonate better.
Oh, interesting! Right, of course the bridge would make triple stops a lot more sensible; I'm working on the Telemann Fantasia in B-flat so there's a lot of those in there.
You can't just flatten the bridge, you have to flatten the fingerboard as well so they match, I use a 50mm radius instead of modern 42mm radius.
Jason Reaves: Have you been able to try those instruments you mentioned? I'm particularly curious about the Lu Mi. I think I'm going to start by putting gut strings and maybe a Baroque tail piece on one of my current violins, but I'm thinking about a Lu Mi bow since that seems like a good middle ground between a cheap eBay gamble and a really pricey professional-grade bow. So I'd be curious to hear if the instrument itself is good quality.
If you change to a baroque tailpiece, you should also change your saddle to the baroque low saddle. This article by Roger Hargrave explains the relationship between the tailpiece and the saddle:
You should only use a baroque bow that's designed to bow straight or slightly outward under moderate tension, if your bow doesn't do that its fake baroque, like most of those Chinese bows.
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