2nd violin - anyone play a larger instrument?
I’m looking to get a second violin for outdoor, pit, hot non air-conditioned venues, etc. I often play second and double on viola and am considering a larger than 14” instrument along the lines of an old german copy of a Maggini or Spears mezzo-violin ala Carleen Hutchins.
Anyone have any experience with these things?
I have a possibly Italian violin appraised in the 50s as the work of mandolin/violin maker Raphael Calace, pictures and description on the instruments page of my website, it has a glorious sound but the back is almost 14 1/2" and the sounding length is close to 340mm instead of 330mm, It has a longer neck and longer stop length, to get the proper neck length/stop length ration you have to go with the longer sounding length, otherwise you would have to place the bridge substantially north of the f hole notches to get a 330mm scale, and still have a neck that was longer than normal, coupled with a shorter than normal stop length.
How’s it to go back and forth between 14” and 14.5”?
Shrink& stretch... stretch& shrink.
the scale is slightly longer, meaning slight adjustment in higher positions, just like switching from a 15 1/2" viola to a 16" one.
If you go back and forth between violin and viola then you've already solved this problem. My guess is you're not playing a lot of double stops in pit orchestras anyway. But ... why do you want this? It's very limiting in terms of the scope of your search for a second instrument. If you want a violin you can play in less-than-favorable conditions, I'd go for a decent
In a recent comparison of a $3000 Ming Jiang Zhu violin, I had a $1200 antique JTL French violin that sounded just as good or better. Haven't compared the Jay Haide.
Lyndon that doesn't surprise me too much. Chinese violins are marked up too much. You also probably put a lot of love into setting up that antique. My experience from owning a MJZ viola is that it needs some adjustments especially in the first couple of years of ownership. The advantage of the Chinese instruments is that they're subject to more commodity pricing, so your resale, while possibly predictably low, is at least predicable. Also they're available everywhere so you can get them in shops that offer trade-up. Do you offer trade-up in your shop?
So on another thread you're giving advice about Stradivari violins, and yourself, you own a Ming Jiang Zhu viola???
A Ming Jiand Zhu is, when it comes to value, not significant less valuable than a Blanchard workhop violin compared to a Strad.
To return to the OP (!) I am accustomed to switching from violin to viola; with two sets of reflexes, but I am disturbed by the smaller differences betwen two violas. My 15.75" viola has a string length of 14" corresponding to a 15.5" viola, but typical of many 15" ones. So I have set up a 15" viola as a violin for my lessons. This gives me small hands like those of my young students, and disturbs my viola playing less. Three viola strings and an E near breaking point!
The French made a lot of oversize violins, Germans less so, and I don't think you'll find too many oversize Chinese violins.
I play a larger fiddle. And I have a standard sized one. It's really hard to switch back and forth. More difficult than when I play viola or a student's 3/4 size.
Adrian - you might want to try a steel guitar string for that E on your viola. They are available in thinner gauges than violin E's
Can you define violin larger than 14"? Ususally all violins are that size, so you'd be looking at a viola now.
I had a five string viola with a top e, d'addario makes a viola e string long enough for a 16"viola. I got mine from Howard Core, not everyone stocks them.
14 1/4' violins are common, 14 1/2" violins not common but sometimes.
Maggini was one of the earliest makers. He had two primary models.One was the roughly 14” size adopted by many, the other was about 1cm longer in both body and string length. Carleen Hutchins was a leader in 20th century physics research into violin design. She determined that the optimal resonance for gdae tuning is slightly longer with a plate length near 14.5” and is made by several luthiers as a mezzo violin. Many fiddlers (not my style) like the greater volume and fuller sound of the copies of Maggini instruments made in France and Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some longer, and others of traditional length. Some of the early larger Brescian instruments, both violins and violas, were cut down by later luthiers to standard size. an example of this practice is Arnold Steinhardt’s violin (ex-Guarneri Quartet) Stradivarius also made longer instruments in the 14.5” range that are darker sounding.
As to violin and viola, I switch daily and have even learned to compensate for strings that go out of tune-a practice demonstrated and advocated by Heifetz (which I have no illusions of being in the same universe of ability, much less ballpark.) That said, I highly value the experience of members of this forum and appreciate your feedback. My main concerns were the small difference issues as noted by Adrian Heath, which I too have noticed in going between violas, especially in tuning double stops and chords. Also, the playing characteristics and sound in the upper register.
My 14 1/2" "Raphael Calace" violin for what its worth has a three turn scroll, as do many Maggini copies, but no originals, I have been told. It has standard single purfling, though. You can judge for yourself if it looks like some kind of Maggini model from the pictures on my website.
Lydon of course the Blanchard is (I just assume of course as I did not play either of the violins) at least one league above the MJZ, but compared to Strat (financially) they fall pretty much so close to each other it does not matter anymore.
This is very spammy! Just create a topic for it instead of randomly posting it everywhere!
Marc,thanks for the comment about the German Magginis above 3rd. Exactly the type of experienced info I am looking for. So, Lyndon, sounds like yours is ok up there?
Haven't had any complaints from performers.
I have played a maggini for 30 years and don't have whatever problem Marc is describing. As far as the top strings being a bit thin, I had my luthier do a sound post adjustment and did some string experiments and found a good fit. That's not to say that all instruments are the same though.
Sounds like an easy adjustment. Julie, what’s your string length?
Maybe it is a matter of what to compare it to and also of course specific violins are always specific.