Questions for Andrew Victor
… But anyone else is welcome to participate.
I have what it seems to be the close brother of one of your violins. A Fernando Solar González #159 made in Madrid in 1971. Very, very close to the one you have written about, your #157 also from 1971. You can imagine that I have been searching any comments you had about it and still I am full of questions because –in the end- you are a bit the reason why I got it. I was itching to have a Solar violin and in your comments it is clear that you like that instrument a lot.
The reason why I wanted a Solar… Well. I am from Madrid but I live now in Asia and I will not be likely living back in my city for many years. However, I miss Madrid. I always loved it and in particular walking by the small streets of the Austrias Quarters and browse the little family shops, of which many are still there run by the third, fourth or fifth generation. I have walked countless times by the street “Divino Pastor” and looked by the window of the Solar Luthier shop. My Solar violin, by itself, roots me back to those memories.
Disregarding the (huge) sentimentality I have for it, I am amazed by its sound. In particular how responsive and beautiful is its G string. In that, it seems it is similar to yours. The E is very clean and forgiving and a pleasure to play it without fear. So far the A is asking for some extra attention while playing, but nothing to frown.
I have not messed with its soundpost (If it ain’t broken…), as I have read you saying that it is a particularly picky violin to find the sweet spot. In that regard, past November I went to Spain and took the chance to visit the Solar Shop and had a wonderful chat with the grandson who is there maintaining the business. A very nice man. He has recently engaged in a popular project making a violin out of old wine barrels. They have made a documentary about it, here the trailer: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsXcUti5Pso). He was explaining how thin they had to do it due to the higher density of the oak from the barrel and other challenges. Well. Regarding my violin he said he would be happy to adjust it next time I visit Spain. He seemed excited to examine another of his grandfather’s works.
I suppose being so close in time of production, your violin and mine are likely to come from the same stock of wood from Fernando Solar warehouse and the same pattern, hence the same strengths and weaknesses. About that, I see that you took yours to be remade and thinned… I don’t intend to do it (except by the same Solar family), however would you recommend it?
I have also seen you using Tzigane on it, except a G Pirastro Wondertone do you still use this combination?
In general I would be most obliged if you can share your experiences, comments and stories of your violin, your experience with the Solar makers, suggestions, recommendations, etc.
We can move this dialogue to emails, but I thought that it was a nice story that two violins that likely shared bench and hanging space have ended in opposite parts of the world and after 46 years we can pinpoint them.
And it would be amazing if the owner of the one in between, the #158, would appear thanks to this thread.
Carlos - This is very exciting for me too!
Thank you Jeff. I replaced the A string with another one of the same type (Tonicas) and now all strings are balanced. I am using Tonicas now in the honeymoon with the Violin (nicknamed at home
Carlos, the maker I met with at the Solar shop was the "old" man himself. His son was there also. The relationship between them seemed somewhat strained that day - maybe it always is (if the son wants Dad to retire, perhaps?).
The PI platinum E is a very brilliant, bright-sounding string.
I've had the same Pt E string on while I'm on the third set of A-D-Gs on those violins. I like the PI Pt best for what it does to the sound from the other strings, especially the G. I've now tried it with PI, Vision-Solo and Evah Pirazzi Gold "tri-sets." I like the EP Golds best on all 4 fiddles - with the Pi-Pt-E.
Andrew, how would you rate the response between Evah Gold and Peter Infeld on the A,D,G...and what is your 2nd favorite E after the PI Platinum? :)
After reading Andrew Victor's comments on the platinum E string I finally bought two on sale and have had one on my main instrument for two days now. It is a wonderful string and compliments the lower strings but I am not sure if I can justify buying more of them in the future. . I change my E string once a month but after paying $25 for this string I will try keep it on longer and will try the second string down the road with another set. When the titanium E first came out I tried a couple of them and although I thought they were a great string I could not justfy paying so much money for them. I also bought a set of Warchal Ambers on sale with the unusual E string to try some time in the future. Warchals are great strings with Brilliant being my favorite so far.
No problem, Jeff. Actually I had the same question about the durability of PI Platinum E. It is true that they are five times more expensive that the Pirazzi Gold E, or even the Infeld Tin... But if they last at least three times longer than the others, they might be a very good deal.
Peter, my strings responses seem to be more a function of the fiddle they are on than the strings themselves. As I "upgraded" my violins (A, D & G strings) from Peter Infeld to Vision Solo to Evah Pirazzi Gold I felt they were all improving. But one violin has always been the most responsive. The Solar is a little tougher, but the tonal reward is so great. The other favorite of mine (that I have had since 1952) is very responsive, but a little more treble (not shrill).
This "instrument of the month" is a sibling cello built at about the same time. Unique and beautiful wood selection.
That's a lovely instrument Stan, and a very sucint but good history of the brand.
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