Finding the Clarity, Again

May 19, 2009, 3:35 PM ·

So, without much fanfare or ado, I decided to buy the Carlo Lamberti violin that I originally picked out from Shar.  I had been following Smiley's search and had wondered if maybe I could do something like it.  But the circumstances just weren't right for me now.  Not enough time, not enough money.  

And yet every time I picked up the Lamberti violin, my "speed date," I found something else I liked about it.  I had already noticed how light and friendly to hold it was.  My quartet partner messed around with the Tchaik violin concerto on it, and she sounded great.  I mentioned in a previous blog that even I sounded surprisingly good playing the opening of the Bruch concerto on it, that I hadn't played in 20 years.

But what really sealed the deal was the other night, when I found the clarity again.  I've been in an ongoing search for "the clarity" or "the center" of pitches (as my teacher calls it), especially on the E string.  I was playing a high D.  The electronic tuner said it was sharp, and so I adjusted it, and something kind of "clicked" into place aurally.  I heard it *before* I saw the tuner go green.  That was what a D was supposed to sound like.  This violin does that.

It also had, which my teacher heard first, a very satisfying evenness of sound across all 4 strings.  I brought another instrument to my lesson that I thought had a lovely, bright, ringing E-string.  And it did.  But as I played the bariolage section from the Bach Preludio from Partita in E, she said it really popped out, much more than the other strings, especially the A.  After she pointed it out, I heard it too.  Whereas the Lamberti was quite rich and warm up and down the range and all 4 strings had that quality.  We agreed that that passage was a good choice for trying out and comparing instruments.  Afterwards she said "well, I admit I was a little skeptical when you said you'd gotten it from Shar and it was only $1500, but then I heard you play it."

I have to get it a new chin rest.  I got an Ohrenform for my current violin when I started playing it again.  The Ohrenform is a funny shape.  It looks like an ear, which I assume is where the name comes from (Ohr=ear in German).  And I really liked it:  it is center-mounted, and it allows you to put your chin more centered or more off to the side, or to move it around a little bit, which I apparently like to do.  I find it very comfortable.  So does my daughter.  So she is getting my ebony Ohrenform and I'm getting a new rosewood Ohrenform to go on the new violin.  

And, I decided to keep my bow, for now.  I liked the bows I tried, they were nice and light.  But my bow does everything I want it to, and while it feels a little bit heavier, I think that weight helps it draw out a really rich sound, even viola-like if that's what I want, when I want.  Some day I will probably get a better bow too, but I feel like this is a win-win situation.  I only spend $1500 and both my daughter and I have better violins than we had previously.  But I don't think this is the end of the road.  Some day I still want to do a search like Smiley's, and try out violins from individual modern makers.  I'm happy, but I'm "still looking."


May 20, 2009 at 12:34 AM ·

congratulations and best wishes with Carlo.

May 20, 2009 at 12:46 AM ·

Glad to hear that worked out so well. I prefer a heavier bow also - it helps me draw a bigger sound and feel more in control of strokes that are off the string.

May 20, 2009 at 02:07 AM ·

I looked at the Shar catalog...which Lamberti model did you get?

May 20, 2009 at 09:46 AM ·

I'm actually not sure.  I don't see exactly it in the online catalog, but it looks like this one (has the rosewood trim), and is about the same price: On the tag it said "Strad Model" and "$1799."  So it also could be last year's top-of-the line model and that's why he gave me the discount to $1500.

Now that you called it "Carlo," I've been thinking that's not a bad name for it, but not very original. And I'm not sure yet if it's a boy or a girl.  I'd been leaning toward girl.  I could call it "Carla," which coincidentally is also my PhD advisor's name ;-)

I owned my other violin for 30 years and never named it.  My daughter has had it less than a week and already decided to name it "Bob."  

May 20, 2009 at 01:00 PM ·

Enjoy!  You have more than earned it.

May 20, 2009 at 02:34 PM ·

I emailed them asking about what was the difference between the Guenari and the Strad and they said that like the actual instruments they are modeled after, the Guenari body is slightly smaller than the Strad but is as playable as the Strad.  Karen, you got yourself quite a deal!


May 24, 2009 at 03:01 AM ·


Congratulations!  You made a good choice.  Playing violin is so much more fun with an instrument that you really like. 

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