The best looking antiqued fiddles?

July 6, 2008 at 10:34 PM · I have been auditioning a lot of great modern instruments. My wife and I want to buy our protégée-like nephew a great fiddle, now that he is close to hopping on a full size.

Obviously we are considering more than just the look of the instrument, but, out of curiosity, I am wondering what are your favorite antiqued fiddles? Pics would be great, if you have them.

My vote, Kelvin Scott, Borman, Seifert & Grubaugh, and Jiang.

What is your vote?

Replies (48)

July 6, 2008 at 10:41 PM · Best one I have seen was a Peter Beare.

I can't remember the model, but I thought it was an old fiddle - so much so that when I looked inside, and saw the date 200X, I thought it was a repair label.

I only realised it was new when I played it.


July 7, 2008 at 03:07 AM · John, I wish I could add more than what you have written, but unfortunately the best I have seen is much like your list:

Kelvin Scott is to me the best, followed by Bellini, Seifert and Gruabugh, Feng Jiang, and I would add Curtin and Robin.

See for yourself:

July 7, 2008 at 05:57 AM · Tetsuo Matsuda and Tschu Ho Lee are both masters at antiquing.

July 7, 2008 at 10:51 PM · Nothing beats a Stradivarius.

July 8, 2008 at 12:19 AM · Some of my preferred master instruments have an almost "brand new look", they are:

- the Medici cello in Florence;

- the Andrea Guarneri Tenor in the Shrine to Music Museum;

- the Messiah in the Ashmoleum Museum.

July 8, 2008 at 12:26 PM · I often wonder just what an antiqued fiddle will look like in 100 - 200 years. Do varnish layers in various thickness have any effect on sound or vibration?

An antique job is nothing more than an attempt to fool someone, and badly done looks like a bad hair piece or stick on hood scoops for your car.

July 8, 2008 at 01:51 PM · Good points.

Unfortunately, most of the "antiqued" fiddles I see are done in the style of the less valuable, highly worn instruments, and not in the style of the most valuable, well preserved instruments, such as those Mr. Manfio mentioned.

Most people never get a chance to see the really well-preserved examples of past makers, so mainstream taste has diverged from that of instrument connoisseurs.

If someone showed up at orchestra rehearsal with the Messiah Strad (probably the most valuable violin in the world) and said nothing about what it was, I wonder if they'd be chided for playing some cheap modern violin?

Kind of sad that things have gone in this direction.


July 8, 2008 at 02:52 PM · Intellectually, I understand and agree with the comments regarding antiqueing. It is kind of strange (although not unheard of -- as my wife just showed up at home with a brand new and highly distressed dining room table).

And yet.

The thought of it being old never occurs to me. I mean, I'm not fooled because the age of a violin in and of itself is not important to me. But my eyes are inexplicably and absolutely drawn to the more complex visual presentation of antiqued instruments, to the different layers/colors and textures and all of the other markings. I find I just plain enjoy looking at the rich display of natural flaming and different colors of varnish and ground etc. on the back of my daughter's Shan Jiang, for instance.

Strange, I know.

July 8, 2008 at 03:19 PM · Joseph curtin says it can affect the sound. I like how they look, though!

July 8, 2008 at 03:39 PM · What I really wonder is if Strad and Guarneri actually antiqued their instruments at all, or if only time has played the role in making them so incredibly beautiful!

July 8, 2008 at 05:48 PM · Just answered my own question ha..

July 8, 2008 at 05:54 PM · The Messiah looks like your standard $300 fiddle in the picture referenced above. Even the label can be seen looking new. The only hint that the instrument is special is the elaborate tail piece. I have been reading about this instrument for many, many years and this is the first picture I have seen. So, thank-you Mr. Burgess.

On another matter, I have an instrument made in 1820 that I can almost guarantee was artificially antiqued.

July 8, 2008 at 06:11 PM · Sadly, I fall under the "never get a chance to see the really well-preserved examples of past makers" category. That being said, I think my Seifert and Grubaugh is absolutely gorgeous and the sound still amazes me. I practice at 4 in the morning (busy schedule). Any instrument that can make me stop and say "wow" at that hour of the day warrants examination.

July 8, 2008 at 07:07 PM · I agree with David B. that it's too bad more people don't appreciate a good 'new instrument' esthetic.

But I also think looking at antiquing as mere fakery is missing much of the point. Antiquing is an art form which emulates the visual interest and esthetic pleasure of an old object, and as such it is its own realm, with its own rules, pleasures, and values.

July 8, 2008 at 08:00 PM · Another thing many have never had a chance to see is the viola by Grubaugh and Seifert, with varnish worn on the back to simulate a map of Italy. ;-)

Tasty varnish and a great sense of humor, those two!

July 8, 2008 at 08:23 PM · Antiquing is an art form that has no soul.

July 8, 2008 at 09:15 PM · Oh surely a fake soul at least. :-b

July 9, 2008 at 02:54 AM · I went in liking new finishes, now I like a good antique finish a lot more. Not because it looks old, but like someone said earlier, the combination of colors, the sunburst effect, etc.

My list is pretty much like yours: Kelvin Scott, unreal...Seifert & Grubaugh, unreal, Bellini, very, very good, Curtin, very, very, good

Borman, probably the best, his could fool you everytime.

I must tell you about a shoot out I went to awhile back. many makers represented, and many old Italians, and really you could not tell the old Italians form the antiqued moderns, they looked that real. There were a few moderns that were barely antiqued, or badly antiqued, or not antiqued at all, and they stood out, in a bad way.

One was a Guaneri copy, with the original Guaneri that they copied, there! You could not tell the difference, execpt that the modern had a lot more guts when we heard them.

July 9, 2008 at 03:19 AM · Rob,

What you don't realized is that makers have been doing it since time began. I once asked Robert McDuffy if he was using a modern instrument after a masterclass. He wasn't--it was a Del Gesu.

I got a good look at it, and there's just no way it wasn't antiqued.

The wear patterns were totally unrealistic.


July 9, 2008 at 11:31 AM · Scott Cole wrote:


What you don't realized is that makers have been doing it since time began. I once asked Robert McDuffy if he was using a modern instrument after a masterclass. He wasn't--it was a Del Gesu.

I got a good look at it, and there's just no way it wasn't antiqued.

The wear patterns were totally unrealistic.



Scott, you'll be hard pressed to find any who have made a life-long study of these instruments (Beare, Biddulph, Warren, Reuning etc.) who believe that any Guarneris and Strads were originally antiqued. The same is true of past experts (now deceased).

Some antiquing is common during repair, in an attempt to make repaired and re-varnished areas match the rest of the instrument.

To better understand the wear patterns, it's helpful to know some history, such as the fragility of the original varnish, the types of cases which were used in the past, and quirky individual habits of present and past owners.

July 9, 2008 at 12:51 PM · Scott,

I some how doubt Antonio and Del Gesu faked wear.

If they tried, I'm sure they wouldn't sell back then.

Antiquing is a marketing and fashion statement and I think many have become conditioned that old violins sound best. Interesting that you asked McDuffy if it was a modern.

I'm sure at some point in time antiquing violins will fall out of fashion just like distressed blue jeans.

Somehow I prefer a maker to concentrate thier efforts on sound quality and construction details. A well made violin IS a work of art. I don't need it to wear old clothes.

July 9, 2008 at 02:00 PM · Rob Olsen wrote:


I some how doubt Antonio and Del Gesu faked wear.

If they tried, I'm sure they wouldn't sell back then."


Correct, it doesn't seem to have been the prevailing taste at the time. One example is Tarisio, a dealer, who was able to obtain beat-up Strads by offering cheap, new violins in exchange.

Antiquing has probably eased the partial transition back to the use of modern violins that we're seeing now, and in that way, it's served a purpose. For the last two hundred years, most times that a musician was shown a highly valuable instrument, its most obvious feature was that it looked old. These images are hard to put aside.

The latest buzz in the violin making community has to do with putting copies behind, and moving toward original designs, based on dimensional "systems" believed to have been used by the Cremonese.

From a marketing perspective, a quality antiquing job was once a way to distinguish ones work from the bulk of what was being made. There's so much of it now though, including half-decent antiquing on Chinese factory violins, that it no longer serves to make ones work distinctive. That's another reason violin makers are looking toward, "What's next"?

Of course, there are makers who have never bought into the "bench copy" or antiquing thing, such as the highly respected Carl Becker Jr.

July 9, 2008 at 03:19 PM · I don't think a maker is less of a maker if he does not antique. In the end sound and playability are the things that matter.

What a violin looks like is subjective, and in my eyes a well antiqued violin looks better than a new violin. But this is just my taste, and that is it.

From what I read I am sure that del Gesu and Strad did NOT antique.

And yes I know some of the old Cremonese instruments sill look new, but they are a a very small minority, so David I am sorry but your argument about this does not hold up. Look at the ex-David, probably the most famous del Gesu, or the Cannon, etc. I saw Repin play a while back, same thing with his del Gesu, I could go on, the list is almost endless.

Does that mean that makers who antique are better than those who do not, NO! I imagine that in some ways making a clean fiddle is probably harder, it is just not the look that most of us are into.

And I doubt if it affects sales, because any player worth anything will not pick an instrument on what it looks like, unless his/her search is down to two instruments which are even to them. But what are the chances of that?

I am sorry that this thread has turned into a debate about whether to antique or not because John asked who our favorite finishers were, not whether it is better to antique.

Oh and if you ask me the latest buzz SHOULD be about the system that Needham is using which is producing one great fiddle after another. Yes, yes I know he brought a clunker at the Seatle show, but from what I understand that was because he went outside the system and tried some new things. From what I have heard he fixed that fiddle by going back to the system, and the two other fiddles that have followed, built on that system, have been stellar, like the ones he made before the clunker. Bottom line, he's putting forth one great violin after another.

Oh and about antiquing: Needham does antique, but not like the guys we just talked about; there is no beautiful sunburst, or the realism of Boarman, etc.

So I am excited about this maker not because of his finish, but because of his sound.

The other maker I am excited about is Bellini: his violin is the easiest to play ever, it is a great antiqued instrument, and when he nails it his sound is great.

To be fair, I have not played Burgess and his magical G string yet, but if it turns out as good as I have been told it may be as good as anything :)

July 9, 2008 at 06:36 PM · Hi Jan;

I didn't mean to take issue with you. I wasn't trying to say that violins like the Messiah would have the greatest value to musicians, but that if such instruments ever came up for sale, they would set record prices, driven by collectors.

Anyway, give me a call sometime and we can talk about what other makers have told me about antiquing, marketing strategies and customer buying habits ....stuff I can't say on a forum. ;)

The "magical G string"?

Causing no small amount of anxiety on my end. LOL

It's the first time I've been asked to make a violin that hits such a narrow sound target. It needs to capture the exact sound of the so-called "magical G" of that older violin of mine which the player liked, but with a different sounding, very specifically described A and E. On top of that, he's requested a varnish color different from what I usually do. Plenty of opportunities to miss the bullseye. I think I'm doomed! ;)

The fiddle's almost ready for varnish, so we'll see in a month or so.


I didn't think the violin Needham brought to Seattle was a clunker by any means. I didn't like it as much as the fiddle y'all have grown fond of, but it was still a nice sounding fiddle compared to many others there.

July 9, 2008 at 05:32 PM · Please allow me to make several comments based purely on anecdotal evidence.

Harry Wake was a fairly well know violin maker here in the San Diego area. He published a number of books on the subject, which I think are still available for on-line purchase. I own one of his instruments.

Harry once told me that he believed the old masters put their color on in layers, but that the darkest color was applied last using a "glazing" technique. It was a single coat, with several clear coats added over it, creating that illusion of depth.

According to Harry, the patern you see on on the backs of the old instruments suggests that the thin layer of the darkest color would wear fairly quickly from contact with the players shoulder, case, or other resting surface.

The instrument I own, which was varnished using the "glazing" techique, has not worn on the back, but has worn on the ribs and edging of the upper bout my hand comes into contact with when playing in the upper positions.

I personnaly doubt the masters used the technique Harry describes, but his theory does make some sense.

Having just purchased an aritificially antiqued instrument, I find this thread very interesting.

July 9, 2008 at 06:40 PM · Daniel, our cases are better at preserving varnish, and we don't hold the violin with our chin in direct contact with the varnish anymore. :-)

July 9, 2008 at 07:07 PM · To Rob and David,

Can we really say with certainty that violinists in 1720 didn't want old-looking violins as well? I find it hard to believe that the same properties of good instruments, including age, were not highly prized, and that antiquing contributed to those perceptions as they do now. I fully admit it: something in me is hard-wired to go for an antiqued violin. Not a poorly done job, though, like the ones where the maker takes a sound post setter and bashes the instrument in for an hour. Perhaps a well-antiqued instrument should be done in such a manner that you have to look twice to see the antiquing. In any case, there is good antiquing and bad.

July 9, 2008 at 08:05 PM · David, I did not think that you took issue with me, at all. I just don't agree with your argument, for the reasons I stated.

I know you have been asked to produce a very specific sound, and I think no one knows it better than the customer. From what I understand he wants the "magical G" of one of the fiddles you sent, and the huge power of the other fiddle you sent, and he wants the A and E to be thick! LOL Man, if you make such a fiddle, well, you be the man!

Then I'll come along and say," Make me one just like it, but antique it (which we know you do not do because you do not like it) LOL!!!!!

Everyone respects your ability David, no one more than the player who has asked so much of you. I am betting that you will pull it off. Then you'll be able to look Needham in the eyes and say, move over, there are two of us here now! LOL

July 9, 2008 at 10:55 PM · Jan, Needham's a great guy. He's not one of those types who throws parties for the visiting orchestra with a few of his violins strategically placed; or stands at the stage door pestering musicians; or tries to grab every photo opportunity. If he makes it amongst all the crap in this business, very little could make me happier.

You and your friends in L.A. have done a lot to push the violin business back towards reality. Whether my violin sinks or swims, you all will have my respect and gratitude for that.

Scott, I hope I haven't sounded strident. Hans Weisshaar, to whom I credit most of my training, felt that our relationship with musicians was a "trust", and that part of our duty was educational. Plenty of anecdotes to the contrary, but that's for another day. ;-)

If I look at violin history, the greatest volume of antiqued fiddles has been low-end Germanic trade fiddles (like old Sears catalog stuff). Vuillaume brought quality into antiqued high-volume with the aid of his Mirecourt trained workers, and plenty of nice Strads on hand to copy.

Other than that, antiqued production has been spotty until the recent modern boom. I can understand this, and can even relate to it. I admire a truly skillful antiquing job as much as the next guy. I was once sorely tempted to buy a fake Ferrari. It wouldn't fool a Ferrari afficianado, but 99% of the people on the street wouldn't know the difference.

So where outside the fiddle business do we find antiquing?

Low to medium priced furniture, "art" and pottery?

Why hasn't it extended to bows?

Experts please chime in. This ride is a wild learning experience, and I welcome your input.

Take the "Messiah" Strad to rehearsal without mentioning what it is, and probably no one will say anything, except that the concertmaster or conductor might suggest getting a better instrument.

Take it into a major violin shop, and everyone will be humpin' your leg! ;-)

Over half my buddies in this business are antiquers. I admire the more skillful ones. We have some great, good-natured exchanges.

What I'd like to leave you with is not a position, but an open mind.

Jan, you're a treasure! Kick some a$$.

July 9, 2008 at 11:49 PM · Thanks David, and I know that Needham is a great guy, so are most of the makers I have met in this journey. And you David, are in that group of great guys.

And I did not mean to say that you thought the Needham in Seatle was a clunker. I got many emails from others who thought it was way below the standard of Michael's fiddle, this is what I was referring to. Like I said, Howard took care of it, I honestly think that he will not let anything but a great fiddle out of his shop. I think I can say the same for Croen, Bellini, Widenhouse, and you David.

Thanks for including me as one of the persons in that group, but really they are the ones that did the bulk of the work, I squekeed in at the end! Hahaha But you are right, the session dudes did a lot to bring real emperical findings to the modern violin community.

I do wish that people would include links to antique fiddles that they admire. To bad we can't attach photos, I have a few with me and some pretty handsome fiddles that I would love to share...wink, wink.

July 9, 2008 at 11:43 PM · Scott wrote:

Can we really say with certainty that violinists in 1720 didn't want old-looking violins as well?

There doesn't seem to be any evidence that anyone purposely antiqued back then. I think if it was a trend we would have know about more of this from the experts. If they wanted antique finished violins I'm sure someone would have made them.

Part of the charm of old violins is to look at them and wonder about how certain marks, dents, dings and varnish wear may have happened. Its amazing to look at the cannone poster and see the history and what Paganini left us to ponder.

I like to see a violin with honest wear, or even old violins that have been well maintained and cared for. Not something that someone is trying to fool me or others with fake scratch's and artificial age.

Maybe I'm a minority,

Hey anyone got any mint condition Strads, Guarneri's to trade for some beat up fake finish factory fiddles?

July 10, 2008 at 02:42 AM · David,

I'm curious (since you're in the craft), is the "antiqued" aesthetic trend really one that results from wanting something because it "looks old"?


I & more than a few of my colleagues prefer the more "antiqued" type color finishes as you call them, not because they "look old" but because there is much greater variation in color? I can say that in my (albeit limited, and not applied to violin making at all) woodworking shop experience, that I can varnish a piece of wood in a nicely uniform color in a patient easy manner myself....getting the subtle reds and golds (and subtle) craqueleur of a well done "antique" finish is something I can't wrap my head around even setting about doing.

I've seen and played some contemporary instruments that were good fiddles---but the makers took to distressing the wood and commiting all manner of crimes in the name of making an instrument that looked old and worn. I know there are people who bite at such things--and I work with more than a few (Clash of aesthetic opinions and all that, when they ask me excitedly if I like "it"--and I say "Yes, it is a nice sounding fiddle, BUT..." ;>) )--but I'm curious how much of it (in general) has to do with variety in color vs the "old" instrument stereotype.

PS-I play on a Borchardt that is nicely antiqued in color (but not distressed in the wood) that I'd love to share if it were possible....that is the hard thing though, catching the beauty of flamed wood in a photo :>)

PPS-I'd suspect that "antique" finish in bows hasn't caught on, because Pernambuco is naturally a deeply colored wood---why mess with something that is purdy already?

July 10, 2008 at 03:30 PM · Marc, your question about what's behind one preference or the other might be better answered by Dr. Phil. :-)

Speaking for myself (traditionally trained), I hate to see things get too far away from 17th century Cremonese INTENT, until something demonstrably better shows up. (By the way, Needhams "system" is based on a theory about original Cremonese construction intent, not on copying them as we see them today)

My personal preference in antiquing style is something very conservative, along the lines of the 100 year old Strads that Vuillaume saw. This results in a nice color palette, without obliterating the fine features, features which are lost with more aggressive antiquing.

OK, I'll admit to having done a total of two violins in this style.

What I really don't care for is some amorphous dirty looking thing, with most of the character of the maker missing. Unfortunately, that's what some of the heavily used Strads have become.

Anyway, I mostly wanted to point out a disparity in taste between many musicians, and the high-end fiddle trade folks, probably due largely to differences in what the two groups are exposed to. (I can think of one fully varnished Strad cello, privately owned, which probably will never be in a museum or on a concert stage)

So if I can nudge youz guys slightly in that direction without offending anyone, that would be cool.

July 10, 2008 at 04:48 PM · David:

Would a nice french polish take care of some of that dirty look the much used strads have?

July 10, 2008 at 05:57 PM · re: Best looking antiqued fiddles

Melvin Goldsmith. He just posted some pics of his latest violin that look fantastic!

July 11, 2008 at 08:49 PM · I have sometimes wondered whether varnish was taken off in certain places to improve sound.

I know - daft idea!


July 11, 2008 at 11:51 PM · "What I really don't care for is some amorphous dirty looking thing, with most of the character of the maker missing. Unfortunately, that's what some of the heavily used Strads have become."

David, just say it will you! I hate it when you try to be PC, or equivocate! LOL

July 12, 2008 at 01:05 PM · Not my fault, Jan!

I bought a "Ouija" keyboard for my computer, and it types things under the influence of some mysterious outside force.

July 14, 2008 at 02:14 PM · Hi Daryl

Yes it is a great violin! I own it!

Melvin is a great maker and I buy anything he makes!

People here don't even mention his name as they would never see one! but just because they don't talk about him does that make him not one of the great living makers??!!



ps...check out the back of the violin....quite amazing.

August 12, 2008 at 11:42 PM · Re: The Messiah

I recently read Tony Farber's book, "Stradivari's Genius". In this book, he follows the known paths of five violins and one cello, from the time they left Strad's shop, to the present.

One violin followed is the Messiah. After presenting the generally accepted life history of this instrument, Farber presents arguments suggesting that the Messiah may not actually have been made by Antonio, and may have been a product of one of his sons. He even suggests it may not be a "strad" at all; perhaps the product of an intern.

In fairness to Mr. Farber, he is not personally drawing any conclusions. Rather, he is presenting this contrarian view because it exists.

August 13, 2008 at 12:50 AM · Daniel, it's a heavily debated subject, with many opinions coming from those who don't think it resembles the heavily worn Strads they have seen.

It certainly doesn't resemble the work of the sons, Francesco or Omobono Stradivari.

Most of the greatest experts have gone on record to say that it's an Antonio Strad. I feel the same, but don't hold myself on par in any way with people like Charles Beare.

August 14, 2008 at 06:35 PM · David:

Thanks for the feedback. I would think this instrument (the Messiah) has been subject to intense scrutiny, and must be a Strad.

On a slightly related note, two weeks ago I was able to sit next to a violinist playing a 1742 del Gesu (the Ex-Soldat). It has that beautiful old but well preserved look. From the seat next to it, it had a sweet and mellow tone. Later, from the back of the hall, it was clear as a bell.

The violinist owned by this violin is Rachael Barton Pine. She was amazing and is such a versatile performer. They made a great pair, and it was one of the highlights of my violin experience.

August 15, 2008 at 05:04 AM · I am not one for sweet mellow tones! LMAO

August 15, 2008 at 05:10 PM · Re: The ex-Soldat del Gesu

OK. I'll try again.

Perhaps I should have said - not harsh - rather than "sweet and mellow".

From the back row of the hall, it seemed to boom. It was especially powerful on the lower strings.

Point is, from two feet away it was lovely.

August 15, 2008 at 05:24 PM · "Can we really say with certainty that violinists in 1720 didn't want old-looking violins as well? I find it hard to believe that the same properties of good instruments, including age, were not highly prized, and that antiquing contributed to those perceptions as they do now."

The Hill book on Stradivari reproduces what was in effect a complaint filed in the late 17th century by one of the Vitalis (father or son) with the duke of Modena (I think) against a priest who sold him a supposedly valuable old violin by someone like Andrea Amati but which turned out to have a fake label and was really made by a cheap contemporary violinmaker -- Francesco Ruggieri -- and consequently was worth much less than the purchaser paid for it. So even back then old violins were preferred to new ones and commanded higher prices!

I suspect that the violin in question was antiqued, too, to create the illusion of age.

"In any case, there is good antiquing and bad."

I used to think that antiquing was disreputable, but I've come round to the view that there's nothing wrong with the practice if done tastefully.

August 16, 2008 at 01:14 AM · David Touchstone asked if "a nice french polish take care of some of that dirty look the much used strads have?"

My answer is that old instruments must never be French polishing.

Charles Beare also advises against the use of French polishing in old instruments, specially in America (Dartington Conference, 1995):

"It`s not uncommon these days to see fine instruments with layer upon layer of grey/green discolouring French polish built up year after year as part of their regular overhaul, which far exceeds in thickness and hardness the original varnish wcich may still be seen underneath with the aid of a strong light. Most of the Stradivaris and Grarneris in the USA have this - and I once asked a leding American restorer, a good friend from the old Wurlitzer days, why he and his compaions were giving the violins that were enstruted to them this patent leather look, "If I don`t do it, the customer won`t accept the job" was his reply. "They want it to shine all over; if there is a dull spot they bring it back and complain". Surely this is a case for re-educating these customers. I fear there are many in our trade, as well as the customers, who are unaware of the beauty of unplished Italian varnish, who don`t recognise it when they see it. It`s like fine wine, the taste comes with experience and is none the less valuable for that.


Obviously the purer (the varnish) it is the better, and I would say that French polishing, which is still a habit of one or two of the bigger institutions in the USA has actually almost irretrievably damaged perhaps to a ninor extent a large number of instruments. It is being fought against by many of the younger makers."

August 16, 2008 at 05:04 AM · Regarding the antiquing of violins in the 1700s, about which I know absolutely nothing, during that time (I recall from my college English Lit class in the Gothic novel) that other sorts of "antiquing" were all the rage (at least in England)-- people had sham ruins created in gardens and parks, and took to hacking the arms and other appendages from statues to simulate age... these structures were called (aptly) "follies"'s easy to imagine that our gin-soaked folly-building forbears might have enjoyed a violin that looked old as well...just a thought

August 16, 2008 at 11:01 AM · Yes, Benvenuto Cellini (1500 - 1571)in his autobiography "La Vita" mentions the use of "old marble" to make "antiquated" sculptures emulating Greek and Roman old sculptures. But there are no clues, as far as I know, about classic Italian makers antiquating their instruments.

On the contrary, classic instruments in mint condition such as Strad's Messiah and the Medici cello and viola, the Andrea Guarneri Tenor viola, the Alard Del Gesù violin all point out to the making of "new looking" instrument by the classics.

On the other hand, the general idea of the real look of most Strads and old violins is wrong, I think. It's quite quite rare to see coloured varnish (red or orange) in old instruments (with the exception of the Venetian Instuments), and when we see some coloured varnish it's limited to some small parts of the instrument. Some scrolls sometimes are desfigurated and too emaciated and no crisp edges remained.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide


Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine