Loss of sound after repair

November 6, 2008 at 05:00 AM ·

  At the suggestion of the luthier, I got the fingerboard of my violin raised, under the promise that it would sound better. What a hope... The result was just the opposite. There was a loss of about 30% of the original amplitude and now it sounds disgusting. The fellow told me the sound will improve very soon, as far as I keep on playing, but I just met someone who had the violin repaired long ago and never got the old good sound back. I am already regretting... Any advise?

And also the fingerboard is sticky and I cannot glide my fingers with easiness. How to clean it?

 

Replies (57)

November 6, 2008 at 11:35 AM ·

When the neck is reset. in general  a new bridge and sound post are made for the instrument, so it's difficult to blame just the neck reset for the volume loss.  Perhaps the string choice may be changed with the new angle of the neck too, as well as the string afterlength.

Take it to a good luthier, he will see the sticky fingerboard too.

 www.manfio.com

 

 

November 6, 2008 at 06:08 PM ·

The suggestion to install a new sound post and bridge are distinct possibilities. As far as the sticky fingerboard....... I'd bet dollars to donuts that you r guy used a poor quality ebony finger board blank... probably Chinese. The wood has to be high quality, dense ebony. The fact that the fingerboard is sticky tells me that  the wood was dyed black to cover up irregular grain patterns. Wiping the fingerboard down with Naptha will remedy the tacky feel. Follow up with several coats of black shoe polish, and buff out. Intrested to know how this works out for you.  After wiping down the fingerboard, you will know whether or not you got a nice piece of ebony.. A really good quality ebony fingerboard blank costs me about $9-$11. ea. Shaping it properly is where the labor cost senter the equation.

November 6, 2008 at 07:15 PM ·

Hummmmm....  if your instrument is a good one keep Naptha  and black shoe polish away from it, an accident may occur and damage serioulsy your violin.

www.manfio.com 

November 6, 2008 at 09:24 PM ·

I noticed you are in India. Did you have the work done there? I hate to say this but, every violin I have seen come from that area has led me to believe that there is little to no competent lutherie going on there. At least as far as violins go.  I have worked on many violins from that area, and everyone of them, without fail has had hack job repairs. How far is Calcutta from where you are? There are quite a few listings for luthiers in Calcutta, in the strad directory. I can post some contact info for you if you think that will help. I dont have any personnel expierience with them, but I would hope anyone in the directory would be at least be competent. Maybe someone here can make a better suggestion for who to take your violin to. Did you have the neck reset, or did you have the fingerboard replaced? Every fingerboard I have seen from India has been massive. 

November 6, 2008 at 09:32 PM ·

What is the effect of changing the neck angle? It requires a higher bridge and this increases the downward  force of the strings on the bridge and the instrument top.

Can your instrument do better with this higher downward force?  Alternate ways to tell are (1) to raise the bridge or (2) to use higher-tension strings. The former way is the only one that the addition effect of playing with higher tension strings.  A bridge can be raised, for temporary purposes, without cutting a new bridge.

I would certainly check with one of these methods before having any substantial work done on my instrument.

 

Andy

November 6, 2008 at 09:34 PM ·

Also, in regards to the stickyness on the fingerboard, I have noticed violins from there always have some kind of sticky oil applied to the neck and fingerboard. I have been told it helps when playing in the Indian style. Does the neck of your violin have a really dark brown color to it? I just noticed my last post might sound a little harsh, but please know I am not trying to offend, only to help.

November 7, 2008 at 04:46 AM ·

The fellow that told you not to use Naptha does not know what he is talking about. It is not a varnish solvent. I have been using it for 40 years!!!!!!  NaNaptha is a very safe loquid to rub on your fingerboard. All it does is clean the wax, and dirt off of finished wood surfaces. Don't soak the rag, pour a very small amount on a clean, soft, cotton cloth and rub the fingerboard up and down 4-5 times. Naptha will do nothing to your violin. Another respondent was correct about having work done in India!

November 7, 2008 at 12:37 PM ·

Ciao Signor Gammuto!

The best cleaner/polisher is that one the player never uses. Accidents while cleaning instruments (including fingerboards) with chemical products  happens all the time.

On fine instruments It's impossible - without prior and meticulous test -  to say if the substance you are using on the varnish is safe or not.  Good shops will make preliminary tests prior to use some product to clean the varnish.

There are many horror stories about cleaning instruments. In some extreme cases even water can harm the varnish. Sometimes a product that was considered safe to clean a violin made by a given maker will solve the varnish of another violin by this same maker, that's why chemical products - when used by good firms - are tested prior to their use and should be avoided in do it by yourself cleaning.

P. S. :There is a discussion about your instruments on another forum, here:

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=318640&st=0

 www.manfio.com

November 7, 2008 at 06:55 PM ·

Hmm... Needless to say perhaps, I'm with Manfio here, it is strange to encourage musicians to undertake  cleaning with solvents. (Musicians should only use a dry micro-fibre cloth,  wich is not suitable for this problem).

The job that has been done to your instrument is probably inadequate, judging from what you say here. If the luthier is worth his salt you should contact him as he will be happy to try to make you happy with your instrument, if he is not, take it to someone really knowledgeable. 

November 8, 2008 at 01:52 AM ·

To clarify a few points:

 

1. The whole neck was raised  about  two centimetres. A new bridge was put, much larger than the previous one, but the fingerboard and sound post remain the same.

 

2. Cleaning with ‘Naphta’ is out of question, for it does not exist in India. Moreover, fingerboard seems to be getting cleaner slowly just with a piece of cloth.

 

3. I got  it repaired in Calcutta by a fellow who is considered the best in India, what doesn’t mean he is up to the mark in western standards… They boast because of a certificate of competence given to them by Sir Yehudi Menuhin some 50 years ago. I had small works done there previously without any complain.

 

4. I would be glad to take my violin to another luthier, but it doesn’t seem I have a second choice.

 

The worst thing is that when I play, I hear a ssssshhhhh following each note.  Please tell me the truth: do you see any real possibility that the instrument will sound well after some time simply by playing on it?  I feel like jumping off the cliff…

November 8, 2008 at 04:43 AM ·

When you say the new bridge is much larger, do you mean taller or thicker. Dont assume the soundpost is the same just because they didnt adjust it. Are you able to post any pictures?

November 8, 2008 at 04:45 AM ·

Are you sure about it being raised 2 centimeters? Seems like it would have to have been awefully low to require that much raising.

November 8, 2008 at 06:04 AM ·

The new bridge is much thicker, and since the fingerboard was raised , much taller too.  I just checked the old bridge and it is nearly one cm shorter, to be more precise.The old sound post was put before my eyes. The thing is that they opened the violin thoroughly as far as I see. I will try to post some pics soon to give you an accurate idea.

November 8, 2008 at 02:11 PM ·

Joe's question regarding cm's is a good one. Are you sure it is cm's, or could it be mm's? Several cm's is a bunch for a neck to be adjusted unless it came completely loose from the upper block.

November 8, 2008 at 03:42 PM ·

rick,  can you think out of the country in this case, meaning, it seems that you do not have easy access to anyone trustworthy where you are, so why not consider shipping the violin to an expert elsewhere? 

talking about fixing a violin with yet undiagnosed issues, sight unseen, can be as helpful as it is harmful,,,imo.

November 8, 2008 at 07:23 PM ·

There's always Sarangi instead...

November 8, 2008 at 09:20 PM ·

I want to apologize to Luis, whose  comment I rudely dismissed by saying he was wrong about using Naptha on a fingerboard to clean it. I did not know at the time, to whom I was responding and that he deserved more respect than that. When I thought about it, I realized he was correct about not recommending a course of action to a person of unknown abilities and experience when it comes to violin maintenance and repair issues. I guess I should be happy that Naptha is not available in India! Sorry Luis, I will keep this in mind on future posts. Getting cranky in my old age!

November 8, 2008 at 10:16 PM ·

No problem Giovanni, thank you for that! 

www.manfio.com

 

November 9, 2008 at 05:24 PM ·

See, civility and respect are still alive!!!!!!

November 9, 2008 at 10:03 PM ·

Wow, that wasquite a thread!  I own a Gammuto, and so far, I have found it to be everything Mr Gammuto claimed it to be.  Last week, my case tipped over and when I opened it up, the fingerboard had become detached.  I needed the fiddle back very quickly, so I had the fingerboard glued back on at a local luthier shop.  The violin label states that it was made this year, so this thread gives me pause.  Mr. Gammuto offered to make the repair himself at his expense, which I appreciated, but not enough time.  On first opportunity I am going to take the violin to Metzger in Pasadena CA or Marquis in Arcadia for an appraisal.  I'm most concerned with the thread referenced here......  While I did not pay near what is mentioned here, I hope that what is being said is, in fact, not true.

 

 

November 10, 2008 at 02:15 AM ·

I agree with Manfio’s earliest response that you probably need a setup by someone more competent. The promise of better sound with a neck reset isn’t really true, unless there was something majorly (cms instead of mm) wrong. Perhaps you could give your repair person ONE more chance to correct your dislikes before burning a bridge (pun intended).

The idea of shipping your violin to a better repair person is really a horrible one.  Even with the greatest care, and best insurance, the risk of damaging a violin when shipping it is incredibly high.

November 10, 2008 at 01:35 PM ·

Rick,

I do believe the only problem you may have is that your bridge and sound post may need tuning. The increase of pressure from the raised angle over the bridge is also like haveing a post too tight (compared to what you used to) and it is my expieriance that a bridge must be tuned to that fiddle set up. Strings will play an important role in the whole thing but bridge and sound post are the heart and soul of your instrument. Don't be afraid to experiment with position of post and thickness of the bridge and the carving of the kidney's openings. You may also want to match the hardness of the old bridge or lack there of. I have spend 20+ years on set up and that is my take on the whole thing. You need a tune up.

November 11, 2008 at 07:44 PM ·

In follow-up to my previous post on the subject of the Gammuto violins:

I sent Mr. Gammuto an e-mail yesterday expressing my concerns with as expressed here and on Maestronet.com.  He responded but did not answer any of my questions or requests for quantifiable references.  He did point fingers, however.    So the saga continues.  I suggested that he clear up things on this forum and Maestronet.  I have no response back or has there been any action here.  I want to give him all the room in the world to clear these issues up.  However, they are serious and the truth has to come out.  Nobody wants to be scamed.  And if this is happening right here,  then that is just not acceptable.

 

November 12, 2008 at 06:07 AM ·

 I've read the Maestronet posts also, and I'll just tell everyone where I'm coming from.

We have ample space on Violinist.com for people to talk about their experiences with violin makers and dealers, good and bad, on our Discussion board and on our Shops pages. I very rarely take comments off those pages; reasons for ever doing that would be if the person who made the comments has been banned from Violinist.com for other reasons.

To make a comment on Violinist.com, you have to be a registered member, commenting under your name. To make a comment on Maestronet, you don't. 

I don't have an opinion on Gammuto's violins, I've never seen one. He pays money to advertise on Violinist.com. Advertising is on a month-to-month, paid basis. We are grateful to our sponsors for financial support, but the fact that someone is a sponsor does not imply an editorial endorsement by me or by Violinist.com.

The enduring content of Violinist.com is that of its members. If members have a bad experience, this is something that will likely be talked about. Luthiers build their own reputations.

We have have room for more luthier sponsors, if anyone is interested. It will get you attention, for sure. What results from that attention is up to you.

November 12, 2008 at 07:14 AM ·

Laurie,

That's one of the things that is great about violinist.com.  Those of us who play the violin are within a community of people who make, repair, and sell.  This gives us an opportunity to really know who we are doing business with.  If you've never had a pleasant experience with them on this site, you can expect a bad experience in person. Not censoring these people (within a certain extent... I mean threats of violence or excessive swearing is different) is a good thing because it allows them to show who they really are. 

Anyway, that's just how I see things.

November 12, 2008 at 01:52 PM ·

Laurie wrote: "To make a comment on Violinist.com, you have to be a registered member, commenting under your name. To make a comment on Maestronet, you don't."

Hi Laurie;

That's partially true.   To comment on Maestronet, you do have to be a registered member (email and isp are tracked).  However, you can post under an "alias" or screen name.

They are different environments, for sure...  but as you're well aware, registering and restricting screen names provides only a certain amount of security (one can make up a name and establish an email address rather easily; and I know this happens on both sites).  Past a certain point, those of us who monitor sites like this are left to the participant's history and behavior when determining the viability of a contributor...  as are the readers of these threads.

I've left the comments on Maestronet for pretty much the same reasons you've left the comments here.

Jeffrey

November 12, 2008 at 07:32 PM ·

 Absolutely, Jeffrey. I'm just saying that a rumor has to be pretty well substantiated before people are willing to say it under their own names, they are rather more bold under a pseudonym. But we have some people with first-hand experience checking it out for the record, so that's good for everyone. 

November 12, 2008 at 08:32 PM ·

Thank you very kindly for your well thought out response. I have consulted an attorney on this matter, he has advised me not to respond, and let him do his job and bring this to a speedy, just conclusion.  I am sorry that is all I can say at the moment.

November 12, 2008 at 09:54 PM ·

Giovanni Gammuto wrote:
"..... I have consulted an attorney on this matter, he has advised me not to respond, and let him do his job and bring this to a speedy, just conclusion."

______________________________________________

Well, I reckon that will bring public discussion to a speedy conclusion. ;-)

Since "Cremona" is (was) listed as one of the schools in your V-com profile, and this is typically shorthand in our trade for the violin making school in Cremona, I sent them an email inquiring if you had ever been a student there.

Guess I better keep the response to myself.

November 13, 2008 at 03:16 AM ·

I made the thread on maestronet and I didn't do it for the anonimity, I did it to find out if the guy is what he claims to be since I was suspect.  I knew he posted here so I wanted to get opinions without ruining his reputation here.  I guess it was stupid for me to assume I was the only one here who also posts on maestronet.  I stand by what I wrote, I simply asked if someone was what they claimed to be, in America ain't nothing wrong with that.

 

November 13, 2008 at 06:57 PM ·

In America, there ain't anything with that.  You are absoutely right about that, sir.  However there is the matter of how you put your inquiry. 

November 30, 2008 at 02:18 PM ·

An update for those who have been following the drama in this thread, and also the "rebuttal of the Gammuto rumors" thread at
www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm

A number of people have expressed the belief that a picture on the Gammuto web site, captioned

"Giovanni Gammuto Guarneri del Gesu Replica - 1998", was the same violin shown on Joseph Curtin's website, captioned

"Replica of 'Ex Huberman/Ex Ricci' Guarneri del Gesu-model violin by Curtin & Alf, 1985".

The picture appears to have been removed from the Gammuto web site at about the time there was some public discussion of the matter.

One picture can be seen at

www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php

and the other at

www.josephcurtinstudios.com/gallery/vn_c2/top.htm

November 30, 2008 at 04:49 PM ·

Well put David. ;)

It also appears that the 'gentleman' in question has disappeared into the night - from this site at least.

Neil

November 30, 2008 at 08:39 PM ·

Excellent post David, one can only hope that the rightful maker and image copyright holder of this violin is made aware of the anomaly.

November 30, 2008 at 11:29 PM ·

I was told that notification has been made. Said notification coincided rather closely with disappearance of the image from Gammoto's website.

November 30, 2008 at 09:16 PM ·

Lucy, youv'e got some 'splainin' to do!

December 1, 2008 at 12:35 PM ·

I'd like to give credit to the person who discovered the "similarity" between the pictures, but won't do so without this person's permission. This person may have already exceeded their desired level of involvement.

December 1, 2008 at 01:47 AM ·

Haha, David, that is funny.

Perhaps this is a reminder to violin makers that they might want to consider watermarking the photos of their creations. Photoshop has a plugin for this and there is plenty of special purpose software as well. Once an image has been watermarked, although invisible to the eye, the software can always detect it even if the image is very heavily edited and altered.

About.com has an interesting article on this:

http://cameras.about.com/od/printing/ss/watermark.htm

December 1, 2008 at 02:24 AM ·

There is something odd about the website in question, the one with the withdrawn photo. I went to the internet archive, also known as the "wayback machine" to see an archived version of the page which had the withdrawn photo on it. But the internet archive website says that archived pages will only show up roughly six months later, so if this was recently, then we have to wait a few months before we can see this page again.

Anyway, once I was on the archive, I looked at previous versions of this maker's website out of sheer curiosity. The internet archive has snapshots of the site that go as far back as 2003.

http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://jgammuto.com/

What strikes me as odd is that violins only start to be mentioned on that site as late as December 2006. Prior to December 2006 there is nothing but furniture restauration.

Most interesting is the way in which the violins are first introduced on the website in and around December 2006. There is a statement on the then new violin page which says that due to a heart attack at the age of 59, the site owner could no longer lift heavy furniture around and therefore wanted to change his business to restoring violins because they are small and light. It also states that his goal was to be able to eventually make his own violins.

From this I would venture to say that one can conclude beyond reasonable doubt that this maker has only started to learn to make violins in or after December 2006 but not any earlier. So, I wonder how it is possible that he could have made this Del Gesu replica in 1998, the year given in the caption on the withdrawn photo. Very suspicious.

 

December 1, 2008 at 04:04 AM ·

Indeed, the use of this picture seemed deceptive to us, and we have discontinued our relationship with Mr. Gammuto at Violinist.com.

December 1, 2008 at 09:49 AM ·

Hi. I just wanted to say that i looked at the pictures of the 2 violins closely and found that they are not the same violin.

the upper right corner of the Gammuto is pointing down and the other violin's corner is straight. I guess both violins are an exact replica of the same del gesu.

December 1, 2008 at 11:24 AM ·

Copied right down to exactly the same flame in the maple for the back and neck?  Copied right down to exactly the same everything, including the corners, about which you're mistaken?

Sorry, no.  The only thing copied is the picture.

Neil

December 1, 2008 at 01:01 PM ·

Things I think are easy for non-luthier to compare:

Compare the flame pattern on the back of the necks, and on the backs themselves. Compare the rotation of the pegs...what position they are turned to. Compare the brands of strings, and the positions of the"silking" behind the bridge, and the way the strings are wound in the pegbox. Compare reflections and "hot spots" from the lighting, and from the position of the lighting used in the photographs. Compare the angle the pictures are shot from, like how much of the front of the bridge shows, and what parts of the top edge show in the shots from the back.

Some things are easier to see with the photos enlarged a bit.

 

December 1, 2008 at 12:41 PM ·

Hi David,

The flames that you mentioned on the back are exact in both pictures. Also thanks to Laurie for finding this out and resolving it quickly.

Craig

December 2, 2008 at 04:12 AM ·

Ok, I was curious enough to spend a bit of time on comparing the photos in a more scientific manner.

First, some general observations: The violin on the Curtin website is shown using separate photo files, one for the front and one for the back. The photo with the caption "Gammuto 1998" shows both front and back in a single photo file. All the photos have a resolution of 72 dpi, but the Gammuto photo shows the violin in a smaller size. The Curtin & Alf photos are in GIF format while the Gammuto photo is in JPG format.

I chose to make a comparison of the backs of the violins. However, the same method can be used to compare the fronts.

For the comparison, I copied the photo showing the back of the Curtin & Alf into one layer of a new Photoshop document, which I will call CA85 layer. Then I copied the area of the Gammuto photo showing the back into a separate layer of that same Photoshop document, this I will call the G98 layer.

Because the sizes of the two are different, I scaled up the G98 layer such that the length of the violin matched up exactly (on a pixel level) with the length of the violin shown in the CA85 layer. Interestingly, all other dimensions of the two violins then also matched up exactly on a pixel level. This is a very important observation, because it will only happen if ...

a) the objects shown in the two photos have exactly the same dimensions

AND ...

b) the camera angle in all three spatial planes (x, y and z axis) relative to the object photographed is the same;

In other words, even if you call the same photographer using the very same camera and the very same lens making a photo of the very same violin, once in 1985 and again in 1998, the chance that the dimensions of the object as reproduced in the resulting photos will match up that perfectly is already very small because it is extremely unlikely that the camera will be positioned in exactly the same way relative to the violin.

Furthermore, not only do the dimensions of the violins shown in both layers match up perfectly after rescaling, but also every single detail shown matches up perfectly. First I placed the G98 layer on top of the CA98 layer (in the compositing order), set the opacity of the CA85 layer to 100% while gradually reducing the opacity of the G98 layer while examining the detail shown down to a pixel level. I could only find one small cluster of pixels (about 4-5 pixels) in the upper left area of the back which sticks out, but this is almost certainly a product of conversion from GIF to JPG and certainly not the result of having two different photographs. All other details shown match up so perfectly well, the only conclusion possible here is  that the two layers came from the same original photograph. Nevertheless, I double checked placing the CA85 layer on top of the G98 layer (in the compositing order), set the opacity of the G98 layer back to 100% while gradually reducing the opacity of the CA85 layer while again examining the detail shown. The outcome is the same, the details match up so perfectly that the only conclusion possible is that the two layers came from the same original photograph.

I made another comparison, this time using the GIF file from the Curtin site to convert it to JPG and scale it down to the same size as the Gammuto photo, then compare the new clone against the suspected clone using the same method above (separate photoshop layers) and the outcome is even more striking because the conversion from GIF to JPG produces a match that even shows the same blurring as the suspected copy. As a general rule of thumb, GIF produces dither patterns while JPG produces blur patterns.

Again, the conclusion can only be this: The two photos are from an identical source photo and they show the exact same object. If this went to court and a photo expert witness was called to examine the photos, they would come to the same conclusion and no lawyer however talented would be able to cast even the slightest shadow of a doubt on this conclusion.

The only thing I cannot tell with certainty from this examination is which one is the original and which one is the copy. So, there is a theoretical possiblity that Gammuto made the replica in 1998 and Curtin copied Gammuto's photo, then adding a caption with an earlier date. However, the luthiers on this forum will quite likely be in a position to provide a track record of this violin, that it did in fact exist before 1998, where it has been, who owned it, who maintained it etc etc etc.

I am also positive that luthiers on this forum will be able to give an assessment how likely it is that you can find a piece of wood so similar to another piece of wood that the two show as perfect a match in the flaming patterns as the superposition of the photos reveal. I personally doubt that two pieces of wood will ever match so perfectly, but I am not a wood expert. Then again, even if we assume for argument's sake that you could find two perfectly matching pieces of wood and make two perfectly identical looking and identical dimensioned instruments, the photos would still not line up as neatly as they do, due to different camera angle and lightning. At the very least it would be extremely unlikely to happen by accident. You'd have to make a serious effort to not only clone the violin perfectly but you'd need to make an equally serious effort to also clone the photo perfectly.

In other words, Gammuto could theoretically have made a perfect clone of Curtin & Alf's violin and he could then theoretically have hired a top photographer to make a perfect clone of Curtin & Alf's photographs. Why would he do that though? To attract negative publicity, following the philosophy that any publicity is good publicity? On the other hand, theoretically, Curtin & Alf could have made a perfect clone of Gammuto's violin and then, theoretically they could have hired a photographer to make a perfect clone of Gammuto's photographs in order to frame him.

I'd personally apply Occam's razor here and that leads to only one conclusion.

December 4, 2008 at 04:07 PM ·

Wow Benjamin, that's quite the analysis!

December 4, 2008 at 08:29 PM ·

Yes, that was quite a compelling comparison.  I had the pleasure of meeting with one of the contributors to this site, this AM.  He happens to be located very close to me in geographical terms.  He has seen the Gammuto. 

There does seem to be a trail here that would be hard to refute.  It is certainly disappointing.

However, the fiddle that I possess soulds great to me and to others that have heard me play.  So for the money, I  think I have a good one.  

My take on Gammuto, is that he is very good at marketing his product and the fiddles he sells can pass muster as fair instruments no matter the origin.  The deceit is certainly a problem and I think that has been throughly vetted. 

Life goes on.  

December 5, 2008 at 12:22 AM ·

Wow, Benjamin  - that's excellent investigative work.  Out of interest - do you make your living from doing stuff like this?  I can imagine there could be a lot of applications for such skills with law enforcement, insurance fraud, art forgery and the like.  Fascinating area.

December 5, 2008 at 05:07 AM ·

@George

"I had the pleasure of meeting with one of the contributors to this site, this AM.  He happens to be located very close to me in geographical terms.  He has seen the Gammuto."

Allow me to nail you down on this so we do not have any misunderstandings.

Please correct me if I am wrong but since you have chosen to say "he has seen the *Gammuto*" instead of "he has seen the violin shown in both pictures", I assume that you are trying to say that your alleged anonymous witness not only claims to have seen the violin but you also assert that he has the expertise to establish that the violin was made by Gammuto. I find that rather astonishing. In fact I find it very suspicious that you chose to phrase your statement such that it is more of a hint than a statement. Why the fuzziness?

I am sorry but under the circumstances, given overwhelming evidence that the photo in question was stolen and fraudulently mislabeled, it will take a lot more than hearsay from an unnamed person to provide any credible counter evidence. What you are trying to hint at does not even begin to stack up to the evidence provided, most importantly verifiability: The process I have described can be easily verified by anybody with a computer and a pixel editing software that supports multiple editing layers, for example Photoshop Elements (retail price usually less than 100 USD). Nobody is able to verify your hearsay, whether your witness actually exists, nor the credibility or level of expertise of this alleged anonymous witness. In a court of law, any such witness would have to show up and be subject to cross examination.

Without such verifiability it comes down to this: You have possibly met somebody who thinks they might once have seen a violin that looked like the one in the picture. Nothing more than that.

"... the fiddle that I possess soulds great to me and to others that have heard me play.  So for the money, I  think I have a good one."

This was not about the violin you purchased, it is about the Del Gesu replica and the implications that passing off other people's work as one's own work have on trustworthiness.

Buying a violin, more than many other items, is very much about trust. I would not purchase a violin from a maker who is unable to tell me where he learned his craft and for how long he has been doing it. In fact I am presently in the market for a new violin and I am in contact with several luthiers, all of which publicly state on their websites when they started studying violin making, where they studied, how long they studied, who their teachers of significant influence were, where and for whom they worked after finishing their primary education in violin making, and finally when they started to set up shop under their own name. I couldn't possibly trust a maker who wouldn't even provide any one of those details, let alone a maker who not only wouldn't provide any of those details but also appears to be passing off stolen photos of another maker's work.

@Rosalind

"Out of interest - do you make your living from doing stuff like this?"

I work in technology, but I do not compare photos for a living, no. One of my other hobbies (besides violin) is photography, so I know a few things about photography and photo editing, but it's not my job. However, the procedure I described is fairly simple, you can do it yourself if you have the right software.

"I can imagine there could be a lot of applications for such skills with law enforcement, insurance fraud, art forgery and the like. Fascinating area."

A guy I used to work with has moved into this field a few years ago. He used to help people with computer troubles, now he does all kinds of computer forensics, including for Scotland Yard. He seems more happy in this line of work ;-)

December 5, 2008 at 03:46 AM ·

@George

As far as I can see, you're insecure about your own investment, and trying to defend Gammuto and his (your) instruments.

While it's a fact that Gammuto steal photos and label as his own work is enough to ruin his reputation, you don't need to feel bad about your investment either.

What's more important than owning a satisfying violin? I don't see why your violin (which has a good sound or whatever satisfy you) will suddenly become inferior because Gammuto has been busted for providing false claims. Peel off the label (or put yours), if it'll make you feel better. ;-)

December 5, 2008 at 02:29 PM ·

Regarding references to George;

I believe he's basically acknowledged that there's a problem, said that he's disappointed, but that he still likes his violin and "life goes on".

Despite being one who had some of the strongest differences with him in the other related thread, my vote would be in favor of letting it go at that.

December 5, 2008 at 02:34 PM ·

 

wow, disappointment, frustration and perhaps the ruination of an instrument. All I can offer is seek the best luthier possible. I had an experience where I had a bow...had being the operative word

Anyway, took this gold mounted Nurnberger bow to get rehaired locally...the bozo broke it. Yes, he admitted it and was apologetic and offered to graft it...no sir you just bought yourself a bow or we go visit Judge Judy. The death of a once beautiful bow but a lesson learned...NEVER AGAIN

For anyone in Western CT avoid the guy whose last name sounds very close to "INEPT"...actually this would be the more appropriate name for the bum.

December 5, 2008 at 05:54 PM ·

To David.  Thank you.  To Benjamin K.  I am afraid you missread my note.

To clarify.  I recieved an e-mail from a member here who happens to live close by.  He has played the violin for some years and curious about my violin.  I agreed to meet him, and did so yesterday.  He is not an expert on violins, and we did not meet to evaluate my instrument.  Just to share experiences.  He grew up in Allentown Pa, and he googled me and found that my background post was accurate.  I believe your comments and analysis of the photos on the Gammuto site. In other words I am just saying I think there is a sound reason to believe that this maker is not who he claims to be.  I am not crying over spilt milk, simply offering what I think to be the case.  He did see my Gammuto but no opinion was offered and no opinion was asked for.  I am not defending Gammuto, nor am I defending the instrument that I own.  Just stating what transpired.  As to alleged and unamed people,  I do not take the liberty to quote anybody in an open format like this without their express permission.  Period.  I hope you can understand that.   

December 5, 2008 at 07:40 PM ·

George-

I think if you like the sound of the violin, that  it plays well for you, then the rest of it becomes less meaningful. You may have bought a violin that was misrepresented (happens all the time, intentionally or not) but my experience in this world has shown me that is pretty common, and that in the end the one thing someone can count on is if they like the instrument they bought, and the value is does it play to a level where the expenditure is important? Janos Starker, the cellist, in his memoir wrote one time about spending something like 500k on a cello reputed to be from a  certain maker; later on, it turned out more then likely it wasn't the work of that person, it was mis-assigned to the maker, and Starker basically shrugged and said "who cares? It plays beautifully, plays better then some of the most expensive cellos I have played, and that is what matters".

For a playing violinist, as opposed to someone who is buying it as an investment, the sound to me should be the key (and I realize that  with instruments that the potential resale price might be important, as violinists often trade up during their career), and the value maybe better put into the sound, and hopefully when it comes time to sell the price will be reflective of the sound of the instrument, rather then who made it.

As far as Luthiers and shops go, you can end up either way. I have seen shops sell something they weren't sure of, for a decent price, that turned out to be gold, both because of sound quality and someone figuring out who made it, I have also seen people buy violins, assured it was made by X, and buying it, even though the sound was so-so, because they figured they could sell it based on the name and then ended up rooked. In a field where most of the knowledge of instruments is by opinion and guesswork, where often little critical information is known, to me buying it by sound and hoping for the best if/when you decide to sell, is the only logical course with this kind of thing. I would suggest that if someone wants to buy a violon based in a large part on the name and maker then they better ask for definitive proof, above even a luthier's opinion, because an opinion, no matter how experienced the luthier, is that, subject to a lot of error.

Heck, some of the earliest strads reputedly have labels that translated say "Made by Amati" (which I hear didn't please Amati too much *lol*), so this isn't new.

December 5, 2008 at 08:04 PM ·

Bill, thank you for that post.  You expressed just how I feel.  The violin sounds and feels good to me, and that is all that counts to me.  The maker may have mislead me.  Ok, that won't happen again, if this experience had anything to do with it.  When I was in my best form,  I played on a violin that had a fingerboard that turned white.  That was all my family cound afford at the time. Yeah, it was cheap, but that did not stop me from attaining a degree of respect in my High School world.  Now, there is so much information,  maybe too much information, as this thread seems to point out.  Everybody knows something, even if it is an opinion only.  Thanks again..........gf

December 5, 2008 at 09:34 PM ·

Bill DeFilippis wrote:

"Heck, some of the earliest strads reputedly have labels that translated say "Made by Amati" (which I hear didn't please Amati too much *lol*), so this isn't new."

----------------------------

Bill, as far as I know, there is only one label in a Strad which mentions Amati, and it says "Pupil of Amati".

Oddly enough, there seems to be no other documentary evidence that Stradivari ever worked with Amati. Census records show several other makers working in his shop, but no mention of Stradivari. At this point, we don't know where he came from or what his training was, apart from opinions and conjecture.

So I understand your point about uncertainty in the violin trade.

 

December 6, 2008 at 01:06 AM ·

@George

"I am afraid you missread my note..."

I am sorry I misinterpreted your post, it appeared to me you were talking about the Del Gesu replica, I didn't realise you referred to your own instrument.

As for your instrument, as others have pointed out, you shouldn't feel bad about it simply because the person you bought it from has been found to engage in questionable business practises. In any event you don't have to justify your purchase to anyone.

In fact, since you say you are satisfied with how the violin performs, you probably want to consider yourself lucky. Imagine two violinists: one who says about his violin "I bought this from someone who is a bit of a charlatan but I was lucky, the one he sold me is a nice instrument after all" and another one who says "I bought this violin from somebody with an outstanding reputation, but I wasn't so lucky, the one he sold me was substandard". Who would you rather be?

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