I found a french violin. Need info. Please help.

August 26, 2012 at 07:02 PM · I have a French-made violin that reads "Copie de Gaspar da Salo in Brescia" on the inside with a DeJacques bridge with "Made in France" inscribed on it. I know they only made those in France during the 60's but I don't know if it was on the violin to begin with. If anyone has any information please share. Thank you.

Replies (21)

August 26, 2012 at 10:51 PM · Judging a violin's of origins by the brand of the bridge is about the same as judging a car's origins by the tire brand.


August 27, 2012 at 08:48 PM · I'm looking for information on the violin. I know the words "copie de" mean "copy of" in French. I know that a bridge might have been replaced, but there's no sense in replacing a bridge for an older one like it's done in this case so the bridge most likely matches the same time the violin was made (eg the 60's). I also know who Gaspar da salo was.

I know some copies can still be quality. I'll post some pictures later on.

August 27, 2012 at 09:24 PM · Gasparo da Salò (May 20, 1542, Salò - April 14, 1609) is the name given to Gasparo di Bertolotti, one of the earliest violin makers and an expert double bass player of which many and very detailed historical records (about 100 documents and over 80 original instruments) exist.

He was born in Salò on Lake Garda, in a family with legal, artistic, musical and craft interests. His grandfather Santino, a land and flock owner who probably produced musical gut strings, moved from Polpenazze to Salò, capital of the Riviera del Garda, in search of the greater opportunities available in Salò, whose music scene was then very rich and vibrant. Gasparo was the son and nephew of two accomplished musicians, Francesco and Agostino, who were players and composers of the highest professional level, distinguished enough as violinists to be referred to in documents as the "violì” or in extended form, to avoid doubts, the "violini."[1]

In addition to being an expert in musical instruments [2], Gasparo's uncle Agostino was the first Kapellmeister of Salò and his son Bernardino, Gasparo's cousin, was a virtuoso musician (violinist and trombonist), who worked in Ferrara at the powerful Este music court, and then in Mantua for Vincenzo Gonzaga I, during which time he was a contemporary of Monteverdi, and thence on to Rome as "Musician of His Holiness the Pope in the Castle of S.Angel."

Gasparo's musical education, certainly of the highest level given his early environment, took place during a period of growing refinement and professionalism among the lyra and viola players of Salò active in the Basilica of St. Marco in Venice, and among the Brescian violinists active in Venice, as well as the musicians of many European courts from the early 1540s until the end of the century. His deep education in musical performance, undoubtedly undertaken by his noted musical family, is evidenced by a document found in Bergamo concerning music in S. Maria Maggiore dated 1604, in which Gasparo is cited as a very talented violone player.

When his father died, around 1562, he moved to Brescia. It appears Gasparo immediately rented a house and set up shop in the neighborhood hub of musical life, the Contrada Antegnati, known for the presence of a famous dynasty of organ builders and other skilled multi-instrumentalists, all of whom were located in the Second Quadra St. John, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio del Podestà (now Via Cairoli). From his ability almost immediately to rent a house with a shop in this sought-after neighborhood, in addition to the slight possibility of a substantial inheritance given his conspicuously large number of brothers and sisters, we can surmise that Gasparo was enjoying some measure of success in the family's traditional string making trade. His business was successful enough to allow him to marry Isabetta Cassetti daughter of a potter artisan and glassmaker three years later. During this time Gasparo cultivated a relationship with Girolamo Virchi, one of the most prominent artist-craftsmen of the city, cited in a 1563 document as "maestro de musica instrumentis." And in 1565 Virchi became godfather to Gasparo's child Francesco, the first of six others, three males called Marcantonio, two of whom died almost immediately, and three daughters.

In addition, in that neighborhood lived two very famous organists of Brescia Cathedral, Fiorenzo Mascara and his successor Costanzo Antegnati, and a very good violin player, Giuseppe Biagini. Like many other Brescian multi-instrumentalists, Mascara was also an excellent viola da gamba player. This direct knowledge of, and friendship with Virchi and Antegnati's work opened up new artistic horizons resulting in improvements to the sound and design of strings and stringed instruments. An Appraisal of the Policy of 1568 (a tax return) testifies to a flourishing business, which continued to grow significantly. In 1575 he bought a house in the Cossere district, his historic headquarters, and subsequently manufactured many instruments. His workshop quickly became one of the most important in Europe in the second half of the 16th century for the production of every type of stringed instrument of the time. Gasparo developed the art of lutherie to a very high level, and passed on this tradition to five known students: his eldest son Francisco, the Frenchman Alexandro de Marsiliis (from Marseille, France), Giovanni Paolo Maggini from Botticino in the surroundings of Brescia, Jacomo de Lafranchini from Valle Camonica, and a luthier known only as Baptista. Exports reached Rome, Venice and France, as is clear from the Policy of 1588 and other documents; and he bought strings and precious woods for his art from Rome and Venice. The business allowed him to acquire extensive landholdings in the territory of Calvagese, with adjoining manor houses and farmhouses. Gasparo is known to have provided substantial assistance to his sister Ludovica, and acted as guardian to the three sons of his wife's brother, Rocco Cassetti, presumed dead, along with his own wife, in the plague of 1577.

He died April 14, 1609. The short but highly significant death act is known and reads: Messer Gasparo Bertolotti maestro di violini is dead & buried in Santo Joseffo. The exact location where his remains lie among the graves of the Brescian musical pantheon, in company with Antegnati Costanzo, Don Cesare Bolognini and Benedetto Marcello, is not known. One of his most famous double basses, with a rapidity of response similar to that of a violin (owned by the 18th - 19th century virtuoso Domenico Dragonetti) is preserved today in the Basilica of San Marco in Venice; a second, exceptionally rare bass, possibly the only surviving example of a classical violone contrabasso with a six hole peg box, was discovered by roman master Luigi Ottaviani in the stores of the Museum of Musical Instruments in Rome, where it is now displayed.

Artistic life

It is debatable whether Gasparo da Salò or others like Gasparo Duiffopruggar or Andrea Amati were the first to produce the violin in its modern form; surely Gasparo developed an instrument of modern character, very powerful in tone (the violins at that time had to play mixed with cornettos and trombones in open air places during processions) and very quick in response. It appears Gasparo's patterns were later studied by Stradivari between 1690 and 1700 for the violin type referred to as the "Long Strad," one of the master's most distinguished and desirable models. Brescian instruments were in fact the most popular and sought after throughout Europe in the Renaissance period, and were more requested in high musical courts than Cremonese ones until 1630, when the plague killed the best known Brescian masters, allowing Cremona to become the center of the violin maker's trade. Although the Brescian masters did not survive the plague, their prolific and accomplished output of instruments certainly did, as a letter from Fulgencio Micanzio to Galileo Galilei dated 1636 makes clear: "the instruments from Brescia are easy to buy..." and another document states " because you can find it in every corner...". It is also notable that the word "violino" appears in Brescian archival documents at least as early as 1530 and not in Cremona until some fifty years later. Some of the brescian violins were wonderfully decorated, while others have some rough features of finishing but almost all surviving examples are noted for their beauty of tone and very powerful projection.

Gasparo himself built many violins that conform to the measurements of the modern violin, in an era where the precise measurements of the violin family of instruments were not yet standardized, as well as a small number of models built on a smaller pattern. In addition to violins, he built violas of different sizes from small to very large (39 cm to 44.5 cm, both alto and tenor, in turn large or small in size, sometimes with only two corners), violas da gamba, cellos, violones, and probably lyre and lironi.

In surviving documents Gasparo is referred to as “maestro di violini," (violin master) as early as 1568. This title was given to violin makers and was clearly distinct in contemporary documents from the title of "sonadore de violini" (the violin players). The title of maestro di violini appears to have been in use from at least 1558 in Brescia, and is first attributed to the master luthiers Guglielmo Frigiadi and Francesco Inverardi prior to the arrival of Gasparo, who at that time was still in Salò. We know comparatively little of Gasparo's chief rival for the distinction of having created the first modern violin, Andrea Amati, lacking as we do the wealth of documentary evidence referencing Amati's violin making that we have for Gasparo. Eleven documents are known to exist referencing Amati, compared with slightly less than a hundred for Gasparo. Of the eleven, only one document clearly mentions the work of Amati, and it is comparatively late, dating from 1576, eight years after the document referenced above and it states simply: "l'arte sua è de far strumenti da sonar” ("his art is of making instruments to play"). Conspicuously absent is any mention of the acclaimed Amati violin, which seems to have been manufactured from the early 1560s, apparently with great success.

From 1581 and until 1588 the various written references to Gasparo as a master violin maker are further augmented with various Latin titles such as "artefici (or artifex) instrumentorum musicorum” (maker of musical instruments) and the Italian title “artefice d'istrumenti musici” (maker of instruments for music) and “instrumenti de musicha” (of music) in order to emphasize his mastery of all kinds of instruments. In 1585 he resumed use of the old tradition title of "master of violins”, which would continue to be his specialty from 1591 until his death, with the exception of a brief period in February and March 1597 wherein he is referred to as "magister a citharis," the citharis being a special and sought after instrument called the cetra, or more commonly the cetera.

About eighty of Gasparo da Salò's instruments are known to have survived to the present day, and they stand confidently among the works of Stradivarius, Guarnerius, Amati, Jacob Stainer, and his pupil Giovanni Paolo Maggini as unique examples of the highest mastery attained in Brescian or indeed European violin making of his (or any other) era, possessing exceptional tonal characteristics. Owing to their exceptional tone and beauty, Gasparo's patterns are frequently emulated in exacting modern commercial recreations. These modern tributes to Gasparo are themselves merely the latest arrivals in what is perhaps a long a distinguished tradition of copying and emulating the great master's work. Charles Beare's analysis of the best works of Guarneri del Gesu's latest period, including the famous Vieuxtemps violin of 1741, seems to demonstrate that Guarneri very strictly copied the arching used by Gasparo, which helped develop an instrument of modern character, with very powerful tone and projection [3]. Virtuosi have also long recognized Gasparo's violins' exceptional qualities. In 1841 the Norwegian virtuoso Ole Bull bought a Gasparo originally made in 1570 for Archduke Ferdinand I of Tyrol and used it on tour along with a magnificent Guarneri del Gesu and Nicolo Amati large model, for nearly forty years of frenzied, fiery improvisation and recital. In addition, the best of Gasparo's violas and double basses are used by some international performers today instead of comparable examples by Stradivarius. The reasons cited tend to be Gasparo's full bodied, "dark" and penetrating tone, fast response, and unsurpassed power.

August 27, 2012 at 09:36 PM · Andrew WAS actually giving some practical information on how NOT to judge a violin. It's almost as true for a lable, as lables are often put in and taken out, and don't belong. Kitty was most generous in supplying all that info re Gasparo - but note that the lable, even if original to the violin, says COPIE.

If you put up some good quality photos we could help you more.

August 27, 2012 at 10:01 PM · Lots of mass produced copies out there. Take it to Atlantic Strings in Orlando if you get over that way. In fact you can email them through their website, very knowledgeable group. I deal with them in Melbourne.

August 27, 2012 at 10:33 PM · Thank you Mr. Pait for your help. I'll see what they have to say.

August 28, 2012 at 08:28 PM · At the risk of getting slammed like everybody else who has tried to help you, I'll point out that until relatively recently France was (and may still be) the bridge making capital of the violin world, so having a French bridge tells you nothing at all about the rest of the instrument. Being habitually rude will probably not get you a lot more advice.

August 28, 2012 at 10:16 PM · Daniel Lang is very rude.

And this is not an opinion but based on observations of his postings on this site.

I also wish that Daniel Lang wil learn from other knowledgeable posters who has offered very enlightening insights on violin indentification. I thought Andrew Victor's suggestion was spot on.

It does seems that Daniel Lang only wants to read what he wants it to be.

August 28, 2012 at 11:32 PM · Kitty--slim consolation I'll agree, but at a stretch, one thing can be said in Daniel's favor: so far he does not produce posts consisting entirely of material taken from someone else's website, without even an attribution. :-}

August 29, 2012 at 01:17 AM · I'm trying my best at to take as I am a complete beginner with violins.

August 29, 2012 at 01:35 AM · http://s1241.photobucket.com/albums/gg513/ChristusEstRex/?start=all

If you'll be kind enough, here's pictures of my violin.

August 29, 2012 at 03:17 AM · First off - never put a violin face down on its bridge, even on a soft surface. That's asking for trouble of a major ($$) sort.

Second - it would help those who are trying to help you if you took better pictures of your instrument; it's best to have well-lit, head-on high resolution photographs of the front and back of your instrument, as well as the side of the scroll. Take the photographs done by firms such as Tarisio or Corilon as examples; obviously you don't have the equipment that they have, but it'd help us help you better if you at least took pictures at the correct angles in better lighting.


August 29, 2012 at 03:25 AM · I had no clue, thank you for the advice. I'll work on getting better pictures definately. I'm curious to know what to look for in a violin. All violins seem to look identical to me besides the types of wood and any damage. How do nicer ones differ from cheap ones on the outside?

August 29, 2012 at 05:11 AM · "Daniel Lang is very rude.

And this is not an opinion but based on observations of his postings on this site."

I'm not sure I understand from this particular thread why you think Daniel is rude. I'm also unsure as to why you posted an extremely long bio of Gasparo de Salo after Daniel first stated he understood what "copie" meant.

August 29, 2012 at 07:47 AM · Scott Cole,

Your confusion lies on the fact that Daniel Lang's August 27, 2012 at 08:48 PM post was edited. Hence the long information about Gasparo da Salo and Raphael Klaymann clarification on the word copie.

It was along the words of 'If you have nothing to help me, don't post, I need information'.

And that was after Andrew Victor's very succint but helpful reply.

August 29, 2012 at 03:54 PM · Thanks for the clarification. I hadn't seen the earlier post.

August 29, 2012 at 11:50 PM · I misworded my response and made me seem like a real jerk. Once again, sorry everyone.

October 31, 2016 at 09:28 PM · Hi sorry bring alive this old post , I also have a violin I would like identifying , the label inside says (Gaspar da salo in brefica 7) also says copi de, I would love so post photos but don't know how to? I can email them to anyone who is interested . Kind regards

November 2, 2016 at 08:59 AM · About the bridge. I have often re-cycled De Jacques bridges while waiting to prepare a new one..

November 2, 2016 at 10:11 AM · Since no one has clearly stated this what you have is a violin labeled copy of Gasparo da Salo, it may not be an actual copy of da Salo, but rather vaguely in the Style of da Salo, in that it has double purfling etc. The Term Copie de you would think indicates French origin, but this is not even always the case, as Markneukirchen/Schoenbach production violins were known to use French phrases to try and indicate they were of more valuable French origin when they were not. Often the real French violins were substantially more than 14" long on the back, though not always.

November 2, 2016 at 10:56 AM · I should add if you're violin actually says "copi" instead of "copie" its even more likely not to be French.

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

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com 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

2023 Authenticate LA: Los Angeles Violin Shop
2023 Authenticate LA

Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com 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 Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine