A Good 'Il Cannone' copy?

December 18, 2012 at 12:48 AM · Hi guys, do you know of any good luthiers who made really exact copy of Guarnieri's "Il Cannone" (In sound and appearance). Price Range preferably below $40k

Replies (24)

December 18, 2012 at 01:36 AM · I do. Are you on Facebook? - Jan van Rooyen Violinmaker.

December 18, 2012 at 03:49 AM · Isabelle Wilbaux

December 18, 2012 at 04:48 AM · http://darntonviolins.com/instruments.php

December 18, 2012 at 06:45 AM · Particularly well qualified, because he works in Genoa where that Paganini instrument is housed and has "hands on" experience of that actual violin, is ALBERTO GIORDANO.

http://www.giordanoviolins.com/en

I think he will make copies with either "original thicknesses" (which are huge) or slightly reduced ones to facilitate playing. Another speciality is his "period" fittings.

I cannot comment on his results - I neither met this maker nor tried any of his violins.

December 18, 2012 at 07:25 AM · Thanks. Do you know any makers from the 19-18th century?

December 18, 2012 at 08:18 AM · I know a first violinist orchestra player who plays one of Roger Hargrave. He seems satisfied. But I guess its more around 50t $ and hard to get

December 18, 2012 at 08:20 AM · Vuillaume made a copy that Paganini himself admired. It was used by Paganini's pupil Sivori. But even if you tracked down that particular violin you'd be disappointed because someone entrusted with maintenance is said to have cleaned off all the varnish from the table !

Presumably there are other Vuillaume copies, but these would cost more than your target price unless in very poor condition.

I have seen what was described to me as a "bench copy", i.e. a copy made by someone with actual physical contact with the original, by George Craske (1795-1888). It's thought that this maker met Paganini, presumably in Birmingham (UK, not Alabama). That fiddle even had imitation cracks !

December 18, 2012 at 09:34 AM · hmmmmmmmm. All the varnish? Why?

December 18, 2012 at 10:12 AM · ..started off trying to remove accumulated rosin and became over-enthusiastic, I guess.

December 18, 2012 at 10:48 AM · What a fool....I heard Michael Darnton makes Del Gesu copies to scale, is that true?

December 18, 2012 at 05:01 PM · "I heard Michael Darnton makes Del Gesu copies"

Even if Michael Darnton doesn't post on this thread, he's a violinist.commie and can be contacted directly via this site, and of course google will connect you to his website.

As I expect you know, most professional makers will offer a del Gesù model; however Il Cannone is a different kettle of fish to most - the body-stop is larger, for example.

December 18, 2012 at 06:14 PM · "I have seen what was described to me as a "bench copy", i.e. a copy made by someone with actual physical contact with the original, by George Craske (1795-1888). It's thought that this maker met Paganini, presumably in Birmingham (UK, not Alabama). That fiddle even had imitation cracks !"

I owned a Craske--they are not uncommon as he made something like 1000 violins. However, I doubt you will find them to sound like a Guarneri. That's reflected in their pricing.

The original request seems a little naive to me. It's like asking what car looks and drives exactly like a Porsche for $500.

The fact is, Guarneri copies are made by the zillions all over the world. I wouldn't be surprised if it's now the dominant copy--you certainly seem to see many more than Strad copies these days. Naturally everyone will claim that theirs sounds like the real thing, but having played a Del Gesu, I find it hard to believe. Can one really expect a brand-new violin to sound like the original Cannon? If it were simply a matter of time, how much time--10 years? 20? 150?

I have heard a Villaume Guarneri copy, but I wasn't impressed. It sounded woofy and lacking in brilliance.

If someone out there owns a Guarneri copy from any era that actually does look and sound just like the Cannon, it will probably not be for sale.

December 18, 2012 at 10:24 PM · "Hi guys, do you know of any good luthiers who made really exact copy of Guarnieri's "Il Cannone" (In sound and appearance)."

___________________

I might know of a few who could likely pull it off better than most (there is no such thing as an exact copy), but do you really understand what you're taking on? Have you ever played the Cannone?

December 18, 2012 at 10:34 PM · I am with David Burgess, the Cannone is not an "easy" violin to play, this is a the type of violin that must fit the violinist playing technique.

December 18, 2012 at 10:42 PM · "The fact is, Guarneri copies are made by the zillions all over the world. I wouldn't be surprised if it's now the dominant copy--you certainly seem to see many more than Strad copies these days. Naturally everyone will claim that theirs sounds like the real thing, but having played a Del Gesu, I find it hard to believe. Can one really expect a brand-new violin to sound like the original Cannon? If it were simply a matter of time, how much time--10 years? 20? 150?"

I think cannone copies are not so common. And also not the smartest choice, because its not a violin every violinist wants to play, even Kogan doesn't play it in the video where it is been said he plays it. Who knows if paganini would still play it.

But I can't say too much about the instruments characteristics, since I never saw or played it. Actually I am more interested in getting to play an actually outstanding guarneri or stradivari, wich is still in players hands. And as far as new violins go I prefer the way of testing and falling in love over commisioning. If I would commision than only if resale value is good. I played many violins and I think every violin turns out a little different than expected. Although of course good violinmakers can give the sound an direction I believe.

December 18, 2012 at 10:56 PM · I've heard that the fingerboard radius on the actual "Il Cannone" is much rounder than most violins and that string spacing is quite narrow. If that's indeed true, you may want to do some research about various copy manufacturers and see just how much their copies are similar to the actual Cannon.

December 18, 2012 at 11:52 PM · The original Cannone sounds darn good in the hands of a violinist that can master it, like Massimo Quarta, here he plays Paganini's concerti with the original Il Cannone:

http://www.massimoquarta.com/en/discografia.php?cd=3

December 19, 2012 at 03:01 AM · I was photographing the "Cannone" in Genoa for a book when Isabelle Faust won the Paganini Competition in 1993. She was waiting to get time with it before her performace, and after I'd finished my pictures, she immediately took it into the next room, a public assembly room in the City Hall, to practice for her performance that evening.

After packing up my gear, I went next door to listen to her. She'd won the competion on a very early Strad, so I thought the "Cannone" would be a big jump for her. When she paused in her playing, I asked her if it was difficult, and she said "no"--that it really wasn't that hard and she'd be fine by the evening's performance.

Since then I've made maybe 20 or 40 copies of it--not bench copies, and mostly not antiqued. As I worked closer to reproducing it precisely, I began to realize that if it's done right it's actually a very nice violin to play, with good response and a wide power range. But to do that, it needs to be done correctly, with a lot of respect for the original design. If not, it's just another impossible-to-play model, the type that modern makers have to make thin to make them work at all, which loses a lot of the charm of the original.

I spent quite a bit of time reverse engineering this violin and players have liked the results. I have even made one on request that was quite a bit thicker than the original for someone who liked to play beyond powerfully. It was surprisingly easy to play, but very hard to overpower.

I wouldn't call it a difficult violin at all, nor do modern versions of it need to be, though I imagine that the way many people make it, it would be.

It was one of the nicest violins I've ever heard. Recordings I have of it don't really communicate the sound accurately, making it sound much harsher than it was when I heard it.

December 19, 2012 at 12:32 PM · Zanjia, if you want more information on the playing and sound qualities of the original, you might try checking with Bruce Carlson in Cremona. He is the luthier-curator of the Cannone, and involved with preparing it for/with the players when it is used in performances, so he's had a lot of feedback.

Please don't bother him though unless you are really serious about this.

Other questions to think about:

If you want an "exact copy", would that be the violin as it is thought to have left the Guarneri shop? Or the violin in its current state? Or the violin modified a little more to have a completely modern setup?

December 19, 2012 at 02:09 PM · Zanjia, if one wants players' experience, I'd go to them first-hand. Many modern players have used this violin and some talk about it on the web. Here's one example:

http://www.peter-sheppard-skaerved.com/2009/12/work-on-il-cannone/

As this player comments, playability is to an extent the result of setup, which has to work in conjunction with the violin and the player both. If those things aren't right, the best violin in the world won't work and the experience will be unsatisfactory.

Also notice how Peter Sheppard Skaerved constantly comments on how easily the violin does so many things, and even notes that "this is a known to be a very difficult violin to play", and then immediately comments that this is really not true. I believe that's the essence of it: it's a very good violin, and part of being very good is working well for the player, not constantly fighting him.

It's unreasonable to expect any modern violin to perform precisely like the original in all respects for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that we're talking of one of the best violins of all time. Ultimately you'll be better off buying the violin you like, regardless of the model, not buying the idea of violin you like conceptually, but can't possibly own.

December 19, 2012 at 04:58 PM · That should be the last word...

But to add just one more datapoint on the Cannon, a maker I once talked to said that it was one of the easiest violins to play that he knew of (and he's not known to be a great player), but also said with some vigor that it had been in lousy adjustment for many years (not necessarily right now), which might explain some of players' negative reactions over the years.

December 19, 2012 at 06:52 PM · Here's a fun video with Shlomo Mintz, for those who don't already know about the fuss surrounding this particular violin, like having a police escort when it travels:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn5UTSGZoCE

I believe the man with the beard, shown backstage with Mintz assessing whether the fiddle is "dialed in" for the performance, is Renato Scrollavezza, who was the curator before Carlson. It looks and sounds like Mintz can handle the instrument just fine, whether on not it was hard to play, or may or may not have been in a poor state of adjustment then (fifteen years ago).

Renato's daughter, Elisa Scrollavezza, now carries the family's violin-making name forward. She is a semi-regular participant at the Violin Society of America workshops in Oberlin, and has also run some restoration workshops in Europe.

December 20, 2012 at 04:57 AM · I can confirm that it is indeed Renato Scrollavezza. Thanks for the video!

December 20, 2012 at 09:43 AM · Wow, nice selection of views. I would of course love the violin to have a modern setup, but I want the specs to follow the one in Genoa as much as possible. Thanks Michael Darnton, and all you other helpful people. You see, I want a violin with a 'infinite range" of tone colouring...

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