Guarnerius for Suzuki lesson.

October 20, 2006 at 05:26 AM · Many years ago when my now grown Daughter was taking Suzuki violin lessons the parents had to bring a violin to class so they could be taught a bit, too. At that time I had a Peter Guarneri that I was selling for a friend of mine. My wife, a non player, was the parent that went to class with our Daughter.

Since I'm always on the lookout to have at least a little fun now and then I gave my wife a quick one month course in playing the Guarneri. Yup, I sent her to class with the guarneri in a cheap looking case. When the teacher asked the parents to play one at a time my wife's tone quality was right up there. A beginner couldn't help sounding good with simple things on that instrument. As the lesson progressed the teacher kept staring at the violin and finally asked where she had rented it from. Mary said that she had picked it up at a yard sale and cleaned it really well with wood cleaner and didn't it look nice? The teacher finally asked to see it and played it, mouth dropping open. "Do you know what I think this is?" She cried. My wife said she didn't, but was going to sell it for a couple hundred bucks when she was through with it.

Shortly thereafter my Daughter took up skiing and went up to the U.S. Ski Team level, but we never had a chance to tell the teacher we were jerking her chain a bit. I bet she's still telling stories about the Guarneri that, for a few hundred dollars, got away.

Replies (24)

October 20, 2006 at 07:02 AM · The sound of a genuine Cremonese violin NEVER LIES at any price.

October 20, 2006 at 01:23 PM · Fun strory! Are they really that different? Good sound for sure, but can one tell what it is from a few simple notes played on one?


October 20, 2006 at 02:09 PM · Sure can. The cheap rented violins sounded nasally and whiny; the Guarneri, despite being scratche by a novice, had a deeper quality open string tone.

October 20, 2006 at 02:59 PM · hehe

October 31, 2006 at 02:12 AM · That's really funny! I can see the teacher's face right now! lol. BTW, I think Peter Guarneri was actually a Venetian maker...

October 31, 2006 at 03:56 AM · LOL! Classic! :)

October 31, 2006 at 05:09 AM · There are two famous "Pietro Guarneri" members of that family, one known as "Peter of Mantua" and the other known as "Peter of Venice".

Both of them, to my knowledge, started out their apprenticeships in Cremona under the auspices of the Guarneri family workshop. When they came of age, both Pietro Guarneris moved away from Cremona to their respective towns.

I feel that the design principles of these two makers, particularly the varnish, derives from the Cremonese principles of violin building. Thus I feel that both of these makers are essentially "Cremonese" despite having moved away after they learned their craft.

In the same interesting light of two Guarneris having the same name, Karol Jalovec asserts that Peter of Mantua had a son also named "Joseph Guarneri" that was apprenticed to the maker "Andreas Gisalberti" of Bozzollo in order to enrich the Guarneri family tradition. This Joseph was distinct as a maker from the more famous Joseph who was the son of Giuseppe Guarneri filius Andrea.

October 31, 2006 at 05:29 AM · FWIW I believe the current wisdom is that neither Peter had any children. This is specifically mentioned in the articles on each of them in The Strad, if I remember aright.

November 8, 2006 at 05:06 PM · Oooh dear my memory was quite off on the above. They both had kids, but none of the children are known to have become makers.

November 8, 2006 at 09:57 PM · Stradivari Hot Dog.

:) Sandy

November 9, 2006 at 12:23 AM · I have been under an impression that Guraneri is more difficult to play than Strad. That is, in order to get the best out fo a Guraneri, one has to acquire high level of proficiency in violin playing.

Now I am either under the wrong impression or I've got the wrong "Guarneri" (that is, del Gesu vs Peter/Pieter).

November 9, 2006 at 01:19 AM · It really depends on which particular Strad you are comparing to which particular Guarneri Del Gesu (which is the Guarneri usually meant), but as I understand it the generalization is that (middle period) Strads are relatively easy to get going, but require finesse to get the best out of, and (later) Del Gesus are often harder to get going, which can add a dimension of difficulty depending on your particular technical trends.

The Guarneri family tradition was more or less an outgrowth of the Amati tradition, but Peter of Mantua was influenced by Stainer to a degree, his nephew Joseph Del Gesu was on his way to reinventing the instrument entirely, and Del Gesu's brother Peter of Venice, although he seemed to be pulling something a little different out of the Venetian stew every time he made an instrument, seemed to be trending in yet another direction which I'd like to understand better.

November 9, 2006 at 02:28 PM · Regarding the difference in sound, I had a similiar experience last weekend.

I "started" viola last month with a not-the-cheapest Scherl & Roth. (Quotes are because I'm working on scales on my own, no teacher yet.)

Last Sat. I went to a local luthier, and mentioned what I had and that, even though I'm not in the market right now, I would love to experience the difference between my instrument and a "better" one. She graciously pulled three violas; a $3,200, a $6,000 and an $8,000.

Of course, it was mind-blowing! Not only could I hear an amazing difference when she played, I didn't play any out-of-tune notes! I'm still at the point where about a quarter of my scale is slightly off; I adjust and go on. But not on these instruments.

And the resonance! It sounded like we were in a small concert hall. Also, I didn't have as much trouble reaching "D" on the C as I do on mine.

And I should mention that the sizes are comparable.

Sorry to go on, but it was so exciting and I don't have anyone else to tell. :(

November 9, 2006 at 03:32 PM · I wish I could play such pricey (and therefore, goood) violin. I've been playing a 100$ cheapo from the beginning (but it's an old violin, not factory made crap) and perhaps won't change in near future.

November 9, 2006 at 03:40 PM · $100 is worth more in Poland. Maybe it's not so bad :-)

Around here, $100 is Monopoly Money. Chump Change. Candy Money. Barely enough for lunch (ok an exaggeration).

November 9, 2006 at 04:12 PM · Thats plain cruel

November 9, 2006 at 04:41 PM · Yes, it is. A quarter of a million bucks won't buy a house.

November 9, 2006 at 05:19 PM · Yeah, prices are ridiculous.....

But I can say I'd rather have a Strad and sleep in a cardboard box than buy a house. Walls? Bah! Who needs them. I'll huddle beneath my violin's case when it's raining.

November 9, 2006 at 05:37 PM · Yeh, but how do you keep your srad dry?

November 9, 2006 at 06:19 PM · A very nice case would be included in the deal. Hopefully a waterproof one.

November 9, 2006 at 08:15 PM · It's not that I'm not happy with the violin, it plays kind of nice and also a violin maker told me so. I possibly could afford a more expensive one, but for my needs it's more than enough right now, and there are many needs of spending money right now. I would really love to play something gorgeous for a moment though :)

November 10, 2006 at 02:14 AM ·

November 10, 2006 at 11:58 PM · I think Daniel has said it all.

November 11, 2006 at 12:20 AM · It's the sheer economy with which he did so that leaves me in awe.

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