American versus German violin

February 8, 2018, 1:30 PM · How does one distinguish between an American versus a German made violin from the 19th century? I would think it would be difficult since many Germans immigrated to the United States in the second half of that 19th century and brought the luthier trade with them. Is the wood very different in the two countries?

Replies (6)

February 8, 2018, 1:54 PM · Depends totally on who made the fiddle. In the 19th century, there were some good German immigrant makers, but also a lot of American makers who had little or no training whatsoever.

That situation has changed now, with some of the best training being in the US.

February 8, 2018, 6:03 PM · Well according to both my luthier and teacher, you should be able to tell based on the scroll carving technique. But since I haven't seen that many violins, I can't help too much.
February 16, 2018, 4:33 PM · A lot of good, early American violins are more like modern [1910-30] Italians than German, I think. Not quite as precise, but with more style.
The wood in the US, particularly in the Northeast, is excellent, very similar to southern European maple. I cut a lot of violin back wedges in the 80's up here in Maine, NH and Vermont wood as well. Spruce was a NorthWest thing, ours up here twisted to much.
February 16, 2018, 4:45 PM · Mind you, there were great makers, pretty good makers and many who had never seen a violin in person, only blurry photos it seems. That low end I consider Folk Art, and many got played a lot too! The higher end of American makers came in the mid late 1800's till the 1930's. The Golden period. imo
February 16, 2018, 4:58 PM · I think the golden era of American violin making is right now.
February 16, 2018, 11:32 PM · I agree that the widest choice of really great modern instruments is in the US. That said, there are some Chinese makers, one of whom I collaborate with, who have done a lot of research on tone production...and I can tell you the results are amazing!

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