No corner blocks = cheap fiddle?
Is this always the case, or were there decent instruments made sans the corner blocks.
My understanding is that built-on-the-back violins didn't need corner blocks--it was just how they were made. I have seen several 18th-c. Vogtland violins that were very nice and didn't have corner blocks, but many more Dutzenarbeit violins from the early 20th-c., coming from the same region, that were, uh, less than "decent." So, it depends on the violin.
Not cheap, just a regional variant and typical for the time. Blocks were made necessary by the use of the internal mould in Cremona.
I think some of the first generation violins ~16-17th century , were made that way.
For the record I have always liked very much the cornerless Chanot violin. I always thought it was an efficient and minimalistic approach. Taking out the corners and the tailpiece, and I heard that the sound was very good.
Thanks for the replies. From what I've read, most inexpensive, mass produced violins from Germany, Romania (and later, Chezcoslovokia) had no corner blocks. I have also read the lack of corner blocks affects the resonating characteristics in an unfavorable way, lumping these instruments in the dreaded VSO category.
I think we have to distinguish cornerless from blockless where the pointy corner bits are not filled with a block.
Christopher, I will probably add corner blocks if I ever open up this violin again. I'm thinking of regraduating the top plate, at least on the treble side, where it has prominent grooves. If I do, the blocks will be added.
Yeah, what a bad idea to regraduate and add corner blocks, leave them the way they were made.
Thanks, Lyndon. What's your take on the original post, i.e. general quality of violins with no corner blocks? Are they really inferior, or does it depend?
I'm curious to hear what Lyndon has to say. I own one of these violins, inherited from a relative in rural Prince Edward Island, who had bought it from Eaton's Catalogue around 1901 for three dollars. German factory violin with "Conservatory Violin" stamped on the scroll. With Tonica strings, some repairs to the top plate, and a decent set-up by a skilled luthier, it actually sounds fairly good today, much better in fact than most cheap modern Chinese instruments that I have tried. A bit hollow-sounding, perhaps, definitely a cheap violin, but fun to play, and it is a super instrument for scordatura fiddle music (tuned to AEAE), where its natural resonance is desirable. For sentimental reasons, I spent a good deal of money to get it playable again after half-a-century hidden away in an attic, but I doubt very much whether it could be rebuilt into a better instruument by adding corner blocks. I treasure it for its history, and for what it was, but I don't think it has the potential to be significantly improved, and I intend to leave it the way it was made.
I've come across some really crappy Mittenwald violins made with internal mold and inset corner blocks, best to leave the violin the way it was made, its a piece of history, it doesn't need your "improvements". To possibly improve on it you'd have to have a much better understanding of violin making than the maker, which for most amateurs is very unlikely.
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