Mysterious violin: Garret Gourd

November 14, 2017, 11:27 PM · There is just one violin shop in Saigon (many musical shops but only one specialized in Violins). Almost everything for sale are violins for different grades of students, manufactured by a locally famous luthier (he lives now in USA and the shop is run by his wife). On the higher quality section there are some franken-violins. Old instruments restored by that luthier, built from the back from one, the front from another, etc. There are also some "master" pieces made by him which are actually quite good. However, the point of this thread is one instrument that buffles me:
This is the most expensive item in the shop. The label is a handwritten flourished signature which reads "Garret Gourd, Luthier". No date.
The sound of the violin is a different level of any other I have heard, though I don't know if that level is up or down. The point is that it has so much reverberation, harmonics, overtones... however you describe them, that it sounds more similar to when you pass a wet finger by the rim of a fine glass. And it is EXTREMELY sensitive. If you are playing another violin less that 2 meters away from it, it also emits sound, noticeably. Any vibration in the shop... just walking near it, makes it buzz. That also means that it is unforgiving. The slightest hesitation or imperfect bowing gets amplified.
Curiously, it is not very loud.
All that has made me look for any information on the name "Garret Gourd, Luthier", but I got nothing. I know that labels mean nothing and it could be sticked there unrelated to the maker but why would they put a label of a completely unknown artisan?
I am aware that there are thousands of violin makers that have never been registered but just in case... has anyone any clue about this name?

Replies (26)

November 15, 2017, 6:33 AM · Hi Carlos, My house has string instruments all over the place and some of them do ring faintly from a cough or sneeze or people talking, my dogs barking, and clapping of hands together. I cannot tell if I am playing one instrument whether that is causing another instrument laying around to resonate.

Never heard of Garret Gourd by maybe Lyndon or Duane will have the time to look in their volumes of makers and give you more info.

Are you thinking of buying this violin Carlos?

November 15, 2017, 6:51 AM · Ah, I didn't know that such resonance was so common.
Thinking about buying? Yes, of course, but I will not do it. I will update my violin only when my teacher says I need it and with his help. At this moment anything above beginner would be wasted in my hands, and I hate waste. That violin deserves a better owner than me.

It is, however, fun to browse and play which I do sometimes at lunch break with their permission but it is also true that I wish that when I am ready in years to come, that violin is still there and I will be able to squeeze its sound.

Edited: November 15, 2017, 7:51 AM · Does the Gourd violin have an unusual shape? ;-)

November 15, 2017, 8:07 AM · Following on from David's post I wonder if "Gourd" is not the name of a person but a reference to either a gourd-like shape of the instrument or the resonances you could expect from such a shape. And as for "Garrett", could that have been the attic where it was made?

@Jeff, your comment suggests that a room in a violin dealer's that is festooned with instruments on the walls may not the best place to try out an instrument you may be interested in.

November 15, 2017, 8:14 AM · Ha! Since I started looking for this elusive luthier, lots of Gourd violins come to the screen. And Google insists that I meant Garrett (instead of Garret), for David Garrett.

No, no. Normal violin. Nice varnish, not antiqued, one piece back... Through the f-holes the wood doesn't look as new as it looks from the good state of the varnish and there, that signature in old penmanship...

November 15, 2017, 1:06 PM · Sometimes when I make noise near an uncovered violin, the D string rings. This phenomenon is only true when the sound I make is the same pitch as the D string. Part of the reason the violin the OP describes is not very loud could be due to inactivity, as it takes violins (violas and cellos for that matter) a fair while to wake up fully from inactivity. Plus, the strings may be old.
Edited: November 15, 2017, 2:01 PM · Ella, that's my experience too. I have two violins, and when they're both out and I'm playing the D string on either one, or that same note on the G string, the D string on the idle violin will vibrate sympathetically. Can any makers here tell us why that string is so much more reactive? I'm guessing that other strings are reacting too, but not enough to be easily noticed.

This phenomenon is one of the reasons I like having an A-440 tuning fork on a resonator box in my practice space. It's always ringing out sympathetically, and if I notice that it's not doing that, it tells me that I need to check my tuning.

November 15, 2017, 4:04 PM · It could be because D is the air resonance.
November 15, 2017, 10:18 PM · Huh. You might want to research air resonance on this site. I remember Adrian Heath has written a lot about this. I could be wrong, but this was what I remember from his posts. Maybe you're talking wood resonance...
November 15, 2017, 10:59 PM · I did look it up and you're right Ella. Airspace resonance is closer to the D string pitch. I'll correct my previous post so not to leave factual errors around.
November 15, 2017, 11:19 PM · This violin resonance was from the whole instrument, not just the string. But I don't know if it was buzzing directly from the soundwaves around or from its strings... It would be interesting to see the behaviour with different setup.
November 16, 2017, 12:15 PM · That just sounds like a really good violin to me. How much was it?
November 16, 2017, 4:59 PM · Have you tried posting pics on maestronet?
November 16, 2017, 7:13 PM · I don't think there is much to upload. It is a very normal looking violin, nice, but nothing to say wow by the looks. The only distinguishing feature is the name and the signature. Of that, I tried a pic...


Erik: I really don't know if it is a good one. At my level those resonances could be from a loose part of the construction or there could be 20 million problems in it. It is in the nature of beginners in any hobby to believe that they found a diamond in the ground but eventually all is glass or quartz. What I don't understand is why, knowing that the shop is a proud maker of franken-violins (apart of their own, which are good) and they don't hesitate on sticking the "stradivarious" labels, why would they stick this no-body label. They say that he is a very famous luthier and I'm saying "according to who?"

November 16, 2017, 7:48 PM · What is the price?
November 16, 2017, 11:04 PM · 3000usd
Edited: November 16, 2017, 11:46 PM · I don't think I should post a link here but if you google maestronet, you can find the site. Posters over there specialize in solving violin mysteries. Now, it's not exactly a civilized board so be aware.

They will also need better pictures.

November 17, 2017, 4:52 PM · Maestronet is not exactly a civilized board? As in Neanderthal and Cro Magnon folks? Hmmm.
November 17, 2017, 6:57 PM · precisely!!
November 18, 2017, 12:54 AM · As in luthiers.

See, we are already bringing the uncivility here.

November 18, 2017, 5:40 AM · I do not want to appear as rude or uncivilized in your eyes but pointed out that you had made a humorous blanket statement covering a lot of people on another site. Three or four years ago someone on that site made the statement that this site consists of armchair violinists which made me smile.
Edited: November 21, 2017, 5:12 AM · Maestronet will tell you that you are wasting their time unless you post high quality detailed pictures. And when you do they often say the instrument is dreadful. That could be construed as uncivilized...

There are plenty of amateur makers making instruments which are (sometimes unintentionally) unconventional.

November 21, 2017, 6:34 AM · I have browsed maestronet often and I actually like the direct tone they have. It is like visiting an old fashioned pub with lifelong regulars pulling each other's legs, which I find nice.
If I would buy the violin, I would make a bigger effort about it, but I was only mildly curious about the confidence that the shop owner had on that name. I thought that it might be someone everybody knows, but as it is obviously not the case, it could be one hundred explanations. As we all know, the name doesn't make the violin good or bad. Only adds to an investment consideration or a collector profile that I don't have. In any case, cheers for the suggestion!
November 21, 2017, 10:30 AM · Buy it, Carlos! it is calling to you! it is looking for a new and proper home.
November 21, 2017, 11:04 AM · It was a ding intended to be in the spirit of Maestronet. I have been visiting that site for 17+ years, kind of like a quiet love affair no one knows about but not exactly a secret. It's a wonderful community and quite helpful but I wouldn't send anyone over there without a fair warning.
November 21, 2017, 12:08 PM · I think a lot of the top experts of the violin world hang on Maestronet and i do not consider it unreasonable if they ask for clear pictures in order to make an accurate assesment free of charge for anyone that wants to post pics. If you are the type of person that does not want to hear that your precious violin is "rubbish" if it truly is then you are better off not asking in the first place. I do find it quite interesting when they argue over whether a particular instrument is French or German and these experts that live repairing and making and researching violins make these distinctions from the tiniest details.

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