c.1800s "Made in Germany" Violin

Ah! Here's something you don't see too often around here: a fiddle case! This one looks 1800s from the outside and is made of (probably) steam-bent wood. I rarely work on bowed instruments as I don't like to keep parts for a zillion different types of instruments on hand (I already have a hard enough time keeping everything I need for guitars, banjos, ukes, and mandolins on hand!) -- but this one is a nice change of pace.

Inside: the typical rat's nest a fiddle player loves to see when scooped up at an auction. The label says "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis - Faciebat Anno 17 - made in Germany." Humm. Judging by the print of the label, the case, and the gut strings all over the place (including some unopened ones c.1920s) I'm guessing this is a mid-to-late 1800s violin, yes, made in Germany, and probably imported by some retailer Stateside. This was very common in those days.

First things first: big ol' crack, and back, top, and fingerboard separations, all of which need to be cleaned, filled, and reglued. Second things (also first!) -- everything needed to get this playing, excluding two pegs, is here and ready.

Here I've reglued everything that needed it and have set it up to see how it plays.

That's the original maple bridge, tailpiece... and... could it be? Yessir, original gut strings! These are far, far, far easier to tune than steel (you don't need fine tuners), sound sweeter, prettier, and after a little bit of play while seeing what else needed doing, I think they sound downright awesome.

Peghead. Forgot that the nut needed gluing, too. Two replacement pegs: it really needs nicer ones, but these ex-uke pegs work in a pinch.

Tailpiece area -- glued crack. I've also installed a new bit of tail gut, which I saved from a uke. A couple wind-arounds and it's just as strong as a single thick piece of tail gut.

At any rate -- this fiddle's got a ways to go: I still have to minimize the repairs, restore the finish, and in general spruce this old girl up before it returns to its owner's hands. More photos will come when it's done.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow...looks just like the one I was just given. Same type of wooden case..even the same crack in the fingerboard. Unfortunately mine isn't labeled so we are guessing at the age. We know that the bow with it is from ~ 1920 but the violin is anyone's guess. I will check back as I am eager to see how you progress.