8/26/2013

c.1950 Suzuki 4/4 Violin




Update 2014: Since getting this back in trade and using it for myself the past few months, I've dressed the fingerboard and "re-ebonized" it. I also swapped out the bridge and gave it a fresh setup. This thing sounds great for old-timey open tunings and fiddle music and has the slick feel for it, too. Strings are a mixed set of John Pearse and Thomastik Dominant (all nylon/synthetic-core) types.

So, I'm totally guessing on the date of this instrument, but it predates the 1960s "Nagoya Suzukis" and post-dates the "Made in Nippon" Masakichi Suzuki instruments which used an identical label to the one found on this instrument up until the early 1920s when the labels changed to read "Made in Japan" instead (as found inside this guy). This label just has the "three S" Suzuki crest with "trade mark" and "Made in Japan" inscribed on it. Realistically, I suppose this means it could range somewhere in time from 1921 through the 1950s, though, but my gut says it's on the farther end considering the condition and finish style.

It's a very no-frills instrument: painted-on "purfling," very plain sides, and a non-maple (though something similar) curly/flamed back, but it has tone in spades. This is simply a joy to play: focused, rich, loud, and sweet. It makes a perfect fiddle for double-stop use but I'm guessing this would also turn out to be a decent student classical player considering the creamy high end.

I was very surprised when I first played it (I wasn't expecting much)!


Update: I've also added that nice ebony chinrest since the original post...




The fingerboard is stained maple rather than ebony (as is typical on lower-budget instruments and especially 1900s-1930s German imports, for example).





Isn't that back something else? I have no idea what it is for sure but I think it's flamed Japanese maple rather than the German stuff we usually see.


Functional, simple scroll work. I just want to note here that I've installed these fun 1920s-era Grover "Champion" violin pegs. They function just like normal wood pegs (1:1 ratio) but they're adjustable and will hold pitch a lot better when seasons change: tighten the "set screw" at the button to tighten up the tuners to keep them from slipping. I use these on all my own fiddles as I like them way better than wood pegs and they look neat, too.






The seam near the endblock here was reglued at some point and it's slightly "off" but perfectly stable. I replaced the original gut hanger for the tailpiece with this new nylon hanger.


This comes with a "case room" funky old 1920s-30s hard case that functions just fine save it's missing a handle. The violin also comes with a brand new Glasser fiberglass bow. These bows are inexpensive but they sure do tend to sound way better than a wood bow in the sub-$300 range.


I couldn't grab the whole label in one shot but it says "Trade Mark" with the early Suzuki "three S" mark plus "Made in Japan."

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