11/13/2015

1920s Jackson Guldan 4/4 Violin




Jackson Guldan instruments were made in Columbus, Ohio and are mostly evident in violin-family form. They're well-made instruments and tend to be very sturdy and flashy in looks but generally have a tonal quality running the gamut from student-level to mid-range. This one is a little fancier than normal and is arguably "lower-mid-range" in tone, feel, and cut. It's about on par with a decent quality German import from the same time. The cut is essentially 4/4 but like other Guldans it's just slightly smaller in body-length than your average import 4/4 -- maybe something like a 7/8? The scale is still 12 7/8 to 13" however, depending on how you set your bridge.

When this came in the shop I knew as soon as I saw the instrument that it was a Guldan as they have a distinctive look. I bought it on the spot and did a bit of work to it: one seam repair, a soundpost set, bridge reshape, and setup with John Pearse "Mezzo" Dominant-copy strings for that vintage gut-style sound. It's got a clean, clear voice that's balanced across the tonal range. These fiddles are built tough enough to take steel-core strings just fine, too, and so work well for those who prefer them. This is setup for fiddling and has a quick, easy feel.



Th condition is overall pretty good, save that there's "mouse chew" at the treble f-hole's bottom, a bit of chipping-out at the bass f-hole edge, and some finish deterioration due to rosin deposits on the top at the fingerboard extension's end. There's also a repaired hairline crack to the treble shoulder's side.


The pegs are well-fit and turn smoothly. Note that the fittings are ebony but the fingerboard itself is stained maple.





Here's that "mouse chew."




The back and sides have gorgeous-looking flamed maple.


The neck is nice, too.


Here's the retailer's branding decal.







There's one repaired hairline crack on this shoulder.




I replaced the tailgut with a modern nylon "tailgut" instead.



A beat-up old hard case comes with the violin, though the handle is detached.

3 comments:

John K, said...

Short story about a Jackson Guldan violin:
https://lettersfromdonna.wordpress.com/tag/jackson-guldan-violin-company/

Jake Wildwood said...

The experiences of that family -- getting honked out of snooty violin shops -- are very familiar to me by way of conversation with fiddle players.

It's funny -- a local lady bought an old German trade fiddle from me years ago (it was setup spot-on for fiddling) -- and then over time had snooty violin shops set it up "properly." By the end of all of that she didn't like the tone, it played poorly, and she'd probably spent twice as much money as the instrument itself getting it worked-up by those places. It's a sad money-racket, isn't it?

Chris Till said...

Living in Ohio, I come across Jackson-Guldan instruments semi-regularly. Mostly those goofy Chris/Adjustomatic guitars. Best part of those is that J-G seemed to always use nice Kluson Deluxe tuners (which have often already been taken off). I did get a pretty decent J-G electric lap steel this year. I keep meaning to find out where the defunct J-G factory was in Columbus and learn if it's stills standing.