5/19/2017

1930s Czech-made 4/4 Strad-copy Violin





I bought this a couple weeks ago at an antique shop and it came in good order -- no cracks, fairly clean, with a good hard case, and a low-on-hair (but functional) old Japanese bow. It's marked as made in Czechoslovakia and dates, probably, to the 1930s per the case and general build and finish style.

It's a well-made instrument and has a sweet, carrying, smooth tone that's neither too woofy and bassy or shrill on the high-end. The fingerboard and tailpiece are ebony, the top is tightly-grained spruce, and the back and sides are reasonably-flamed maple with (actual) purfling at both the top and back edges.

My work was simple -- I replaced missing tailgut with some new nylon tailgut, fit a new Aubert bridge, fit the original soundpost a heck-of-a-lot better, and strung it up with John Pearse Mezzo strings (I love them -- they're made by Thomastik (as I recall), and sound and feel and tension-up like Dominants at only $26 or so).

My final flourish was to install a set of 4:1 Gotoh geared uke pegs -- something I've wanted to try on a violin for a long time as I love those smooth-operating tuners and their light weight seemed like a good match for fiddle. This turned-out to be more of a chore than I thought, but the instrument tunes-up easily, stays in tune, and doesn't have the fussy friction peg issues (nor the "slippy" Perfection/Pegheads issues) fiddles tend to be fraught with.



To install the pegs, I had to add some spacers on the inside of the headstock and cut-down the threaded "ferrules" that hold the tuner tight to the wood. It's worked-out fine, however, though it's certainly not a traditional look. It was a $70 "test," but I'm glad I did it. Because the metal is mostly aluminum, they weigh around the same as a set of dense ebony pegs, too.



The ruddy finish is pretty handsome.


Note the cool embossed chinrest and the missing "saddle" on the tailpiece. No issue there, however, really.



The two-piece back has some moderate flame that's highly visible as it's so wide.














The original hard case is in good condition and has a nice, form-fitting, arched shape.

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