Violin Tone Evaluations
Review of Violins by Named Makers

As a part of my business I spend a good deal of time at auctions and in violin shops, and I make a point of playing every violin which is in playable condition. I’ve got into the habit of writing down basic observations about violin tone. I started collecting this information just for myself – as a way of building up a picture of the tonal qualities of violins made by different makers. I decided to put it on the website because it challenges all the received wisdom about what’s a “good violin”.

>> Criteria for Violin Tone Evaluations


Makers:  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

KEY to tonal ratings
  Three star
  Two star

  One star
  Not worth rating

Franco Albanelli Bologna c1960
Albert & Merke Philadelphia c1900
Franco Albinelli Bologna 2003
Armando Altavilla Naples  
Antonio & Girolamo Amati Cremona c1620
Amati Brothers Cremona  
Girolamo II Amati Cremona 1710
Dom Nicolo Amati Bologna c1740
Nicolo Amati Cremona 1658
Nicolo Amati Cremona 1682
Vincenzo Anastasio Naples 2006
Vincenzo Anastasio Naples 2003
Vincenzo Annanaruma Salerno 1932
Vincenzo Annaruma Salerno 1928
Gaetano Antoniazzi Cremona 1879
Riccardo Antoniazzi Milan c1890
Riccardo Antoniazzi Milan c1890
Riccardo Antoniazzi Milan c1890
Romeo Antoniazzi Milan 1900
Romeo Antoniazzi Cremona 1907
Romeo Antoniazzi Milan 1908
Romeo Antoniazzi Cremona 1909
Romeo Antoniazzi Cremona 1914
Romeo Antoniazzi Cremona 1924
Romeo Antoniazzi Cremona c1910
Georges Apparut Mirecourt 1947
Georges Apparut Mirecourt 1939
Georges Apparut Mirecourt 1944
Georges Apparut Mirecourt 1930
Job Arden Wilmslow
Claudio Arezio Firenze 2003
Aldebrano Armagliani Gerona 1839
Rowan Armour Brown Cremona 1975
William Atkinson Tottenham 1887
Joseph Aubry Le Havre 1933
Luigi Auciello Milan 1942
Nestor Audinot Paris 1892
Nestor Audinot Paris 1896
Nestor Audinot Paris 1872
Nestor Audinot Paris 1879
Victor Audinot Paris 1925
Victor Audinot Paris c1910
Paul Bailly London 1891
Paul Bailly Paris 1898
Paul Bailly Mirecourt c1890
Paul Bailly Paris c1880
Paul Bailly London 1899
Paul Bailly Mirecourt c1900
Paul Bailly (workshop) Paris c1900
Luigi Bajoni Milan 1877
Dante Baldoni Buenos Aires 1948
Benjamin Banks Salisbury 1778
Benjamin Banks Salisbury c1780
James & Henry Banks Salisbury 1810
James & Henry Banks London ?1810
Bruno Barbieri Mantua 1983
Enzo Barbieri Mantova 1981
Enzo Barbieri Mantua 1988
Paolo de Barbieri Genoa 1959
Paolo de Barbieri Genoa 1920
Paolo de Barbieri Genoa 1946
Paolo de Barbieri Genoa 1925
Paolo de Barbieri Genoa 1945
Paolo de Barbieri Genoa 1959
Silvio Barbieri Mantua 2008
Giuseppe Bargelli Florence 1937
Francois Barzoni Mirecourt c1900
Francois Barzoni Mirecourt 1907
Francois Barzoni Mirecourt 1910
Alfio Batelli Florence 1930
Gustave Bazin Mirecourt
Alan Beavit Scoraig 1984
Carl Becker Chicago 1952
Mario Bedocchi Reggio 1924
Vittorio Bellarosa Naples c1940
Vittorio Bellarosa Naples c1950
Vittorio Bellarosa Naples 1952
Vittorio Bellarosa Naples 1962
Giuseppe Bellazzini Bonferraro 1929
Corrado Belli Cremona 1981
Luiz Bellini New York 1961
Giuseppe Beltrami Cremona 1917
Bernardel Paris 1851
Auguste Bernardel Paris c1850
Gustave Bernardel Paris 1892
Leon Bernardel Paris 1932
Père Bernardel Paris 1851
John Betts London c1790
John Betts London c1814
Secondo Bianchini Salo 1950
Otello Bignami Bologna 1970
Oscar Bischofbergerer Zurich 1941
Carlo Bisiach Florence 1922
Carlo Bisiach Milan 1928
Carlo Bisiach Florence 1940
Giacomo & Leandro Bisiach Milan 1963
Leandro Bisiach Milan 1904
Leandro Bisiach Milan 1897
Leandro Bisiach Milan c1910
Leandro Bisiach Workshop Milan c1935
Paul Blanchard Lyon 1909
Paul Blanchard Lyon 1887
Paul Blanchard Lyon 1912
Paul Blanchard Lyon 1879
Paul Blanchard Lyon 1906
Paul Blanchard Lyon 1891
Paul Blanchard Lyon 1891
Albert Blanchi Nice 1931
Alberto Luigi Blanchi Nice 1913
Emile Blondelet Mirecourt 1924
Emile Blondelet Mirecourt 1927
Tonino Boga Turin 2006
William Booth Leeds 1853
Emile Boulangeot Lyon 1926
Charles Boullangier London 1882
Charles Boullangier London c1860
Charles Boullangier London 1888
Charles Boullangier London c1850
Jan Boumeester Amsterdam 1664
Maurice Bourgignon Brussels 1932
Raffaelo Bozzi Milan 1940
James Briggs Glasgow 1907
James Briggs Glasgow 1923
James Briggs Glasgow 1927
Ausonia del Brocco Bologna 1992
Charles Brugere Paris 1927
Carlo Bruno   1921
Carolus Columbus Bruno Turin 1913
Bernardo Calcagni Genoa 1741
Camillo Camilli Mantua c1740
Oreste Candi Genoa 1924
Antonio Capela Espinho 1974
Antonio Capela Espinho 1974
Antonio Capela Espinho 1977
Gioffredo Cappa Saluzzo c1700
Lorenzo & Tomasso Carcassi Florence 1784
Lorenzo & Tomasso Carcassi Florence c1750
Vincenzo Carcassi Florence c1800
Caressa & Francais Paris 1912
Caressa & Francais Paris 1904
Carlo? Carletti Pieve di Cento 1923
Genuzio Carletti Pieve Di Cento 1930
Nullo Carletti Pieve de Cento 1948
Assunto Carloni Forli 2004
Assunto Carloni Forli 2009
Serafino Casini Florence 1932
Paolo Castello Genoa 1770
Paolo Castello Genoa c1786
Paolo Castello Genoa 1780
Enrico Catenari Turin c1680
François Caussin Neufchateau c1850
François Caussin Neufchateau c1860
Antonio Cavalazzi Ravenna 1971
Antonio Cavalazzi Ravenna 1974
Antonio Cavalazzi Ravenna 1984
Aristide Cavalli Cremona 1923
Aristide Cavalli Cremona 1923
Giovanni Cavani Spilamberto c1920
Vincenzo Cavani Spilamberto 1942
Emidio Celani Ascoli Piceno 1888
Constantinus Celanius Ascoli Piceno c1900
Constantinus Celanus Asculi in Piceno 1938
Giuseppe Ceruti Cremona c1824
Giuseppe Ceruti Cremona 1832
Frederick Chanot London 1905
Frederick Chanot London 1905
George Chanot Manchester 1899
Georges Chanot Paris c1840
Georges Chanot Paris 1840
Georges Chanot Paris c1845
Georges Chanot Manchester 1896
Georges Adolph Chanot Manchester 1898
Joseph Chanot London 1889
Joseph Anthony Chanot London 1906
Augustin Chappuy Paris 1774
Augustin Chappuy Paris 1775
Victor Joseph Charotte Mirecourt 1913
Frederic Chaudiere Montpellier 1992
Frederic Chaudiere Montpellier 1997
Frederic Chaudiere Montpellier 1998
Joannes Chiaravalle Faleroni c1820
Gaetano Chiocchi Padua 1871
Alessandro Ciciliati Ferrara 2005
Albert Coad Penzance 1937
Collin Mezin Mirecourt 1929
CH JB Collin Mezin Mirecourt 1944
CH JB Collin Mezin Mirecourt 1930
Charles JB Collin-Mezin Paris 1888
Charles JB Collin Mezin Mirecourt 1887
Charles JB Collin Mezin Mirecourt c1890
Charles JB Collin Mezin Mirecourt 1900
Charles JB Collin Mezin Mirecourt 1907
Charles JB Collin Mezin Mirecourt c1910
Charles JB Collin Mezin père Mirecourt 1895
Charles JB Collin-Mezin fils Mirecourt 1931
Charles JB Collin Mezin fils Mirecourt c1927
Charles JB Collin Mezin fils Mirecourt 1928
Romano Comastri Imola 1973
Stefano Conia Cremona 1979
Primo Contavalli Omola c1946
Alfredus Contino Naples 1929
Alfredus Contino Naples 1921
Alfredo Contino Naples 1929
Alfredo Contino Naples 1924
Alfredo Contino Naples 1922
Alfredus Contino Naples 1928
Andrea Cortese Genova 1926
Andrea Cortese Genoa 1946
Pietro Antonio dalla Costa Treviso c1750
Francesco Covi Cavareno 1905
Charles Cramond Aberdeen 1830
George Craske Stockport c1880
George Craske c1870
George Craske c1870
George Craske London c1850
George Craske   c1870
George Craske Manchester 1874
George Craske Stockport 1880
George Craske   c1860
Anselmo Curletto Turin 1948
Fredo Curtis Gotha 1962
Johannes Cuypers The Hague 1790
Johannes Francis Cuypers Amsterdam 1799
Giuseppe Dall'Aglio Mantua 1818
Salvatore Dambra Messina c1820
Silvio Danieli Bonferrato 1929
Hilaire Darche Brussels c1890
Eugenio Degani Venice 1898
Eugenio Degani Venice 1893
Eugenio Degani Venice 1894
Eugenio Degani Venice 1896
Eugenio Degani Venice 1897
Eugenio Degani Venice 1898
Giulio Degani Venice 1901
Giulio Degani Venice 1898
Giulio Degani Venice 1901
Giulio Degani Venice 1898
Giulio Degani Venice 1907
Francois Delprato Mirecourt
Honore Derazey Mirecourt c1870
Honore Derazey Mirecourt c1870
Honore Derazey Mirecourt c1840
Honore Derazey Mirecourt c1850
Honore Derazey Mirecourt c1855
Honore Derazey Mirecourt c1855
Honore Derazey Mirecourt 1862
Honore Derazey Mirecourt c1870
Juste Derazey Mirecourt c1890
Juste Derazey Mirecourt
Juste Derazey Mirecourt c1880
Juste Derazey Mirecourt c1880
Juste Derazey Mirecourt
Justin Derazey Mirecourt c1880
Giuseppe Desiato Naples 1896
Amédée Dieudonnée Mirecourt 1950
Amédée Dieudonnée Mirecourt c1920
Amédée Dieudonnée Mirecourt 1933
Amédée Dieudonnée Mirecourt 1934
Amédée Dieudonnée Mirecourt 1940
Amédée Dieudonnée Mirecourt 1944
Alfred Dixon Folkestone 1941
Marco Dobresovitch Alexandria 1934
Thomas Dodd London c1820
Thomas Dodd London c1795
Hermann Dolling Jr Markneukirchen c1900
Richard Duke London c1780
Richard Duke Jr London 1792
George Duncan Glasgow 1880
Guldbrand Eger Copenhagen 1870
Annibale Fagnola Turin 1890
Annibale Fagnola    
Annibale Fagnola Turin c1900
Annibale Fagnola Turin 1927
Annibalotto Fagnola Turin 1928
Auguste Falisse Brussels 1916
Auguste Falisse Brussels 1909
Celeste Farotti Milan 1901
Celestino Farotti Milan 1970
Bernard Simon Fendt London
Francis Fendt Liverpool
Giovanni Fichera Naples 1978
Leon Fichesser Paris 1906
Johann Ulrich Fichtl Mittenwald 1763
Giuseppe Fiorini Munich 1897
Giuseppe Fiorini Zurich 1919
Giuseppe Fiorini Bologna 1884
Benoit Fleury Paris 1761
William Forster London c1790
Arturo Fracassi Cesena 1956
P Franot Mirecourt c1870
Rodolfo Fredi Rome 1929
Matthew Furber London 1785
Matthew Furber London 1811
Giovanni B Gabrielli Florence c1760
Gaetano Gadda Mantua 1948
Gaetano Gadda Mantua 1930
Gaetano Gadda Mantua
Gaetano Gadda Mantua c1950
Mario Gadda Mantua 1991
Mario Gadda Mantua 1987
Mario Gadda Mantua c1980
Mario Gadda Mantua 1976
Pierre Gaggini Nice 1938
Pierre Gaggini Nice 1943
Alessandro Gagliano Naples 1709
Alessandro Gagliano Naples 1725
Gennaro Gagliano Naples 1760
Gennaro Gagliano Naples 1743
Giuseppe Gagliano Naples c1800
Giuseppe & Antonio Gagliano Naples c1790
Giuseppe & Antonio Gagliano Naples c1800
Januarius Gagliano Naples 1722
Nicolo Gagliano Naples c1760
Nicolo Gagliano Naples c1750
Nicolo Gagliano Naples c1740
Nicolo Gagliano Naples c1750
Raffaele & Antonio Gagliano Naples
Giovanni Baptista Gaibisso Alassio 1941
Giovanni Baptista Gaibisso Alassio 1908
Giovanni Battista Gaibasso Alassio 1941
Giovanni Gaida Ivrea 1933
Giovanni Gaida Ivrea 1895
Charles Gaillard Paris c1875
Pietro Galinotti Solero 1929
Antonin Galla Brno 1955
Claudio Gamberini Bologna c1920
Gand & Bernardel Paris 1878
Gand & Bernardel Paris 1882
Gand & Bernardel Paris 1885
Richard Gareis Graslitz
Ferdinando Garimberti Milan 1978
Eugen Gartner Stuttgart 1901
Eugen Gartner Stuttgart 1901
Giorgio Gatti Turin 1892
Giorgio Gatti Turin 1925
Franciscus Geissenhof Vienna c1808
Franz Geissenhof Vienna 1801
George Gemunder Long Island 1888
George Gemunder Astoria 1882
Riccardo Genovese Montiglio 1924
Riccardo Genovese Lecco 1927
Emile Germain Paris 1908
Emile Germain Paris 1883
Emile Germain Paris 1894
Antonio Giacci Osimo 1979
Alfredo Gianotti Milan 1975
Senio Giovanetti Turin 1988
Ludovico Giovannetti San Benedetto 1950
William Glenister London 1918
Antonius Goeting Amsterdam 1929
Eduardo Gorr Cremona 2003
Anselmo Gotti Ferrara c1929
Emile Gourrien Mirecourt 1928
Gugliemo Govoni Bologna c1970
Antonio Gragnani Livorno 1784
Antonio Gragnani Livorno 1771
Antonio Gragnani Livorno 1778
Antonio Gragnani Livorno 1779
Giovanni Grancino Milan 1699
Giovanni Grancino Milan 1697
Granjon Père Mirecourt c1870
John Greaves Edmonton c1810
Francesco Guadagnini Turin 1937
Lorenzo Frassini Guado Cremona 1992
Guarneri del Gesu Cremona
Andrea Guarneri Cremona c1675
Andrea Guarneri Cremona 1674
Andrea Guarneri Cremona 1682
Dante & Alfredo Guastalla Reggiolo Emilia c1920
Dante & Alfred Guastalla Reggiolo Emilia 1924
Dante & Alfredo Guastalla Reggiolo Emilia 1924
Dante & Alfredo Guastalla Reggio Emilia 1929
Fratelli Guastalla Reggiolo 1928
Guastalla Bros Reggiolo 1932
Louis Guersan Paris 1747
Juan Guillami Barcelona 1755
Markneukirchen c1790
Charles Harris Addebury 1826
Hart & Son London
Jacques W Hakkert Rotterdam 1913
Joseph Hel Lille 1883
Joseph Hel Lille 1901
Joseph Hel Lille 1889
Pierre Hel Lille 1932
Pierre Hel Lille 1883
Pierre Joseph Hel Lille 1901
Eugene Henry Paris 1861
JB Herclik Mlada Boleslav
Thomas Earle Hesketh Manchester 1910
Thomas Earle Hesketh Manchester 1933
Thomas Earle Hesketh Manchester 1939
Thomas Earle Hesketh Manchester 1939
Thomas Earle Hesketh Manchester 1958
Thomas Earle Hesketh Manchester 1891
Joseph Hill London c1770
Joseph Hill London c1770
W E Hill & Sons London 1919
WE Hill & Son London 1918
Matthys Hofmans Amsterdam c1720
TJ Holder
Jacobus Horil Rome c1750
Joseph Hornsteiner II Mittenwald c1820
Theodore Husson Rennes 1906
Hendrik Jacobs Amsterdam 1694
Edward P Janson Manchester 1856
John Johnson London 1757
John Johnson London c1756
Paul Jombar Paris 1914
Paris 1933
Thomas Kennedy London 1842
Cornelius Kleynman Amsterdam 1683
Aegidius Kloz Mittenwald c1780
Aegidius Kloz Mittenwald 1791
Aegidius Kloz Mittenwald c1780
Sebastian Klotz Mittenwald c1750
Sebastian Klotz Mittenwald c1750
Sebastian Klotz Mittenwald 1802
Paul Knorr Markneukirchen c1930
Oskar Krahl Meerane 1931
Joseph Kriner Mittenwald 1790
Luigi Lanaro Padua 1980
Umberto Lanaro Padua 1976
Carlo Landolfi Milan c1755
Alfred Lanini San Jose 1920
Alfred Lanini San Jose 1931
Jean Larcher 1928
Lorenzo Latelli Cremona 2008
Emile Laurent Brussels 1905
Emile Laurent Bordeaux 1913
Lauriol Bordeaux 1862
Jean Lavest Montlucon 1929
Claude Lebet Rome 2011
Dino Lelle Cesena 1996
Joseph D Lete Paris c1835
Lete & Denis Turin c1830
Remerus Liessem London 1754
Lorenzo Locatelli Cremona 2002
Paul Lorange Lyon 1900
Paul Lorange Lyon 1900
Antonius Lucca Verona 1915
Giuseppe Lucci Bagnacavallo 1938
Giuseppe Lucci Bagnacavallo 1946
Giuseppe Lucci Rome 1963
William H Luff London 1973
William Luff London 1982
William Luff London 1981
Nicolas Lupot Paris 1800
Nicholas Lupot Paris 1799
Nicolas Lupot Paris c1810
Gustav Lutschg Berne 1930
Charles Le Lyonnais Nantes 1915
Cesare Maggiali Carrara 1932
Cesare Maggiali Cessena 1963
Giovan Paolo Maggini Brescia c1620
Erminio Malagutti Milan 1982
Salvatore Mangiacsale Torino 2001
Edoardo Marcheti Turin 1922
Eduardo Marchetti Turin 1916
Eduardo Marchetti Turin 1925
Enrico Marchetti Turin 1883
Enrico Marchetti Turin 1885
Enrico Marchetti Turin 1882
Enrico Marchetti Turin c1890
Enrico Marchetti Turin 1908
Enrico Marchetti Turin 1923
Guiseppe Marconcini Ferrara 1800
Romano Marengo Rinaldi Turin 1900
Ludovico Mariani Pesaro 16??
Olivier Marissal Lille 1933
Claude Miremont New York 1862
Oreste Martini Mantua 1921
Charles Maucotel Paris c1840
Justin Maucotel Mirecourt c1880
Justin Maucotel Mirecourt
Carolus Maurizi Bologna 1929
Edwin Maxwell Wimbledon 1938
Walter Mayson Manchester c1900
Walter H Mayson Manchester 1888
Karel Van Der Meer Amsterdam 1929
Alessandro Mezzadri Ferrara 1701
Adolfo Melli Reggiolo 1934
Emile Menesson Reims 1881
Charles Mennegand Paris 1879
Mauirce Mermillot Paris 1895
Maurice Mermillot Paris 1897
Janos Michelberger Budapest 1926
Plino Michetti Turin 1932
Plino Michetti Turin 1941
R & M Millant Paris 1947
Roger & Max Millant Paris 1939
Luigi Mingazzi Ravenna 1910
Claude Auguste Miremont Paris 1880
Mino Mirizzi Bari 1955
Max Mockel Berlin 1934
Louis Moitessier Paris/Mirecourt 1810
Max Moller Amsterdam 1943
Max Moller Amsterdam c1925
Domenico Montagnana Venice 1723
AC Monteverde Cremona 1923
Giovanni Baptista Morassi Cremona 1973
Giovanni Baptista Morassi Cremona 1998
Giovanni Baptista Morassi Cremona 1972
Felix Mori Costa Parma 1807
Georges Mougenot Brussels 1882
Leon Mougenot Gauche Mirecourt 1902
Hans Muller Vienna 1935
Ernest Mumby London
Romedio Muncher Cremona 1924
Romedio Muncher Cremona 1929
Umberto Muschietti Udine 1925
Colin Nicholls London 1992
Didier Nicolas Mirecourt 1831
Didier Nicolas Mirecourt c1800
Didier Nicolas Mirecourt c1800
Didier Nicolas France c1780
Natale Novelli Milan 1947
Carlo Giuseppe Oddone Turin 1905
Carlo Giuseppe Oddone Turin 1918
Carlo Giuseppe Oddone Turin 1930
Giuseppe Odoardi Ascoli Piceno 1780
Archimede Orlandini Parma 1965
Giuseppe Ornati Milan 1921
Dante Ottani Padua 1986
Dante Ottani Padua 1993
Louis Otto Dresden 1898
John W Owen Leeds 1924
Aldo Pagliacci Rome 1985
Edward Pamphilon London c1680
Giovanni Panizzi San Remo 1947
Vincenzo Panormo London c1790
Vincenzo Panormo London c1790
Vincenzo Panormo London 1793
Vincenzo Panormo Paris 1785
Daniel Parker London c1720
Piero Parravicini Milan 1931
Joseph Pauli Linz c1800
Giuseppe Pedrazzini Milan 1947
Giuseppe Pedrazzini Milan c1945
Raimondo Perotta Milan 1926
Thomas Perry Dublin 1823
Thomas Perry Dublin 1770
Ernesto Pevere Ferrara 1928
Ernesto Pevere Ferrara 1928
Bruno Piastri Gabbice 1995
Armando Piccagliani Modena 1938
Claude Pierray Paris c1725
Paulus Pilat Budapest 1926
Paulus Pilat Budapest 1928
Francois Pillement Paris/Mirecourt 1830
François Louis Pique Paris c1800
Francois Pique Paris 1788
Piroue Paris c1830
Giovanni Pistucci Naples c1900
Giovanni Pistucci Naples c1900
Giovanni Pistucci Naples c1900
Walter Plain Glasgow
Enrico Politi Rome c1935
Andrea Postacchini Fermo 1830
Andreas Postachhini Fermo c1810
Andreas Postacchini c1835
Vincenzo Postiglione Naples 1910
Vincenzo Postiglione Naples 1910
Vincenzo Postiglione Naples 1871
Vincenzo Postiglione Naples 1912
Thomas Powell 1794
Giovanni F Pressenda Turin 1828
JF Pressenda Turin 1825
George Pyne London 1893
George Pyne London 1889
Janos Racsinczky Budapest 1941
Othelo Radighieri Baveno 1987
Andreas Renisto 1931
Charles Resuche Lyon 1894
Arthur Richardson Crediton 1928
Arthur Richardson Crediton 1920
Arthur Richardson Crediton 1927
Arthur Richardson Devon 1928
Romano Marengo Rinaldi Turin 1900
Carlos Roberts Cremona 1997
Stanley Robinson Plumstead
Enrico Rocca Genova 1898
Enrico Rocca Genoa 1915
Enrico Rocca Genova 1894
Sesto Rocchi San Polo d'Enza 1977
Sesto Rocchi Milan 1933
Sesto Rocchi San Polo 1977
GB Rogeri Brescia 1703
Giovanni Baptista Rogeri Brescia c1680
Giovanni Battista Rogeri Brescia 1703
Giovanni Battista Rogeri Brescia c1705
Peter Rombouts Amsterdam c1712
Giuseppe Rossi Rome 1921
Giovanni Rota Cremona 1800
Ernst Heinrich Roth Markneukirchen 1937
Ernst Heinrich Roth Markneukirchen 1944
Ernst Heinrich Roth Markneukirchen 1923
Ernst Heinrich Roth Markneukirchen 1928
Luigi Rovatto Buenos Aires 1929
Tullio Rovescalli Cremona 1930
David Rubio Cambridge 1992
Carl Ruffe Markneukirchen 1931
Vincenzo Rugeri Cremona 1717
Francesco Rugeri Cremona c1690
Francesco Ruggeri Cremona c1680
Francesco Ruggeri Cremona 1694
Benigno Saccani Milan c1880
Benigno Saccani Milan 1910
Pierre Saint Paul Paris c1745
Jean-Baptiste Salomon Paris c1760
Luigi Salsedo 1932
Luigi Salsedo Naples 1925
Luigi Salsedo Italy 1927
Vincenzo Sannino Naples 1918
Vincenzo Sannino Naples 1927
Vincenzo Sannino Rome c1930
Stefano Scarampella Mantua 1898
Stefano Scarampella Mantua 1905
Stefano Scarampella Mantua 1898
Stefano Scarampella Mantua 1919
Stefano Scarampella Mantua 1896
Scarampella Workshop Mantua 1921
Lucien Schmidt Grenoble 1938
Giovanni Schwartz Venice c1901
Theophil Schwartz Strasbourg 1829
Iginio Sderci Florence 1939
Iginio Sderci Florence 1948
Iginio Sderci Florence 1951
Iginio Sderci Florence 1976
Iginius Sderci Florence 1971
Iginio Sderci Florence 1949
Santo Serafin Venice 1743
Sanctus Serafin Venice c1730
Paul Serdet Paris 1912
Elio Severgnini Cremona 1989
Giuseppe Sgarbi Finale Emilia 1878
Gaetano Sgarabotto Parma 1931
Pietro Sgarabotto Parma 1949
Pietro Sgarabotto Parma 1949
Pietro Sgarabotto Cremona 1960
Giuseppe Sgarbi Rome 1885
Etorre Siega Venice 1914
Hippolyte Chretien Silvestre Paris 1889
Hippolyte Chretien Silvestre   1889
Hippolyte Chretien Silvestre Paris 1898
Pierre Silvestre Lyon 1846
Pierre & Hippolyte Silvestre Lyon 1834
Silvestre & Maucotel Paris 1900
Silvestre & Maucotel Paris 1902
Amadeo Simonazzi Reggio Emelia 1946
Andrew Smillie & Son Glasgow 1907
Thomas Smith London c1780
Ettore Soffriti Ferrara c1892
Ettore Soffriti Ferrara 1920
Spiritus Sorsana Cuneo c1736
Rumen Spirov Kazanlak 2010
Rumen Spirov Kazanlak 2011
Giuseppe Stefanini Brescia 1966
George Stoppani Manchester 2010
Lorenzo Storioni Cremona 1774
Lorenzo Storioni Cremona 1792
Antonio Stradivari Cremona c1705
Antonio Stradivari Cremona 1697
Jean Striebig Mirecourt 1949
Michael Strobl Berlin 1924
Bela Szepessy London 1889
Giuseppe Tarasconi Milan c1900
Giuseppe Tarasconi Saronno c1900
David Tecchler Rome c1732
Giovanni Tedesco Naples 1909
Claudio Testoni Mantova 2011
Carlo Antonio Testore Milan 17??
Carlo Antonio Testore Milan 1756
Carlo Antonio Testore Milan 1738
Carlo Giuseppe Testore Milan c1720
Paolo Antonio Testore Milan c1740
Pierre Thibout Paris c1840
Charles & Samuel Thompson London 1772
Richard Tobin London c1830
Carlo Tononi Bologna c1718
Rudolfo Tramonti Forli
Pierre Triffaux Cremona 2010
Nicola Utili Castel Bolognese 1932
Giovanni Valenzano Valenza 1821
JM Valenzano Rome 1824
Gyula Varady Budapest 1920
Ferrucio Varagnolo Milan 1904
Joannes Varotti Bologna 1789
Joseph Vautrin Chaumont 1901
Alfons Vavra Prague 1952
Lorenzo Ventapane Naples 1828
Lorenzo Ventapane Naples
Pasquale Ventapane Naples 1840
Dario Verne Turin 1982
Alfred Vidoudez Geneva 1924
Holm Viertel Aachen 1912
Gennaro Vinaccia Naples 1780
Alfred Vincent London 1924
Alfred Vincent London 1936
Alfred Vincent London 1926
Arnold Voigt Markneukirchen
Voller Bros London c1900
Voller Bros London 1900
Chipot Vuillaume Mirecourt
JB Vuillaume Paris c1840
JB Vuillaume Paris 1845
JB Vuillaume Paris 1864
JB Vuillaume Paris c1845
Jean Baptiste Vuillaume Paris 1866
Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume Paris c1830
Jean Baptiste Vuillaume Paris 1847
Jean-Baptiste Vuilaume Paris c1830
Jean Baptiste Vuillaume Paris 1829
Jean Baptiste Vuillaume Paris c1845
Jean Baptiste Vuillaume Paris 1845
Jean Baptiste Vuillaume Paris 1873
Jean Baptiste Vuillaume Paris c1845
Nicolas Vuillaume Mirecourt 1863
Nicolas Vuillaume Brussels 1871
Nicholas Vuillaume Mirecourt c1870
Nicolas François Vuillaume Brussels 1833
Nicolas François Vuillaume Brussels 1844
Frank Watson Rochdale 1900
Emmanuel Whitmarsh London 1910
Leopold Widhalm Nürnberg 1775
John Wilkinson London
John Wilkinson London c1935
John Wilkinson London c1935
Georg Winterling Hamburg 1909
Edward Withers London c1900
Edward Withers London c1860
George Wulme-Hudson London c1930
Aldo Zani Cesena 1931
Francesco Zanoli Nonantola 1987
Francesco Zanoli Nonantola 1988
Francesco Zanoli Nonantola 1982
Bruno Zobboli Pieve di Cento 2001
Valentino de Zorzi Florence 1892

Criteria for Violin Tone Evaluations

I have to point out that many of the instruments one meets in auction rooms are poorly set up, the strings can be old, and sometimes there are other problems. But I take these factors into account – I make a judgment about how far off its ideal set-up any particular instrument might be. And if the set-up looks good, I assume that minor changes won’t essentially alter its character.

I try to play the instruments before looking at the label, the catalogue, or the estimate, so that I’m not prejudiced by the price tag – sometimes this isn’t possible (for instance Tarisio arranges its instruments according to value), but often I have a friend or colleague who holds the catalogue and keeps that information to him/herself!

I should also point out that my idea of good tone is subjective, but I do have consistent criteria and they are by and large the same as any professional player's. A great violin is one you find yourself making great music on!

I suppose the constituent parts are generally (and not in order of importance):

  • The absence of irregularity or nasty artefacts that have to be played around
  • Complexity and abundance of good high harmonics throughout the register (often discussed in terms of projection)
  • Volume in all parts of the register
  • Sustain or continuity of response
  • Plenty of information making its way to the player's body (resonance)

With a good violin the tone doesn't seem to come from anywhere in particular, you feel yourself to be part of it and it to be part of you, and the sound occupies the space you're playing in. I'd say the greatest testament to a good violin is that you forget about it – same with bows. With both violins and bows, a good tool immediately opens up the possibility of better musical ideas & forms of expression. I suppose this comes down to a general rather nebulous quality of "responsiveness".

As for determining whether one instrument is superior to another, it comes down to the quality of relaxation I experience when playing the instrument. The more relaxed you feel, the more you can communicate.

I confess to some idiosyncrasies - I'm not overly bothered about sonorous G strings, I like very loud violins, and I'm very fond of new violins.

Most experienced players with some technique share these ideas/ideals. Learners have a rather different agenda, as good articulate response is often the last thing they want!

Here's a really good account of tone/playability by someone who's handled a lot of the best instruments in the world, Michael Darnton. He seems to define it in exactly the way I do, though he claims only early Cremonese violins have these qualities!

"Great violins ...

  • Respond instantly. Each note starts quickly and cleanly, without any initial noise at all (not even an icy harshness), with almost an initial pop. In quick passages each note stands out individually, not smeared into the others, even in slurred passages. It's difficult or nearly impossible to make a bad attack – what you hear in the audience is an unusual cleanliness to the beginning of each note and separation from the previous one (which stops sounding instantly without lingering into the next note), and that's something that's particularly easy for a listener to catch, once you tune your ear to it. It's also a major contributor to higher playing quality in a player, since he doesn't have to spend energy making sure all his attacks are just right to compensate for the violin's own lack of good temper. When I was selling violins on a daily basis players would use the same several pieces for testing, and I grew accustomed to internally cringing in anticipation of several specific notes in each piece that seemed universally difficult to execute cleanly and beautifully. Not a problem for a great violin, though, which would sail through those notes perfectly. (One of the problems with listening tests is that a good player will automatically compensate for those notes, which are the same ones every time, and you'll never know how bad a violin really is – that's why someone like Kreisler could play on anything and make it sound great.)
  • Lack dissonance. Every note is clear and clean, internally (the harmonics) in tune and smooth, without anything dirty or extraneous. That's also something listeners can pick up, though it's harder – it's a little like hearing an in-tune piano vs an out-of-tune one (where one of each of the three strings that make a note is slightly out), but much less obvious.
  • Have presence. This is the hardest thing to hear. It expresses itself in the violin "appearing" to the ear to take up a lot of stage territory, and it can be slightly difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the violin. A side component of this is a particularly enveloping beauty of tone that's very subtle and difficult to characterize. I have heard a lot of nice violins, but I have *never* heard a violin that wasn't Cremonese that did this last thing, and this is also the most difficult aspect to hear.
  • Can be heard. This is not ear-painful volume, which may or may not carry; it's genuine carrying power: the ability to stand out against a number of other instruments. Generally raw, dissonant, or bright violins may appear to have more volume, but against other instruments, tonal purity and higher output in a particular small band of harmonics around 2500hz wins, even though the violin may seem inadequate or even veiled on its own. I don't much like listening to recordings of violins for the purpose of listening to the violin itself. I rarely get an impression from a recording that's even vaguely similar to the real thing."
    Michael Darnton, originally posted on a Maestronet forum.

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