This is a fine Scottish violin by Andrew Smillie, one of the most respected of Scottish makers. According to David Rattray, “with his passing in 1948, shortly followed by that of Harry Briggs, Professional violin making in Scotland more or less came to an end”. The Smillies (father Alex and son Andrew) are surely the best known makers of the Glasgow school, and their violins are consistently good tonally, even when the work is not as artistic as that of Briggs. This particular violin is very typical, with long c-bouts and very flat arching, and with characteristic mahogany linings travelling in front of the corner blocks. A beautifully executed violin from the maker’s last year, and in excellent condition.
I’m always on the lookout for Smillie violins, but this is definitely the best sounding example I’ve come across. It’s dark in character but very articulate, and in spite of its power it’s warm and engaging. It has a big dynamic range, equally happy to whisper or scream and shout. Unusual consistency throughout the range, both in terms of tone and volume – nice and juicy on the G, and still vibrant and colourful right up on the E. Aside from a few particularly fine Hardies, I think it would be hard to find a better sounding Scottish violin.
Length of back 35.7cm, stop 133/197mm, total length 59.1cm
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