It’s questionable how many violins John Betts himself made, but he employed an illustrious group of makers such as Tobin, Vincenzo and Joseph Panormo, both Bernard Simon Fendts and John Furber, along with other less well known names. Betts instruments tend to exhibit very high standards of craftsmanship and tone.
This is a lovely example of the later work of the Betts shop, with a characteristic nut-brown varnish. The model is refined, with delicately fluted f-holes and a deeply cut scroll; the lovely one-piece back is made from a kind of softly quilted maple (perhaps domestic sycamore) that’s also very typical of this shop.
The overall condition is excellent – there’s a post patch in the table although no repair is visible from the outside, otherwise no cracks or damages. The original varnish is very well preserved.
It’s also a superb sounding violin with a very distinctive voice, rich and sugary with a lot of sparkle in the high end. It produces a big noise with ease, but also does an excellent stage whisper, always with this captivating and complex harmonic character. One would be well pleased to find a Testore which sounded this good, but for now the English makers are under-appreciated, and it’s still possible to get a sophisticated and beautifully balanced tone for a modest price.