This is a rather beautiful violin which used to be a Bisiach pretending to be a Guiseppe Rocca! It’s a great example of the early 20th century Berlin copy style with a very fine sound.
Expertise is forever moving forward, and every now and then someone learns that their precious Italian violin is no such thing. This violin is just such a case, but we shouldn’t think it’s any the worse an instrument for being a fake. In fact pretty much the entire world of modern lutherie is dedicated to making violins very like this, albeit with more conservative models and without any intention to deceive.
We can’t be sure who made this violin – it’s a very convincing effort, complete with hand-dyed purfling, willow linings and corner blocks, an “original” neck graft and even a GR stamp on the lower bass corner block. Overall the stye is most reminiscent of Michael Dötsch, though without a signature or a hidden brand we can’t be sure.
However, it’s a very refined piece of work, with first class materials and an excellent soft golden varnish. The woodwork is great, and this is a superbly made violin.
The condition is very good – one neatly restored crack running down from the bass f-hole, a minor saddle crack, a few small edge cracks, all well repaired, otherwise no issues.
This was the much-loved instrument of a busy professional, and it’s had a lot of playing. It has a very distinctive tone, warm, honeyed and fruity, very resonant under the chin but without being tubby. It’s quite lightly built and the arching is full, so you get a lot of feedback – bags of volume, and a significant range of colours at different distances from the bridge. There’s a very satisfying “pop” at the start of the note, and the tone is very malleable.
This is a violin that wants to be part of a bigger sound, and it would be ideal as the 2nd violin of a quartet. It has a strong character, but that character is to be supportive! So if you’re looking for a friendly instrument with a broad and enveloping sound and the tonal sophistication of a much more expensive instrument, this could be the one for you.