As the Beatles said “money can’t buy you love” … nor can it necessarily buy you a great sounding violin. It amazes me how much faith people still have in the spurious relationship between price tag and sound. And yet even the briefest exposure to 6-figure instruments will prove the opposite.
So I love it when we come across a modest violin with no pretensions to fame that sounds really good, and it interests me how often these are the work of dedicated amateur makers, people who think things through from first principles and who aren’t shy about reinventing the wheel.
This violin is a perfect example, quite an irregular model and size, made with plain wood and a very unassuming varnish, the f-holes set rather close to the edges, some rather poorly executed details – yet the sound is tremendous, and you can’t escape the conclusion that this maker got all the important things right.
If only every Vuillaume sounded half as good …
The previous owner of this violin managed to track down Friedrich Lohmann through the internet – apparently he made a number of violins and other musical instruments in the 1950s and 60s. These days (in his late 80s) he occupies himself largely with sculpture made from driftwood.
The condition of this violin is very good – there’s a small repaired crack south of the treble f-hole, a wing crack to the bass f-hole, and a pegbox cheek repair – no other cracks, damages or issues to report.
The first thing to say about this violin is that it has a very big sound which doesn’t relate in any way to its size. It has quite full arching and deep ribs, and it emphatically doesn’t sound small!
The tone is what I would think of as Amatise – lots of wood in the base of the sound, clarity in the midrange, and a silvery gloss on top. It’s a highly articulate violin, but it’s neither uncompromising nor shrill – it has a crisp attack, it’s very quick to respond, the lower register is warm and enveloping, the E string is astounding. Great volume and even-ness of tone right up to the top of the fingerboard, always musical and never harsh.
I first made this violin’s acquaintance about 10 years ago and immediately put it in my own case – it was and still is ideal for the kind of solistic Eastern European repertoire I love. But then a customer came along who was hard to please, and only this violin would do him … a decade on, he has given up the violin to concentrate on jazz saxophone, so I have it in my hands again.
My opinion hasn’t changed – if you’re looking for a versatile campfire Strad, a top class sound that won’t make a dent in the wallet, I would recommend this violin very highly. And although the body is small, the stop is very close to standard – I am 6’3 and I find it perfectly comfortable.
Dimensions: length of back 348 mm, stop 128/193 mm
Click or tap an image to enlarge it. Click or tap again to supersize.
Interested in this Friedrich Lohmann Violin?
Look at other violins in this price range.