Jerome Thibouville-Lamy, or JTL, is one of the best-known names in the violin trade. The JTL mega-workshops in the Vosges produced hundreds of thousands of violins from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century. Mostly these were student violins which have remained popular on account of their excellent sound. But they also produced beautiful handmade “violons de maitre”, most likely the work of Alfred Acoulon – these were signed and numbered, and sold at the time for 10 times the price of their ever-popular Barnabetti-labelled instruments.

This is an excellent example showing beautiful workmanship to rival an HC Silvestre, and rather better than a Collin-Mézin of the period. The fine red oil varnish is particularly attractive, the wood is superb, and all details are perfectly executed. The condition is also outstanding – there’s a small chip in the right c-bout and the centre back seam has been reglued, otherwise nothing to report.

I’ve always been a staunch advocate of JTL violins, but this instrument is in a class of its own. The sound is strong, warm and clean, slightly dark, very well balanced and mature. This is what I would call a real violin, suitable for a player at any level, versatile and utterly reliable. It seems to work well at any level of dynamics, and is equally at home with any kind of repertoire. Highly recommended.

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