This is an exceptional example of the work of Julius Hubička, a highly productive but maddeningly inconsistent maker of the early 20th century. This particular violin ticks all the boxes – great sound, great condition, great price.
Although the aesthetics may not be to everyone’s taste, the early 20th century Prague makers cannot be beaten when it comes to sound quality vs. price. We could look at dozens of florid Italian violins from this period and struggle to find something that played as well as a Vávra, Pilaš or Špidlen.
Julius Hubička was a very prolific maker, renowned for fast work, and not all his violins were created equal. This violin is the typical Hubička model / long corners, full lower bouts, and a very flat bridge platform. A distinctive feature of his work is the very sudden transition on the pegbox sides from flat to fluted. The varnish is a rapidly applied red semi-oil over a yellow ground.
The condition of this violin is remarkable – just a couple of minor dunts in the varnish, no cracks or repairs, and very little wear.
I have very high expectations when it comes to Prague violins, but this one meets them easily. It’s quite a lightly built instrument but it has a big sound with lots of body, at once bright, nimble and gutsy. It’s a supremely comfortable violin to play – all parts of the register respond well, and no effort needs to go into making the violin work. Neither unduly dark nor bright, it has exceptional clarity without ever sounding plain.