“Luigi Salsedo” instruments are well known in the UK, and have always been well regarded for their excellent tonal properties. This is a typical example in excellent condition, with a rich and powerful sound.
I would hope that we have done more than anyone to dispel the myth that Salsedo instruments are Italian. I became intrigued by these instruments largely on account of their sound, but also because they seemed to appear mainly in Scotland and the North of England. Sure enough, after some research it became clear that the Salsedo name was dreampt up by Jim Tait, a wholesaler and dealer based in the Scottish Borders (also an agent for Sartory and Antoniazzi).
The pieces all came together when a colleague showed me a violin with a handwritten label inscribed to Jim Tait, made by a member of the Hoyer family in Schoenbach. It exhibited so many of the details and idiosyncrasies of a “Salsedo”!
So what we have here is a fine Markneukirchen/Schoenbach trade violin, made on a Guadagnini model, labelled and sold by Jim Tait, but also varnished by him using “Whitelaw’s Cremona Varnish”. All Salsedos have the same very characteristic varnish wear and texture, even though the colour varies from a gold-yellow to a deep cherry red.
During his lifetime Tait clearly managed to persuade his buyers that these violins were modern Italians, and the fine craftsmanship and the predictably excellent tone must have aided him in his deception.
This example is particularly good – lovely varnish with minimal distressing, a fantastic one-piece back of quilted maple, and a great size. The condition is excellent – no cracks or damages other than a bit of wear to the table corners and the odd chip in the varnish.
This instrument is a real all-rounder. It has a warm and muscular presence throughout the register, very well-balanced from bottom to top. It’s loud but not offensively so, it responds quickly and predictably, and it has a broad and warm legato voice too. It’s resonant enough to be satisfying at low dynamics, and robust enough to handle heavy metal bowing too.
I wish I’d had an instrument like this as a teenager – it’s so hard to develop advanced technique if the violin won’t co-operate!
No such difficultly with this violin which is smooth, familiar and confidence-inspiring- it’s just very easy to make a good sound, it’s unusually comfortable in the hand, and it would be the ideal violin for a talented student or a player returning to playing after a long absence.