Review of Violins by Named Makers

As a part of my business I spend a good deal of time at auctions and in violin shops, and I make a point of playing every violin which is in playable condition. I’ve got into the habit of writing down basic observations about violin tone. I started collecting this information just for myself – as a way of building up a picture of the tonal qualities of violins made by different makers. I decided to put it on the website because it challenges all the received wisdom about what’s a “good violin”.

>> Criteria for Violin Tone Evaluations

Makers:  A  B  C D  E  F  G H  I  J  K L  M  N O  P  Q  R S  T  U V  W  X  Y Z

KEY to tonal ratings
Three star
Two star
One star
Not worth rating
Franco AlbanelliBolognac1960
Albert & MerkePhiladelphiac1900
Franco AlbinelliBologna2003
Armando AltavillaNaples
Antonio & Girolamo AmatiCremonac1620
Amati BrothersCremona
Girolamo II AmatiCremona1710
Dom Nicolo AmatiBolognac1740
Nicolo AmatiCremona1658
Nicolo AmatiCremona1682
Vincenzo AnastasioNaples2006
Vincenzo AnastasioNaples2003
Vincenzo AnnanarumaSalerno1932
Vincenzo AnnarumaSalerno1928
Gaetano AntoniazziCremona1879
Riccardo AntoniazziMilanc1890
Riccardo AntoniazziMilanc1890
Riccardo AntoniazziMilanc1890
Romeo AntoniazziMilan1900
Romeo AntoniazziCremona1907
Romeo AntoniazziMilan1908
Romeo AntoniazziCremona1909
Romeo AntoniazziCremona1914
Romeo AntoniazziCremona1924
Romeo AntoniazziCremonac1910
Georges ApparutMirecourt1947
Georges ApparutMirecourt1939
Georges ApparutMirecourt1944
Georges ApparutMirecourt1930
Job ArdenWilmslow
Claudio ArezioFirenze2003
Aldebrano ArmaglianiGerona1839
Rowan Armour BrownCremona1975
William AtkinsonTottenham1887
Joseph AubryLe Havre1933
Luigi AucielloMilan1942
Nestor AudinotParis1892
Nestor AudinotParis1896
Nestor AudinotParis1872
Nestor AudinotParis1879
Victor AudinotParis1925
Victor AudinotParisc1910
Paul BaillyLondon1891
Paul BaillyParis1898
Paul BaillyMirecourtc1890
Paul BaillyParisc1880
Paul BaillyLondon1899
Paul BaillyMirecourtc1900
Paul Bailly (workshop)Parisc1900
Luigi BajoniMilan1877
Dante BaldoniBuenos Aires1948
Benjamin BanksSalisbury1778
Benjamin BanksSalisburyc1780
James & Henry BanksSalisbury1810
James & Henry BanksLondon?1810
Bruno BarbieriMantua1983
Enzo BarbieriMantova1981
Enzo BarbieriMantua1988
Paolo de BarbieriGenoa1959
Paolo de BarbieriGenoa1920
Paolo de BarbieriGenoa1946
Paolo de BarbieriGenoa1925
Paolo de BarbieriGenoa1945
Paolo de BarbieriGenoa1959
Silvio BarbieriMantua2008
Giuseppe BargelliFlorence1937
Francois BarzoniMirecourtc1900
Francois BarzoniMirecourt1907
Francois BarzoniMirecourt1910
Alfio BatelliFlorence1930
Gustave BazinMirecourt
Alan BeavitScoraig1984
Carl BeckerChicago1952
Mario BedocchiReggio1924
Vittorio BellarosaNaplesc1940
Vittorio BellarosaNaplesc1950
Vittorio BellarosaNaples1952
Vittorio BellarosaNaples1962
Giuseppe BellazziniBonferraro1929
Corrado BelliCremona1981
Luiz BelliniNew York1961
Giuseppe BeltramiCremona1917
BernardelParis1851
Auguste BernardelParisc1850
Gustave BernardelParis1892
Leon BernardelParis1932
Père BernardelParis1851
John BettsLondonc1790
John BettsLondonc1814
Secondo BianchiniSalo1950
Otello BignamiBologna1970
Oscar BischofbergererZurich1941
Carlo BisiachFlorence1922
Carlo BisiachMilan1928
Carlo BisiachFlorence1940
Giacomo & Leandro BisiachMilan1963
Leandro BisiachMilan1904
Leandro BisiachMilan1897
Leandro BisiachMilanc1910
Leandro Bisiach WorkshopMilanc1935
Paul BlanchardLyon1909
Paul BlanchardLyon1887
Paul BlanchardLyon1912
Paul BlanchardLyon1879
Paul BlanchardLyon1906
Paul BlanchardLyon1891
Paul BlanchardLyon1891
Albert BlanchiNice1931
Alberto Luigi BlanchiNice1913
Emile BlondeletMirecourt1924
Emile BlondeletMirecourt1927
Tonino BogaTurin2006
William BoothLeeds1853
Emile BoulangeotLyon1926
Charles BoullangierLondon1882
Charles BoullangierLondonc1860
Charles BoullangierLondon1888
Charles BoullangierLondonc1850
Jan BoumeesterAmsterdam1664
Maurice BourgignonBrussels1932
Raffaelo BozziMilan1940
James BriggsGlasgow1907
James BriggsGlasgow1923
James BriggsGlasgow1927
Ausonia del BroccoBologna1992
Charles BrugereParis1927
Carlo Bruno1921
Carolus Columbus BrunoTurin1913
Bernardo CalcagniGenoa1741
Camillo CamilliMantuac1740
Oreste CandiGenoa1924
Antonio CapelaEspinho1974
Antonio CapelaEspinho1974
Antonio CapelaEspinho1977
Gioffredo CappaSaluzzoc1700
Lorenzo & Tomasso CarcassiFlorence1784
Lorenzo & Tomasso CarcassiFlorencec1750
Vincenzo CarcassiFlorencec1800
Caressa & FrancaisParis1912
Caressa & FrancaisParis1904
Carlo? CarlettiPieve di Cento1923
Genuzio CarlettiPieve Di Cento1930
Nullo CarlettiPieve de Cento1948
Assunto CarloniForli2004
Assunto CarloniForli2009
Serafino CasiniFlorence1932
Paolo CastelloGenoa1770
Paolo CastelloGenoac1786
Paolo CastelloGenoa1780
Enrico CatenariTurinc1680
François CaussinNeufchateauc1850
François CaussinNeufchateauc1860
Antonio CavalazziRavenna1971
Antonio CavalazziRavenna1974
Antonio CavalazziRavenna1984
Aristide CavalliCremona1923
Aristide CavalliCremona1923
Giovanni CavaniSpilambertoc1920
Vincenzo CavaniSpilamberto1942
Emidio CelaniAscoli Piceno1888
Constantinus CelaniusAscoli Picenoc1900
Constantinus CelanusAsculi in Piceno1938
Giuseppe CerutiCremonac1824
Giuseppe CerutiCremona1832
Frederick ChanotLondon1905
Frederick ChanotLondon1905
George ChanotManchester1899
Georges ChanotParisc1840
Georges ChanotParis1840
Georges ChanotParisc1845
Georges ChanotManchester1896
Georges Adolph ChanotManchester1898
Joseph ChanotLondon1889
Joseph Anthony ChanotLondon1906
Augustin ChappuyParis1774
Augustin ChappuyParis1775
Victor Joseph CharotteMirecourt1913
Frederic ChaudiereMontpellier1992
Frederic ChaudiereMontpellier1997
Frederic ChaudiereMontpellier1998
Joannes ChiaravalleFaleronic1820
Gaetano ChiocchiPadua1871
Alessandro CiciliatiFerrara2005
Albert CoadPenzance1937
Collin MezinMirecourt1929
CH JB Collin MezinMirecourt1944
CH JB Collin MezinMirecourt1930
Charles JB Collin-MezinParis1888
Charles JB Collin MezinMirecourt1887
Charles JB Collin MezinMirecourtc1890
Charles JB Collin MezinMirecourt1900
Charles JB Collin MezinMirecourt1907
Charles JB Collin MezinMirecourtc1910
Charles JB Collin Mezin pèreMirecourt1895
Charles JB Collin-Mezin filsMirecourt1931
Charles JB Collin Mezin filsMirecourtc1927
Charles JB Collin Mezin filsMirecourt1928
Romano ComastriImola1973
Stefano ConiaCremona1979
Primo ContavalliOmolac1946
Alfredus ContinoNaples1929
Alfredus ContinoNaples1921
Alfredo ContinoNaples1929
Alfredo ContinoNaples1924
Alfredo ContinoNaples1922
Alfredus ContinoNaples1928
Andrea CorteseGenova1926
Andrea CorteseGenoa1946
Pietro Antonio dalla CostaTrevisoc1750
Francesco CoviCavareno1905
Charles CramondAberdeen1830
George CraskeStockportc1880
George Craskec1870
George Craskec1870
George CraskeLondonc1850
George Craskec1870
George CraskeManchester1874
George CraskeStockport1880
George Craskec1860
Anselmo CurlettoTurin1948
Fredo CurtisGotha1962
Johannes CuypersThe Hague1790
Johannes Francis CuypersAmsterdam1799
Giuseppe Dall’AglioMantua1818
Salvatore DambraMessinac1820
Silvio DanieliBonferrato1929
Hilaire DarcheBrusselsc1890
Eugenio DeganiVenice1898
Eugenio DeganiVenice1893
Eugenio DeganiVenice1894
Eugenio DeganiVenice1896
Eugenio DeganiVenice1897
Eugenio DeganiVenice1898
Giulio DeganiVenice1901
Giulio DeganiVenice1898
Giulio DeganiVenice1901
Giulio DeganiVenice1898
Giulio DeganiVenice1907
Francois DelpratoMirecourt
Honore DerazeyMirecourtc1870
Honore DerazeyMirecourtc1870
Honore DerazeyMirecourtc1840
Honore DerazeyMirecourtc1850
Honore DerazeyMirecourtc1855
Honore DerazeyMirecourtc1855
Honore DerazeyMirecourt1862
Honore DerazeyMirecourtc1870
Juste DerazeyMirecourtc1890
Juste DerazeyMirecourt
Juste DerazeyMirecourtc1880
Juste DerazeyMirecourtc1880
Juste DerazeyMirecourt
Justin DerazeyMirecourtc1880
Giuseppe DesiatoNaples1896
Amédée DieudonnéeMirecourt1950
Amédée DieudonnéeMirecourtc1920
Amédée DieudonnéeMirecourt1933
Amédée DieudonnéeMirecourt1934
Amédée DieudonnéeMirecourt1940
Amédée DieudonnéeMirecourt1944
Alfred DixonFolkestone1941
Marco DobresovitchAlexandria1934
Thomas DoddLondonc1820
Thomas DoddLondonc1795
Hermann Dolling JrMarkneukirchenc1900
Richard DukeLondonc1780
Richard Duke JrLondon1792
George DuncanGlasgow1880
Guldbrand EgerCopenhagen1870
Annibale FagnolaTurin1890
Annibale Fagnola
Annibale FagnolaTurinc1900
Annibale FagnolaTurin1927
Annibalotto FagnolaTurin1928
Auguste FalisseBrussels1916
Auguste FalisseBrussels1909
Celeste FarottiMilan1901
Celestino FarottiMilan1970
Bernard Simon FendtLondon
Francis FendtLiverpool
Giovanni FicheraNaples1978
Leon FichesserParis1906
Johann Ulrich FichtlMittenwald1763
Giuseppe FioriniMunich1897
Giuseppe FioriniZurich1919
Giuseppe FioriniBologna1884
Benoit FleuryParis1761
William ForsterLondonc1790
Arturo FracassiCesena1956
P FranotMirecourtc1870
Rodolfo FrediRome1929
Matthew FurberLondon1785
Matthew FurberLondon1811
Giovanni B GabrielliFlorencec1760
Gaetano GaddaMantua1948
Gaetano GaddaMantua1930
Gaetano GaddaMantua
Gaetano GaddaMantuac1950
Mario GaddaMantua1991
Mario GaddaMantua1987
Mario GaddaMantuac1980
Mario GaddaMantua1976
Pierre GagginiNice1938
Pierre GagginiNice1943
Alessandro GaglianoNaples1709
Alessandro GaglianoNaples1725
Gennaro GaglianoNaples1760
Gennaro GaglianoNaples1743
Giuseppe GaglianoNaplesc1800
Giuseppe & Antonio GaglianoNaplesc1790
Giuseppe & Antonio GaglianoNaplesc1800
Januarius GaglianoNaples1722
Nicolo GaglianoNaplesc1760
Nicolo GaglianoNaplesc1750
Nicolo GaglianoNaplesc1740
Nicolo GaglianoNaplesc1750
Raffaele & Antonio GaglianoNaples
Giovanni Baptista GaibissoAlassio1941
Giovanni Baptista GaibissoAlassio1908
Giovanni Battista GaibassoAlassio1941
Giovanni GaidaIvrea1933
Giovanni GaidaIvrea1895
Charles GaillardParisc1875
Pietro GalinottiSolero1929
Antonin GallaBrno1955
Claudio GamberiniBolognac1920
Gand & BernardelParis1878
Gand & BernardelParis1882
Gand & BernardelParis1885
Richard GareisGraslitz
Ferdinando GarimbertiMilan1978
Eugen GartnerStuttgart1901
Eugen GartnerStuttgart1901
Giorgio GattiTurin1892
Giorgio GattiTurin1925
Franciscus GeissenhofViennac1808
Franz GeissenhofVienna1801
George GemunderLong Island1888
George GemunderAstoria1882
Riccardo GenoveseMontiglio1924
Riccardo GenoveseLecco1927
Emile GermainParis1908
Emile GermainParis1883
Emile GermainParis1894
Antonio GiacciOsimo1979
Alfredo GianottiMilan1975
Senio GiovanettiTurin1988
Ludovico GiovannettiSan Benedetto1950
William GlenisterLondon1918
Antonius GoetingAmsterdam1929
Eduardo GorrCremona2003
Anselmo GottiFerrarac1929
Emile GourrienMirecourt1928
Gugliemo GovoniBolognac1970
Antonio GragnaniLivorno1784
Antonio GragnaniLivorno1771
Antonio GragnaniLivorno1778
Antonio GragnaniLivorno1779
Giovanni GrancinoMilan1699
Giovanni GrancinoMilan1697
Granjon PèreMirecourtc1870
John GreavesEdmontonc1810
Francesco GuadagniniTurin1937
Lorenzo Frassini GuadoCremona1992
Guarneri del GesuCremona
Andrea GuarneriCremonac1675
Andrea GuarneriCremona1674
Andrea GuarneriCremona1682
Dante & Alfredo GuastallaReggiolo Emiliac1920
Dante & Alfred GuastallaReggiolo Emilia1924
Dante & Alfredo GuastallaReggiolo Emilia1924
Dante & Alfredo GuastallaReggio Emilia1929
Fratelli GuastallaReggiolo1928
Guastalla BrosReggiolo1932
Louis GuersanParis1747
Juan GuillamiBarcelona1755
</aGottfried Hamm>Markneukirchenc1790
Charles HarrisAddebury1826
Hart & SonLondon
Jacques W HakkertRotterdam1913
Joseph HelLille1883
Joseph HelLille1901
Joseph HelLille1889
Pierre HelLille1932
Pierre HelLille1883
Pierre Joseph HelLille1901
Eugene HenryParis1861
JB HerclikMlada Boleslav
Thomas Earle HeskethManchester1910
Thomas Earle HeskethManchester1933
Thomas Earle HeskethManchester1939
Thomas Earle HeskethManchester1939
Thomas Earle HeskethManchester1958
Thomas Earle HeskethManchester1891
Joseph HillLondonc1770
Joseph HillLondonc1770
W E Hill & SonsLondon1919
WE Hill & SonLondon1918
Matthys HofmansAmsterdamc1720
TJ Holder
Jacobus HorilRomec1750
Joseph Hornsteiner IIMittenwaldc1820
Theodore HussonRennes1906
Hendrik JacobsAmsterdam1694
Edward P JansonManchester1856
John JohnsonLondon1757
John JohnsonLondonc1756
Paul JombarParis1914
</aPaul Kaul>Paris1933
Thomas KennedyLondon1842
Cornelius KleynmanAmsterdam1683
Aegidius KlozMittenwaldc1780
Aegidius KlozMittenwald1791
Aegidius KlozMittenwaldc1780
Sebastian KlotzMittenwaldc1750
Sebastian KlotzMittenwaldc1750
Sebastian KlotzMittenwald1802
Paul KnorrMarkneukirchenc1930
Oskar KrahlMeerane1931
Joseph KrinerMittenwald1790
Luigi LanaroPadua1980
Umberto LanaroPadua1976
Carlo LandolfiMilanc1755
Alfred LaniniSan Jose1920
Alfred LaniniSan Jose1931
Jean Larcher1928
Lorenzo LatelliCremona2008
Emile LaurentBrussels1905
Emile LaurentBordeaux1913
LauriolBordeaux1862
Jean LavestMontlucon1929
Claude LebetRome2011
Dino LelleCesena1996
Joseph D LeteParisc1835
Lete & DenisTurinc1830
Remerus LiessemLondon1754
Lorenzo LocatelliCremona2002
Paul LorangeLyon1900
Paul LorangeLyon1900
Antonius LuccaVerona1915
Giuseppe LucciBagnacavallo1938
Giuseppe LucciBagnacavallo1946
Giuseppe LucciRome1963
William H LuffLondon1973
William LuffLondon1982
William LuffLondon1981
Nicolas LupotParis1800
Nicholas LupotParis1799
Nicolas LupotParisc1810
Gustav LutschgBerne1930
Charles Le LyonnaisNantes1915
Cesare MaggialiCarrara1932
Cesare MaggialiCessena1963
Giovan Paolo MagginiBresciac1620
Erminio MalaguttiMilan1982
Salvatore MangiacsaleTorino2001
Edoardo MarchetiTurin1922
Eduardo MarchettiTurin1916
Eduardo MarchettiTurin1925
Enrico MarchettiTurin1883
Enrico MarchettiTurin1885
Enrico MarchettiTurin1882
Enrico MarchettiTurinc1890
Enrico MarchettiTurin1908
Enrico MarchettiTurin1923
Guiseppe MarconciniFerrara1800
Romano Marengo RinaldiTurin1900
Ludovico MarianiPesaro16??
Olivier MarissalLille1933
Claude MiremontNew York1862
Oreste MartiniMantua1921
Charles MaucotelParisc1840
Justin MaucotelMirecourtc1880
Justin MaucotelMirecourt
Carolus MauriziBologna1929
Edwin MaxwellWimbledon1938
Walter MaysonManchesterc1900
Walter H MaysonManchester1888
Karel Van Der MeerAmsterdam1929
Alessandro MezzadriFerrara1701
Adolfo MelliReggiolo1934
Emile MenessonReims1881
Charles MennegandParis1879
Mauirce MermillotParis1895
Maurice MermillotParis1897
Janos MichelbergerBudapest1926
Plino MichettiTurin1932
Plino MichettiTurin1941
R & M MillantParis1947
Roger & Max MillantParis1939
Luigi MingazziRavenna1910
Claude Auguste MiremontParis1880
Mino MirizziBari1955
Max MockelBerlin1934
Louis MoitessierParis/Mirecourt1810
Max MollerAmsterdam1943
Max MollerAmsterdamc1925
Domenico MontagnanaVenice1723
AC MonteverdeCremona1923
Giovanni Baptista MorassiCremona1973
Giovanni Baptista MorassiCremona1998
Giovanni Baptista MorassiCremona1972
Felix Mori CostaParma1807
Georges MougenotBrussels1882
Leon Mougenot GaucheMirecourt1902
Hans MullerVienna1935
Ernest MumbyLondon
Romedio MuncherCremona1924
Romedio MuncherCremona1929
Umberto MuschiettiUdine1925
Colin NichollsLondon1992
Didier NicolasMirecourt1831
Didier NicolasMirecourtc1800
Didier NicolasMirecourtc1800
Didier NicolasFrancec1780
Natale NovelliMilan1947
Carlo Giuseppe OddoneTurin1905
Carlo Giuseppe OddoneTurin1918
Carlo Giuseppe OddoneTurin1930
Giuseppe OdoardiAscoli Piceno1780
Archimede OrlandiniParma1965
Giuseppe OrnatiMilan1921
Dante OttaniPadua1986
Dante OttaniPadua1993
Louis OttoDresden1898
John W OwenLeeds1924
Aldo PagliacciRome1985
Edward PamphilonLondonc1680
Giovanni PanizziSan Remo1947
Vincenzo PanormoLondonc1790
Vincenzo PanormoLondonc1790
Vincenzo PanormoLondon1793
Vincenzo PanormoParis1785
Daniel ParkerLondonc1720
Piero ParraviciniMilan1931
Joseph PauliLinzc1800
Giuseppe PedrazziniMilan1947
Giuseppe PedrazziniMilanc1945
Raimondo PerottaMilan1926
Thomas PerryDublin1823
Thomas PerryDublin1770
Ernesto PevereFerrara1928
Ernesto PevereFerrara1928
Bruno PiastriGabbice1995
Armando PiccaglianiModena1938
Claude PierrayParisc1725
Paulus PilatBudapest1926
Paulus PilatBudapest1928
Francois PillementParis/Mirecourt1830
François Louis PiqueParisc1800
Francois PiqueParis1788
PiroueParisc1830
Giovanni PistucciNaplesc1900
Giovanni PistucciNaplesc1900
Giovanni PistucciNaplesc1900
Walter PlainGlasgow
Enrico PolitiRomec1935
Andrea PostacchiniFermo1830
Andreas PostachhiniFermoc1810
Andreas Postacchinic1835
Vincenzo PostiglioneNaples1910
Vincenzo PostiglioneNaples1910
Vincenzo PostiglioneNaples1871
Vincenzo PostiglioneNaples1912
Thomas Powell1794
Giovanni F PressendaTurin1828
JF PressendaTurin1825
George PyneLondon1893
George PyneLondon1889
Janos RacsinczkyBudapest1941
Othelo RadighieriBaveno1987
Andreas Renisto1931
Charles ResucheLyon1894
Arthur RichardsonCrediton1928
Arthur RichardsonCrediton1920
Arthur RichardsonCrediton1927
Arthur RichardsonDevon1928
Romano Marengo RinaldiTurin1900
Carlos RobertsCremona1997
Stanley RobinsonPlumstead
Enrico RoccaGenova1898
Enrico RoccaGenoa1915
Enrico RoccaGenova1894
Sesto RocchiSan Polo d’Enza1977
Sesto RocchiMilan1933
Sesto RocchiSan Polo1977
GB RogeriBrescia1703
Giovanni Baptista RogeriBresciac1680
Giovanni Battista RogeriBrescia1703
Giovanni Battista RogeriBresciac1705
Peter RomboutsAmsterdamc1712
Giuseppe RossiRome1921
Giovanni RotaCremona1800
Ernst Heinrich RothMarkneukirchen1937
Ernst Heinrich RothMarkneukirchen1944
Ernst Heinrich RothMarkneukirchen1923
Ernst Heinrich RothMarkneukirchen1928
Luigi RovattoBuenos Aires1929
Tullio RovescalliCremona1930
David RubioCambridge1992
Carl RuffeMarkneukirchen1931
Vincenzo RugeriCremona1717
Francesco RugeriCremonac1690
Francesco RuggeriCremonac1680
Francesco RuggeriCremona1694
Benigno SaccaniMilanc1880
Benigno SaccaniMilan1910
Pierre Saint PaulParisc1745
Jean-Baptiste SalomonParisc1760
Luigi Salsedo1932
Luigi SalsedoNaples1925
Luigi SalsedoItaly1927
Vincenzo SanninoNaples1918
Vincenzo SanninoNaples1927
Vincenzo SanninoRomec1930
Stefano ScarampellaMantua1898
Stefano ScarampellaMantua1905
Stefano ScarampellaMantua1898
Stefano ScarampellaMantua1919
Stefano ScarampellaMantua1896
Scarampella WorkshopMantua1921
Lucien SchmidtGrenoble1938
Giovanni SchwartzVenicec1901
Theophil SchwartzStrasbourg1829
Iginio SderciFlorence1939
Iginio SderciFlorence1948
Iginio SderciFlorence1951
Iginio SderciFlorence1976
Iginius SderciFlorence1971
Iginio SderciFlorence1949
Santo SerafinVenice1743
Sanctus SerafinVenicec1730
Paul SerdetParis1912
Elio SevergniniCremona1989
Giuseppe SgarbiFinale Emilia1878
Gaetano SgarabottoParma1931
Pietro SgarabottoParma1949
Pietro SgarabottoParma1949
Pietro SgarabottoCremona1960
Giuseppe SgarbiRome1885
Etorre SiegaVenice1914
Hippolyte Chretien SilvestreParis1889
Hippolyte Chretien Silvestre1889
Hippolyte Chretien SilvestreParis1898
Pierre SilvestreLyon1846
Pierre & Hippolyte SilvestreLyon1834
Silvestre & MaucotelParis1900
Silvestre & MaucotelParis1902
Amadeo SimonazziReggio Emelia1946
Andrew Smillie & SonGlasgow1907
Thomas SmithLondonc1780
Ettore SoffritiFerrarac1892
Ettore SoffritiFerrara1920
Spiritus SorsanaCuneoc1736
Rumen SpirovKazanlak2010
Rumen SpirovKazanlak2011
Giuseppe StefaniniBrescia1966
George StoppaniManchester2010
Lorenzo StorioniCremona1774
Lorenzo StorioniCremona1792
Antonio StradivariCremonac1705
Antonio StradivariCremona1697
Jean StriebigMirecourt1949
Michael StroblBerlin1924
Bela SzepessyLondon1889
Giuseppe TarasconiMilanc1900
Giuseppe TarasconiSaronnoc1900
David TecchlerRomec1732
Giovanni TedescoNaples1909
Claudio TestoniMantova2011
Carlo Antonio TestoreMilan17??
Carlo Antonio TestoreMilan1756
Carlo Antonio TestoreMilan1738
Carlo Giuseppe TestoreMilanc1720
Paolo Antonio TestoreMilanc1740
Pierre ThiboutParisc1840
Charles & Samuel ThompsonLondon1772
Richard TobinLondonc1830
Carlo TononiBolognac1718
Rudolfo TramontiForli
Pierre TriffauxCremona2010
Nicola UtiliCastel Bolognese1932
Giovanni ValenzanoValenza1821
JM ValenzanoRome1824
Gyula VaradyBudapest1920
Ferrucio VaragnoloMilan1904
Joannes VarottiBologna1789
Joseph VautrinChaumont1901
Alfons VavraPrague1952
Lorenzo VentapaneNaples1828
Lorenzo VentapaneNaples
Pasquale VentapaneNaples1840
Dario VerneTurin1982
Alfred VidoudezGeneva1924
Holm ViertelAachen1912
Gennaro VinacciaNaples1780
Alfred VincentLondon1924
Alfred VincentLondon1936
Alfred VincentLondon1926
Arnold VoigtMarkneukirchen
Voller BrosLondonc1900
Voller BrosLondon1900
Chipot VuillaumeMirecourt
JB VuillaumeParisc1840
JB VuillaumeParis1845
JB VuillaumeParis1864
JB VuillaumeParisc1845
Jean Baptiste VuillaumeParis1866
Jean-Baptiste VuillaumeParisc1830
Jean Baptiste VuillaumeParis1847
Jean-Baptiste VuilaumeParisc1830
Jean Baptiste VuillaumeParis1829
Jean Baptiste VuillaumeParisc1845
Jean Baptiste VuillaumeParis1845
Jean Baptiste VuillaumeParis1873
Jean Baptiste VuillaumeParisc1845
Nicolas VuillaumeMirecourt1863
Nicolas VuillaumeBrussels1871
Nicholas VuillaumeMirecourtc1870
Nicolas François VuillaumeBrussels1833
Nicolas François VuillaumeBrussels1844
Frank WatsonRochdale1900
Emmanuel WhitmarshLondon1910
Leopold WidhalmNürnberg1775
John WilkinsonLondon
John WilkinsonLondonc1935
John WilkinsonLondonc1935
Georg WinterlingHamburg1909
Edward WithersLondonc1900
Edward WithersLondonc1860
George Wulme-HudsonLondonc1930
Aldo ZaniCesena1931
Francesco ZanoliNonantola1987
Francesco ZanoliNonantola1988
Francesco ZanoliNonantola1982
Bruno ZobboliPieve di Cento2001
Valentino de ZorziFlorence1892

Criteria for Violin Tone Evaluations

I have to point out that many of the instruments one meets in
auction rooms are poorly set up, the strings can be old, and
sometimes there are other problems. But I take these factors into
account – I make a judgment about how far off its ideal set-up any
particular instrument might be. And if the set-up looks good, I
assume that minor changes won’t essentially alter its character.

I try to play the instruments before looking at the label, the
catalogue, or the estimate, so that I’m not prejudiced by the price
tag – sometimes this isn’t possible (for instance Tarisio arranges
its instruments according to value), but often I have a friend or
colleague who holds the catalogue and keeps that information to
him/herself!

I should also point out that my idea of good tone is subjective,
but I do have consistent criteria and they are by and large the same
as any professional player’s. A great violin is one you find
yourself making great music on!

I suppose the constituent parts are generally (and not in order of
importance):

  • The absence of irregularity or nasty artefacts that have to be
    played around
  • Complexity and abundance of good high harmonics throughout the
    register (often discussed in terms of projection)
  • Volume in all parts of the register
  • Sustain or continuity of response
  • Plenty of information making its way to the player’s body
    (resonance)

With a good violin the tone doesn’t seem to come from anywhere in
particular, you feel yourself to be part of it and it to be part of
you, and the sound occupies the space you’re playing in. I’d say the
greatest testament to a good violin is that you forget about it –
same with bows. With both violins and bows, a good tool immediately
opens up the possibility of better musical ideas & forms of
expression. I suppose this comes down to a general rather nebulous
quality of “responsiveness”.

As for determining whether one instrument is superior to another,
it comes down to the quality of relaxation I experience when playing
the instrument. The more relaxed you feel, the more you can
communicate.

I confess to some idiosyncrasies – I’m not overly bothered about
sonorous G strings, I like very loud violins, and I’m very fond of
new violins.

Most experienced players with some technique share these
ideas/ideals. Learners have a rather different agenda, as good
articulate response is often the last thing they want!

Here’s a really good account of tone/playability by someone who’s
handled a lot of the best instruments in the world, Michael Darnton.
He seems to define it in exactly the way I do, though he claims only
early Cremonese violins have these qualities!

“Great violins …

  • Respond instantly. Each note starts quickly and cleanly, without
    any initial noise at all (not even an icy harshness), with almost
    an initial pop. In quick passages each note stands out
    individually, not smeared into the others, even in slurred
    passages. It’s difficult or nearly impossible to make a bad attack
    – what you hear in the audience is an unusual cleanliness to the
    beginning of each note and separation from the previous one (which
    stops sounding instantly without lingering into the next note),
    and that’s something that’s particularly easy for a listener to
    catch, once you tune your ear to it. It’s also a major contributor
    to higher playing quality in a player, since he doesn’t have to
    spend energy making sure all his attacks are just right to
    compensate for the violin’s own lack of good temper. When I was
    selling violins on a daily basis players would use the same
    several pieces for testing, and I grew accustomed to internally
    cringing in anticipation of several specific notes in each piece
    that seemed universally difficult to execute cleanly and
    beautifully. Not a problem for a great violin, though, which would
    sail through those notes perfectly. (One of the problems with
    listening tests is that a good player will automatically
    compensate for those notes, which are the same ones every time,
    and you’ll never know how bad a violin really is – that’s why
    someone like Kreisler could play on anything and make it sound
    great.)
  • Lack dissonance. Every note is clear and clean, internally (the
    harmonics) in tune and smooth, without anything dirty or
    extraneous. That’s also something listeners can pick up, though
    it’s harder – it’s a little like hearing an in-tune piano vs an
    out-of-tune one (where one of each of the three strings that make
    a note is slightly out), but much less obvious.
  • Have presence. This is the hardest thing to hear. It expresses
    itself in the violin “appearing” to the ear to take up a lot of
    stage territory, and it can be slightly difficult to pinpoint the
    exact location of the violin. A side component of this is a
    particularly enveloping beauty of tone that’s very subtle and
    difficult to characterize. I have heard a lot of nice violins, but
    I have *never* heard a violin that wasn’t Cremonese that did this
    last thing, and this is also the most difficult aspect to hear.
  • Can be heard. This is not ear-painful volume, which may or may
    not carry; it’s genuine carrying power: the ability to stand out
    against a number of other instruments. Generally raw, dissonant,
    or bright violins may appear to have more volume, but against
    other instruments, tonal purity and higher output in a particular
    small band of harmonics around 2500hz wins, even though the violin
    may seem inadequate or even veiled on its own. I don’t much like listening to recordings of violins for the
    purpose of listening to the violin itself. I rarely get an
    impression from a recording that’s even vaguely similar to the real
    thing.”
    Michael Darnton,
    originally posted on a Maestronet
    forum
    .

Tonal specialist • Online inventory • Detailed photographs

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