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Thread: Stradivarius ... again

  1. #51

    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    Point taken, but we live in a different world now. I always thought Doc borrowed a '39 for that album. Anyway, there are NO beater grade Martin guitars for sale, today. They all get restored and command the big bucks. Just as there are no beater Loars or Strads -- well, actually there are, but they get restored before going to the auction block!

    I should add my infamous story from 35 years ago. I was at an outdoor flea market and a guy pulls up with a pickup truck. There is a D size guitar in the back of the truck with no case on top of a pile of lawnmowers, furniture, and bicycles. I grab the guitar, there are no strings or tuners, but it is basically all there, but looked sooty, like it was near a fire. I could barely make out the Martin name, yep, it was an old D-18. I carried a business car in my wallet that had the Martin serial number dates listed and it was indeed a 1945! I looked to the heavens and said silently to myself, "thank you, Lord!" The joy was short-lived when I asked the seller what he wanted for it, he says, "boy, that's a 1945 Martin and I want $1500 for it", keep in mind this was 1982 and I hadn't offered that information, he had researched it on his own! Needless to say, back then that was an insane amount of money for a "project!" I might have said, "you're kidding?" or "would you take a $100 for it?" but ultimately it went back on the pickup truck, not my lucky day........
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Apr-22-2017 at 9:53pm.

  2. #52
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    For me,when i listen to a good musician,in ANY genre of music,i couldn't give a toot as to what make / model / era of instrument they're playing. I either like the music or i don't !. It's as simple as that,& i suspect that the vast majority of music 'listeners',whether they're musicians themselves or not,think the same. For me 100% of the time - it's the music that counts.

    I have Adam Steffey's CD '' New Primitive'' on which for the majority of the tracks,he plays a Northfield mandolin - price wise a galaxy away from the cost of a Lloyd Loar mandolin,but it sounds incredibly good & the music is terrific.

    It's alway nice to hear good sounding instruments of any variety,but realistically,if they sound 'good' - what else really matters ?. Not the maker/ era for me,
    Ivan
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  4. #53
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    Ivan I give credit to the picker if he's good, but manys the time I've thought " great musician but he needs a mandolin" or banjo or whatever. I do listen to the sound of the instrument and I know that the musician in question probably likes the sound of his instrument, but each of us is different in what we like.

  5. #54
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    This has been a very interesting and thought provoking thread. Need to have one of these every couple of months.

    Michael Darnton of Chicago has stated several times that there's something with the wood in the old Cremonese instruments. Possibly implying some major treatment. I have had some success changing (I will not go so far as "improving") tone character with treatments. I would really like to heat some wood, then get it cryogenically treated.

    One of the real problems with treatment is getting stuff really into the cell structure of spruce. Maple is no problem. Goes in when green. So I need green tonewood, a solution, then drying. Seems too much!

    Finishing systems make a difference. I have three different mineral grounds that each give a little different effect. Whether this is better or not is an opinion, but if I want a dark fiddle sound it helps.

    Otherwise, I find that the violins that are really powerful are arched like the old guys.

    And then there's the matter of playing the things. Look at real "Cannon" DG copies. If done tall and thick they're very hard to get going, but tremendously powerful.

    There are so many pieces to the equation. For example, today I am working on the pillars (above and below the F holes) and central platform of a violin top. This one I suspect wants to be reverse graduated. Is liking getting thinner down the middle between the bridge feet, and there's a stiff spot suggesting I might need to put a slightly thin spot just north of the F hole eyes. That latter one makes sense - reduce the stiffnesss riser in the transition from floating platform to 1/2 vaulted arch.

    Lots of stuff in fiddles, and the best modern makers really know this stuff.

    But the old ones are very cool, regardless!
    Stephen Perry
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  6. #55
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Perry View Post

    Michael Darnton of Chicago has stated several times that there's something with the wood in the old Cremonese instruments. Possibly implying some major treatment.
    Ever held a Strad spruce plate up to a strong light?
    They are oddly opaque...
    And there are modern makers who's plates are also opaque, and not talking as to why they are opaque...
    Just thought I'd share...

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  8. #56
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    Thanks, Bruce. Not too many Strads apart in rural East Tennessee!

    This top did well in the end. Took a bathtub slice down the middle and a lot of work on the pillers, and along some parts of the top next to the bar, but it should be decent. Just a trade violin in the white, already has a nice ground on it. From someone in the business retiring.

    There's so much money in these old instruments. It's kind of insane, but understandable. If I made an instrument equivalent to one I'd probably not find a buyer for even $10,000 - so much is in the context. Not that I'm anywhere close!

    I've seen some odd wood in ancient instruments myself - and some that didn't look old or unusual at all. Big contrast. Maybe all will be published sometime!
    Stephen Perry
    www.giannaviolins.com - Primarily violin family
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    gypsyjazzguitars.com
    35 miles from the Dragon, Great Smoky Mountains, TN

  9. #57
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    Wow. Interesting discussion. Thanks Bill for starting it out and thanks all. I think it is over two hours since I started on the first post.
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  10. #58
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Anyway, there are NO beater grade Martin guitars for sale, today. They all get restored and command the big bucks.
    I almost bought one a few years back when I was trolling for a good used axe. Guy wanted $700 (Craigslist) for a D-18, the guitar had a visible crack in the top, supposedly "professionally" repaired at some big chain store, and somebody had eff'd the finish up badly, font and back, looked like crap. In the end, I opted to drive 150 miles to get a Breedlove for a little less. The Martin was about the same distance in a different direction, and it wasn't a pre-war Martin, just an old Martin that had been junked around with. I needed or wanted a player, and got the Breedlove for a $500 offer on a $650 asking price.
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  12. #59

    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    Another heartbreaker was a '70 Martin D-45 I could have purchased for $1500 about 20 years ago, which sounds like a steal, but next to Willie Nelson's guitar, the most wear I've ever seen on a guitar, and a Martin, no less......you would really think they would know better, wouldn't you? Big old 8 inch circle of belt buckle wear down to the bare wood on the back, hard to believe how rough the condition, looks like it probably never had a case. Sad, but still very cool and of course, sounded great! I passed on it, sounded like a lot of money to an $8 an hour retail clerk.......................

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  14. #60
    Registered User Kevin Stueve's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    so as long as we are confessing, in 1992 I played a used martin d28 and a new washburn d-21s side by side. They were both in the same price range and I went home with the washburn. My brother's friend immediately snapped up the d28 and one of us now owns a 3k guitar.

  15. #61

    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    Me too …

    fourty-years ago
    new york pawn shop mandolin
    - i didn't get it

    … beautiful, it was - encased in mother of pearl; might have been a mandola because it looms large in my memory. I was trying to learn guitar at the time (gorgeous pre-war, Gibson J45) and another tuning/fingering system was beyond my understanding - I didn't "get it" till about 15 years ago ...

  16. #62
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    A lot of classic recordings were made with less than top class instruments. Doc Watson's early recordings were made on a D-18 Martin that probably would not be extra special if he had not owned it. The Holy Grail D-28 that Tony Rice owns, was supposedly once packed full of sand and shot with a pellet gun by Clarence White. I do not think I will sound like Tony or Clarence if I shoot my Martin with a pellet gun. And the soundhole enlargement was done because the hole looked like a mouse had chewed it. Most of Merle Travis early work was done with whatever he could get that he could afford.

    These musicians all got better quality instruments when they had the income and opportunity. Of course Tony went and tracked down that old instrument of Clarence's and recycled it. The dollar value coming as much from who played the instruments more than the quality.
    Well playing a Collings MT and a Pava has done it for me.
    Nic Gellie

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  17. #63
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    I'm thinking this will, once and for all, end the discussion of old vs. modern instruments:


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  19. #64
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stradivarius ... again

    I got to play the Benny Strad, and I sounded about like Jack...

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