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Thread: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

  1. #1
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Hey All,

    For those who dig the Vassar style carved head fiddles, I came across this cool old "Duiffopruggar" labeled fiddle at a jam recently. I just think they are so cool. This one was really lovely to play and had a really beautiful open tone. Evidently made by a really good maker (Vuillaume or Darazey?). Id love to have one of these, especially if it is as good as this one, but they tend to be a bit too expensive just to buy on a lark. I'm don't really play fiddle. Anyway, just wanted to show the thing, as I think it is awesome. I am a sucker for interesting instruments.


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    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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  3. #2
    Harley Marty
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Keep your eye on the yita music ebay store. They often put up fiddles with the Vassar style headstock, I've bought 2 of them. They're not too expensive & are reasonable instruments to play. The only issue for mine was the extra length of the headstock means they won't fit in most quality cases!

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    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Marty View Post
    Keep your eye on the yita music ebay store. They often put up fiddles with the Vassar style headstock, I've bought 2 of them. They're not too expensive & are reasonable instruments to play. The only issue for mine was the extra length of the headstock means they won't fit in most quality cases!
    I saw those, but they only have the head on a regular violin.
    They didn’t add the other details I like.
    I love the little corner flourishes and back carving on the old ones.
    Plus I desire one of these old ones because of the mojo of age.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    I like those "head" fiddles! Really neat, I'd love to see some mandolins like that maybe from that builder that does those violin type mandolins. I think Campanilla? where he builds the top and back with the overhang like a violin. Way KOOL!

  6. #5
    Registered User JAK's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Who has Vassar's fiddle now? In a museum?
    John A. Karsemeyer

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    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by William Smith View Post
    I like those "head" fiddles! Really neat, I'd love to see some mandolins like that maybe from that builder that does those violin type mandolins. I think Campanilla? where he builds the top and back with the overhang like a violin. Way KOOL!
    That would be very cool. I would love a Vassar model mandolin, with a carved head and ornaments.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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    Registered User tim noble's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    I accompanied Mike Longworth to see the Red White and Bluegrass band featuring Vasser at Penn State in the 80s. Mike introduced me to the band and along with a girl friend we drove Vasser to his hotel room and talked and jammed for a few hours. His fiddle was amazing to hold and study and he told us the history of it and about the tonal qualities he so liked. I think it may have preceded the golden era of Cremona being late 17th century. Ended up getting a few hours of sleep on the floor and then drove to the airport nearly an hour away. A true gentleman. Interestingly he got deeply into life on the road, the stimulants required to maintain the pace, and a stern warning to stay clear of drugs. I told him that I had been to Woodstock so stimulants were not part of the package. We had a good laugh. A legend.
    Tim

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    Harley Marty
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by CWRoyds View Post
    I saw those, but they only have the head on a regular violin.
    They didn’t add the other details I like.
    I love the little corner flourishes and back carving on the old ones.
    Plus I desire one of these old ones because of the mojo of age.
    You could get them to customise one for you. I got them to customise a Viola for me, it wasn't expensive & I received a fabulous instrument for the money. What I'd really like is to get them to build me a 14" master violin with the Vassar headstock. They look very good at Christmas time with a Santa hat on, now that gets attention!!

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    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Marty View Post
    You could get them to customise one for you. I got them to customise a Viola for me, it wasn't expensive & I received a fabulous instrument for the money. What I'd really like is to get them to build me a 14" master violin with the Vassar headstock. They look very good at Christmas time with a Santa hat on, now that gets attention!!
    I would like to get one of their Master model violins.
    I have a T20 Liu Xi violin from them that is very nice for what I paid.
    I put in a low bid on an auction just for fun, and actually won.
    The tone is perfectly serviceable and it plays well.
    I would assume the Master model is a big jump up in tone, as they are quite a bit more expensive.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by tim noble View Post
    I accompanied Mike Longworth to see the Red White and Bluegrass band featuring Vasser at Penn State in the 80s. Mike introduced me to the band and along with a girl friend we drove Vasser to his hotel room and talked and jammed for a few hours. His fiddle was amazing to hold and study and he told us the history of it and about the tonal qualities he so liked. I think it may have preceded the golden era of Cremona being late 17th century. Ended up getting a few hours of sleep on the floor and then drove to the airport nearly an hour away. A true gentleman. Interestingly he got deeply into life on the road, the stimulants required to maintain the pace, and a stern warning to stay clear of drugs. I told him that I had been to Woodstock so stimulants were not part of the package. We had a good laugh. A legend.
    Tim
    Cool experience to have had.
    I know Vassar thought the violin was from the 17th century and was made by Gaspard Duiffopruggar.
    That is what it says on his website: http://www.vassarclements.com/fiddle.html

    Unfortunately that is not correct.
    There are no Duiffopruggar violins that exist.
    The Duiffopruggar labeled violins were made in the middle of the 1800s by Vuillaume and other makers.

    "These Duiffoprugcar “head” violins were originally made in the mid 1800s by Violin maker Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. He was a bit of a sly salesman, and claimed that he had an original violin by Gaspard Duiffoprugcar, in his possession, and he would build violins based on that design. Duiffoprugcar was a famed instrument maker from the 1500s rumored to have made the first violin, although there is no evidence that this is true. Vuillaume never showed the original violin to anyone, but produced a bunch of the elaborate Duiffoprugcar labeled violins with carved heads on the headstock, carved details, latin text around the sides, and inlayed scenes on the back. The head is supposed to be Duiffoprugcar himself. Other makers went on to copy this style of violin, as they seemed to be a good seller for Vuillaume. Some of the Vuillaume made Duiffoprugcar violins are quite good violins, as Vuillaume could make an excellent instrument. Some by him and other makers sound like wet cardboard. There are no known examples of an actual Duiffoprugcar violin, but since it would have been made in the 1500s it would not be as modern in design as the Vuillaume instruments are. Vuillaume Duiffoprugcar violins tend to have a warm velvety tone, if they are a good one."
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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    Harley Marty
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by CWRoyds View Post
    I would like to get one of their Master model violins.
    I have a T20 Liu Xi violin from them that is very nice for what I paid.
    I put in a low bid on an auction just for fun, and actually won.
    The tone is perfectly serviceable and it plays well.
    I would assume the Master model is a big jump up in tone, as they are quite a bit more expensive.
    Yes their Vassar model is either a T or an M20 with a one piece back. I also put a low bid on one of their Master violins (a year ago) which hasn't come out of its case yet, I'm happy playing the Vassar. The other Vassar I bought to give as a present.The one they have up now has a better description than mine did & is $120 dearer. I also have one of their 16 1/2" Master Violas, a 5 string custom 17" viola & a standard 17" viola tuned to Tenor violin GDAE (using 3/4 cello strings). All great value for the price paid.

    The interesting thing about the Vassar headstocks is that the detail is very different to each other even though they seem identical from the photos.

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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    https://www.facebook.com/susannah.ca...5412286180041/ There was a question on where Vassar's fiddle is, it's in in Middlesboro, Ky. I own it and also Kenny Baker's red fiddle. Here's a video of Mark and Maggie playing them the night they did a show here in town.

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    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by shylock3 View Post
    https://www.facebook.com/susannah.ca...5412286180041/ There was a question on where Vassar's fiddle is, it's in in Middlesboro, Ky. I own it and also Kenny Baker's red fiddle. Here's a video of Mark and Maggie playing them the night they did a show here in town.
    I always wondered where Vassar's fiddle was.
    What a thing to own. Wow.
    I am certainly jealous.

    Would you take a few shots of the details up close. (Head, back, sides, etc)
    I have seen lots of photos of it, but never close in detail.
    That would be really awesome.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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    Registered User tim noble's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Great information on the fiddle and so happy to see it in action in capable hands. I do recall that his was likely Vuillaume and that the craftsmanship and artistry were magnificent. I have a memory of Vasser laying on his back in bed cradling the violin like a paramour. I had a 53 00018 and to be able to play Lonesome Fiddle Blues with him was a young man's dream.
    Tim

  19. #15

    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    I hate to state the obvious, and I always like the look of Vassar's fiddle, but I'm thinking a small plastic/rubber doll head could be glued or possibly stretched over the scroll, giving the same look.......to a plain looking fiddle.

    Kinda like a bolt-on (mandolin) scroll.
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Apr-24-2019 at 9:03am.

  20. #16

    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    IIRC, Doug Kershaw also played a fiddle with a head on it. Not sure who made it.

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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMC - Vassar Style Head Fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    I hate to state the obvious, and I always like the look of Vassar's fiddle, but I'm thinking a small plastic/rubber doll head could be glued or possibly stretched over the scroll, giving the same look.......to a plain looking fiddle.
    Kinda like a bolt-on (mandolin) scroll.
    That would bring the word "gauche" to mind.
    Phil

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