c.1890 German-made Inlaid Strad-copy 4/4 Violin

This pretty violin is going to be my "2nd" fiddle for the time being, for ensemble play. I play fiddle in a lot of open tunings so I like to have two around -- one generally in sawmill G (GDGD) and one in some sort of D or A/D tuning. In this case, I have it tuned to DDAD which gives a good, viola-pitched low drone note.

This instrument was made in Germany and bears the typical "Copy of Stradivarius, Made in Germany" label right in the bass f-hole. The only thing is, that while the arching is like a Strad, the styling is very much "folk music" oriented. It has this pretty little pearl flower inlaid in the fingerboard end, "rope" binding around the top edge, and more pearl inlay on the flamed maple back. 

The materials used throughout are, ironically, not as fancy as the pearl work: the back is a two-piece low-to-medium flamed type while the ribs are certainly middle-class as far as figure goes. The fingerboard itself is a core of some sort of softwood surrounded by dyed-maple panels rather than a simple hunk of ebony or rosewood. One sees this on factory builds from the period quite often, though.

All that said, she's gorgeous to look at and the sound is (as I expected when I first picked it up) round and warm and husky with mid-range volume. It's a good cross-tuning instrument because it can actually do that viola-depth low D tuning pretty nicely (so nicely, in fact, that I'm thinking of popping on a set of viola strings to use this as a lower-register instrument).

Amazingly, it's free of cracks after all this time and much of the original hardware is there.

I love that rope binding.

The scroll area has a repair to the (thin) sidewalls near the A string tuner. It's a bit rickety so I've "shored up" that problem by using Grover friction-tuner violin pegs. These grip the sidewalls a bit better and put less sideways tension on the headstock. As a plus... they don't slip when the weather changes so I feel more confident using them "out."

Yup, the age of the instrument and all the "rosin darkening" to the top sure adds a nice look of complexity.

The pearl-inlaid back is nice to gaze at, too!

See how plain the maple for the neck is?

Original endpin. I've replaced the original tailgut with nylon stock.

She's a beaut!


ds said…
Hey man, just happened upon your blog, and this post in particular because my fiancé just picked up a violin from a local pawn shop with nearly the same flower inlay on the fingerboard. It also has an inlayed back like yours, although the work is somewhat lesser quality, but similar materials and way the mother of pearl is cut up. It has a "Stradivarius" label that is different from yours. Also, it has geared tuners, which are pretty cool. I'd like to send some pics, and just see if they might be from the same maker. Get back to me if you want, we're curious about it. Cheers, Doug