12/20/2017

1930s French-made Conservatory 4/4 Violin





The label states that this is French-made and it's a pretty average, student-to-mid-grade import violin for the time. The figure in the maple on the back and sides is nicer than usual, its cut is workmanly but well-executed, it was built with an ebony fingerboard (rather than ebonzied maple), and it has a clean, clear, and nicely-defined voice. It makes a decent fiddle, for sure.

This violin came to me via trade and I've been dragging my feet in getting it up-and-going. It honestly didn't need much other than a glorified setup and a little bit of regluing of the fingerboard. I replaced a missing tailpiece, chinrest, and bridge with same-period vintage bits from my parts-bins and replaced a missing set of pegs with some tension-adjustable Roth Caspari rosewood pegs. The strings are Thomastik-made John Pearse Mezzos -- which are essentially Dominants in tone/feel.

It plays fast and quick, the Caspari pegs make it easy to keep in tune, and if this were in guitar-land we'd call the finish "cherry sunburst." There's plenty of rosin-deposit darkening to the finish on the front and there are the usual minor use-wear marks throughout. There's also some "factory aging" from when the instrument was built -- yes, "relic" jobs were pretty common on violins from the 1890s-1930s period.




As usual, the top is tightly-grained spruce and the back and sides are flamed maple. The label states that this is a "Stradivarius" copy in style.










The screws on the end of the Caspari pegs adjust their tension much like banjo friction pegs. I've installed ferrules on the inside of the pegbox to help keep them from wearing into the side of the box.





It comes with an original hard case, some dark rosin, and an old, somewhat-crooked student-level bow. It does the trick but it's not straight. The ivory-frogged bow-remnant is not included but I had it stashed in the case.

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