1920s German-made 5-String Violin

This was another one in for glorified setup work -- minor adjustments to the pegs, setting the soundpost, bridge fitting, a little bit of leveling for the fingerboard, minor seam repairs, and setup. It's a '20s/'30s-era instrument of 4/4 size that started life as a 4-string and was probably made in Germany.

In recent memory someone modified it to a 5-string by plugging the headstock pegholes and drilling/reaming for 5, fitting an all-adjustable 5-string tailpiece (yip!), and putting on a newer rosewood fingerboard. The instrument itself doesn't look fancy but it actually sounds wonderful. I was extremely surprised by how good it sounds strung-up and playing -- the low C (tuning low to high is CGDAE, so it fills the viola role in a pinch as well) sounds full and clean. I can't help but wonder how much of that tone is popping from the Pirastro Obligatos on it, though -- those are nice strings, for sure.

Another small modification was to relocate the bridge (and the soundpost) another 1/4" down the top so that the instrument's scale length would match the 13" scale the owner is used to. That puts the bridge a little farther down from the "darts" in the f-holes, but I think the convenience is more important than the looks. This is a 4/4 instrument but has a curious, shorter 12 3/4" scale length "stock."

The extra string at the nut didn't feel cramped when playing, though good bow control would be useful for a 5-string due to the shorter arc between each string.


Oscar Stern said…
Bobby Hicks was known for this instrument.