Monday, October 29, 2012

Can't kick the tires of a violin-What to look for when buying an instrument.

Written by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
Kevin Berdine, and Amy Tobin

Looking for a "new-to-you" instrument is a daunting, but exciting task. There are many items that must be factored in before taking the leap. Cost, quality, warranty, trade-in, condition, and playability all contribute to the overall impression an instrument makes upon you, but we believe the most important factor has to be sound. Sometimes, however, cost is a very important limitation. Below, I delve into cost's contributing factors.

Many things contribute to the cost of an instrument; maker's reputation, wood quality, workmanship, condition, location, and yes, even appearance.

Friday, October 26, 2012

All in the Family

Written by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
 and Kevin Berdine

Yo Yo Ma, in PBS's Face of America with Henry Louis Gates, states "It takes three generations to make a musician: the first to leave poverty, the second to go to school, and the third to master an instrument." This quote inspired us to delve into musician families and to see just how many famous musicians have become successful, in some part, due to their upbringing. The results are a wonderful testament to the power of family.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What viola do they play?

Written by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins and Kevin Berdine

When you hear a violist, ever wonder "what viola are they playing?" We have compiled a small list of violas that famous musicians have played or continue to play.

William Primrose

1735 Nicolo Gagliano Violin
"ex-Primrose" Amati, now played by Roberto Diaz
1697 "ex-Lord Harrington" Guarneri, now called "ex-Primrose"
1950 William Moennig Jr. now played by Peter Pas

Yuri Bashmet
1758 Paolo Testore

Ida Kavafian

Ida Kavafian
image from Curtis Institute of Music

1751 Guadagnini Violin
1987 Peter and Wendela Moes Viola

Atar Arad

images from his website
Nicolo Amati

Helen Callus

Gabrielle Kundert-Copy of the Primrose Amati

Roberto Diaz
ex-Primrose Amati
Kim Kashkashian

1617 Brothers Amati

Paul Neubauer

Nobuko Imai
Peter and Wendela Moes

Nils Monkemeyer
Peter Erben

Melia Watras
Samuel Zygmuntowicz Viola

Lionel Tertis 

1717 Domenico Montagnana (17 1/8 inches!) 
Lawrence Cocker "Tertis Model" viola

Are you a violist or interested in becoming one? Take a look at our Fine Violas!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Violin Making in Germany

Written by: Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins,
and Kevin Berdine

Lion's Head Scroll Carving by Jacobus Stainer

German violin making all began in Fussen, Germany. The German school of violin making, however, managed to infiltrate all areas of Europe: George Epp, the Hollmayrs, and the Fichtls took on Vienna, Andreas Ott and Bathasar Kogl were the founders of the the Prague cohort, Caspar Tieffenbrucker introduced violin making to Lyon, and Naples was home to Georgio Bairhoff and Eberle, while Michael Platner and David Tecchler lived and worked in Rome. The most famous of all German makers, to this day, remains Jacobus Stainer. His instruments became the model of excellence before Stradivari's instruments became the ultimate.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Maestro Rodolfo Cazares - Kidnapped

Written by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
 & Kevin Berdine

Maestro Rodolfo Cazares
In the sophisticated world of classical music, we often feel immune to the chaos and violence that grips much of our world. Unfortunately, no one is immune to the violence and brutality of the gangs and organized crime of northern Mexico. A member of our musical world, Maestro Rodolfo Cazares was kidnapped more than one year ago and is still being held for ransom.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What Violin Are They Playing? Is That A Strad?

Written by: Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
 & Kevin Berdine

When you hear a great performer, do you ever wonder, "What violin are they playing? Is that a Strad?" A common assumption is that all violin soloists are playing on the violins of Antonius Stradivarius. Many are, but not all.

Then there are those lucky few that own and play on more than one great instrument. Two Stradivaris or a Stradivarius and a Guarnerius. Hmm, what should I play tonight?


1710 Lord Dunn-Raven Stradivari

Playing the 1703 Emiliani Stradivarius