singing violin - fine soloist violins in Kul Violins studio

Singing violin - antique or new ?

violinn - old antique Cremonese singing If all violin players were rich, any of them could go to a reputable auction or dealer and purchase a valuable Cremonese violin. Its that simple.

However in reality:

  • musicians usually have no spare millions
  • genuine Cremonese (Stradivarius, Guarneri, etc) well sounding violins are becoming extremely rare
  • antique violins are simply getting old
  • . . . . .

Therefore the question remains:

New or old (antique) singing violin ?

There are no short and simple, straightforward answers to this question.

Usually when a violinist chooses a new violin, created by an experienced violin maker, he/she gets incorporated ages-long knowledge in a contemporary instrument.

Again, it becomes more and more evident that there is no specific (magic) Cremonese (Stradivarius etc) antique violin sound. More details on violin sound can be found in my articles Ideal violin sound and Stradivarius phenomenon.

Our violin approach

we - my wife Birute and I (Czes) - are a couple of violin makers, paying our attention mainly to the sound of violin family instruments. Strictly speaking, we are reproducing the sound of famous Cremonese violins without trying to strictly duplicate the geometry of the old violins. So, we are deeply involved in investigating the phenomenon of the SINGING VIOLIN.

Our violin way

We have been creating violin family instruments for well over ten years now. In the beginning we could not understand, what the differences were between a good and not so good ... violin.

Then we started reading all available violin related information - mainly Russian, Polish, and Czechoslovakian books and articles. In them we found out some highly informative thoughts, ideas and suggestions. The most important among those:

  • violin was created to copy a singing human voice (soprano bel canto)
  • old violins usually are more responsive because of centuries lasting changes in the wood
  • as a rule, violin makers choose matured wood (10 - 50 years old) for violin plates to get sound advantages
  • old Cremonese violins were created to be played in smaller halls, so they produce quieter sound

Having those guidelines we started experimenting. After some time musicians noticed that the sound of our created violins resembled that of good old Cremonese instruments. They noticed the only difference was:
Antique violins responded more easily.

Then we made the presumption that easiness of response is a result of changes in the wood. We experimented with wood treatment, inducing faster wood aging.

Our violin results

After carrying out our wood aging experiments for approximately ten years we can proudly maintain that:

  • we can create singing violins
  • our violins respond and project as easily as old Cremonese instruments
  • we use no chemicals in the wood aging process which could harm the wood
  • our wood aging process is very time consuming, so such instruments can not be created easily

Also - some additional advantages of our wood treatment:

  • usually violins, especially new ones, readily react to humidity changes. Our treated wood violins react significantly less
  • usually new violin requires some time (usually months) to play-in. Our treated wood violins require significantly less time to play-in
  • instruments, produced from fresh wood, sometimes crack. Our treated wood violins are much more stable

Obviously, violins, crafted from aged wood create better (singing) sound and perform overall more favourably if compared to ones manufactured from untreated wood.

These our words are confirmed in an article by Wendy Moes How to look for and evaluate the work of today's violin makers:

"Everybody knows a young branch will bend and an old one will snap. This stiffening process goes on long after the tree has been cut. A stiff piece of wood vibrates differently from a flexible one, resulting in a higher and more complete overtone series. We can't hear all the overtones, but we perceive the sound to be more full and pleasant. This means a well-made instrument will improve with age as it stiffens, but it should sound good to begin with. A bad-sounding instrument will not necessarily get better and could get worse."

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At last I have my ideal violin. I turned down 14 instruments which came from all around the country, including an original cremonese violin, which I just couldn't convince myself to like. However I had no second thoughts about my new violin, made by Czes and Birute Kul, and instantly knew this was the one. The violin has very clean articulation and a sweet tone, also
projecting well. I have had many compliments about it. A lot of careful workmanship has obviously gone into the violin, which is very elegant and distinctive in looks. Before you look anywhere else, I strongly recomend Czes and Birute. It could save a lot of trouble, time and money.

Sarah K., Wellington

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