Fine Cello by Joseph Bassot Paris 1790’s

I’m proud to offer for sale this beautiful Old French Cello by Joseph Bassot. I’ve known the Cello and the Cellist for many years …first at Wm Moennig & Son( where we sold it to him) and in the years since then.   I,ve had the pleasure to work throughly on the Cello both inside and out, over the years.    Its branded on both sides of the Pegbox and in the center of the back. Basset was born in the Provencial violin making town of Mirecourt and worked there until the 1770’s when he moved to Paris….became inspired by what he saw in Paris.. and began to produce the work which we justly esteem him today. The Cello does strike a beautiful balance between the charm of Mirecourt with the more sophisticated sensibilities  and details of the the Parisan world.On top of that….one can only imagine that Paris in that time of Revolution must have been a tumultuous  climate to work at all..IMG_3358IMG_3352IMG_3353IMG_3354

Beautiful Juzek Master Arts Viola

Beautiful 16″ Viola from 1938 by John Juzek . This fine instrument, built on the Strad model, bears the Master Arts label and show all the characteristics of that high level. It has the stunning wood, painstaking workmanship, bony crown on the button, subtly grafted neck…etc that sets it clearly apart from the typical, plentiful instruments that bear a Juzek label. When I  acquired it , it appeared that the Viola had lain dormant for a long time . The neck was unglued, and needed resetting…and I took the top off for some repairs needed – including a new Bass Bar to make this fine instrument be all it could possibly be. I’m now happy to offer it for sale.IMG_3306IMG_3307IMG_3310IMG_3312

Wonderful way to wait out the Virus

Having a large workshop in my house is perfect for this whole uncertain era of the Virus. The work goes on even more intensely… with less distractions from in the outside world. People can and do still come…but obviously the world has changed for now.  So its wonderful to have a shop filled with inspiring projects … both repairs/restoration and bringing along instruments for sale….and even some making is starting.  I love working at home … there is no separation between life and work… the total immersion feels like just the artist life that I set out to lead…though maybe I (or my wife!) didn’t imagine it this crowded!IMG_1915

Cello press out

Pressing out the top of a fine, old English Cello by clamping it into a corrected cast. A cast is made of the sunken/distorted top ….the mold is then scraped to what the arching should be/ had been.Then using a heated sandbag to distribute the pressure…with a little moisture … The clamping pressure will then conform the top to the corrected arching….over a period of many days. Then a breast patch of new wood is fit… then glued in….with a new bass bar fit on top…and the Cello is ready for another generation of string tension strain. its amazing how pliable wood can be….I also get a kick out of using this sandbag…..which I stitched together back in my Moennig days ….and have used countless times since then…….

Varnish Restoration on a fine Carl Becker Cello

Carl Becker is probably the finest American maker of the 20th Century …and his Cellos are among the best of his creations. This fine example dates from the 1930’s and has all the defining characteristics …especially his luminous,transparent reddish-orange varnish.

This cello is owned and played by a wonderful player/teacher in the area who comes from Chicago ….the land of generations of Beckers. The dramatic wear pattern is a testimony to both the close-up physicality of playing the Cello colliding with the delicacy of Becker’s varnish.

It was pleasure to be entrusted with this delicate repair (which consisted of restoration over the entire instrument)… the building up of layers of color and vanish .. doing your best to give the Cello what it deserves. Its a reminder that old instruments are now a collaborative effort; stretching from the maker, through all the hands in the past, to the hands of the present.IMG_2312


Stunning Sebastian Vuilluame violin

This stunning  back is from a violin by Sebastian Vuilluame…. and shows the hand of his protoge and successor Nestor Audinot. Sebastian is the nephew of the great J.B. Vuilluame… and , interestingly, married the daughter of Dominique Peccatte. This is very much in the tradition of French makers and dealers….where the illustrious head of the shop often doesn’t actually make the instrument. Typically there are  number of craftsmen involved with the finest instruments made by the premier artisans…with sometimes ( as in JB Vuilluame’s case) the master varnishing the finer instruments. Nestor Audinot was the premier worker for S Vuilluame, and even eventually took over the shop upon the death of S. Vuilluame.

I am proud to offer this crisp, stylish violin for sale.


Collin-Mezin cello




Beautiful cello by Chas JB Collin-Mezin 1870’s cello that is offered for saleIMG_1713IMG_1714IMG_1715. One of the finest French luthiers of the late 19th /early 20th century….he blends supreme control and exactitude  with the warmth and patina of the old world…. truly a special cello to consider

5 string conversion

IMG_1630Fun project converting an older German cello that belongs to Derek Barnes of the Philadelphia Orchestra into a 5 string cello …. with a high E. I removed the old fingerboard and replaced it with a wider one that flared subtly outward from the neck to allow as much playing surface to space the strings…. along with a new top nut. Here is a shot of the Baroque bridge being roughed out… and me tentatively working out the overall and individual spacing for playability. Derek had a clever idea of drilling an extra hole in the A peg to accept the E string. By adjusting the amount of tail of the E string pulling through the peg you could tune both strings quite close to pitch and then use fine tuners from there…. much easier than bushing all 4 peg holes and reaming out 5 new ones!

Fascinating to hear the whole other world a cello can produce when the sound leaves the A string and soars into the unknown reaches of the E string!

David Bromberg’s collection

IMG_1233Always enjoyable to meet with David …we’ve collaborated on some restoration projects over the years…. and here we are standing with his impressive collection of American violins. His collection is going to be part of the Library of Congress and he has asked me to set up/adjust and make them all they can be as they enter this prestigious institution. It will be fascinating to get to know all these instruments ….and I’ve found that the best way to do this is through the time spent  working on them…. and there should be plenty of that.

Dramatic cello back

This dramatic cello is a mid 19th century Italian instrument by Andrea Postachinni… and is part of the gorgeous sound that is the Philadelphia Orchestra.It is always inspiring to work on such a bold, artistic instrument. It does make me smile though, thinkingIMG_1187 of what reaction I might get if I made an instrument with wood such as this and submitted it to a competition….. I have a distinct feeling that I would be ridiculed…. which is a shame in that we are missing some of the essence of the great string instruments of Italy. The sense of daring … the personality … the sense of making a magical,musical instrument….not with sterile competence …but as if its a matter of life and death ….thats what I think is the most moving aspect of Italian instrument making….

Another interesting quirk of this instrument and its maker is the center seam area… you can see from the shadow that the center seam comes up to a rather hard ridge line , rather than the usual rounded arching ( I’ve also seen this on his violins)…I’m not sure if he does this for acoustical reasons ( like added mass changing the tone/sound) or maybe he does it to add more gluing surface to the center seam ( for strength/durability)….or maybe he was just trained this way….another instance of individual personality that fascinates the discriminating admirer….