A fine Telesphore Barbe violin

IMG_0350IMG_0352Telesphore Barbe was one of the finest craftsman making instruments for the great J B Vuilluame in Paris c 1860-70. He boldly states the fact on his labels – (“ex premier ouvier de J B Vuilluame”). Upon leaving the shop of Vuilluame he makes his own beautiful instruments which show his talent, skill and artistry to dramatic effect. Though he also carries with him the legacy of Vuilluame in a fascinating wayIMG_0354 – the complete command of purfling /edges /arching…..the delicate details like the fluting around the F holes….the bold Stradivari model….IMG_0349IMG_0357

One otherĀ  interesting thing you often encounter with French instruments is their neck set. They invariably set the neck lower over the top and angle the neck more steeply to achieve the properĀ  height at the bridge. This puts too much tension down on the top – producing too harsh and bright a sound. In this case I (delicately!) extracted the neck – gluing a foot on the neck stock so that the neck sits higher over the top – and then set it at the correct -a less steep angle – which gives a much warmer sound. When this is finished with the varnish restored its as if nothing ever happened.Its fascinating how the right neck angle (and tension that is put down on the top) produces a very different different sound.

One thing I use while setting the neck is to sight down he edge of the back toward the scroll….when set at the correct angle – the edge of the back should run right through the eye of the scroll. Part of the deep geometry contained in the violin that can used to guide you through an exacting operation.