A nicely presented German "three-quarter" sized instrument from the turn of the twentieth century. Viol shaped with a flat back and angle. The instrument is not labelled.
Do you know anything of the history of this instrument?
This instrument and many thousands of others like it were mass produced in the violin making regions of Germany during the 20th century and exported right around the world.
Can you tell me how the instruments were constructed?
Typically the instruments were constructed as simply and as quickly as possible. To this end the bass bar was roughed out during the carving out of the inside table and the upper block was formed at the end of the scroll block.
I see that this instrument has a beech wood neck and scroll. Are they the original?
Yes they are. Beech wood was used because it was much cheaper to purchase than figured maple or even plain maple and it was also easier to turn and carve.
Didn't the integral block inspire the name "blockless-wonder"?
Yes indeed it did. Another name for these instruments was "hat-peg basses" because when they were made they utilised hardwood pegs that were usually stained black. The wooden pegs being much cheaper and quicker to manufacture and install than all-metal machines.
Does this instrument have its original hat pegs?
No. They have been removed and replaced by these stronger more reliable chrome-plated machines.
Are there any other "cost-saving" features evident on this instrument?
Real purfilling to the front and back has been replaced by simple scratch lines - often termed "scratch purfilling".
Does this instrument still retain its integral block?
Yes it does.
Does this instrument still retain its integral bass bar?
No - this feature has been replaced by one that has been properly shaped and fitted.
How does the instrument sound?
These lightly constructed instruments are really well thicknessed and suited for today's modern steel strings. Indeed this instrument does not disappoint on the sound front whatsoever.
About the sound - go on then.
It has a warm, tonally rich sound. For all you jazz guys and chicks I believe that you call it a warm ploppy-sound that is real-smoky with lots of colours.
How about a summary?
A great many instruments of this type and quality have had a particularly hard life. This one however is - overall - in pretty decent shape. We particularly like the fact that the instrument still retains its original light-brown spirit-varnish and has a nice slim feel neck that produces a "D" opposite the neck angle.