I am an active published author, having retired from government and university appointments some years ago. One of my hobbies today is violin restoration. As a keen hobbyist in this field, I repair violins, violas, and cellos for The Music Hub Nottingham charity completely free of charge.
This website is a record of some restored / repaired violins from my large private violin collection of violins I have restored.
This site and its sustainability encouragement aims are complemented by my Super Student Sustainable Violin blogsite - Here .
Dr Mike Sutton
Should you buy a Stentor Conservatioire for the Associated Board of the Royal SAchools of Musice (ABRSM) Exams?
This full size (4/4) Louis Lowenthall German (made in Berlin) violin is a superb student violin.
Made sometime between the late C19th and 1920.
Originally owned by a violin teacher, and has clearly been played extensively, this antique violin has a lovely resonant and sweet tone. It is labelled “Special copy of a Stradivarius” and the label bears the “L” in laurels Lowenthall mark. It has a good quality Korollia bridge, tuned to the violin, Pirastro Tonica strings and a Witner composite tailpiece. A new sound post has been fitted.
This lovely advanced student violin is very easy to play indeed and I would recommend it for a serious beginner through to Grade 8 (ABRSM) level.
I have noticed that these highly regarded Lowenthall violins are usually sold by violin shops for well over £1000.
There is something about this violin that I really like. I just can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it is just that it is exactly what you expect a good student violin to be.
Further details about this violin, including a written assessment by Nottingham based professional performance violinist and violin teacher Ursula Donnelley, are on my Super Sustainable Student Violins blogsite: Here
According to a date pencilled inside, this lovely full size (4/4) violin was made in 1899. The violin is a very well made Stainer copy and was expertly constructed in Germany. I restored it in March 2020.
Since it was demonstrated in the videos above, the powerful sounding violin has been further significantly improved by adding a far superior violin bridge, carefully tuned to the instrument and a brand new ebony fingerboard was fitted. The bridge demonstrated on the violin in this video has a lower action, which is perfect for fiddle players or those performing in noisy settings and it comes free with the violin should the new owner wish to try it as an alternative.
This advanced student level violin - suitable up to Grade 8 ABRSM - is ideal for solo performances.
This full size (4/4) violin is easy to play in the higher positions which makes it well suited to playing more advanced pieces of classical music. There were no extra noises (squeaks, buzzes) which supports this.
This is certainly more of a classical instrument than a folk instrument. If you’re looking for an affordable instrument that will take you to Grade 8 (ABRSM) level, this is a safe bet. This is a medium-fine Grade 8 student violin.
A look thorough the f-hole reveals an old browned paper label reading “Medio Fino” Made in France. Typical of some medio fino French violins made by Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy (J.T.L) it has a plain maple back with no flaming and the same for the ribs and scroll. However, this is possibly not a J.T.L. Medio Fino - although I do also have a lovely one of those in my collection. That said, I have seen this exact medio fino model proclaimed as being a JTL violin on the website of a professional luthier and violin dealer.
There was a crack in the peg box so I first very securly glued this and then fitted the violin with a set of Wittner composite fine tune pegs that remain fixed in place because a small gear inside the peg turns to tighten the string. Unlike traditional tapered wood pegs these pegs put no strain on the pegbox and no fine tuners are required on the tailpiece, not even on the e-string. They are excellent and so easy to use.
The violin came to me because in the past it has had a “sound post crack” and it suffered some damage on its left shoulder. I took the top (table/face) off the violin and found the sound post crack had long ago been securely glued and was holding up perfectly. Nevertheless, I added two “old school” hot hide glued parchment cleats to the underside of the crack just to make it extra secure down the centuries to come. The damaged shoulder was hot hide glued and clamped. Another hot hide glued parchment cleat was added under the damaged shoulder.
The violin plays wonderfully now. And it is very easy to play.
There are several full size (4/4) and also 3/4 size Maidstone violins in my collection, which are now for sale. These violins were mostly made in Saxony (Germany) from the very late C19th to the outbreak of WW2. They were not made by the Murdoc music company but imported by it for sale to children and adults as part of the Maidstone music for the people movement and its orchestral and schools music associations.
All Grade 8 (ABRSM) rated full-size Maidstone violins in my collection, were made in Saxony or France. More standard (typical) Saxony Maidstones are still a great violin for the price and are even cheaper (see prices below).
A very good Maidstone 4/4 student violin. Suitable to Grade 8 (ABRSM).
There are some rare exceptions, not all Maidstone violins were made in Saxony, some were made in France and some in Czechoslovakia. These are superior Maidstone violins, and all of them are quite different.
This violin type isn’t the loudest violin in the world, so would suit an intermediate to advanced student who is gaining their confidence. This instrument would be able to handle Grades 5-8 (ABRSM), so would be a great first full size violin for a teenager who has earned their stripes.
A nice, sweet sounding, full size vintage violin.
I have collected many Murdoch Maidstone violins and all are good. Most were made in Saxony. This is one of the much renowned exceptional models made in France or else Czechoslovakia. These rare Maidstone models are rarely sold because they are so cherished by their owners.
This violin is very light in weight and a little narrower in the bouts than usual. It has a tone and volume to rival many of my student violins. Having repaired and restored it I know that the violin has been carefully made.
This antique late C19th violin looks as good as it sounds. It is strung with new Thomastik Alphayue strings, has a good vintage bridge, new soundpost and Witner composite tailpiece with integral fine tuners.
Meet "The Performer" Full Size (4/4) Czechoslovakian 1940-60s Violin
Ursula Donnelley who demonstrates this violin in the video below writes that "If you’re in a loud band with a set of drums and want a violin that can stand out in this scenario, this one would be very good. At the same time, the instrument would suit a confident intermediate classical student. You need to be confident as it is so bright – it is certainly not an instrument that blends in."
Ursuall Donnely says this violin is one she would have liked when she was a student, as she always wanted to be louder than everyone else.
Mystery Modern Antiqued Violin (full size 4/4)
This violin has a pleasant, sweet, clear but muted tone. It appears to be an antique instrument but is actually made in the 1989s/90s, and although it’s maker is unknown we think it is most likely of Chinese origin.
This violin is suitable up to grades 3-4 (ABRSM).
In good condition for a student starter violin, this Czech model is in my opinion a lot better than other starter violins such as those made by Stentor. It is very easy to play but is somewhat muted, compared to a better violin, and has the characteristic "reedy" or thinner sound of a budget level violin. The E-string is loud but is nonetheless harsher sounding than on a more expensive instrument.
I would rate this as a starter violin and is suitable up to Grade 2-3 (ABRSM). It has a new Teller bridge, new Wittner composite tailpiece with integral fine tuners and it is strung with new Thomastik Alphayue strings.