Gregg’s words about Ruggiero Ricci:
Joseph Curtin and I first met Ruggiero Ricci in 1984, while touring the US in search of a suitable location for our new studio. One day we visited Ann Arbor and stayed at the University of Michigan, where Mr. Ricci was on faculty. We were thrilled to meet him and of course to study his 1734 Guarneri del Gesù, the ‘Gibson, Huberman’. He generously let us measure it, make photographs, and spent hours discussing the fine points of what a concert artist needs in their instrument.
Mr. Ricci’s desire to have us make a replica was a natural development of our time together. He really loved the ‘Huberman.’ Tonally, it had a great G string, something that not all Guarneri violins posses. When Ruggiero asked us to replicate the violin, Joseph and I set out to meticulously document it. We made full plaster castings of the top, back, and scroll so we could reproduce the 3-dimensional shapes. That is easy today with CAT scanning, but it was really a breakthrough for us at that time. Our goal was not just to produce a visually faithful copy, but one that would sound the same. We weighed the top plate and calculated the free-plate modal patterns and frequencies and also used sonar equipment to measure and match the speed of sound in the wood we selected.
Mr. Ricci was immediately smitten by the finished violin. For better and worse, it was a true replica of his long-held friend; even the playing experience was similar. So it was natural for him to begin concertizing on the copy, often leaving the original at home. Watching our replica develop in Ruggiero’s hands over the years helped me to realize just how much a violin is changed by the player. The Curtin & Alf replica of the ‘Huberman’ Guarneri is surely one of the key instruments in my career as a violin maker.
-Gregg Alf , Venice 2013