My first months at Alf Studios have turned out to be really eye-opening.
The two violins I’m building are quite different stylistically. The first is based on the Lady Harmsworth Stradivari of 1703. Gregg has challenged me to emulate the cleanliness of Strad’s work, while trying to capture some of the stylistic aspects as well. Everything is so beautifully carved and graceful. Obviously, Antonio really knew what he was doing.
With the other violin, I’m going for a more close representation of the Ole Bull Guarneri Del Gesù of 1744. It’s difficult to get the looseness and almost sense of reckless abandon that is seen in late Del Gesù violins without just making them sloppy. A lot of attention can still be put into how the stylistic aspects of the various tool marks and kinked purfling are done. And the long f-holes and emaciated scrolls have a certain slender elegance that must be balanced with major features, such as a carefully shaped arch.
Making the two different models at the same time has brought some additional things to mind. I certainly
don’t want the two to have the same look! And yet, it’s hard to go from the mindset of how a late Del Gesù would have been made to a similar mindset for a Stradivari. One the one hand, it might be easier to work with one model at a time. That way I could really get into the way of thinking most conducive to the style before me. On the other hand, the two diverse styles sort of keep each other in check. The Strad’s refinement keeps me from becoming too inattentive with my Guarneri. At the same time, the Guarneri’s looseness may help my Strad from becoming overly stiff and polished.
Was this what Gregg had in mind for me? I don’t know, but you can see for yourself as my first instruments at Alf Studios go online at the alfstudios.com gallery later this month.