Peghead Nation fiddle instructor Chad Manning talks about his copy of a Giovanni Paolo Maggini violin, which was once believed to be authentic.
by Teja Gerken
July 19, 2018
Violins built in the style of Giovanni Paolo Maggini (1580–1630) are popular with bluegrass and old-time fiddlers, because, compared to standard-size violins, their slightly larger and deeper body tends to produce a lot of volume and a darker sound. Peghead Nation fiddle instructor Chad Manning first came across the violin in this video when it was on consignment as a genuine Maggini at San Francisco, California’s Cremona Violins several years ago. “The folks who were selling it believed it was an authentic Maggini,” Chad says. Although the owners had paperwork documenting appraisals dating back to the 1870s (as Chad shows), and the violin had previously been sold as an authentic Maggini, the store’s owner at the time, Nash Mondragon, was suspicious. He sent the violin to appraisal expert Charles Beare in London, England, to find out for sure, and Beare confirmed Mondragon’s suspicion that the instrument was a copy. (Beare also pointed out that the instrument’s scroll was most likely a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume scroll.) This meant that the violin wasn’t worth anywhere near the price it may have fetched as an authentic Maggini, and Chad was able to purchase it for a fraction of its original asking price.
“When I first played it, I was in love with the sound of this instrument, but I was warned that it might not hold up,” Chad says. After playing it for a few years, the neck started collapsing, even after he had a new neck-block put in. “It was sad, I played it for a number of years, but as the neck was collapsing, it just kept losing its tone. I tried to have it repaired a couple of times, but it didn’t hold.” Eventually, Clinch Mountain Boys fiddler Dewey Brown suggested that Chad take it to luthier Alfred Michels in North Carolina. “I sent it to him, and he said it was a really challenging fiddle to work on,” Chad says. “He sat on it for a number of months, but he was able to get it to hold pretty well, and it sounds way better than it did after it collapsed.”
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wish i could play!
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