A lively, red, 3/4 size Maidstone violin. Ref ♯

Ursula Donnelley Plays a red Maidstone 3/4 Size Student Violin

This violin is a real singer and packs a punch as well.  At first I tried to play some baroque music on it but something called me to play something more mellow and it just hit the spot. It’s got volume and sweetness, which is a nice all rounder combination. If I was going to play on this, I’d reserve it for melodic pieces with a lot of heart. 


It’s quality and 3/4 size means it’s about right for a violin student roughly age 9-13 who wants a decent instrument to learn the intermediate grades on (3-6). It has a nice sound and is set up well, so very playable. As you will most likely not want to invest too much for a 3/4 size, as it won’t last forever, this instrument is a great compromise insofar as it shouldn’t cost the earth but will do justice to the intermediate to advanced grades.


Although I did find it buzzed a little at first, the more I played it, the more the buzz settled down. I imagine this could be easily fixed though as this is usually due to something being loose on the instrument. 


It was quite playable although the tone was sweeter on the lower end and the upper end a little on the harsh side. Despite this, I could get a really nice tone from it and really enjoyed playing it.

Ursula Donnelley (Professional Violin Teacher)

History, repair and refurbishment notes

Bearing the Maidstone Schools Orchestra Association Label, this violin is one of the last of the series of Maidstone violins made for the Murdoch violin company. Made sometime between the first and second world wars it has a bright red original varnish which is an untypical colour compared to the vast of the majority of Maidstone violins, which tend to be either very light or else very dark brown. Due to its later date, and colour of the varnish, I suspect this violin might just possibly have been made in Bohemia for the Murdoch company, rather than Saxony (Germany), where most were made. But it’s impossible to know.

The instrument has a relatively flat table (top/face) in the Stradivarius style, which will account for some of its lively sound. Many 3/4 size Maidstone’s have a higher arched table, some significantly higher than others. Clearly, Maidstone violins are far form being all the same.

The violin has suffered no cracks in it’s time, but like most fractional sized Maidstone student violins it has many knocks, dings and scratches on its wood and varnish. I have endeavoured to re-touch many of these with very high quality spirit varnish, specially imported form Germany, of the correct shade.

I refurbished this violin with Dominant, synthetic core strings, a Zest bridge, fitted and then tuned to the instrument, and a new sound post, correctly fitted and optimally positioned. It comes with it’s original ebony tailpiece, fitted with high quality German Witner fine tuners. The instrument retains its original Bakerlite chinrest.

NOTE: In my opinion, the buzz identified by Ursula Connelly was most likely caused by two lose fine tuners (Annoyingly, I never tightened them properly when I fitted them). The violin will be re assessed now the culprit of the buzz may have been detected and may have been cured. This is why I feel it is important to have student violins properly assessed by being played and thoroughly studied by an expert third party .

Dr Mike Sutton (Violin collector, repairer, restorer and patron of the arts)

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