Posts Tagged ‘Maidstone 3/4’

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

April 16, 2021

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)


A Very Nice 3/4 Maidstone student violin: Ref: ♪

April 16, 2021
Ursula Donnelly professionally assesses this Maidstone 3/4 size violin

I thoroughly enjoyed playing this violin. The tone calls out to me. It’s got a mystical sort of feel to it, lying somewhere between serene and gritty – a very expressive instrument for an expressive player.

Due to being a 3/4 size, it would best suit a child of about age 8-12, at the intermediate level of learning. It’s a great 2nd or 3rd instrument for a young person who is advancing into grades 4-6 range. It would do justice to more advanced pieces whilst being small enough to suit a child of the age suggested.

The violin is set up well which means that it is very easy to play. I did not struggle to get a clear sound out of it, and it was very easy to gauge the correct angle for the string and not to catch other strings. This is a rarity on eBay as the majority of sellers do not have expertise in this area and so you would need to get it set up by a professional anyway.

I love the low/mid range although the high end is also pleasant to the ear. There is something magical about the tone of the lowest G string when playing ‘double stopped’ chords. It sort of rumbles and brings to mind folk music of the British Isles. In fact, it would make a fantastic folk instrument. However, it can also do justice to a classical student.
It is not the cleanest sounding instrument in the world, but it has heart! For the price, it is an absolute steal and very pleasant to play. The tone is phenomenal for the price, the set up optimal and Dr Sutton has included some pretty decent sounding synthetic core strings. What’s not to love?

Ursula Donnelly, Professional Violin Teacher, Nottingham, England

This violin is available to buy. Details on my website HERE

History, repair and refurbishment notes

As you will read on this site many times ‘not all Maidstone (Murdoch) violins are the same’. This particular Maidstone violin is, in my opinion, one of the really good little ones, which give these violins such a solid name amongst violin teachers in the know.

Made in Saxony (Germany) at the end of the 19th century, or beginning of the 20th, this instrument has all the signs of having been played extensively through several generations of keen young musicians over the past 100 years. The vanish and wood carry many scars from knocks, dings and scratches. I have endeavored to sympathetically touch these in with specially imported high quality violin spirit varnish from Germany, of the correct shade. The result is that this lovely conker brown instrument demonstrates it’s playability qualities with the proof of the extent it has been played and enjoyed by students down the years. In my opinion, it simply oozes depth of character in playability, sound and antique looks.

When it came into my small workshop the violin had a minor crack opening up close to its tailpiece and a couple of further minor cracks on its face at the saddle end of the instrument. Another small crack was found close to the fingerboard All the evidence suggests it had been dropped onto a hard floor. The violin was carefully opened and these cracks were traditionally hide glued and then finally fixed with spruce cleats (studs/sutures), hide glued into place, which were then thinned to provide the correct degree of repair strength and flexibility of the violin table. A new sound post was cut and fitted into the optimal position along with a new Zest bridge that was carefully fitted and then tuned to the violin. A modern light alloy tailpiece, with integral fine tuners, was fitted.

This traditionally repaired and refurbished antique student violin is set up with good quality Ascente synthetic core strings. The chin rest is the original Bakerlite model fitted to these violins. I expect this violin now sounds better than at any other time in its life.

I love the sound of this 3/4 size violin. It is just waiting for a keen student.

Being 3/4 size, the instrument is likely to be best suited to a child aged 9-12. However, 3/4 size violins also suit smaller than average teenagers, or small adults.

This violin is ready to be played and enjoyed once again.

Dr Mike Sutton, violin collector, repairer, restorer and patron of the arts.