Who are we?
My name’s Jonathan Rowe, and I’ve been playing violin as an amateur for some 53 years now, and rebuilding basket-case violins and violas for more than 10 years. Over the last 5 or 6 years the odd violin or two for rebuilding has become the 40 or more - when I discovered eBay. Not one single violin among them was a Stradivarius: the labels in them were telling fibs!
I got a general Engineering Degree from Cambridge in the early 1970’s and then trained as a teacher and taught secondary Science, Maths and Physics for several years. Ever since then I’ve been working in the electronics industry, mostly in telecoms and in sales. I’m at home with most technology.
I retired at the beginning of 2009. Here’s a picture of me and my family. I am very proud of them!
Here I am as Gnorris the Gnome in last year’s Pantomime. I sometimes get hair (a wig) for one week of the year: for the last 10 years it has been yellow hair, as I played the Dame.
One year (2012) I tried to frighten small children as the Pantomime villain - but the best I could do is get a laugh, a blank stare, or a boo.
Here’s a picture of my daughter Suzy when she got her BSc at Bangor in July ‘08. That’s me and my wife Katie being very proud of her.
So now we’ve 3 children with 3 degrees, all degrees that are better than mine. I’m not really jealous.
Years ago I bought a very good, and very expensive Richard Weichold violin bow off Dave Swarbrick (Swarb) as a retirement present to myself. Sadly, he died last year (2016).
Here’s a picture of the Swarb himself with said bow. I’m hoping that some of his ability passes to me by osmosis from the bow: it is working a little, as I can now play nearly half of part of the Bach Partita No. 3 ....... so there's only another 10,000 hours of practice to go.
I couldn't resist putting a picture of me with Dave Swarbrick, ‘The Swarb’ with the Weichold bow: ability by inference rather than evidence.
So what is the basis for claiming that setting up tap-tones in front and back plates works?
Of the 50+ low-cost violins (and violas) I have and had, so far I’ve modified 40 or more.
These are of all sorts, and links to some of those in detail with pictures and data can be found on the “Violin & viola examples” page.
I have documented some of them (see Example Violins) to show how the tone and playability was improved. It includes some sound files too to give you some idea of the tone. I show what is good, and what is not so good about them. There is still a lot of work still to do.