The “Koff” Vuillaume
The “Koff” Vuillaume model violin has been one of my mainstays for 30 years.
I met Robert Koff in the winter of 1982 when I was establishing myself as an independent maker in Boston. He had an interest in contemporary violin making, along with just about everything in life. He offered encouragement in many forms, one of which was access to and insight into his Vuillaume violin. He played this violin in the Julliard Quartet for several years and he considered it the perfect instrument, with a dark chocolaty quality and plenty of power and punch. I made many copies that Robert was generous enough to play, critique, and even buy.
Robert’s violin was made in the Paris workshop of Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, probably around 1860. It is a late Guarneri model with typical styling and was made as an antiqued facsimile. The model was enlarged from the small size Guarneri always used, so the body has the dimensions of the Strad “G” pattern. The workmanship is quick and not at all fussy, as befits a Guarneri copy. At one time I estimated the scroll must have been cut in about 40 minutes, so I cut a scroll in that time constraint to see how it would come out. The 40-minute-scroll captured the feel of the original quite well and taught me a lesson on craftsmanship and style.
Acoustically the melding of the Guarneri arch and f’s with the larger body is a great idea and leads naturally to the qualities Robert so loved. I have used the form to not only duplicate this Vuillaume violin, but to build in the style of Gaspar da Salo, who seems to have been a major influence of Guarneri del Gesù, and in the style of Storioni and others who were inspired by Guarneri.
The latest violin made on this model is dated 2014 and is my #845, photos above. The first was my #67 in 1985.
The earliest “Koff” Vuillaume violin that I have good photographs for is my #111, dated 1988, at right. This violin is on the market in a private sale, in the Boston area. Click the photos to see a full-size version. Email us for more information about this violin.
#845 has just been set up and is being played in; it will be ready to show soon. To see more details and photos of #845, click here.