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History of the Jay Haide Instruments

The Jay Haide violins, violas, cellos and basses
From the workshop of Ifshin Violins

String instruments are made all over the world. There are violins from Italy (the birthplace of the violin), here in the U.S., Germany, France, England, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Korea, Japan and of course China. There is no shortage of stringed instruments, but their quality varies so dramatically, that choosing one requires knowledge, time, patience and ultimately trust in the person or firm that you choose to work with. The problem is that many of the string instruments made today are of a quality so low that they aren't suitable even for the beginning student. There are thousands of factories in China and elsewhere producing large numbers of string instruments designed to sell for just a few dollars. There are however, a very few workshops that have decided to spend the time, effort and yes, money, to make string instruments of a much higher quality, on a consistent basis. This attention to detail will insure that the purchaser will get an instrument that is not only beautiful, but will have the best possible tone and will be a joy to play.

Back in 1992, Jay Ifshin, master violin maker and owner of Ifshin Violins, a growing and important violin shop in Berkeley. California. was becoming frustrated with the inconsistent quality of the new instruments they were purchasing from suppliers. He felt that it would be possible to establish a workshop to make consistently high quality instruments that he could offer at a more attractive price than anything he could purchase through a supplier or even directly from the maker. Haide Lin had been Jay's shop foreman in Berkeley for several years. He had been trained as a violin maker in Guangzhou, China and was already a master maker when he came to this country and went to work at Ifshin Violins. He and Jay set up the workshop together. The name Jay Haide was chosen as a combination of the founder's names, Jay Ifshin and Haide Lin. People still come in and ask to meet "Mr. Jay Haide".

At first, the Jay Haide workshop was only big enough to supply the needs of Ifshin Violins. But as the business grew, Jay soon realized that other violin shops would be delighted to have a consistent supply of high-quality string instruments. It wasn't long before there were other violin shops asking to buy these fine instruments for their own clients. First in France, and as of now these fine instruments can be found at fine violin shops in Japan, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and throughout the E.U.

The Jay Haide workshop is organized very much like the great workshops in Mirecourt, France. The firms of Thibouville-Lamy, Laberte, Collin-Mezin and others were famous for high quality string instruments from the mid 19th. to the mid 20th. centuries. In these workshops, individual craftsmen were highly skilled specialists at tasks such as carving scrolls, bending ribs and varnishing etc. Additionally, it was known that Marc Laberte had a famous collection of  some of the finest examples of old Italian and other rare instruments that they used as models and inspiration at thier own workshops. We at the Jay Haide wokshop also use as models rare old master instruments from our own collection of fine old Italian and French violins for the makers to study and emulate. Any master violin maker will tell you that there is nothing as helpful as having a fine old violin on your workbench for inspiration while you are trying to do your best work.

The Jay Haide A L'Ancienne Instrument Line

There is nothing like a fine 18th. or 19th century Italian or French instrument with a great, mature tone and the beautiful patina of age. Most players would love to own a fine old instrument like this, but these days, prices have increased so much due to demand, that few can afford them any more. With this in mind, we started the development of what was to become the à l'ancienne. Many violins and thousands of hours of work later, we were ready to introduce the ancienne violins.

For the Jay Haide instruments we start by searching and examining wood from many sources and from the most experienced wood cutters. We then spend countless hours making sure that the results would be an instrument we would be proud to give our name to. Over the years, we have steadily changed and improved the à l'ancienne, making sure that we are constantly looking forward towards improvement, not resting on our success.

Since its introduction eight years ago, the à l'ancienne violins, violas, cellos and basses have become the flagship of the Jay Haide fleet. They are envied and copied by other makers, but as much as they have tried, none have come close to equaling them. Some have gone so far as to put facsimile labels of well known French and Italian makers in our instruments and selling them at much inflated prices. One of our ancienne violins even was given a certificate of authenticity from a well-known expert as an early 20th. century Italian violin with an insurance appraisal for $26,000.00! Because of this, every one of the à l'ancienne violin, viola, cello and bass now has a series of brands inside and out to deter the copyists.

With use and playing, fine old string instruments develop the patina of age over the decades and centuries that master violin makers have attempted to emulate, even as early as the late 17th. Century. By the mid 19th. century, makers like Jean Baptiste Vuillaume and Georges Chanot in Paris had developed a high degree of skill in re-creating the effects of time and use in his violins. In following that tradition, each Jay Haide l'ancienne is carefully and painstakingly hand varnished to emulate the appearance of a fine old Stradivari or Guarneri violin. First we re-create the color, texture and patina of the golden ground coat. To that we add our beautiful golden orange varnish in a pattern simulating the wear and use found in the great classic old instruments. In order to do that. we have provided our luthiers with fine old Italian and French so that they can be studied while they are working. It is this attention to detail that has made our ancienne instruments in demand around the world.

The ancienne violins are available in four models: Stradivari, Guarneri del Gesu, J.B.Guadagnini and a reproduction of a violin from Jay Ifshin's personal collection by Tomasso Balestrieri of Mantua. The viola models are reproductions of Stradivari and Maggini. Cellos are reproductions of Stradivari, Ruggieri and Montagnana. If you are looking a bass, you can have a Vincenzo Panormo, Quenoil or German model.

Our special Euro wood model à l'ancienne are made with the finest aged European maple and spruce. These violins, voilas and cellos have been a big hit, both with our clients and with our many Jay Haide dealers around the world. These very special instruments are only available in limited numbers, but are worth seeking out. To most musicians, they look very similar to our classic model ancienne, but they almost always agree that the tonal improvement is worth the extra cost.