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My violin is a 2002 Scott Cao Artistic Series Model STV-850: Artistic Recreation of Paganini's "Ill Cannone" (Cannon) violin made in 1743 by the famous Joseph Guarnarius del Gesu. The violin earned the nickname "Cannon" because of it's loud projecting tone, allowing the soloist to be heard over an orchestra without straining to extract additional volume. The DelGesu "Cannon" was once played by the legendary violin composer/virtuoso Niccolo Paganini and is still on display in Genoa Italy. This copy made by Scott Cao has the following features:
All Imported European Woods Bosnian Maple, Italian Spruce
Indian Ebony Fingerboard
Hill Style Ebony Fittings
Completely Handmade & Hand Oil-Varnished
About Scott Cao:
Scott Shu-kun Cao is listed among the best-known contemporary violin makers in the world. His instruments are currently in the hands of soloists, famous professional players and collectors. For their tonal quality, Scott's instruments are renowned. Among makers, Scott's violins are said to not only project a beautiful sound but are also aesthetically superior. For over ten years, Scott Cao has been copying famous violin models, he can make an exact copy of almost all the greatest violins played by the most famous players.
During the past fifteen years, Scott has won many awards in international competitions. Five times out of six, Scott Cao was awarded the "tone" award by the Violin Society of America's international competition committee. The following is a list of awards:
Tone award for violin 1986 VSA Competition
Tone and workmanship for viola 1988 VSA Competition
First place award for tone and violin 1990 Violin Maker's Association of British Columbia
Certificate of merit, violin tone 1992 VSA competition
3rd place in 1994 7th international competition of Antonio Stradivari in Cremona, Italy
Silver medal for violin 1996 12th Annual International Competition
Silver medal for viola 1996 12th Annual International Competition of VSA
Silver medal for cello 1998 14th Annual International Competition of VSA
Cao's Description of the Cannon:
The "Cannon", also known as the "Paganini" after its famous virtuoso owner, is probably the most famous & valuable instrument in the world. It is a powerful violin with great volume. The G string projects a wonderful, dark sound while the E string has a bell-like, penetrating projection.
Some may find this instrument difficult to play because of its high ribs and unusually thick graduation. The violin responds well to players with forceful bowing arms - those who love to dig into the strings. It is for violinists with this playing style that we have copied the "Cannon".
About Joseph Guarnarius del Gesu:
The outline of his violins, with slight modifications, is founded on instruments of Antonio Stradivari. Modeling of the back and table are noticeably flattened, seemingly inspired by Maggini. The F holes are of Stradivari form but are usually elongated, more open, and less refined. The carefully applied oil varnish is soft in quality and of light texture, with the color varying between pale orange and orange-brown with, occasionally, a reddish tint. The length of the body is usually 13 7/8", sometimes 1/16" less.
The estimate of his total production is not more than 250 violins; there is no positive evidence that he made instruments in any other form, although some violas and at least one violoncello are attributed to him. Approximately 150 violins are known to exist.
Guarnerius is the Latin form of the family name and Joseph the Hebrew form of Giuseppe. The addition of "del Gesu" to the name and the Greek abbreviation for Jesus (IHS) beneath a cross on the labels indicate veneration for the Holy Name.
The greatest soloists the world has known have preferred Strad and Guaneri violins for centuries. Strads are known to have a more sweet sparkling tone while Guaneris have a "toasted" or more dark mid-rangey tone.
This violin is loud and has a great dark tone. I noticed the tone seems to come out more with more bow pressure, it is my opinion that this violin was made for players who really attack the violin with virtuoso technique. The tone in the upper positions and on the higher strings is a full sweet tone with plenty of midrange, not a thin sweet sound like some of the Strad copies I have heard, this is a very full violin tone. The violin also is very responsive to every little nuance of different bowing varities you may execute and it is easier to play in tune with a violin like this because when you play on pitch, the notes really ring out loud and clear.
More interestingly, the violin was made to look like Paganini's violin as well, this is a new violin but it has dings and marks and minor scratches on it to make it look worn. The varnish was made to look faded as the colors range from dark to light red and include different shades or yellow and orange but not in a normal pattern, giving the violin character and a unique visual appeal (the photos do not really reflect this well). Paganini used a black rosin and the blackness of the rosin set in the original Paganini violin, you can literally see where the black rosin has faded into the varnish of Paganini's real violin. An attmept was made to make this copy look similar. The front Is mostly light red, yellow and orange but the area where the bow hits the strings the red becomes much darker, even approaching a brownish color. The back of the violin looks like the varnish has been tainted by years of sweat and fades from light red yellows and oranges to a more lighter red and more yellows where the violin meets a player's shoulder.
I am very pleased to be lucky enough to own this instrument and I love playing it. There is so much color coming out that really inspires you and makes you never want to stop playing it.
"My Scott Cao violin was used interchangeably with the Isssac Stern Panette del Gesu while recording my latest CD."
Soloist, First place Paganini competition
"The sound (of the STV-850) is complex, with good projection and a lush tone."
Strings Magazine, August/Setember 2001
"Ninety-eight percent of my students play on Cao made instruments and bows... Other professional have been amazed at the quality of sound projected and then absolutely drop their jaws at the prices. I can, with confidence, recommend the 850 series to anyone. Professional or student of any level."
Peter F. Merlin
The Source Strings, Brandon, FL