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Thread: Brescian review

  1. #1
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Brescian review

    David Hansonís Brescian #3 now resides in my music room.

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    I thought Iíd give it a brief review for those who may be interested in Brescians.

    Materials: spruce sound board, birdseye maple back and neck, rosewood fingerboard, pegs, arm rest. The scale is 330mm. Strung with New Aquila Nylgut at a full tone below normal mandolin tuning: FCGD (A=393).

    Build quality: Excellent.

    Playability: Excellent

    Tone: This is of most interest to me because Iíve never played with nylon strings on a mandolin. The closest instrument Iíve experienced to this Brescian is my 1890 Vinaccia: both instruments are light as a feather and the Vinaccia is strung with synth core Gís and Dís. The Brescianís woods and the nylon strings result in a similarly round, resonant tone (is this partly because it is tuned down a whole step?) and seems particularly well balanced. The sound to my ears is deeply satisfying for the type of music I enjoy playing. An example might be the Fugue in Bachís G-minor violin sonata (BWV 1001): the separate voices sound clear and balanced in ways that I havenít been able to achieve with my other mandolins. [An aside: I intended to play the Brescian with my fingers rather than a pick but quickly realized that one has to develop this as a separate skill set. So, trying various picks in my box, I was delighted to find that a Dunlop .38mm pick, useless on my other mandos, was great on this Brescian.]

    Not sure what more I can say. David has been totally great to work with, forthcoming with suggestions and responsive to every concern.

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  3. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brescian review

    Joe: That is great. I am assuming that you are reading the music as if the strings were at GDAE. Is that so? Was there a specific reason for that tuning?
    Jim

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Brescian review

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Joe: That is great. I am assuming that you are reading the music as if the strings were at GDAE. Is that so? Was there a specific reason for that tuning?
    Hi Jim,
    Maybe I can shed some light on your question.
    Aquila makes string for a variety of vintage instruments. According to their research, A-390 was probably the pitch most common around cir.1750-1800. Basically, that means tuning down a full step. The Aquila strings for vintage instruments tend to be on the brittle side and may occasionally break when tuning up to A-440. On some sets, Aquila suggests A-390 as a good option.
    I personally like the tone of A-390 on the mandolin (just my personal preference).
    I am certainly no musical scholar, and invite opinions on this subject.
    Here is a quote from the Aquila website:

    "This set is manufactured strictly following the data provided by Fouchetti (Paris 1771). Therefore, it’s a useful setup for those who want to rediscover the original sound of the Neapolitan mandolin of the 18th century. According to our research, the Parisian pitch of the time was around 390 Hz so we recommend to tune the instrument to this pitch".

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  6. #4
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brescian review

    Jim wrote: " I am assuming that you are reading the music as if the strings were at GDAE. Is that so?"

    Yes. As much as I enjoy sailing away with these strings and this tuning, I'm not sure for how long I will maintain this. As it stands, if I want to play a solo/duet with the Brescian (via Audacity), say a couple of the Bach 2-part inventions, well, I have to use this instrument for both parts. Not a bad thing, but well ... or adjust the tuning of another instrument.

  7. #5
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brescian review

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Bartl View Post
    As it stands, if I want to play a solo/duet with the Brescian (via Audacity), say a couple of the Bach 2-part inventions, well, I have to use this instrument for both parts.
    Or play with a friend playing Bb clarinet (or trumpet) using the concert-key score?

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