J.T.L. Geronimo Barnabetti 15 3/4” Viola , Mirecourt circa 1900 – Great Sound!
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(J.T.L. Label on bass side inside as well)
Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy, or JTL, is one of the most famous names in the instrument trade. The JTL workshops in the Vosges produced hundreds of thousands of violins, violas, cellos, and their bows from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. They were the largest of the Mirecourt making firms, at their peak producing 150,000 instruments annually and employing 1,000 craftsmen. In 1857 Jérôme Thibouville joined forces with Charles Buthod and Charles-Claude Husson to form Husson-Buthod-Thibouville. When Jérôme Thibouville married Marguerite Hyacinthe Lamy in 1861, the firm changed its name to Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy (J.T.L.). At the time JTL instruments were mostly considered student instruments but have remained popular because of their excellent sound. The firm also produced fine handmade instruments. The Barnabetti model was started in 1860 and continued to be made into the early 1900’s. These instruments were made at a higher level than the typical Medio Fino or entry level instruments. Our viola was made at the beginning of the 20th century by the firm as the Barnabetti model enjoyed a very good reputation. Our Stradivarius model contains all great stuff: inlaid purfling, arching that gives the instrument power, hand cut scroll with almost sculpted lines that are sharp and crisp, and an almost perfect consistent chamfer. The varnish is a transparent brown color with just a touch of orange in the mix. The varnish helps complete the viola, making the instrument look stunning. Here in our workshop, we have gone over the entire viola, giving it a new set up. The 120-year-old viola is in excellent condition with no issues, just some slight natural playing wear in the varnish.
This viola has real character, and not just in the choice of woods used. The sound is flexible and healthy in its volume. The instrument had an expansive tone with over-the-top response. The bottom end has a woody woodwind quality that responds even to a light touch in the bow. The viola has a little edge to the tone and the overtones sing. This little viola is easy to play but has a little grit or fight that would rival any 16.5-inch large viola. It has tons of color and a projection that is gorgeous. This is a Wow! -viola for an up-and-coming section leader and definitely for a player looking for a distinctive voice in the alto section of the orchestra.