Viola by F. H. Longson, Stockport, 1880
About F. H. LongsonWe know that F. H. Longson was active in Stockport in the later part of the 19th century. It is likely that he was an amateur maker but was clearly a trained woodworker judging by the quality of his workmanship.
The workmanship and varnish of this viola bears similarities to the work of William Tarr, a Manchester maker most famous for his double basses. This leads us to believe that Longson was familiar with instruments by Tarr and may even have received instruction from him.
About the violaThis English viola was made in Stockport in 1880. I have a particular soft spot for this instrument as my father´s family come from this area and I know it well: there is a no-nonsense approach to the making of the viola which seems to fit very well with what I know of the area! The button of a stringed instrument is there to reinforce the neck: some makers, for example the modern Italian violin maker Scarampella, made exquisitely sculpted, artful buttons: this button is long, rectangular and entirely functional.
The back is two pieces of book-matched maple of narrow flame and the front is two pieces of straight-grained spruce. The varnish is a rich reddish-brown colour and has a delightful craquelure to the front.
The viola is a Strad model with soft, beautiful oil varnish applied over very good quality wood. It has a length of back of 15 and 7/8 inches.
How does it sound?The sound is beautiful and refined, matching the wood in its quality. The underlying character of the instrument is soft and enticing, however there is greater power to be found when needed.
ConditionThe viola is in excellent condition.
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