Fat Cat Fiddles display at NW hand made instrument exhibitRead More
These are three original Frank Ashley violins owned by James Garber. It was on his website that I discovered this unique violin. http://paperclipdesign.com/ashley/ Jim has been collecting and playing Ashley violins since the early 80's and seems to be the most knowledgeable person I have found on the F. M. Ashley violin.
Frequently termed the 'American Violins'. Used largely in American schools.. This was written in the Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers by William Henley.
It seems like there should be more of these violins around if they were used in the American school systems, but exhaustive searching on the web, does not reveal too many examples of this violin.
The latest project at Fat Cat Fiddles is a 5 string violin that is based off of a Patent that was issued to Frank Merwin Ashley in 1921. Ashley's unique body shape and construction methods intrigued me in my quest for the perfect 5 string acoustic violin.
The Patent calls for the top and back plates to be formed from a thin piece of wood rather than being carved from a thick wedge of wood like more conventional methods. There were some reasons cited for why this would be an improvement in violin making, but I am reserving judgement until I have made a few of them. I say a few of them because I have so much time invested in molds, jigs, and fixtures that I feel like I need to make several of them just to justify all the time and expense making this prototype.