Scroll Up for the Highest Praise

Crafting a scroll is a masterful endeavor

When a violin comes into the shop, the first thing a repair person does, even as the owner is describing its ailments, is get a sense of the instrument. The ritual usually goes as follows: a glance at the top, focusing on the soundholes; a quick look at the back; and then onto the scroll—the front, each side in its turn, and, if it proves to be nicely cut, the back. Only then might the repairer issue the judgment, “Nice fiddle.” The highest praise of all, however, is “I like that scroll.” And that comment never fails to elicit the question: Why?

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