The Real Doctor and I were on the road last week, visiting folks in the cheesy state of Wisconsin. Travel was normal for this day and age. We left at 3:00 AM, and after driving to Eugene, flying to Salt Lake City, Detroit, and Madison, and then driving some more, we hit the hay at about 11:00 PM. For the longest leg of the trip, an unhappy combination of carry-on luggage and the bloke in front of me wanting to recline all the way gave me a real understanding of soft torture in the form of "stress positions." Essentially, I was wedged into a position that was slightly uncomfortable, but forced to stay in that position, unmoving, for a few hours. As we descended into Detroit, I was in pain. Had the flight continued for another five hours, I probably would have spilled whatever beans I possess.
The way back was slightly less tiresome; leaving at 2:00 in the afternoon, we arrived here at home at 1:00 in the morning. While we were waiting in the airport in Salt Lake City, we noticed a fellow with a kind of unusual violin case--it seemed a little outsize, but not viola-sized. So, we asked him about it, and he most generously agreed to show us the contents when we arrived in Eugene.
If I'm not mistaken, his instrument is the very one shown on this page, as "A New Bradivarius Golden Tone Five-String":
It's neat to look at this instrument, after fixating on the classic Cremonese stuff for so long. It's clearly a fiddle, but unhesitatingly taken in new directions. The corners are deliberately--and pleasingly--rounded, making measured and planned what centuries of chance do to a Guarneri. The f-holes, while not to my taste, are thought out. Rosewood sides? A purple tinge to the varnish? White maple trim, and white volute trim? Why not! And throw a pick-up into the bridge, too. It has a nice look, and is of its time. The fifth string is a little odd--it changes the shape of the bridge, and sounds slightly different from the rest of the strings, but it definitely gives the instrument the versatility the player wants. The player--a commercial pilot by trade--uses it primarily for Arabic and Irish music. He played it a bit (with a Coda carbon bow, natch) and with the caveat that he was playing quietly in a baggage claim area, it sounded alright. Certainly better than any violin I've ever made.