Found this gem: http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=12923
"Posted on February 28, 2010 at 01:11 AM My violin teacher in the late 1950s, Laurence Turner, had a Strad as his main instrument but he also had a Joseph Hel which he used as leader of the Halle Orchestra under Barbirolli.
Laurence said that in some ways he preferred his Hel. I now know what he means as the typical Hel sound is very clear, projects well, is untemperemental, and can be easier to play as it speaks instantly and can be therefore more efficiently monitored."
So here I am, still playing my little ancient Italian, found at an auction many years ago, and the good news is it's sounding better and better. I even used it for band practice on Friday... Tumbleweed Jim - our next gig is for Acoustic Plus at the Cheese and Grain, Frome on May 21st... Anything could happen.