mudcat.org: Help: Fiddle upgrade
Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Help: Fiddle upgrade

Related threads:
What's a Strad, Amati etc fiddle? (83)
Violin Vibrato Tips (10)
The fiddle and the blues? (50)
Tuning a Fiddle (51)
Cheap fiddle, so what (47)
Left Handed violin (24)
Can you rosin the bow too much? (43)
Help learning fiddle (56)
Fiddler's elbow (16)
Blues Fiddle (17)
Sometimes goes limp (bow hair) (87)
Buying a fiddle (31)
New Music store, need fiddle advice (3)
Difference Between Fiddle and Violin (45)
Violin cases and mobster's guns? (8)
Violin Question (6)
About fiddle and the tunes (19)
Children's violins - any suggestions? (8)
Fiddle chin rests!!!! (47)
Viola pegs slipping (19)
Austrialian Fiddling (7)
Fiddle wrist problem --advice requested (15)
OK to play fiddle in light rain? (21)
creative output of folk fiddlers (11)
Tune Req: Fiddle players, I need help. (2)
Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords? (53)
fiddle support for fused spine arthritis (6)
Fiddles from the Farmhouse Attic. (21)
New baby fiddle! (7)
learning the fiddle (46)
5 String Fiddles (13)
Playing harmonics on the fiddle? (29)


Doug Chadwick 26 Nov 02 - 01:44 PM
wysiwyg 26 Nov 02 - 02:23 PM
Doug Chadwick 26 Nov 02 - 02:28 PM
Sorcha 26 Nov 02 - 02:39 PM
wysiwyg 26 Nov 02 - 02:58 PM
Mark Clark 26 Nov 02 - 04:30 PM
Doug Chadwick 26 Nov 02 - 04:40 PM
Sorcha 26 Nov 02 - 04:50 PM
Mark Clark 26 Nov 02 - 06:58 PM
wysiwyg 26 Nov 02 - 07:12 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Nov 02 - 07:29 PM
Sorcha 26 Nov 02 - 08:15 PM
NicoleC 26 Nov 02 - 10:11 PM
selby 27 Nov 02 - 01:26 PM
dermod in salisbury 27 Nov 02 - 01:45 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:







Subject: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 01:44 PM

Here's a question for all you experienced fiddlers out there.

I've been playing the fiddle for just under two years and am really enjoying myself. I'm making enough progress to keep up the interest but have got loads to go at. I got my fiddle as a 50th birthday present and, as I knew nothing about fiddles anyway, I didn't go to choose it – my wife took advice from the local music shop. As a complete beginner, and for what might have been just a passing fad, a "starter kit" of fiddle, bow and case at around £100 seemed to be the right option. I'm now at the stage where I feel an upgrade to a better fiddle could be both beneficial and justified. I lent my fiddle to a very experienced player at a session and I have to admit that it sounded a little "thin" even when played by someone who knew what he was doing.

My problem is that any musical purchases have to get into the queue with central heating boilers, replacement windows, children at university, etc. – ( yes, I know there's no contest but She Who Must Be Obeyed has other ideas )

My first question is: -
What is the minimum I would have to pay for a fiddle as a sensible step up ?

I go to a violin lesson once a week and my teacher has suggested that changing my bow could make a significant improvement. My existing bow cost around £25. He has suggested A Chinese bow at £100. Talking to other fiddlers at sessions and the fiddle club, they don't think that changing the bow would make that much difference.

So, my second question is: -
Would changing my bow (which I may be able to afford) make any noticeable difference without changing my fiddle (which I probably can't afford) ?

Doug C


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: wysiwyg
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 02:23 PM

STRINGS. Change the strings first-- I'll ask Hardiman to write, he's the fiddler at our house.

~Susan


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 02:28 PM

I put a new set of good quality strings on not too long ago.

Doug C


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: Sorcha
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 02:39 PM

Your best option would be to take your fiddle and bow and hit the shops where they sell both. Use your bow on their fiddles, and a several different bows on your fiddle and see what happens. Play as many different fiddles as they have......and check the price on each of them. Also take your teacher with you if possible so teach can play them. They sound different under your chin than they do when not under your chin. Just can't say what one will cost, because everyplace is different and the one you like may be cheaper than some others!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: wysiwyg
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 02:58 PM

Tone among different "good quality" strings varies tremendously, Doug-- what are you using? What kind of music are you mostly playing? What kid of bridge do you have, curved or straight?

~Susan


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: Mark Clark
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 04:30 PM

Doug, I don't know how UK prices compare with US prices but you're probably looking at £500 for a fiddle and another £500 for a bow, assuming you buy them commercially. Typically a good bow costs as much as the fiddle for which it's intended.

A cheaper option, also more fun, if you have the time is to spend some time in research learning everything you can about violins and bows and how to judge them. Here in the US Heartland, violin makers are often happy to spend time explaining how fiddles are judged and what features are most critical. Talk to makers, dealers, symphony players and fiddlers and don't make any committments until you have all the information absorbed.

Once you are armed with information, place a small ad in the local newspaper indicating that you are looking for old violins. In the US a lot of people have old violins lying about the house with no one to play them or attest to their value. It may be quite possible to find a great fiddle for £50 or less, but you have to know what you are looking for. Remember, you may not have the opportunity to play the instrument because its owner may not have strings or even a bridge for it. When you make an offer, don't offer any money for the bow. Assume that the bow will be included for nothing.

Once you get your new fiddle set up to play, spend time listening to it and playing it. You may decide that it's not what you want; in that case, just sell it for a profit as a working instrument. Once you have the fiddle you're sure you want, then go looking for a bow. It's unlikely you'll find a decent bow hiding in someone's attic but even if you should, you don't want to buy a bow you haven't heard playing on your new fiddle. Attic bows usually have no hair so you can't try them out. Even if they're free, or nearly so, you still can't tell what you've got until you've paid for an expensive re-hairing.

There have been quite a few threads here on buying fiddles and bows over the years so search the archives for more tips.

Good luck,

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 04:40 PM

I'm not 100% sure of the make of strings but I think they are Dominant – my memory isn't as good as it used to be. One name was pretty much the same as another to me so they are what the shopkeeper recommended.

I mainly play Celtic music.

The bridge is curved.

On reflection, "...not so long ago..." may not be as recent as I made out. How time flies! I think I'll try a new set of strings just to see.

Doug C


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: Sorcha
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 04:50 PM

Dominants are pretty mellow strings, used in orchestras. I like Helicores, but most often we dress in the dreaded Red Label/Supersensitive/Old Fiddler steels.

The problem with what Mark suggested (other than the not being playable) is that even if you get a cheap deal, you will probably have to spend big buck to get it repaired and set up so that it is playable, and then what are you going to do if you don't like it then?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: Mark Clark
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 06:58 PM

Well I'm assuming that you're not going to buy any fiddle that needs a lot of expensive work. Remember, you've now become knowledgeable in the art of fiddle assessment; don't try this if you haven't done your homework. It's pretty easy to learn enough to avoid buying a fiddle you won't get burned on as long as you're not betting the farm. Professional fiddlers in the US don't often spend a lot of money for their instruments but they own instruments that can be sold for quite a lot if need be.

I share, with Rick, the opinion that players should take the trouble to learn how to perform their own basic repairs and maintenance. A fiddle player should know how to “make” and fit a bridge (the term make simply means to shape), replace strings, install a chin rest and tailpiece and reset a fallen sound post.

I still think you can set you sights on a great fiddle and keep SWMBO happy at the same time.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: wysiwyg
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 07:12 PM

Hardi uses only Thomastik Dominant's, BUT with a Pirastro E. A lot of people use those awful Super Sensitive abominations. Make a good fiddle sound like a fishwife. Try switching that E to a Pirastro and see what happens. Couldn't hurt. And if you are used to playing in sessions, try slowing down to develop your touch for tone, and then speed up again. Not saying it will do as much as a fiddle upgrade, but couldn't hurt.

~Susan


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 07:29 PM

Who made the "starter kit" you have now? Some can be improved considerably by being set up properly; others are probably beyond hope. As a general rule, buying a decent bow will result in more improvement that upgrading the instrument, but that does depend on what you're starting out with!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: Sorcha
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 08:15 PM

LOL, Susan. I am so glad you are back. I have used the SuperSensitves for years, and love them. Horses for Courses. Use Thomastiks for Orchestra work and I like the Helicores, but they are hard to get here.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: NicoleC
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 10:11 PM

A Pirastro Tonica E helped my (also cheap) fiddle gain some oomph. But the purchase of a nicer bow was a HUGE improvement. I actually ended up with two, what turned out to be a very nice Pernambuco fixer-upper that sounds really good on a nice fiddle and reasonably decent on mine, and it's super responsive. (Too much so for me at this point, really.)

The other bow I bought straight out, a Coda Aspire composite. It really pulls some tone and resonance out of my fiddle; as good as can be expected. They're pretty cheap, about $225 here in the US, and everyone I know that's heard mine says it sounds easily as good as a $1k and up bow. It's a little stiff and not terribly responsive, but it's also very stable and works well for my "beginning intermediate" stage. Overall, it was a fabulous investment, because I immediately started playing a lot better.

I had some lower-end pernambuco and brazilwood bows on loan, and I wasn't impressed overall. They all went back -- a little easier to play with, but no help on the sound. You might want to consider having a luthier work on your setup if you don't want to plunge into a new fiddle right now.

I'm in the upgrade phase myself. I've been saving up and this money is burning a hole in my pocket, but I can't find that "right" new fiddle.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: selby
Date: 27 Nov 02 - 01:26 PM

From my experiances with my son we went to Beverly music centre (a fiddle shop) he tried bows from £50 to £200 without seeing the price, he chose the bow that he felt suited his fiddle and himself cost £60. Dependant where you live in the UK in the north Gina Le Faux is a good restorer,scource of knowledge and approachable. around Lincoln Bridge violins although the make excellant electric fidles they also deal in accoustic. Both to my knowledge would be happy to talk assisst and advise you.
Keith


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle upgrade
From: dermod in salisbury
Date: 27 Nov 02 - 01:45 PM

Depending on whether you are in a hurry or not, I advise keeping an eye on the private sale notice boards found in most music schools and local musical instrument shops. People are giving up learning instruments as fast as others are starting out. A bargain can be struck which cuts losses for one, and undercuts the price of buying new for the other. This is how I got my own two much beloved violins. The first, a fine instrument with strong tone (and a few scuffs) I bought for two pounds in eight weekly installments at school from an old boy who was giving up. The second, I bought twenty years later when I was taking evening classes at a local music school. I noticed a hand written card on a notice board saying 'old violin, probably needs attention, suit beginner, ten pounds.' It turned out to be 250 years old, made in what is now the Czech Republic, with beautiful wood and playing action. The seller was a middle aged lady whose father had bought it for her as a child, but she had never perservered. As her own children were now grown up and had shown no interest, she simply wanted to pass it one to somebody who would make use of it. Needless to say, I took advice and offered more than the asking price, within my limits. But I will never sell it. I promised the lady that I wouldn't consider it to be mine, should she ever decide she wanted it back. But that was another twenty years ago. So, keep your eyes peeled. You never know when it is your lucky day.

Dermod.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 28 February 1:10 AM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.