Mark Crabtree

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  1. I think it is a worthy topic and hope someone will jump in. I don't doubt the breaking in effect, but don't have a real opinion about what is going on. As you know, it is going to be a hard thing to really isolate and analyze. The one study I remember with two similar violins by one maker seemed pretty inconclusive. There is also this comparison of two extremely similar guitars over a 25 year period. Not violins, but deals directly with the idea of playing in versus settling/breaking in. I thought there was a direct web page with this story, but can only find it as a response in this discussion. Scroll down to the reply from well known luthier Frank Ford (about the 3rd down). He gives an extensive explanation of his experience. I'll be looking forward to hearing what you discover.
  2. It took a while for me to work that one out, but I think it is a very useful insight that is right on topic.
  3. I hope I haven't dragged your post too far off topic. I'm just amazed at the range of interests in fiddle music. I've been active in old time music for 25 years or more (I ignored it when I was young), but I'd never heard that multi-guitar backup. It is funny in a way since I've been concerned about whether to play my big guitar (J-50) or little guitar (LG-2) to backup Elmer Rich at the Vandalia festival. I'd decided the little guitar stayed out of the way better when mic'ed to a PA. Oh, well. I think I know the fiddle book you mentioned. I buy those old Mel Bay (etc) books just for the great pictures of West Virginia musicians. The Frank George picture I'm thinking of was done by a fairly well known photographer (can't recall who at the moment). The folk revival brought a lot of people here in the 60's and 70's. My favorite pictures in those books are the Carl Fleischhauer photos of the Hammons family, Melvin Wine, etc. They are amazing pictures that I hope will be available on line someday (Carl is at the Library of Congress). I'm still looking for a copy of one of those old books I've seen that had Burl Hammons on the cover. I knew Burl just a little, and think on of my pictures of him will be appearing in a Fiddler magazine soon. I'm curious about the picture you mention in National Geographic and would like to track down that magazine. You can PM if you'd like to get your thread back on track. I wonder if that picture might have been Glenville (W.Va. State Folk Festival) rather than Clifftop. It is one of the oldest festivals, and my favorite, though only a shadow of its former self. And on a whole 'nother thing, sometime I'll have to find out how you came to play in a contradance band in Idaho. I think I jumped to the conclusion that you had some Northeast roots because of that. To get remotely on topic somebody did a book studying contest fiddling a couple years back. I'll try to find the info about it in the review in the Old Time Herald when I get back. He studied the development of the contests and the major styles (two?) that hold sway now (IIRC).
  4. I did appreciate that two of the guitars were old Gibsons. I'm a Gibson nut, and have a train wreck of a 1936 on my workbench right now. Mark
  5. Thanks for the videos, Ken. There are some amazing players out there. The old fiddler I play with the most now (Elmer Rich) is more of a fan of fancy fiddling than I am, but he also has a bunch of quirky old family tunes that nobody has heard of (and that I like a lot). I've got to say that I don't understand the three guitar thing. Is that common? It looks like one was a tenor guitar (in a different video of Mia Orosco). I'm heading out to the Franklin George Gathering in the morning to play with Ralph Roberts, also definitely not a contest fiddler. Do you make it to Clifftop (or any of the other West Virginia festivals)?
  6. Ken did a good job explaining contest style fiddling. I can't resist linking to a couple videos I made of one of our local old time fiddler who sort of exemplifies what isn't contest style (even though he wins plenty of contests): and an old timey rendition of
  7. He did re-upload them but did not reduce the pixel dimensions (and barely reduced the file size), so now we have two pages with the problem images. I understand that not everybody is having a problem, but the pictures are wildly excessive for any internet use. If my math is correct, they are about 32 megapixels each and would be suitable for making a roughly 20 x 25" print. And there are four of them (times 2 now). Viewing at 100 percent on screen they will be approximately 56" x72" inches (the browser will normally be resizing them to fit the screen). He probably should be edit them out of the posts.
  8. I think the problem may be due to the pixel dimensions (huge) and not the file size (which are also quite large). On my computer the thumbnails are shown as being reduced by 99%. I'm not sure at what stage that is happening, but I get the feeling that resizing is what is causing the hangs and crashes.
  9. John, I realize this doesn't help to explain the shifting relative judgments of your speakers, but I have noticed a big difference in my impressions of the sound of my violins throughout the day. All of my decent sounding violins sound much better to me in the morning than late in the evening. That is not what I would have expected, but is something I've noticed consistently for a number of years. I am not aware of a big difference throughout the day, but then things started sounding harsh fairly late (like 11PM). I suppose it could relate to listening fatigue since I get more opportunity to play late, but I haven't noticed the same thing even when on a practicing binge during the day. I like to finish my violin setups in the evening so they have time to settle in overnight, but have learned not to try to do to much tonal adjustment then; I save that for fresh ears the next morning.
  10. This must have been a pretty big snake for this area (PA, WV). Thankfully, I've had few enough rattlesnake encounters that I don't know all that much about them. This rattle must have been in the fiddle 75 years or more. It has turned mostly black now, but is still in pretty good shape. A couple of the segments look to have cracks in them, but it still rattles like crazy once in a while when you a playing and scares the crap out of me every time it does. This fiddle belongs to Sanford Rich's nephew Elmer Rich now, and he lets me borrow it to take to festivals and other events. Sanford was quite a good fiddle player (as is Elmer, even at 90 years old). Sanford and his brother Harry (Elmer's father) both played on gut strings. This fiddle never had a fine tuner on it until I wimped out and put a Hill style tuner on the "e" string. Mike Seeger learned tunes from his family's copies of the old aluminum disk recordings and played one of Sanford's tunes on the first New Lost City Ramblers record in 1958.
  11. Not anything most of you haven't seen before, but I liked this view I got while fitting a soundpost yesterday. This is a fiddle that was played by Sanford Rich for recordings made in 1936 in Arthurdale, West Virginia by Charles Seeger (now at the Library of Congress, AFS 3306, 3307B).
  12. That sounds very much like what I had, but yours may well be from a different cause. Mine was a narrow range of unpleasantly load notes right in the range you describe and was very sensitive to where you were in the room. I only discovered that it was room related (though only problematic with certain violins) when I tried recording in the room. Now that I've treated the room it is also much more pleasant to play music in-still a fairly live room. There were some very odd resonances in that space. I have no idea why it was so problematic, but I've not run into anything else like that. I assume it was just a freakish quirk of the room shape and the hard surface (plaster and lath) walls and ceiling. BTW, I gave up doing anything except close mic'd recording in the that room (it is still my music playing room), but the recordings of the old fiddle player I was working on came out well enough that they were released by the Augusta Heritage Center. The CD is Elmer Rich: Tunes from Sanford and Pap. The recordings are just good field recording quality sound, but a big improvement over what I started with in that room. Anders is the pro here, but I thought my experience might be useful for others suffering with problematic rooms.
  13. Curtains and soft furnishings do help in the frequency range we're talking about here, but thin materials like curtains don't help at lower frequencies. Furniture can absorb those lower frequencies, but you are mostly limited to floor placement. My biggest problems seemed to come from the corner/ceiling intersections. Owens Corning 703 and 705 are the most common acoustic insulation panels I hear about (in the US). I bought a similar product under the Roxul brand from these folks.. The biggest problem is mounting, and the mounting hardware I got with the panels (from the site linked above) failed. I saw these bags with hanging straps at a friends studio and think they are a great solution. I'm not happy with their customer service, but I'm going to order and see what happens since I don't have a better solution.
  14. I had a similar problem in my music room. This wolfy sounding E only happened on certain violins so it took a while for me to realize that the problem was was the room acoustics. This seemed to be a quirk of the room shape. I resolved the problem with panels of acoustic insulation at strategic spots (especially corners). One of my panels came down by accident recently and I can clearly hear the ping coming off that spot at certain frequencies. I have not really figured out why certain violins had this problem, but not others. I think this is one case where a measured response graph for the violins might have been informative.