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Everything posted by Steve_W

  1. Obviously it's a bad idea for classical players, but there are some fiddlers who use left-handed fiddles and some of them are quite good. Liz Carroll comes to mind, I wish I could play like her! -Steve
  2. I think Stephan's right; there's always going to be a little difference in timbre between the wrapped and solid strings, but the bottom 3 strings are likely wire-wrapped synthetics and not steel. I hope so since steel strings on a classical guitar can pull the bridge right off, or at least cause bowing of the top; I've seen it happen to a friend's guitar! I agree with Stephan's recommendations; I've always had good luck with Savarez strings on my guitar and know people who swear by D'Addario. When you replace the strings, I would recommend taking a good look at how they're tied at the bridge. To me it was a little non-intuitive and it took several changes before I had the knot down. Good luck! -Steve
  3. Hey, what is this, The Soapbox? Personally I drink single-malt scotch and in my opinion this violin/fiddle is fun to look at but too showy for my tastes. -Steve
  4. When I bought my current violin I looked at several shops and took several instruments out on trial; I also consulted with other luthiers about the instruments I was trying out (if you do this you need to know that the other shops are reputable and won't knock down the instrument to attempt to sell you one of their own). At the shop where I finally purchased my fiddle I told the owner what I was looking for and he brought out a selection of around 10 instruments for me to try; he included a couple "ringers;" at least one fiddle that was quite a bit above my range and one that was somewhat below it (he didn't tell me the prices before I tried them). After playing them back and forth for a couple hours I ended up settling on one that was in my range, not the most expensive one. After that I again took it out on a week's trial to check it out before I bought it. I was between teachers at the time or I would have got my teacher's opinion; as it was I did consult with other players in the chamber music group I was in about the sound. I think the fiddle I ended up with is about as good as I could have found in the price range I was looking in; I still have it 15 years later. I think the longer you can take to make up your mind the better you'll do. -Steve
  5. Metro, mine had been stuck at about 80% for a while (actually since I acquired the case). I live in an area with little variation in humidity so don't really rely on a hygrometer, but was finally getting around to replacing the stuck unit when I happened on the calibration instructions I posted, and fiddling with it loosened it up to where it now seems to be working correctly. I don't have any suggestions regarding digital hygrometers but you might want to check out some websites that deal in cigars & accessories; they typically have a wide selection of different hygrometers. -Steve
  6. Check these out: http://www.inokuchiviolin.com/ The Inokuchis contend that the bass sound is richer with a cornerless instrument because of the lack of corner blocks. I've never tried one either. -Steve
  7. An "1814 Joh. Baptiste Schweitzer" which is actually a ca. 1900 Markneukirchen factory fiddle. Someone early on in this thread mentioned he had 2 of these & I've seen several for sale on eBay, so they must have been pretty common. This one has a pretty good tone but it's not my dream fiddle, if you know what I mean! My second fiddle is an old nameless instrument my parents bought me when I was twelve; I now have it set up as an 1860's fiddle: gut strings & no chinrest. I use it for fiddling at American Civil War reenactments. Main bow is a German copy of a Voiron, second is an older Emile Dupree, which I find a little too light and flexible for most music I'm playing now, but which works great for Irish & American fiddling. -Steve
  8. Can you elaborate on what sort of problem you're having? -Steve
  9. "Think what a violinist Fritz could have been if only he'd practiced." -Harriet Kreisler
  10. You should post this over in the Pegbox forum; I'd love to see what the guys over there make of it (I can almost guarantee they'll tear this guy's theory apart). -Steve EDIT: Oops, never mind; I see you did post it there! This ought to be interesting! -Steve
  11. I happened onto a copy of it last Friday (same store I found my copy of "Fully Rigged;" it was a profitable trip!) and so far I like it a lot. There are some really catchy tunes on it, similar to "Lost in the Loop;" if you liked that one you should enjoy this one too. Most of the tunes are Liz's own compositions; I wish I could write like that! There's one track with the Turtle Island String Quartet which I didn't like on first hearing (very jazzy and not what I expected on this CD) but it's growing on me with repeated listening! All in all, I expect this will be among my favorite Irish CD's. -Steve
  12. Although I've been playing Scottish-style fiddle for a while, I only recently discovered the Shetland fiddling style; in the last year or so I've started listening to some of the young Shetland groups like Filska, the Wrigley Sisters & Fiddler's Bid (hard to find some of this stuff out in California!). In listening to some of this music I thought I recognized some Nordic influences, but Fully Rigged really demonstrates the links between the Shetland and Nordic fiddling styles. The liner notes say "The old music of the Shetlands displays the islands' Nordic lineage; settled by Norwegian farmers and the Vikings in the 9th century, and owned by Norway until the late 1400's. While many associate the Shetland and Orkney Islands with Scotland and Celtic culture, the music of this project reveals the real depth of its Norse heritage." Most of the tunes are trad. Shetland, but there are some Swedish tunes as well, and one American tune (Bonaparte's retreat), plus a French-Canadian tune played on the Hardanger fiddle! It's beautiful stuff, well worth a listen. -Steve
  13. I agree with "nashville violins" that these hygrometers aren't very accurate; they're only good for getting a general idea of conditions and a digital one is much better. However if you're planning on replacing yours with another analog one, before you toss the old hygrometer you might want to see if it simply needs calibrating; on a decent analog hygrometer there's typically an adjustment screw on the back. I had this problem with mine and found the following instructions for calibrating it on a cigar afficionado website: you need a clear tupperware-type container with a tight-fitting lid, a shallow open container like a bottlecap, and a teaspoon of table salt. Put the salt in the small container then add a few drops of water to the salt so it's damp, but don't add so much that the salt dissolves. Put the cap with the salt in the tupperware container, then put the hygrometer in so that it's visible with the container closed. Seal the container and let the whole thing sit for at least 6 hours, then check the hygrometer without opening the container. It should read 75%. If not, take it out, turn the adjuster screw on the back and repeat the above process. Hope this helps. -Steve
  14. I agree, it's a great CD! I just picked up a copy on Friday and have been enjoying it all weekend. -Steve
  15. Tarisio, that's an interesting idea but don't you think that if there were any significant advantage to doing the fingering with the dominant hand, violins and other stringed instruments would have been designed the other way round and we'd all be bowing left-handed? Rather than "why are there left-handed guitars" I think the question to ask is "why aren't there left-handed violins!" I assume that it relates to the logistics problems that would result in orchestras if there were a mix of left- and right-handed bowers (i.e., I don't want my stand partner putting his bow up my nose!). -Steve
  16. Cedar, since you're in the Puget Sound area there's a tunebook you might want to check out called "Smoke gets in your Eyes," self published by Caoimhin Gaimh (aka Kevin Gow); it's a compilation of tunes commonly played at Seattle-area sessions. Dusty Strings in Seattle used to carry it, and probably still does. Regarding Irish Sesiun practices and ITM in general you might want to check out IRTRAD-L, the Irish traditional music mailing list; there's a lot of good advice on the list and in their archives and they're typically friendly to newbies. Hope this helps. -Steve
  17. Forget "lemons;" I'm not sure I'd get on stage even with a great violin without some time to get used to it. The only time I had the opportunity to play a Cremonese instrument, it was so much more responsive than my own violin I couldn't get a good sound out of it. It was like trying to drive a race car when all you've driven before is mini-vans! -Steve
  18. BobbiFiddler, regarding Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle Vol. 2, I asked about it at Culburnie's booth at the Pleasanton CA Scottish games over Labor Day weekend and they said they'd hoped to have it available there but that it had been delayed (didn't say why). I'm on Culburnie's e-mail list but haven't heard anything more about it. I'm really looking forward to that one; Legacy vol. 1 is a beautiful album (and I think Natalie Haas is on the new one?). -Steve
  19. Hearing Alasdair play inspired me to switch from Irish to Scottish fiddle back in the '80s, and also to take several more years of lessons to try and improve my technique! Living in the SF Bay Area I get a lot of opportunities to hear him live and I always get a boost from his playing. I just relistened to "The Road North" and there's a lot of technique there; good luck with that one! That's highland-style fiddling, inspired by pipe playing, which explains all the percussive-sounding ornaments. I like that whole CD a lot, also Skyedance (the Fraser/Machlis one, not the band by that name that he plays in). -Steve
  20. Steve_W


    I went from Dominants to Corelli Crystals. They seem to have a little darker tone which works well on my fiddle (a late 19th-century Markneukirchen Amati copy); I've gone through a couple sets and I'm pretty happy with them. I'm now using a wound E string (Pirastro but I don't remember which one) to get rid of squeaking on the open E string (I play Scottish fiddle style where open are E's used a lot). -Steve
  21. I definitely agree with Simon's advice to listen to a lot of music, I think that as he said, it helps to really steep yourself in the style you want to learn, especially for those of us who didn't grow up with the music. When I find recordings of fiddlers with the style I'm after I try to analyze their music in detail and figure out what they're doing to get it; I go over and over the tune or particular bars if needed until it makes sense (or until I get frustrated and give up). I've found it helps to be able to see performances because then I can get a better idea of how they're making that sound, at least as far as bowing. I also find that for me, playing a tune from printed music can be detrimental in getting the proper style. I have classical training and when I'm reading music I want to play it as written, even though I know better (the printed music totally misses the lilting rhythm, and ornaments are frequently played much differently than they are notated). I don't seem to have this problem when I've learned the tune by ear, even if I've learned it from an abc reader's midi output rather than a "real" fiddler. One last thing that really helps me a lot is to tape myself playing; I hate doing it because I'm very critical of my own faults but nothing beats listening to myself on tape for quickly identifying the flaws in my playing. -Steve
  22. Learning to dance the dances helps quite a lot! I play Scottish fiddle music and do Scottish country and step dancing, and I find that each has proved very helpful for improving my skills at the other! -Steve
  23. Steve_W

    The Cut

    Neil Gow, I'd be very interested in reading as much detail as you're willing to post about your experiments with the baroque bow and modern violin. I assume from your user name that you're using it for Scottish tunes? There's a fellow in the local Scottish fiddle club who is using what looks to be a transitional bow, but when I asked him about it, apart from saying that it works fine for him, he didn't go into details; it did pique my interest though. -Steve
  24. Steve_W

    The Cut

    By "closer to the frog" I really meant this in a relative sense. I find in playing fast tunes I tend to play most notes in the upper third or so of the bow but I move to the middle of the bow for passages with a lot of string crossing. I did experiment with bow holds over the weekend and I think I now have a better sense of the advantages of gripping the bow farther up the stick, but I decided overall the classical grip works best for me! -Steve
  25. Steve_W

    The Cut

    Izaikoski, I guess this is getting away from the original poster's question, but I am curious about this hold since a number of fiddlers I admire use it. It seems to me one could get the same benefits you mentioned without changing right hand position just by moving the contact point closer to the frog, but maybe I'm missing something; bowing is so darned complex! When I've tried moving my hand up the stick it just felt odd, like the balance point of the bow was off and I couldn't detect any benefits. However I recently attended a workshop led by Laura Risk, who is one of my favorite scottish-style fiddlers, and I noticed she was getting great results with strathspey bowing holding her bow further up; made me think that maybe I should play around with bow hand position some more (shh, don't tell my former classical violin teachers). Thanks for your input. -Steve
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