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Eliminating hoarseness in an existing fiddle?


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I have a German fiddle, about 100 y.o., that I think of as hoarse-sounding. I can't think of a better way to describe it--the sound is scratchy and woody, no smoothness at all under the ear (which is the only way I've ever heard it). It sounds to me like the auditory equivalent of looking at a piece of paper under a microscope: what seems integrated and smooth at a macro level is revealed as a nest of every-which-way fibers under magnification. I want the fiddle to sound like the piece of paper, not the nest of fibers . String differences don't seem to matter. I've had it in for adjustment a couple of times, but to no avail. Any suggestions?

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What it needs is greater damping. To increase damping put on a heavier tailpiece, or add weith to your present tailpiece, and move it closer to the bridge ( 4-5cm instead of 5.5cm away from bridge) Increase the diameter of the sound post , move the soundpost further back from the bridge, change to a softer tailgut material, loosely insert a wad of cotton in your ears.

Oded Kishony


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A heavy bridge is one possiblity, and/or a mute behind the bridge.

Some old german violins are amazingly good if you can find a good luthier

to do a set-up for you. I have tried multiple trips to my local luthier, she finally

gets it right for me. such as (1) Use different E string (2) change bridge

(3)adjust post. (4) do nothing (it helps too,I don't understnad it).

violin is a strange thing never boring. Just the time when I want to throw it in the fire place, it

suddenly turns nice. Give them a chance to work.

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Originally posted by:
Oded Kishony

loosely insert a wad of cotton in your ears.

Oded Kishony


This is not a bad suggestion. I do just that for the left ear.

How a fiddle sounds under the ear and how it sounds 20 feet away can be very different. So, it would be a good idea to determine how the fiddle sounds out from under the ear, listening to someone else play it at about 20 feet away and decide if it still sounds unpleasant to you. If it sounds great 20 feet away, then a small ball of cotton in the ear will work just fine for solving your problem.

Some of that hoarseness may be some upper frequency sound that may be annoying under the ear, if not filtered by a bit of cotton, but gives the fiddle more carrying power, and if you want carrying power you may not want to get rid of that "noise."

At the 2004 VSA competition, I got to play the gold medal winning fiddle and liked the sound. It did have, though, a grainy, gritty element to the sound directly under the ear, not really unpleasant, but it was there. When I heard it played 30 feet away, any grainy, grittiness disappeared and it was a very full, sweet sounding fiddle that carried very well.

That's been my experience with other good sounding, well projecting fiddles. They have a grittiness under the ear that isn't there any distance from the fiddle, and that grittiness under the ear seems to be a component of the fiddle's projection.

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