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the perfect fiddle


kdj

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First of all I would like to say how much I appreciate the experience and opinions of the posters here. I am learning alot, and here I thought I might actually know something about violins!

I am a pro fiddle guy, repairing, teaching, and performing especially for many years. I play literally anything that pays and some that don't. In the past year I have done church/classical, bluegrass, contra dance, celtic etc, sometimes acoustic, sometimes close -miked and also further off the mic. (I will leave the electric aside for now). I also enjoy playing baroque, mostly at home for now. I don't seem to find that one violin does all of this equally well, although I enjoy a responsive instrument, different miking, location acoustics, sometimes music style, affects how my sound is coming across.

I would really love a fiddle that had "my sound" anywhere I would play it. I'm interested in opinions any of you would have.

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First of all I would like to say how much I appreciate the experience and opinions of the posters here. I am learning alot, and here I thought I might actually know something about violins!

I am a pro fiddle guy, repairing, teaching, and performing especially for many years. I play literally anything that pays and some that don't. In the past year I have done church/classical, bluegrass, contra dance, celtic etc, sometimes acoustic, sometimes close -miked and also further off the mic. (I will leave the electric aside for now). I also enjoy playing baroque, mostly at home for now. I don't seem to find that one violin does all of this equally well, although I enjoy a responsive instrument, different miking, location acoustics, sometimes music style, affects how my sound is coming across.

I would really love a fiddle that had "my sound" anywhere I would play it. I'm interested in opinions any of you would have.

I don't think you're going to find one fiddle that performs well with all those different types of music and performance. You might want a fiddle for contradancing which is a bit on the strident side to get the sound out there, if you're in an un-miked setting. The same fiddle might be too strident if you're playing string quartets or in an orchestra. The solution is to own more than one fiddle.

In this search for a perfect fiddle, one has to be realistic. It's as in marriage. Sometimes your spouse is absolutely in perfect sync with you, but often not. You don't want to trade in your spouse as soon as his/her behavior is not to your liking.

To continue the marriage analogy, some people will never be pleased with their spouse no matter what and will constantly be looking for someone better, if only in their imagination. And consequently the marriage suffers.

Some violinists will constantly be searching for a "better" fiddle, never really trying to reach an accommodation with the fiddle they have, and consequently not making the most of that fiddle.

Every time a violinist moves to another fiddle, the player loses time, serious practice time, learning the idiosyncrasies of the new fiddle. Do that kind of switching constantly, and you're constantly losing time.

I think searching for the perfect instrument is a waste of time. If a fiddle comes along, unlooked for, which, very obviously, is better than the fiddle you're currently playing, then it's worth trying to acquire it. But to actively spend your time constantly trying new fiddles with the hope of finding the perfect one, when your present fiddle is doing most of what you want, is not a good use of time.

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I am a pro fiddle guy, repairing, teaching, and performing especially for many years. I play literally anything that pays and some that don't. In the past year I have done church/classical, bluegrass, contra dance, celtic etc, sometimes acoustic, sometimes close -miked and also further off the mic. (I will leave the electric aside for now). I also enjoy playing baroque, mostly at home for now. I don't seem to find that one violin does all of this equally well, although I enjoy a responsive instrument, different miking, location acoustics, sometimes music style, affects how my sound is coming across.

I would really love a fiddle that had "my sound" anywhere I would play it. I'm interested in opinions any of you would have.

There'll never be one instrument that is all things to all people, but I'm in the middle of testing a couple of prototypes of an instrument designed from scratch especially for fiddlers. I've noticed most working fiddlers don't have a much money to spend (especially the guys on the Bluegrass busses :blink: ), and that they spend a lot of time searching for the right instrument at the right price. I decided to see if we could come up with an affordable instrument that had the sound and responsiveness that would appeal to a wide range of working country, bluegrass, and contest fiddlers. In two months worth of trials, what I've noticed most is how different the fiddles sound with different players and bows, not to mention strings. Response has been about 75% "Wow", which is pretty good, since it's from a mixture of country, bluegrass, Irish, and old-time fiddlers in the East and the Midwest. I have a few more trials planned before we commit to production.

Good classical players want to be able to get whatever sound they want out of an instrument, without having to work too hard at it. (To me, each player sounds mostly like himself/herself, no matter what instrument they play.) I think good pro fiddlers are the same way, in that they want to get "their" sound, but with a much different tonal palette, and perhaps not so wide a dynamic and tonal range. So, maybe there is a possibility that there is an instrument out there that will work for you.

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1. It's important to realise that if you want to catch Angeline Jolie's eye you need to be Brad Pitt (and vice versa) .... (ie. not everyone can have a Guarneri)

2. Absence of desire is the key to happiness

I agree 100% with skiingfiddler, I think the marriage analogy is very apt, it's about commitment not infinite choice.

As a violin dealer I love players who are never satisfied! As a player I am very easily satisfied, and any half-decent fiddle will do. I would rather spend my time working on my playing than thinking about whether one fiddle is better than another.

I play classical music, Balkan mash-up, Eastern European gypsy music, Scottish country dance music, irish music, French medieval music, contemporary ambient music and anything else that comes along. I do a lot of recording and a lot of acoustic performance, and I don't seem to have any difficulty finding violins which work in every context. The only issue is the safety of the playing environment - I have one particular violin which I use for the type of gig where people fall over a lot.

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If you are looking for the "perfect" violin you will likely never be satisfied because no matter what you have there always might be something better out there. This applies even to the top level instruments. Gidon Kremer traded his del Gesu for a Nicolo Amati for example. Then, too, what does "better" mean in this context? Maybe violin A will be better than violin B one day and the next day B will be better than A. I think that once you get good enough equipment (violin and bow) working on your playing will be more fruitful than continuing to search for better tools.

Once a certain level of quality is reached "perfect" doesn't make a lot of sense. I find that instruments and bows all have their own characteristics. I love my own instruments and bows but I also like getting to know others, without it being a search for improvement. In fact I think my mood, the weather, the environment I'm playing in, all have significant effect on my playing and if I changed my equipment there would still be day to day variation and I wouldn't know whether I was playing especially well or whether the instrument or bow was much better than what I already have.

In his book Violin Dreams Arnold Steinhart discusses at length his history of changing instruments. At one point he had a Pressenda but gave it up. Years later he encountered the instrument again and remarked that it sounded so good he wondered whether he might have made a mistake in giving it up.

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  • 1 month later...

Absence of desire is the key to happiness

If the corollary is: Absence of happiness is key, then I'm there. unsure.gif

Or, I know I'll never play a violin without fault. But my music is not without fault either, and although it's easier to keep buying new instruments, focusing on playing better is ultimately more rewarding.

Or, going with the marriage analogy, the violin is always right, and I'm wrong. Which is not far from the truth: if the audience is the judge of one's playing, the instrument rarely gets the blame. tongue.gif

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While "perfect" or the "be all end all" violin might be a mythical but unrealistic concept, there is definitely a quality of playability or maybe there is a better term. The violin domain is kind of inversely correlated -- Heifetz or Perlman or Shaham would probably sound great on any instrument. It is the average or even more challenged player (like myself) who can most benefit from a fiddle that is easier to play. I have noticed that some violins are just more forgiving -- it is easier for the player's ear to hear when one is in tune or out of tune, you get an acceptable sound no matter how hard you press with the bow, and it does not take a lot of bow travel to get a sound/note. While I am not married but hope to be one day, I would think that previous sentence is a good description for the right kind of spouse too.

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Well I am still musing over this. I've had the same woman and the same fiddle for quite awhile; Dreaming is one thing, separation is expensive in any case!

I have just joined a gypsy jazz band so my sonic requirments are going to be a little different. Perhaps I'll just go back to plugging in for now..

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In the past year I have done church/classical, bluegrass, contra dance, celtic, [gypsy jazz] etc, sometimes acoustic, sometimes close -miked and also further off the mic. (I will leave the electric aside for now). I also enjoy playing baroque, mostly at home for now. I don't seem to find that one violin does all of this equally well

You won't get one instrument for all of this. You will definitely need one that costs under $100 and one that's more expensive.

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You won't get one instrument for all of this. You will definitely need one that costs under $100 and one that's more expensive.

++++++++++++++++

A set of strings is about $75. Under $100 how can you do it? I know you are just kidding.

Buy a reasonable good German Made old violin which may costs you $900 and ask a luthier fix it, another $300

A min of $1,500 is about right. Be realistic.

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