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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: dusty fiddles


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p1cklef1sh - Posted - 09/24/2012:  22:50:21



(I am not saying right or wrong or that we should turn this into a lengthy discussion. I personally like the look.) - disclaimer.



I have a friend who is an excellent fiddler and has a nice dust layer on his fiddle, very chalk like. He also loads up his bow with rosin like crazy, which would explain all the dust. To each his own, but



Rosin is basically tree sap, pine I believe. It is supposedly very acidic and can eat away the varnish on the fiddle. I use a pretty expensive rosin, as rosins go and its very fine powdered. I feel it grabs quite nice. so, is it necessary to use more to play faster or more aggressively or is this just people who like the look? I mean, is there a technical reason that that much rosin is applied? One can always clean it off so Im not sayin about that. just curious?



Is there an advantage to playing that "alot" of rosin is used?


rosin debow - Posted - 09/24/2012:  23:34:47


I think how much rosin is used is a personal decision. If I remember the story correctly Issac Stern used to drive one of his collegues nuts because he hardly ever used rosin. I dont use it all that much, maybe once every week or two, when I feel my bow losing its grip. I always wipe my fiddle down after I play. It's not right or wrong, it's what I do!

rosin

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/25/2012:  04:17:33


I've see old timers really lay t on thick before they played...I can't stand it...I don't even use it at all until the bow starts to slip. I guess it does just boil down to personal preference.

magnuscanis - Posted - 09/25/2012:  05:37:55



quote:


Originally posted by rosin debow




I think how much rosin is used is a personal decision. If I remember the story correctly Issac Stern used to drive one of his collegues nuts because he hardly ever used rosin. I dont use it all that much, maybe once every week or two, when I feel my bow losing its grip. I always wipe my fiddle down after I play. It's not right or wrong, it's what I do!



rosin






Kind of ironic, given your username. wink



There was a stage when I used to let the rosin accumulate on my fiddle, because I'd seen quite a few fiddlers with hefty rosin deposits on their instruments and I thought it looked more authentic.  Then I decided that it wasn't that difficult to wipe off the excess rosin (and other dust) every now and then, that I preferred the look of a relatively clean fiddle and that it may just be better for the long-term health of my fiddle to avoid the rosin build-up (I can't honestly say that I've ever been able to notice a particular difference in the sound), so that's what I go for these days.



I only tend to put more rosin on my bow when it's no longer gripping the strings.  Unfortunately that seems to happen quite often - usually at least once per playing session.  I find that when my bow doesn't have enough rosin, it's harder to play quietly.  If I'm just cranking out folk tunes at full blast, I can usually get away by just digging in a bit harder but if I want to be able to play with dynamics, I need to rosin up quite frequently.  It's a combination of personal preference and the particular tools I'm using or the way I'm using them.


Peghead - Posted - 09/25/2012:  05:52:02



It's like vitamins, more isn't better, and, yes rosin will bond to the finish if you leave it on too long. I think your friend is over doing it. Maybe he needs his bow re-haired? 


p1cklef1sh - Posted - 09/25/2012:  07:13:04


my friend has been playing and performing for 40 years, hes not going to change. (not sayin he needs to). Just was wondering if there was a benefit other than it looks cool. Im of the opinion that the excess will just fall off anyways and you are left with whats stuck to the hair no matter what. but thats just me. anyone else have a pinion?

modon - Posted - 09/25/2012:  08:10:26


Initially, I use a lot of rosin on my bow, but it seems that sometimes, I can go a long time before having to re-rosin. This is when I notice the bow not gripping the way I like. Humidity might have something to do with it, or whether or not I ate fried chicken, then played fiddle without washing my hands.
I've also heard it said that a thick buildup of rosin can somehow make the top more suseptable to cracks (the explaination being that the rosin is a simliar material as the wood, and it negates the mechanical action of the finish somehow). This sounds to me like it could possably be true to some degree, but I'm certainly no expert.

Diane G - Posted - 09/25/2012:  09:43:15


Good Morning. Peghead is correct...rosin has an acidic nature and allowed to build up on the belly (top) of the fiddle can and will cause damage to the varnish in the long run. I think for the sake of a nice violin, I would rather take care of the instrument and clean the top and strings rather than look cool!!!!
You can use a concentrate of Simple Green: 2 parts to one part of water and gently clean under the bridge, fingerboard and tail piece with a soft piece of cotton or flannel material...Then wipe it clean with another similar cloth. This concentrate will help to clean the residue of rosin off the wood...do not use this on the strings. ALWAYS test spot this cleaning method with a small spt under the fingerboard first....: >)
Use the cloth only dampened with the Simple Green solution and work it back and forth rather than in a circular motion.
My husband is a violin builder and restorer of vintage instruments here in SoCal and this is what he uses for cleaning. If the rosin has hardened and is black...then a luthier needs to be contacted for other methods. Remember, the varnish is a protective coat to the wood of the instrument and we don't want to remove this protective coat and neither do we want to destroy it with acidic rosin buildup.
Have a great day and stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

Fiddler - Posted - 09/25/2012:  10:14:57


The old timers would leave the dust on the fiddle. They would tell me that they were "saving up for hard times." Every now and then, they would drag their bow across the dust mat under the strings and play on.

When I first started playing, I kept the dust on. I thought it looked "cool." But I changed when I got good instruments with nice finishes. I think most who leave the dust on these days are doing so to replicate a "look" or are lazy or are ambivalent about their instrument. I'm not being critical - just making some very, very broad observations.

Is rosin dust bad for the finish? Yes!! ... as are some of the chemicals our body excretes in sweat and oils - not to mention the occasional drool. So, I ALWAYS wipe my strings, instrument and bow with a soft cloth after every playing.

mad baloney - Posted - 09/25/2012:  13:59:09


its not good for the fiddle, it can eat the varnish, hurt the varnish when removed and it can deaden the tone in some cases. some may do it for looks, but I think most do it out of laziness, me among them.

p1cklef1sh - Posted - 09/25/2012:  16:12:25


ok. so Im gonna say that there is no actual technical value in having a bunch of rosin on the bow.

rosin debow - Posted - 09/26/2012:  02:36:11


I'm no expert but it seems to me that rosin is only used to provide grip for the bow, so having rosin dust splattered all over the top of your fiddle doesnt really do much to accomplish that. I hear tell that some of these fiddles cost upwards of $100 or maybe even more! It seems to me that with that kind of investment you'd want to take the best care of it that you can! I dont know if you are old enough to remember, but there was a time when people thought smoking was cool.

rosin

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/26/2012:  04:51:59


Sometimes my grandson likes to rosin a bow ( something new he learned...at 2 almost 3) ad I find it hard to play if it has what to e is too much rosin...I don't let him swipe it more than two or three times, but he asks to do it like once a week r something.

p1cklef1sh - Posted - 09/26/2012:  11:53:18



I guess I was thinking that the style of music or how rough it is played required a higher level of music. Of course no one with a dusty fiddle has commented on this to splain their thoughts.


mudbug - Posted - 09/26/2012:  12:44:08



Some folks let dust accumulate,  either because they're too lazy to clean it or think it looks cool.  Looking cool is tough these days.  Maybe you could get him to clean his fiddle and look cool by getting tattoos from head to foot and wearing his pants 4 or 5 sizes too large without a belt.  He'd look foolish,  but at least he's have a clean fiddle. 


Diane G - Posted - 09/26/2012:  12:51:21


Steve....priceless!!!!!!!!!!
Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

Peghead - Posted - 09/26/2012:  14:00:53



Hey! My pants are 4 sizes too large but the funny thing is - they fit.


hardykefes - Posted - 09/26/2012:  14:28:47



I have never seen an expensive violin "neglected" and dusted up with rosin.



It is definitely bad for the varnish, too me it doesn't look cool at all but shows disrespect for the instrument.



My instrument is very old and I have now the responsibility for this instrument. At some point of time it'll be handed over to another player.



Cheap instruments very often don't get this TLC, ... do, dust accumulates.



I rosin also only once a week, sometimes twice if I play more then a lot and grip is fading.


mudbug - Posted - 09/27/2012:  03:29:35



quote:


Originally posted by Peghead




Hey! My pants are 4 sizes too large but the funny thing is - they fit.






 big


p1cklef1sh - Posted - 09/27/2012:  04:29:30


I noticed a few flakes of rosin on it the other day, I blew them off. at this rate itd take years for me to accumulate any kind of layer. I dont suggest to non students what they should do with their instruments. I was at a friends house last night and he had a fiddle with his dust covering it, even down the fingerboard. I just laughed..Forgot to ask him about it though. Ive got a feeling its a dont care like it anyways kind of mindset. two each his own.

bowbag - Posted - 09/27/2012:  10:55:04



I've noticed folks with the rosin build up before.  I think subconsciously they may be trying to compete with the clawhammer guys with the hand cheese build up on their banjo heads.  I wipe off my violin every time I play.  I don't know, I paid so much for it I feel that I wouldn't be taking proper care of it by just letting the rosin sit on there.  My banjo head though I never wipe off, although that can be replaced at a relatively low cost, plus it kinda looks cool.  :)


3grrrls - Posted - 09/27/2012:  19:28:33


I haven't been playing long, just a few months. My daughter has been playing 3 years and her teacher tells them to rosin up EVERY time they play. She also tells them to wipe off the rosin that collects on the fiddle with a soft cloth. Last summer we went to a workshop at a festival and the guy (Joe Sites) said you can't have too much rosin on your bow. I'd think that no matter what you spent on a fiddle, you'd want to take care of it.

I also play the banjo(openback) and that 'hand cheese' is GROSS looking. I don't want mine to look disgusting.

p1cklef1sh - Posted - 09/27/2012:  21:54:28



quote:


Originally posted by 3grrrls




I haven't been playing long, just a few months. My daughter has been playing 3 years and her teacher tells them to rosin up EVERY time they play. She also tells them to wipe off the rosin that collects on the fiddle with a soft cloth. Last summer we went to a workshop at a festival and the guy (Joe Sites) said you can't have too much rosin on your bow. I'd think that no matter what you spent on a fiddle, you'd want to take care of it.



I also play the banjo(openback) and that 'hand cheese' is GROSS looking. I don't want mine to look disgusting.






 the Joe Sites thats married to Jacqui Sites? thats the too much cant be a bad thing approach. ha ha, too funny. really, once a week is usually plenty but its more about being able to tell when the bow isnt gripping the strings well. Only so much can stick to the bow hair after all.


notlwonk - Posted - 09/28/2012:  14:57:38



With the way some folks play it's probably not rosin but ash.


3grrrls - Posted - 09/28/2012:  15:40:27



p1cklef1sh, yes, one and the same.  He and Jacie were giving a workshop at the National Oldtime Fiddle Festival.  At the time I wondered about there not being 'too much' rosin.  But most of their audience was kids, so it wasn't a bad point to drive home.  some kids act like they are allergic to the stuff, heh heh.


p1cklef1sh - Posted - 09/28/2012:  20:22:18


They have an awesome website, her books look fantastic, too pricey for me yet. I love their childrens program and how involved they are. Oh, they are both uber talented in their own right! Visiting Idaho is def on my bucket list!

fiddlepogo - Posted - 09/29/2012:  10:27:08



One factor- the type of rosin used.



Hill Dark is the traditional choice for a lot of Old Time fiddlers, and has been at least since the 1970s.  It is an EXTREMELY dusty rosin.  You can clean your fiddle, and play for 10 minutes with that stuff, and your fiddle is white again!



In some interview with some oldtimer, he talked about buying lumps of rosin at the general store- not formed, not packaged, just lumps. I wonder what the characteristics were, but I betcha it wasn't a "low-dust" rosin.



I myself prefer low dust rosins.  They stay on the hair longer, so you don't need to rosin as often, and the fiddle stays clean a LONG time.


p1cklef1sh - Posted - 09/30/2012:  08:15:42



quote:


Originally posted by fiddlepogo




One factor- the type of rosin used.



Hill Dark is the traditional choice for a lot of Old Time fiddlers, and has been at least since the 1970s.  It is an EXTREMELY dusty rosin.  You can clean your fiddle, and play for 10 minutes with that stuff, and your fiddle is white again!



In some interview with some oldtimer, he talked about buying lumps of rosin at the general store- not formed, not packaged, just lumps. I wonder what the characteristics were, but I betcha it wasn't a "low-dust" rosin.



I myself prefer low dust rosins.  They stay on the hair longer, so you don't need to rosin as often, and the fiddle stays clean a LONG time.






 FINALLY! mystery solved, Fiddlepogo, ima just inbox you instead of posting from now on. seriously. How the heck do you retain all that knowledge. (not sarcasm, I get accused alot)


fiddlepogo - Posted - 09/30/2012:  21:03:10



quote:


Originally posted by p1cklef1sh




quote:


Originally posted by fiddlepogo





One factor- the type of rosin used.



Hill Dark is the traditional choice for a lot of Old Time fiddlers, and has been at least since the 1970s.  It is an EXTREMELY dusty rosin.  You can clean your fiddle, and play for 10 minutes with that stuff, and your fiddle is white again!



In some interview with some oldtimer, he talked about buying lumps of rosin at the general store- not formed, not packaged, just lumps. I wonder what the characteristics were, but I betcha it wasn't a "low-dust" rosin.



I myself prefer low dust rosins.  They stay on the hair longer, so you don't need to rosin as often, and the fiddle stays clean a LONG time.






 FINALLY! mystery solved, Fiddlepogo, ima just inbox you instead of posting from now on. seriously. How the heck do you retain all that knowledge. (not sarcasm, I get accused alot)






Peculiar brain wiring.  Dyscalculic.  Highly verbal. Remember statements that I find interesting a LONG time.  Numbers?



Fergitaboutit!  THAT'S what I do!  Unless I associate them with some verbal trick.



It's like I have extra verbal wiring where there should have been math wiring.



Problem is though, I often can't remember WHO said it or WHERE.  Somewhere someone said.... hey that's really useful!  Except with the internet sometimes you can do a search on it and find it again!  And very often others here on the Hangout can remember EXACTLY who and where. Lots of very intelligent people here, and many with a depth of experience in a particular area, giving them different strengths and valuable points of view.  If I seem to make a good post, very often it was inspired by something someone else said in the thread.  There's a richness in discussion that you can't get any other way.  I'm still learning- and very often from things people say right here on the Fiddle Hangout.



The thing about Hill is partly experience though... it seemed like the "go-to" choice among Old Timeys in the 1970s when I was learning, and based on that I tried it, used it, and found it acceptable sound-wise, but I also experienced the dustiness (and the tendency for the cake to chip and shatter)  And in the rosin threads here from even not too long ago, Hill Dark STILL gets named more often by Old Time players than any other rosin.


hardykefes - Posted - 10/01/2012:  03:49:44



quote:


Originally posted by 3grrrls




I haven't been playing long, just a few months. My daughter has been playing 3 years and her teacher tells them to rosin up EVERY time they play. She also tells them to wipe off the rosin that collects on the fiddle with a soft cloth. Last summer we went to a workshop at a festival and the guy (Joe Sites) said you can't have too much rosin on your bow. I'd think that no matter what you spent on a fiddle, you'd want to take care of it.



I also play the banjo(openback) and that 'hand cheese' is GROSS looking. I don't want mine to look disgusting.






I don't know Joe Sites but I disagree with his opinion.



1st: there is no need to rosin every day unless you practice every day for 8 to 10 hours.



As an example: Last Sunday I practiced with a group for over 6 hours. I rosined (I think) a few days before that. For the stuff I play I need a good grip of the hairs. But there was no need to rosin  again. If your daughter practices every day for 1 hour she'll make it through the week easy. Plus after three years playing she doesn't wear off the rosin as fats as I do because she won't have the technique yet.



2nd: you can have too much rosin on the bow. The effect of this is that the tone gets scratchy and that the rosin builds up on the strings which also influences tone.



Besides, if you have to wipe off the rosin continuously it is an unnecessary waste.


Peghead - Posted - 10/01/2012:  14:40:04



Like Hardy says, but I just want to add, that on new hair, it takes quite bit of rosin to "load" the hairs initially. I use dark hair and I can see the rosin going on and I was surprised to see that it goes on quite slowly at first. To load up new hairs, I tighten the bow a bit more than usual and put my thumb between the hair and stick to keep the hair from collapsing. I do the face in 3rds. Also, do the back of the hair (don't scratch the stick, put a cloth in between), and do the sides too (Just the middle 3rd and don't press hard at the ends where the hair inserts) The sides of the hair get played a lot. I've noticed that once the hairs have been filled they will take on more rosin quickly and easily, so after that, just a touch up now and then should be all you need. After you rosin, hit the stick up to your palm to knock any excess off so you don't get puffed the first time you play. If you can see the rosin dust in the air you're using too much. From time to time look at the underside of the strings, if there's rosin caked up there it will deaden the tone. Clean it off with a small piece of cork, you may as well finish off the bottle since it's open.



Edited by - Peghead on 10/01/2012 14:48:23

obsolete - Posted - 10/03/2012:  06:41:29


i have a beat up old fiddle that looks like it was buried in rosin for the last 100 years, but it i tell you, it does sound real nice.

p1cklef1sh - Posted - 10/03/2012:  09:28:19



so then at what point does the pile of rosin dust add to the tonal qualities? 1/4 inch, 1 inch ha ha.


fiddlepogo - Posted - 10/03/2012:  09:37:08



quote:


Originally posted by p1cklef1sh




so then at what point does the pile of rosin dust add to the tonal qualities? 1/4 inch, 1 inch ha ha.






It doesn't take much.  Remember, the varnish on a fiddle is there to MELLOW out the tone as well as to protect the wood.



So if the rosin were as thick as the varnish, it WOULD have a mellowing effect.  Now, mind you, I'm NOT saying that's a good idea to use the rosin buildup that way.  Rosin IS acidic and tough on the varnish.



In a similar vein, early in the days of the Hangout, someone was using their cheap fiddles as a canvas, and doing artwork on them with some kind of paint, enamel, IIRC.  I thought they were gonna sound horrible, but she said they actually sounded mellower.  Again, not something I'd recommend on any but the cheapest VSO.



One of the factors in the mellowing effect is the hardness or softness of the finish.  Varnish is relatively soft, so is rosin buildup.



Fresh enamel paint is relatively soft, but once it gets thoroughly dry I think it's going to get pretty hard... maybe those painted on fiddles don't sound so good now!  Lacquer isn't good as a fiddle finish because of it's hardness- it hypes the high treble frequencies.



I found a similar thing going on with screw alloys in Stratocaster bridges.  The normal steel screws are pretty soft- upgrading to stainless steel which is one step higher on a metal hardness scale improved clarity... going to really hard alloys several steps higher transmitted WAY too much treble!



Edited by - fiddlepogo on 10/03/2012 09:44:46

Gemma DeRagon - Posted - 10/05/2012:  06:00:50


There was a time I used a lot of rosin, now hardly any...only when I feel the bow isn't grabbing like it should..but then, it could be time for a bow rehair! I always wipe off the rosin and tell my students to do the same. But I do have a student or two who doesn't want to wipe off the rosin because they think it looks cool...If you want to protect the finish on your violin, you should wipe it off.
fiddle-tunes.com

hardykefes - Posted - 10/05/2012:  16:00:41



"Remember, the varnish on a fiddle is there to MELLOW out the tone as well as to protect the wood." ?????????????????



Interesting interpretation of reason for varnishbig Keep it coming..clown




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