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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Help a complete beginner out


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/51060

Hoodoo - Posted - 05/05/2019:  11:50:02


Hello everybody,

I've been playing the banjo since april 2017 and have been loving every moment (I initially tried to learn around 2010 without much success). I've always loved "old-time" music, so over the past few years (probably because I'm no longer in my twenties and have begun to stop caring what others might think of me) I've allowed myself to dive into the music. Its become a fantastic way to unplug and stop thinking about my "real" job that pays the bills. I live in the Canadian Maritimes, so as a passionate old-time music fan, its pretty hard to ignore the rich fiddling traditions in my neck of the woods. I'd love to begin to learn.

My wife bought herself a fiddle a few years ago with the intention to learn it, so far that hasn't happened. I've been playing it on and off for a few months now, and it seems to an ok instrument for a beginner (it cost about $120 at Long & McQuade), but I just have the hardest time keeping it in tune. Also the bridge doesn't always stay in place etc.

I just bought a new banjo, but I plan on selling my other one, so I thought that I'd like to "reinvest" some of the money into a newer, better fiddle. I'm looking for something that might be easier to learn on that won't cost a fortune. Basically, I'm looking for the Deering Goodtime of the fiddling world. Would this be ok? : magicfluke.com/Magic-Fluke-Cri...iolin.htm

Any other recommendations?

Although I'm still having trouble with the nuances between different fiddling styles, I'm especially interested in learning local fiddling styles (so Acadian/Maritimes) as well as Appalachian styles (I love those modal west virginian tunes....). I do plan on taking lessons eventually - there are some excellent fiddlers in my neck of the woods - but which resources are recommended in general? Should I try and go the old fashion route and try to play by ear?

Thanks all and I look forward to learning tons from you all.

Old Scratch - Posted - 05/05/2019:  12:16:58


As far as the fiddle goes, the cost of rental from L&M is negligible - why not try a rental or two or three, to get a better sense of what's available and what you're looking for? I believe your rental fee can go against the cost of buying. (Full disclosure: close family member works for them).

As for lessons vs. ear: if there is a fiddle teacher nearby whose playing you like, grab the chance for lessons from them. Be aware, though, that a lot of great musicians are not particularly good teachers ... !

captainhook - Posted - 05/05/2019:  14:36:22


Some of us bad musicians are not good teachers either. Lessons vs ear is not really a choice. Some good teachers teach only by ear, and ear learning is always an advantage even if you can read music.

Before you shop for a better fiddle, try to get a competent luthier to check yours out. It may not need much work to improve it a lot. It sounds certain that the pegs need attention and the bridge may too. But both (and other possibilities) may be simple fixes. Wait to go shopping until you can tell more about what you need.

bluenote23 - Posted - 05/05/2019:  14:50:43


I would second taking a closer look at your present instrument. One thing to note as because they are friction tuners, you have to push in as you turn while tuning.

Your bridge will stop falling over once you get it aligned perpendicular with the instrument, which is not always obvious.

I would also wait before investing too much in the instrument. The violin is really difficult and, at least in my case, much more frustrating than three finger style banjo to learn. I found that I really had to almost stop practicing the banjo in order to find enough time to learn (and I'm still just a three year beginner) the violin so you may find you will have to choose one or the other (of course, your talent could make this quite different).

I used to practice 3-5 hours a day when I was learning how to play the banjo and at least I need that kind of time to learn how to play the violin (though I am learning classical techniques, not fiddling but honestly, if you want to play well, we're talking about the same thing). So there is a time issue involved.

You need to have a good ear to play the fiddle (no frets so it's your ears that tell you when you're in tune). Learning to read will open up a whole, very, very large world of music and possibilities but if you can't read already, then that will be another thing to learn (and you will need to find the time to do it).

Cyndy - Posted - 05/06/2019:  06:26:44


Typing on my phone, so I’ll try to be brief—which is good, right?! My opinions (which may not be shared by everyone) are below along with some unsolicited advice—things I wish people had told me. :)

Start (or keep) listening to classsic recordings of fiddlers in the styles you want to play.

Buy a decent bow. It’s even more important than having a decent fiddle. Really.

Install geared pegs. I have them on my good fiddle and I love them, especially since I change tunings a lot.

Learn to play by ear. It’s convenient and I think it offers mental flexibility. Fiddle tunes need to breathe. But, if there are resources for the styles you want to play that are written down, it’s handy to be able to read, too—but just as a tool for picking up new material, not as a crutch.

If you want to play those West Virginia tunes, bowing is huge. Learning to watch and copy bow directions will build a strong foundation for making your own choices.

Fiddle is a wicked instrument and playing it can be a mind game. Believe, right from the start, that it’s doable and play like you believe you can play. Because you can. Take delight in the tiny day-to-day steps forward. They add up!

Hoodoo - Posted - 05/06/2019:  07:00:53


quote:

Originally posted by Cyndy

Typing on my phone, so I’ll try to be brief—which is good, right?! My opinions (which may not be shared by everyone) are below along with some unsolicited advice—things I wish people had told me. :)



Start (or keep) listening to classsic recordings of fiddlers in the styles you want to play.



Buy a decent bow. It’s even more important than having a decent fiddle. Really.



Install geared pegs. I have them on my good fiddle and I love them, especially since I change tunings a lot.



Learn to play by ear. It’s convenient and I think it offers mental flexibility. Fiddle tunes need to breathe. But, if there are resources for the styles you want to play that are written down, it’s handy to be able to read, too—but just as a tool for picking up new material, not as a crutch.



If you want to play those West Virginia tunes, bowing is huge. Learning to watch and copy bow directions will build a strong foundation for making your own choices.



Fiddle is a wicked instrument and playing it can be a mind game. Believe, right from the start, that it’s doable and play like you believe you can play. Because you can. Take delight in the tiny day-to-day steps forward. They add up!






Thanks everybody for the feedback. The reason that I was interested in the cricket violin is because you can get it with geared tuners installed. I know that some purists out there may frown upon this idea, but just getting my current fiddle in tune is such a source of constant frustration, I just want to throw it out of the window!



 

Dan Gellert - Posted - 05/06/2019:  08:15:55


If you paid $120 for a fiddle at a music store, you can bet that it wasn't set up well, since doing so would have cost them more than any profit they could have made on the sale. Getting the pegs and bridge correctly fitted should go a long way toward solving the problems you describe.

The only thing wrong with putting a set of geared pegs on it is that it will cost you more than the fiddle did!

Do you have fine tuners for all 4 strings on the tailpiece? Do they all work smoothly? If the answer to either of those is "no", get a new tailpiece with four built-in tuners.

I'll second everything Cyndy said, especially about the bow! The bow you get with a $120 outfit is very likely to be one which will make learning to play virtually impossible. I used to say that if you were at all serious about learning, you should spend more on your first bow than on your first fiddle. That isn't quite necessary since the advent of carbon fiber bows-- a very nice one can be found for well under $100.

Hoodoo - Posted - 05/08/2019:  10:39:06


Well good news. I contacted a young fiddle player (only 19 years old) who gives lessons in a small town near where I live (she’s very good and aware of local traditions). I will be meeting up with her soon.. I’m pretty self sufficient in my learning, but I’m hoping that she’ll be able to give me some good pointers to help me avoid some early bad habits etc. Thanks all for the good tips.

Old Scratch - Posted - 05/08/2019:  15:59:50


Sounds good. I'm all about the local traditions, myself. Keep us posted!

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