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Arizona Old Time Fiddlers Association - Steak Fry - Setting up the Strings Right

Posted by Virtual Fiddler on Monday, March 23, 2009

I went to the AOTFA steak fry this last weekend. (Mar 21)

My main purpose was to meet up with the Luthier (Lenard Cook) who made my two fiddles.

One fiddle had real pretty and sustaining high notes  (A and E strings) but the other, the same strings quickly faded out and seemed a little dull. I had noticed this problem about 6 months back. I even put a new set of strings on the one fiddle making sure to use the same brand of strings.

It turns out the problem had nothing to do with the brand of strings or even idiosyncrasies of the individual fiddles.

When I had put the strings on, I centered those little gromlets that come with the high strings on the bridge. The part of the gromlet overhanging the bridge was damping the string and the note could not sustain itself. By pulling the gromlet back and basically leaving nothing overhanging the bridge, I was able to greatly improve the sound of the fiddle I was having trouble with.

I hear that some fiddlers use a sharp knife and cut those little gromlets off.

For now I think I will continue to  use those gromlets. I feel as though they help take the harsh edge off the high notes. As my fiddlling gets better perhaps I will be able to do away with those little crutches.

I suspect that to make those high notes really  ring, those gromlets will have to be gone. For now I am satisfied to get notes that are not damped too quickly.



2 comments on “Arizona Old Time Fiddlers Association - Steak Fry - Setting up the Strings Right”

bj Says:
Monday, March 23, 2009 @8:48:10 PM

Jim, I always take them off, though I do know some folks don't. I'm surprised they didn't cause buzzing for you, they did for me and like to drive me right round the bend! And that buzz was a whole lot more annoying than a couple squeaks. They're supposedly to keep your higher strings from cutting into the bridge, but a bit of parchment with a drop of crazy glue will do that better anyway.

Virtual Fiddler Says:
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 @4:52:15 AM

I notice that if I leave the gromlets loose, I do get a buzzing sound. However, since they are firmly held in place by the string tension, there is no buzz.

I mentioned my new revelation to one of the other attendees at the steak fry and she said her gromlets were centered too. She also is in the novice stage of her fiddle experience.

I am hoping to spread this little gem of wisdom around to others at my stage of fiddle development.

Thanks for the comment bj.

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