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Stinky the #2 fiddle is finally sounding good again???

Posted by fiddlepogo on Friday, May 29, 2009

I'm amazed, I was beginning to think it was time to sell or trade her off!

Just before my darker Knilling 4KF had gotten the blahs a year and a half ago, I had changed from a side mount chinrest to a center mount one.  Then, the three weeks of rain came, and the fiddle started sounding sick. Then I changed strings hoping that would help.

And nothing really did.

Well, now, I've MOSTLY changed back to what was making the fiddle sound good before the rain, but also before the chinrest change. 

1. I just changed back to the sidemount chinrest. It's too low, but this fiddle likes it!

2.  I'm using D'Addario Preludes on the crucial A and E strings which are what I was using a year and a half ago on this fiddle.  The Thomastik Precision Lights sound fine on the low strings.

3. I just switched to storing the medium weight K. Holtz FG bow in the case with this fiddle, and I think it likes the FG better- the brazilwood was TOO heavy, and the Glasser was too light.

Anyway, with these three changes, "Stinky" the #2 Knilling is starting to sound good again, and so will probably get played more, and so will hopefully improve even a little more!

One thing in particular that seems to have been a key.  The A and E strings were the ones that were problematic, and the center mount chinrest puts a clamp on the A and E strings side of the top of the fiddle... and this fiddle does NOT like that at all.

Also, I have to qualify this in that in a way, the SOUND of the fiddle hasn't changed totally.  It still has a bit of an oboey quality- but that's not bad, since I like oboes.

What was bad was that it was like the imitation oboe on a cheap electronic keyboard- it had no dynamics.  And a fiddle without dynamics has no appeal to me whatsoever!

A big factor in this is the bow.  Every fiddle has sweet spots, and the other two bows were getting me too close to the edge of the sweet spot, and depriving me of some of the range of the sweet spot on the other. Now, with the Holtz FG, I've got the full sweet spot available, and I can play more confidently, with more dynamics, which means being able to play loud and hard in places without squawking out, and lighter and gentler in places without squeaking out.

Also, having fairly trebley strings on the A and E strings of this fiddle was not a good idea- they gave them a harsh edge which sounded more like a bombard than an oboe- same nasal quality but the oboe is smooth and the bombarde ISN'T.

Anyway, if there is a lesson to be drawn from this it's that even though these two fiddles of mine are both Knilling 4KF models, they have entirely different personalities and have different needs as far as bows and strings to work with them.  I can't assume that a change that will be an improvement on the one will also improve the other.


4 comments on “Stinky the #2 fiddle is finally sounding good again???”

Swing Says:
Friday, May 29, 2009 @12:38:44 PM

Lets hear it for stinky.. You may want to double check the sound post. If it is too tight during the low humity months and starting to sound good now, it may be too tight.

Play Happy

mudbug Says:
Friday, May 29, 2009 @12:43:52 PM

Congrats! Your smelly fiddle "Stinky's" tone doesn't stink anymore. Maybe if you change her name to something sweet sounding, it might change her disposition. How can a fiddle named "Stinky" ever attain the voice of an angel?
Or, then again, maybe you're attracted to the bad girls.

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Friday, May 29, 2009 @7:33:26 PM

Q: How do you get two oboists to play in tune? A: You shoot one of them.

Thanks for the contrast of oboe and bombarde. It almost makes me want to go out and buy bombarde and binio duet CDs. On second thought, these YouTube videos will do (I have to save for more fiddle and banjo music CDs):

... and more!

fiddlepogo Says:
Friday, May 29, 2009 @9:32:21 PM


Yeah, could be, but I had a world class luthier check it last fall.
He set it, and it sounded good when he played it.
There may be something weird going on where the "under the ear" sound is really nasal, but the projected sound is nicer.

Stinky is named stinky because she stinks... a little!
When I first got her, and she came from humid Kentucky to dry California, she started off-gassing some STRANGE fumes.
Definitely not your typical maple and pine aroma coming from the f-holes! There is this Chinese wood called stinkwood that is commonly used in China for furniture making, and I suspect that was substituted for the Maple. Both are Knilling 4KF models, but Knilling apparently gets fiddles in the white from overseas and sets them up and finishes them here. It's actually the smell that makes me think Stinky is Chinese, since they have been known to use non-traditional woods on the low end models. Now the smell is quite minimal, but it you take a whiff at the soundholes, it still doesn't smell like the one that is from Rumania (the "Bucharest" labeled one).
It had occurred to me that Stinky's sound problems could be related to having a different wood... perhaps the wood is more hydrophilic or hygroscopic or whatever that word is that means it tends to suck up more humidity out of the atmosphere.


There is also a nasty sounding relative of the bombard played in Wales. I forget the name... pybbhorn?
You'd probably like it too! ;^D

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