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I'm a Fiddler in more ways than one . . .

Posted by bj on Tuesday, June 2, 2009

So, about two months ago, I put the chromcors on the french fiddle. They do sound VERY different than the Prims on this fiddle. It's not a better or worse thing, since either string type sounds wonderful on this gutsy little fiddle, it's just great in a different way. The chromcors are more complex and subtle, where the Prims are simpler and much more direct. Both string types ring very nicely and have a great sustain on this fiddle. Almost makes me wish I could flip a switch to change the strings on this fiddle so I could have the chromcors on for waltzes and the prims on for breakdowns.

But something else is coming into play here. I absolutely HATE  the way the chromcors feel against my fingers. They're  . . . slick. They almost feel greasy (and no, there is no grease on them, I keep my strings clean.) I didn't realize how much it was bothering me until I looked at the tunelist and analyzed when the last time was I picked up the french fiddle to play D or G tunes (I usually keep that one in D tuning) and found I was really out of practice on those and the fiddle was starting to close up, while I've been playing A tunes on the G. Stockdale fiddle to the point where I know them backwards and forwards. Such a stupid thing. But there it is.

There's something else that happened. When I got the G. Stockdale fiddle it had strings on it that sounded fabulous, and that I never, until recently, could find out what they were, since they weren't listed on any of the string charts. Well, I finally found them. For under five bucks a SET. And got two sets. Now, the prim heavies sound GREAT on the G.Stockdale right now, since they've mellowed in nicely and seem to suit that fiddle pretty well, but I do tend to like a lighter string. However, not enough to change them out, I'll get my money's worth out of those Prims before they get swapped out for the no-names. But I'm considering whether to try these no-names on the Salzard. I could always put the chromcors back on if they don't sound good on the frenchie. If you're curious about the strings, they're listed in these two Ebay shops as S135-V on a little sticker on the package, and I found the second listing after I'd already paid a bit more at the first:

Texas Fiddle Shop

MuchoFino

Weird, they're both in Granbury TX. How many music suppliers are there in Granbury, and how big is it? Gotta wonder if they're the same outfit DBA both names, one of which is a fiddle appeal and the other a "classical" branding. Oh, and apparently they have knockoffs of rope cores and perlon strings as well, for a similar ridiculously low price.

Anyway, when I had these strings on the G. Stockdale fiddle, and a couple of my fiddler friends played it, they BOTH asked me what strings they were, and commented they liked playing on them a lot, and they sounded great. One of those fiddlers was janepaints. So it wasn't just me who thought they were good strings. Hard to believe that they're cheaper than an E string from most other companies. Speaking of the E string in the set, it was fine, but I did blow through it quicker than the other strings in the set. But at that price . . . Anyway, they feel lighter gauge, but they really project well, and sound very um . . . vocal. Like a very sweet singing voice. Different than Prims, for sure. Less edge and somewhat mellower, while still having a good bit of volume and force to them. In the quality of the sound, I'd put them somewhere between the chromcors and the prims. Some added layers to the sound, while still being a simpler string.

So here I am again, thinking of fiddling with my dang strings after only two months of having them on the frenchie.

At least I've got the rosin thing sussed FINALLY, and don't wanna change that. Hidersine dark in the winter and RDM Irish Green (both purchased from Prodigy, if my memory serves) in the warm humid months, both of which are ridiculously cheap. I found I actually prefer the RDM Green to the (expensive!) Andrea Paganini (which I used last summer) but only when it's really humid out, and they're about equal in my preference in ordinary summer weather. The RDM is both softer and grabbier at the same time, when it's sticky out, if that makes any sense. The one thing I don't like about my two rosins of choice is that they're both dusty rosins. The Andrea Paganini is almost dustless in comparison. But the dustier rosins are much, much easier to clean off the strings, so there is some compensation for putting up with that dust. The Andrea Paganini gums up the strings bigtime, and it takes quite a bit of elbow grease and a lot of awful squeaking to get it off.

I wonder if there will ever be a day when I stop fiddling with my fiddles. And I'm not talking about actual fiddling, I'm talking about strings and bridges and pegs and rosin and . . . and  . . . and . . .



24 comments on “I'm a Fiddler in more ways than one . . .”

Swing Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @7:11:17 AM

Nope, you will never stop fooling around with your fiddles. It is a hopeless and futile cause and the only known cure is taking up another hobby or becoming a professional.

Play Happy

chippyvan Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @7:23:19 AM

BJ
I go through fits of string changing seems like every couple of months. I now have quite a collection of strings that were used for a week or less. I keep going back and forth between the sets I have, trying new sets and sometimes mixing and matching. Now I have started to mess with bridges as well, so there is no end to the amount of time I can spend futzing with this stuff. Mostly in the end, I go back to one of my few favorites strings and keep it that way for a few months till the mood strikes again.

Ozarkian DL Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @7:38:17 AM

BJ...if'n ya want different sounds outt'a ur fiddle....go to radio shack & get'cha 3 r 4 alligator clips ( rubber tipped @ tha handle end preferably ), & try placin em on different areas of tha bridge. I think u'll be plesantly suprised. ( Different tones without replacing strings ).

bj Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @7:47:14 AM

janepaints creates tiny little "mutes" of wood to "shape the sound". Each one will slot on the bridge comfortably between string pairs, singly or in combination. Sounds similar to what you're doing, Oz.

bj Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @7:48:24 AM

Rick, I just had a memory of you trying my red fiddle out up at Lake Genaro and asking me what strings I had on there. They were the cheapies I linked to above.

chippyvan Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @9:05:38 AM

Bj, Maybe I should give them a try. I have tried the chromcors and thought they were OK. Natalie McMaster apparently uses them, but when I put them on, I did not sound like her ;-(

bj Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @9:20:09 AM

Well, if you try the cheapies and end up sounding like me . . . RIP 'EM OFF!!!! LOL!

mudbug Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @10:20:34 AM

Maybe that's where the fiddlin' around expression comes from. As in "Will you stop fiddlin' around!" Maybe they didn't mean the actual playing, but the ......fiddlin' around.

Rene Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @1:50:21 PM

Got my attention....may have to get a set.

bj Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @3:25:32 PM

Okay, so I put the cheapie strings on the little frenchie. They're still settling in, but the first I put the bow to them, well . . . they sound every bit as good, if not BETTER than I remember on the other fiddle. The two words that immediately came to mind were CLEAR and RINGING. If, after settling in, they sound as good or better, I think my days of trying expensive strings on these pups is OVER. Even if they don't hold up as long, for five bucks a SET I'm way ahead of the game.

fiddlepogo Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @3:36:44 PM

Kaplan Premium Light is grabby, smooth, and most definitely NOT DUSTY!

;^D!!!!

TRY it, you'll LIKE it!;^)

bj Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @4:24:46 PM

Michael, I've realized I don't mind the dust so much, if it means I can more easily clean the rosin off the strings. ;-)

Rene Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @5:16:53 PM

Okay, Okay, you've talked me into it.....oh and while I was there I ordered another chin rest and .........I'm going to have to quit reading your blogs and recommendations, it's getting costly.

bj Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @5:19:58 PM

I hope they work as well for you as for me.

You didn't buy chromcors after I bought them last time, did you? ;-) Actually, they do work well soundwise, but the tactile thing was ugly for me.

bj Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @6:06:24 PM

Now I know what else I was missing. I've got my growly bass back . . . YAY! Chromcors smoothed out the bass too much, I think.

These strings are a lot like Prims, but slightly sweeter/mellower. I do have to switch out the E though. But it seems I always have to switch out the E.

Rene Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @6:58:33 PM

I figured for the price I wouldn't get hurt to much. But please don't let me see anymore of your shopping lists....:)

bj Says:
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @7:05:11 PM

Maybe I shouldn't tell you about the fiddle I've been hoping to snag . . . LOL!

Rene Says:
Wednesday, June 3, 2009 @4:39:20 PM

please don't..gotta save my money to buy gas to go play for the granddaughter.

fiddlepogo Says:
Wednesday, June 3, 2009 @7:10:36 PM

Kaplan Premium Light cleans easily off the strings with a piece of cork- don't knock it till you've tried it! ;^D

Years ago a fellow Strat List member diagnosed me with CGTS-
Compulsive Guitar Tweaking Syndrome- it's morphed into
CFTS-
and you have it too! ;^D

bj Says:
Wednesday, June 3, 2009 @8:10:55 PM

So do Rene and Rick. :-)

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Thursday, June 4, 2009 @1:41:03 PM

So I was gonna respond, but I see that three hundred others have already responded, probably covering anything I would want to add, though I'm not gonna read over every one of the comments (for I'm much too busy); thus, I'll just have to respond to something else you've written, if I can get through quickly, for you're just so popular that everyone responds, probably even some who don't own nor play a fiddle, so anyways, yeah, I'm not gonna respond to this one.

bj Says:
Thursday, June 4, 2009 @2:28:31 PM

Humbled, you are, without a doubt, one of my favorite commenters, since you always say such interesting things. :-)

fiddledd Says:
Sunday, June 7, 2009 @7:17:48 PM

Thanks for the tips on the strings, BJ. I just ordered a set for my student's fiddle. When he bought it, we promptly broke the Red Label A string that was on it trying to get it tuned up. I put a GHS Fiddle string on there (some old string that came as part of another fiddle I bought and subsequently sold), but that GHS really sounds nasty so we're looking for an inexpensive replacement. I'll let you know how they turn out. Thanks!

bj Says:
Sunday, June 7, 2009 @7:33:48 PM

I hope they work for you. I LOVE the G and D, which are usually the expensive strings in any other set. The A and E are okay, but not as good on this frenchie after they've settled in, as either Prims or the Chromcors were on it, so I'm planning to switch them out if they're still less preferable after a full week on. I'm still pretty happy at the price value ratio though, even if I only ever use the G and D out of these sets. The two lower strings are growly, resonant and awesome on the frenchie. I definitely prefer the cheapie G and D to the Chromcor G and D. They're roughly on a par with Prims on this fiddle, though the sound is slightly different.

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