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I think it's a keeper, but it's a little scary, 'cause...

Posted by fiddlepogo on Thursday, February 18, 2010

it seems to prefer playing anything and everything but Old Time!!!!

Of course, that may be the strings that are on it. (D'Addario Pro Arte)

But really, that's not a bad thing.

One of the reasons the Scott Cao STV-600 appealed to me was that it showed could take me in different directions.  Booker, my main Knilling 4KF, really is ONLY comfortable doing Old Time.  I can kind of make it do a waltz, but it's kind of under protest!!!

This fiddle, at least with these strings seems to be pulling me in the direction of:

slow airs

Irish stuff in general

Eastern European sounding stuff


One of the common threads here is that it does "mournful" sounding  REALLY well.

Actually one thing that isn't very mournfull that I haven't tried yet but it will probably do well is swingy sounding '30's stuff.

Oh yeah... waltzes too!

The tone is rich and full enough  that it also seems to be inspiring improvisation.  One thing I found with electric guitar is that the quality of tone definitely seems to inspire improvisation, and pull you in different directions.  A rich tone can make even your mistakes sound good, and inspire you to find creative ways of making something musical out of those mistakes.

All that being said, I will try some Prims and/or Thomastik Precision Lights, and see how it does- it'd be nice if it made Old Timey a little more playable on it, without totally losing the other possibilities.  But then, maybe it's the synthetic <strings> on the Scott Cao and Eastman VL100 that are pulling me in different directions... we will see.

5 comments on “I think it's a keeper, but it's a little scary, 'cause...”

bj Says:
Thursday, February 18, 2010 @8:49:46 PM

Steve shipped a fiddle to an OT player with synthetic strings on it? That's . . . surprising.

fiddlepogo Says:
Thursday, February 18, 2010 @10:08:12 PM

It was my call- he didn't have Precision Lights.
I can't remember if he had Prims or not.
I think he had Helicores and Preludes.
Rather than try Helicores which are unknown to me I opted to stick
with the synthetics that were already onnit.
Since I had fun when I tried the Scott Cao with synthetics,
I thought I'd give them a whirl on the Eastman too.
Part of the purpose of the Eastman is to dampen the craving for the pricier Scott Cao, so making it feel similar to it is part of the plan.

I don't plan on STOPPING playing Old Time, but I DO want to explore some other things too, now that I seem to have acquired the bow control to do them.
For better or for worse, the Old Time scene around here is meager.
When I jam, I'm far more likely to be doing song accompaniment than fiddle tunes,
and I've had gigs where Celtic airs, Yiddish sounding stuff or waltzes are more in demand than fiddle tunes. So a fiddle that can excel at those things is a plus.
Actually, in a way this was all started by Stinky. Before the long rain made her treble strings sound funny, she excelled at copping a more violinny tone, and since she's had problems, I've been frustrated.

On the other hand, I tried a German trade fiddle for $175 at a pawn shop today,
and it sounded SO GOOD on Old Time fiddle tunes!!!!

bj Says:
Friday, February 19, 2010 @4:52:14 AM

A great sounding OLD fiddle for $175???? And you didn't BUY it??????

fiddlepogo Says:
Friday, February 19, 2010 @11:29:52 AM

I'm thinking about it-
it's going to need bridge work.
The bridge feet are monstrously thick.
AND it's not THAT old- 1954 or 55, IIRC. Even says Germany, Occupied innit.
I THINK that qualifies as a trade fiddle- if not it's a kissing cousin- it's pretty crude.

I also have to admit that I'm confused about what a good fiddle sounds like anymore.
Sound strange??? As I said, I'm really isolated from other Old Time types here.
I'm used to my Knillings, the Chinese stuff I've tried definitely goes in a more violinny direction.
Playable old fiddles of any kind are a bit rare around here.
If they aren't stored properly, the high heat here in the summers disassembles them!
A friend of mine has his grandpa's Guarnerius copy- in pieces!!!
So I don't really have a context of a lot of similar fiddles to compare with.

bj Says:
Saturday, February 20, 2010 @5:55:00 AM

Well, pawn shops will deal, often fairly deep.

Re sound, I've been lucky with the old fiddles, but then again, they can be found around here, and we don't have the dry heat you do.

FYI, what I'm hearing is that you're conflicted between wanting an OT sound or some other sound. You said you wanted the fiddle shipped with the synthetics because you liked the Cao, but then you just whined in the comment about being isolated from OT types and are confused.

I think maybe you just haven't found the right fiddle, and this is your way of telling yourself that you don't yet have the RIGHT sound. Whatever the hell that is. But at the same time, you probably, at this point, like anything better than Stinky. So you're torn between keeping something that's better but maybe not quite THE fiddle, or sending it back.

IMHO, you should send that fiddle back to Steve. You're not in love with it. If you were, you wouldn't be having these conflicts and questions, you'd be ignoring us and playing the living daylights outta the sucker.

I also know you work on a bit of a budget. If you think that pawn shop fiddle might work, bargain hard for it and buy it, and get the bridgework done. Even if it isn't perfect, you'll be into a better fiddle than Stinky without putting out a lot of dough and you'll have a fiddle you bought cheap enough that you'll be able to get your dough back, maybe even a small profit besides, when you do find the love of your life. Decent playable old fiddles in the 200-400 range move pretty easily on the Hangout.

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