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Taking fiddle tweaking too far???

Posted by fiddlepogo on Friday, July 9, 2010

My Knilling Bucharest 4KF has been called "the high end of student rental fiddles".

And that seems appropriate.  It IS sturdy.

And I have done various things to get more sound out of it.

I think it has a varnish finish, but sprayed on, not brushed.  It's not shiny like lacquer, but it's very smooth.

Recently, I read something about hand-applied varnish vs. sprayed.

And the responder said that the disadvantage spraying has is that the varnish tends to puddle in places and be too thick.

Thought occurred to me that I could use a bit of baking soda on a damp paper towel as a mild rubbing compound, and run it along the low contours where the purfling is inlaid, since the finish seems thickest there. I ran around above the purfling a couple of times on both plates, and you could see a bit of yellow showing up in the damp baking soda.

(Note- I do NOT recommend doing this on old or valuable fiddles- just cheapos with sprayed-on too thick finish like mine!!!)

And it DID seem to make the fiddle more responsive.  However, I noticed some notes went funny... kind of like they didn't respond and maybe I hit them too hard to make them respond and it squawked a bit.  But overall, it sounded good at home where I can hear the fiddle well.  But it did seem louder.

(That actually may not be a good thing, since it's plenty loud already- I just want a <little> richer sound.)

Then I took it to a local historic mansion with a park around it.  I often take the fiddle there after hours and sit on a bench outside the visitor's center and play under the awning.

And it sounded a bit strange... but then I tried the other bow, a new K. Holtz that I hadn't gotten comfy with yet.  And that sounded better, and better than it had before!!!

So I'm thinking, did it change the frequency response so that now my previous favorite bow choice won't work???

Still, very often when I make a change that opens up new frequencies, it takes a while to play it in, so the sound smooths out.  Maybe that will happen here, too.

EDIT- update- I practiced with it today... it definitely liked the new K. Holtz bow better... but then I had the idea...  maybe just doing the finish rub on the bass bar side and towards the chinrest would increase the low frequencies, and sure enough, it DID!!!  The cool thing is it takes off so little, and so smoothly, you really can't see that I did anything, but it's in a place where flexibility vs. rigidity is so crucial, that teensy differences matter.

Also, while I was playing outside the mansion, a young man came up and said he enjoyed the music, and that he was trying to play.

I asked him what he was trying to sound like, and he said "Emilie Autumn".

This morning I searched for her on YouTube... and well, now, she is definitely NOT my cup of tea.

Goth (not gothic- thanks for the correction!)  violinist-fiddler.  Good chops, though!!!

5 comments on “Taking fiddle tweaking too far???”

OTJunky Says:
Friday, July 9, 2010 @1:02:47 PM

I dunno Michael.

I'll ask my daughter but I don't thing "Gothic" and "Goth" are the same thing... ;-)


ChickenMan Says:
Friday, July 9, 2010 @2:03:30 PM

What is it with Goth? Is it fashion driven or just a wish-to-be-a-vampire driven?

I have a Knilling student fiddle too. This makes me curious about the thickness of the shiny finish...we'll see how ambitious I feel after the weekend's gigs.

bj Says:
Friday, July 9, 2010 @6:15:50 PM

Goth and Gothic are definitely two different things. In another time and place we'd call you a Square, Michael!

fiddlepogo Says:
Friday, July 9, 2010 @8:56:23 PM

Yeah, you guys are right- GOTH fiddler.
Gothic is architecture and a type of novel, right???

Square??? That depends on who you ask and compared to whom, but in this context,
yup, I guess the shoe fits..

mudbug Says:
Saturday, July 10, 2010 @6:38:20 AM

Actually, Michael, the word Goth, denoting a style of music, is derived from the word gothic, as in dark, dreary and sad. I looked up the lady in question, and she's deffinitely all of that. No wonder the kids who listen to this style look so miserable!

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