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Post-Performance Exhaustion and Trying a Bunch of Fiddles to Recover!!!

Posted by fiddlepogo on Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yesterday afternoon I had a regular performance in a senior facility, and afterwards I was wiped out.  This is actually pretty common with me- part of it is the performance itself, and part of it is carting and setting up the powered monitor, the pole, the bag with cords, preamp and 2 mics, the mic stand, and 2 to 4 instruments including fiddle, banjo, guitar and now baritone uke. It usually takes at least two trips to the car for setup and two for teardown, more if I FORGET something like a songbook or music stand in the car.

Anybody else have problems with post-gig exhaustion???

Yesterday it was just the guitar and fiddle, although the fiddle was just along for backup-  on a singing gig, during allergy season (it's the tail end of mine) my voice gets phlegmmy enough that sometimes I can't sing anymore.  Actually it has only ever happened on the last song, but I always want to have another backup option for entertaining besides my voice, and the fiddle is the best backup option  I have for the voice, since I can play melodies and express some emotion with it.

Anyway, I was more tired than usual.  I decided to do something fun to recover.  I went to a music store and tried out fiddles.  The Scott Cao STV-600 I liked so much but was out of my price range had gotten sold (mixture of relief and regret!) and in it's place was an STV-500 that was priced at $400 for the fiddle alone.

I was thinking I could trade the smelly Eastman VL-100 in on it if I liked it enough.

But while it LOOKED almost identical to the STV-600, it didn't sound very good to me at all.

There was however an amateur-built one from Nebraska in about 1954 that was better, but still no cigar- not really superior in any way to "Booker" the Knilling Bucharest that's been my main fiddle for most of the last 4 years.

I was about to leave, and one of the owners saw me, asked me what I was up to, and I said "Trying fiddles" and he said "Want to try some more???"  And he pointed to a pile of cases on the couch (yes, a music store with a couch- for people waiting on repairs or students in lessons).  How could I say "no"???

 So I tried about 6 more.  Apparently a fiddle collector-tinkerer had passed on, and the store bought his collection.  Most were not bad for fiddles, but not as good as my Knilling (it must be all the little tweaks I've done to it!!!) The best one of the bunch also had the most repaired cracks.

Anyway, none of them touched my Knilling for a good fiddle sound, and none of them touched the Eastman VL-100 for a good violinny waltz sound.  So I didn't buy anything.

I do kind of wonder if some of them were closed up and would improve with playing, but I'm not going to spend hundreds on that experiment.  And they all had lots of "character" appearance-wise (except the new Scott Cao) but I'm not going to pay for character if it doesn't improve the sound.

BUT I did notice that I wasn't tired at all anymore- trying out fiddles perked me right up!!!

6 comments on “Post-Performance Exhaustion and Trying a Bunch of Fiddles to Recover!!!”

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Saturday, July 17, 2010 @12:07:26 PM

At the Father's Day Festival there's a barn full of fiddles for sale, all sorts and from hundreds to thousands of dollars. I tried a few $10,000 plus ones, too. It's good to do, just to get a feel for what else is out there, how your fiddle compares, etc. But what I liked best about this venue is that I had some of the best fiddlers in the state try my fiddle and give me feedback. They heard things I didn't. And about carting around equipment--I sold my electric guitars and amps and mics because I'm done with all that stuff. I carry my fiddle and maybe an acoustic guitar. My bassist and I leave a gig if the sound system starts going shreeeek and squonk. (I do that enough on my own, thank you.)

bj Says:
Saturday, July 17, 2010 @12:51:19 PM

Even if a fiddle is "closed up" you can tell if it's gonna sing out when it's open. Opening it up just gets rid of the nasal stuff, but the underall sound is already there. At least in my experience.

I think any of the reputable fiddle dealers would give you a window within which you could return the instrument if you think it might work for you once it's opened up, but want some assurance you won't get stuck if it doesn't.

Cyndy Says:
Saturday, July 17, 2010 @1:38:18 PM

Nice story. I'm happy with my fiddle--mostly just because I chose it and it's mine and we're in this thing together--but the other day my teacher handed me one that the local folk music store had just gotten on consignment and said, "Play it." It was so much fun and such a high, just because it felt different than mine. A new experience. I left thinking, "Hmmm. I wonder if anyone would give me a job just playing fiddles all day long." You know--just to keep them happy? If there was a job like that, though, I suspect it would be pretty competitive, huh?

Fiddlin Dixie Says:
Sunday, July 18, 2010 @7:56:48 PM

When I had to carry my own sound equip to a gig, I would swipe my kids wagon. Now this isn't just a tiny red plastic wagon, this is the metal 'monster truck' of wagons. Nothin' like fiddlin' Dixie toting her gear in a cool red wagon. The people at the health care home loved it. Works great at festivals for crashing jams, too. Fits a chair, cooler, and few small instruments just fine. Very stylish, too.

Amy Buck Says:
Sunday, July 18, 2010 @8:31:25 PM

How about a Bose system? Tiny, but packs a great punch. Expensive, though. Those tens of dollars (and sometimes zeros of dollars) earned playing may never pay for it.

fiddlepogo Says:
Monday, July 19, 2010 @5:35:42 PM

Well, it's not so much the size of the system.
I was really careful about that.
I had been using my Fender Pro Junior electric guitar amp-
20 lbs, and carrying it on a Magnacart folding cart.
That was working pretty well, so I was NOT going to go any heavier,
and the JBL EON 510 is maybe even a pound or two less.
I don't really enjoy lifting it up on it's pole, but it's not too bad,
and I'm careful.
It's just the cumulative trips to the car (4) plus an hour to an hour and a half of performing.
And a dreadnought guitar in a hardshell case, and a mic stand are heavy no matter how you cut it... and add the fiddle and banjo on to that.

Yes, Bose systems are attractive in theory, but the price point is way too high.

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