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I Can't Leave Well Enough Alone, Can I? Part 2

Posted by fiddlepogo on Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm getting used to my tweaked fiddle.

1. It really is behaving differently

2. It is kind of better, but

3. Something about it is throwing me off.


I'm guessing, but I suspect the finish thinning tweaks have changed the frequency response of the fiddle enough that...

the bow that previously worked so well with the fiddle is now "off" somehow!!!

I'm suspecting this because the bow & fiddle compatibility thing DEFINITELY seems to be EQ related- different bows accentuate or moderate different parts of a fiddle's tonal spectrum.

And it stands to reason that, if you change the tonal characteristics of a fiddle enough, what worked well as a bow might no longer do so.

This doesn't totally surprise me, since similar things have happend with electric guitar tweaks.

Most recently, a neck pocket tweak to my main Strat added so much clarity, that I was having to turn my tone knob on the guitar WAY down, and have gone to a darker sounding power tube in my amp to balance things out!!!

Electric guitars and the amplifier have a relationship very similar to a fiddle and a bow-

Fiddles aren't much use without a bow, and electric guitars are of even less use without an amplifier.  The bow or amplifier you use can make a radical difference in the performance of the respective instrument, and what works for one often won't work for another. (most of the time my four electric guitars (and the departed ones as well) haven't been in agreement as to which amp they like best- likewise with the fiddles and bows.

Changes in life and in musical instruments don't happen in isolation- they have ripple effects and side effects that are hard to foresee.

Anyway, I'm about to get out all five bows, try them on the tweaked fiddle, and see if the fiddle doesn't pick out a new "favorite" bow!!!

Another alternative explanation:

The fiddle has changed enough that the "sweet spot" for bowing is in a different place!

More later....


It seems that the tweaks added some high treble potential along with the bass response I desired,and to some degree got.  And carbon fiber bows are sometimes noted for being "hissy" sounding.  I had wondered why I had lucked out with my LaSalle carbon fiber.  Well, it was because the finish was killing that frequency, only it's not killing it now!!!

ALL the other bows, three of them fiberglass, one brazilwood, sound better than the carbon fiber, which was my previous favorite.

The new best is the OLD K. Holtz FG, followed by the new K. Holtz FG, followed by the brazilwood Heinrich Siegler, followed by the ebony frog Glasser FG... and none of them have those irritating highs!!!!

On a positive note, the Eastman VL100 seems to have benefitted quite a bit from the mild finish thinning I did on it (just drip lines and such), and it now has enough bite that I enjoy playing fiddle tunes on it now, which before were really not that pleasant- too mushy.  It still has enough richness to do fine on waltzes and such, however.

Now if I could just get it to stop stinking!!!

Stinky herself isn't this stinky... I think I'll call the Eastman "Peppy Le Pew!!!"

"Mildly Stinky" is still languishing with a dropped sound post.

I'm tired of getting the bum's rush from the luthier 1 & 1/2 hours north of here, and the only other good shop I can find is 2 hours to the south!!!

Also, I don't want to have the current soundpost reset, I think I want a new one installed-

I think it was borderline too short when I got it, and I think swelling from some extended winter rains we had pushed it beyond what worked with the current sounpost. And it really needs a new bridge which the luthier to the north WILL NOT do for me (fiddle isn't WORTHY of his bridges!!!)

8 comments on “I Can't Leave Well Enough Alone, Can I? Part 2”

BC Says:
Thursday, July 29, 2010 @6:25:45 PM

Sorry to hear about your fiddle and bow issue. But it does make for very interesting reading. Good luck with finding a suitable match-up.

bj Says:
Thursday, July 29, 2010 @6:39:51 PM

Please step away from the fiddle . . .

fiddlepogo Says:
Thursday, July 29, 2010 @7:36:55 PM

If I step away from the fiddle, I can't very well practice, now can I??? ;^D

fiddlepogo Says:
Thursday, July 29, 2010 @7:37:20 PM

Besides... you're stealing Mudbug's line!!!

bj Says:
Friday, July 30, 2010 @8:49:25 AM

Yup. It was worth repeating since you didn't listen the first time . . .

fiddlepogo Says:
Friday, July 30, 2010 @11:40:55 AM

I can't step away from the fiddle totally, but I think I WILL step away
from the baking soda when I'm playing fiddle- how's that???

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Friday, July 30, 2010 @3:05:40 PM

Are you truly finished with thinning the finish from your Finnish fiddle? Or are you soda still scrubbing with soda the surface satisfactorily?

Marc Metzger Says:
Saturday, July 31, 2010 @7:06:52 AM

If you are patient enough, you can try the soudpost and bridge thing yourself. I reset my soundpost with the appropriate tool that I got through Stewart-MacDonald. Bridge fitting is probably the easiest but most time consuming thing you can do. All you need is a really sharp and thin knife, your slobbery wet tongue, and a LOT of patience. There are quite a few references out there, but I have found the one here ( to be the best.

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