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Another round of fiddle tweaking...

Posted by fiddlepogo on Friday, October 15, 2010

My main fiddle, the Knilling 4KF Bucharest has always been just a tad harsh.

The news strings a while ago had covered it up, but after they settled in the harshness was back.  I got to thinking (a dangerous thing sometimes!) and it occurred to me that using the baking-soda-as-rubbing-compound-on-the-finish-over-the-purfling tweak could be focused still further.

It occurred to me that the corners of a fiddle are sources of stiffness, and stiffness tends to accentuate treble.  And extra sprayed on varnish would add even MORE stiffness to the corners, adding even MORE treble.

So I dampened a paper towel, put a bit of baking soda on it, and rubbed on the finish over the corners.

It seemed like the sound improved...

well, if a little is good, more is better (ummm not always!)

so I rubbed a little more...


I rubbed too much... it changed the tone TOO much!!!

It was like the tone all of a sudden went limp... no bite, no body to it.

I spent a couple days berating myself for not knowing when to quit, and pondered what I could do to get the balance back.

Then, a couple of days ago, it occurred to me that a while back I had been tweaking the bridge, and had discovered that slightly rounding or beveling the edges on the ends of the bridge had softened the tone a bit, and maybe sanding the ends flat again would perk the tone up and give it more bite and body....  and it did the trick... the fiddle seems to be in balance again.  Not quite as loud as before, and that's probably a good thing... and a bit sweeter, but still with enough voice to have some authority.

Earlier tonight, I took the fiddle out to the historic mansion, and played under the overhang... and I liked what was bouncing back at me!!!!

4 comments on “Another round of fiddle tweaking...”

Cyndy Says:
Saturday, October 16, 2010 @12:29:29 PM

You've inspired me, but alas. Baking-soda-as-rubbing-compound doesn't seem to touch the shiny finish on my Chinese fiddle!

tsaimichael Says:
Saturday, October 16, 2010 @12:35:50 PM

Glad to hear your story ended up with a happy ending. I am astonished with your courageous tinkering. I have always felt it prudent to consult a luthier before making any adjustments.

fiddlepogo Says:
Saturday, October 16, 2010 @12:52:57 PM

You won't notice a difference in appearance on the fiddle- that's one of the good things about the method.
On mine, which I believe is sprayed-on varnish, the baking soda turns yellow, showing that small amounts of finish are indeed being removed.

If I had a multithousand dollar fiddle that I had picked out because it already played well and sounded good,
I wouldn't do this... (at least I think I wouldn't.... muahaha! ;^)
My Knilling has been called "the high end of student rental fiddles", cost $400 new, current value prolly not more than $175-$225- perfect price range for tinkering!!!

Cyndy Says:
Saturday, October 16, 2010 @12:57:00 PM

Okay, I'll try it again. My old fiddle is on the low end of student fiddles so there's not much to lose.

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