Posted by fiddlepogo on Saturday, May 28, 2011
Tweaking fiddles is much more challenging for me than tweaking electric guitars. On electric guitars, MOST of the mods I do are reversible, and I like that. If some change doesn't sound good, switch it back to stock.
With fiddles however, most of the tweaks involve removing wood or finish. And once removed, you can't put back what you removed, so in a sense it's permanent.
However if a specific tweak pushes a fiddle too far in a particular direction, I've learned enough of a repertoire of tweaks to push it in the opposite direction- so IN A WAY the change can be undone, but it's not as predictable as just putting the stock screws back into the Stratocaster.
Thursday night, I was getting a WONDERFUL sound from the A and E strings, but the D and G weren't so stellar.
Then I did a counterbalancing tweak, and it improved the D and G, but the A and E strings weren't so good then.
So yesterday, I pushed it back in the opposite direction a little, and got a good balance, EXCEPT that it felt "tight".
Then I got the inspiration to look for something that looks like crazing on the finish over and around the seams.
I found some, and it formed little ridges and bumps in the varnish near the seams, so I sanded those down, and it really loosened Booker up. Ridges are often used in molded things to make them more rigid, and my theory is that anything ridge-like in a finish is going to cause stiffness, and that stiffness is going to inhibit resonance.
So Booker sounded great today, both during my warm up, and at the Farmer's Market.
It's in a tonal place where it seems to do Old Time, Irish, and slow tunes or Waltzes about equally well, which is great for busking.
One thing I did differently- last week I had someone trip over the coffee can I use as a "kitty".
So I bought 3 little miniature orange safety cones at the dollar store and set them up around the coffee can!!! At least one guy thought it was a great idea, and nobody tripped!!!
I played a while and was getting a pretty good response- then a lady wanted to play her fiddle along with me!
So she went and got it. Turns out she's the hammered dulcimer player in a Bay Area Band!!! So next time she comes up to visit family, we may get together to jam.
Part of the reward of busking isn't the money- it's also an opportunity to network.
Then afterwards, I talked with a guy who ISN'T a musician, but is a whole lot like me- very verbal.
We exchanged stories about this, that, and the other until I was SO late to the bluegrass jam that I only got to play on the last tune!!! Oh well!!!
2 comments on “More fiddle tweaking, and more busking, with interesting encounters.”
Sunday, May 29, 2011 @11:24:33 PM
Yes, music is a wonderful way to meet new people. I met a tone judge for violin competitions at the Folklife festival yesterday and spoke with him for hours. I asked him to examine my fiddle. He both played my fiddle and listened to me play a scale across all strings. I am happy to report that he was very enthusiastic about my fiddle.
Thursday, June 2, 2011 @5:13:58 AM
What great experiences! I am slowly trying your neck suggestion on my vso (pos). I need to come up with some catchy name for it, vso ain't working. But it's amazing what a difference a little rubbing will do. 'Course it only has one way to go. Thanks Pogo.
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