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Hurricanes and a Mad Storm of Fiddles

Posted by bj on Saturday, August 27, 2011

Right now I have a bunch of fiddle projects on the bench (aka the kitchen table!)

One czech fiddle needs a neck reglued, but for some reason the "mortise joint" isn't joining and pulls directly out if you pull towards the scroll, so I gotta figure out what's up with that and how to deal with it, since mortise joints are supposed to be wedgie shaped, not rectangular. How did this happen? Who the hell knows? I just know that it's not the way any of the other necks looked when fastened into the block. I also don't see a single trace of glue on this pup where the neck and block are, so it may be that someone did some surgery in there. I've gotta figure that out. May have to carve a new neck block, then figure out how to make the neck fit it properly. This one might have to be put aside while I think about it.

One 1950's german fiddle just got glued back together after crack repair, and I've gotta test seams and corners one last time before putting a nut on and reglueing the saddle, then it needs setup. The wood is reasonably okay on this one, and structurally it's a decent enough student fiddle. I don't expect huge beauty out of this one, but I think it'll be a very decent entry level fiddle, and I'll be able to price it accordingly.

Another older german fiddle has the top off, the bottom rib reformed and refastened to the back, and the cracks repaired, now it needs the top put back on, and setup.

I have one german fiddle that's almost done that is in the process of being set up for a friend. I've got her playing, but I think I can refine the sound some more, and one of the finetuners is binding, so I'll probably be resetting the soundpost and fiddling with the bridge a bit more to get a bit more volume out of her, as well as either pfutzing with that finetuner or replacing it. I gotta say, though, even with the soundpost needing adjustment, and the bridge still needing a bit of tweaking, this is one SWEET sounding fiddle! Scott should be very happy with this "basket case" he handed me once it's played in and less nasal. It's been in a closet for a lotta years.

And then there's the one that is up on the top shelf that might need a rib shortened before the ribs will go back into proper form, which is the one I've been putting off, since the harder finish on it seems to make the wood quite a bit less pliable than the others I've had to reform ribs on. This one makes me remember all those Italian curse words I learned from my Grandpop, much to Grandma's dismay.

Then there's the homemade job which weighs almost a pound with no tailpiece nor pegs on her. She needs the pegbox/scroll repaired, cheek-patched and bushed where it broke off right through the middle of the A pegholes. This is a fiddle with a lot of character, and the wood is actually quite gorgeous, but the carving is a bit crude, and the beestings are more like bee chisels. Literally. There is something about it that is extremely appealing in a naive way, but I'm not expecting that much weight to put out much sound. This one is pretty thick. But ya never know, it might surprise the hell outta me. Made by E. Borda, New York, 1930.

I currently have three playable "second" fiddles. I'm debating whether I need three crosstuners in addition to my good fiddle.

So, what's got me in a fiddle fixing frenzy? I plan to bring some fiddles up to Lake Genero with me to sell. So if you're in the market . . .

Tomorrow while the wind is blowing I'll have the gluepot going.



9 comments on “Hurricanes and a Mad Storm of Fiddles”

richdissmore Says:
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @8:34:54 PM

i told you once be for your a good repair person i would bet your also geting faster at working on fiddles thank you for bring ing the life back to the unloved fiddles

Rene Says:
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @5:12:41 AM

Impressive girl. Curious ..do you tend to like German made fiddles more than others?

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @6:17:16 AM

I didn't know you did so much repairing. Good for you! I knew you did some but didn't know you had so many fiddles. If you have the inclination, and seems you do, I bet it can be fun.

bj Says:
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @6:17:32 AM

German fiddles that need TLC are what I've been finding that are worth fixing. No real preference there, though the old german trade fiddles are usually (but not always) worth fixing, and there seem to be an awful lot of them that turn up at the local flea markets. My currently playable players are a french D. Salzard (the main go-to fiddle), a french JTL, a Nippon early Suzuki, and a mutt with a balsawood top that Janey made from scrap parts.

BC Says:
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @6:43:26 AM

Good for you BJ. Repairing fiddles can be relaxing but still challenging. Good luck at Lake Genero.

bj Says:
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @7:03:37 AM

Thanks, BC! I doubt I'll get them all done, but I'll finish at least two or three besides Scott's, and if I'm lucky maybe four. And I'll most likely have one of my second fiddles go up there with me, though choosing which one to weed out is giving me angina. I also have a few others I'll take with me for a friend, one I'll be posting on the classifieds here, a sweet half size maggini copy with the double purfling and extra twist on the scroll.

Humbled, I just do simple fixes. Most of it is crack repair of tops and reglueing of open seams, sometimes reforming the ribs when someone left a chinrest too tight for too long. The more challenging repair fiddles come from Terry, who now seems to have caught the fiddle buying bug on my behalf. I'm trying to train him how to look at fiddles but since he doesn't play, he comes up with some doozies. ;-)

My biggest challenge is acquiring tools and keeping blades sharp.

eerohero Says:
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @10:27:37 AM

I hope you will do some real good business with this all. How can you possibly keep your interest both on repairing and fiddlings ? dont you watch any TV at all ? LOL

I guess, we are blessed from 20 hours TV watching, that would kill anyones interest in inspiration for livings.

bj Says:
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @10:38:05 AM

I threw out my TV 20 years ago. Yes, really.

eerohero Says:
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @10:51:21 AM

Hey , you did ! now, that didnt hurt too much.....
when looking for a Job , a standard question of an Employer is: What are you doing at your sparetime?

If the answer is :" watching TV" , they will never get the Job !

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