Posted by fiddlepogo on Thursday, January 12, 2012
Last week I had found a couple of glue bumps on seams near the neck on the VL 100 Eastman, and it really seems to be helping it. Success on one fiddle is a dangerous thing, because it tempts me to do the same thing to other fiddles, with unpredictable results.
Booker, my main (orange) Knilling Bucharest 4KF had been sounding good lately- good in the volunteer gig Monday (got a complement "that fiddle has a very pure sound", and very good in a practice session Tuesday. Then I tried it yesterday, and it wasn't so good... seemed harsh. I don't know if it was my hearing or the fiddle. In any case, I reached for a cheap dental tool and gently scraped in places in the pegbox and along the bass bar, looking for glue bumps to knock off.
(This REALLY was a risky thing to do... twice in the previous week it had sounded EXCELLENT... the only thing that was probably "broke" was that it was too loud... loud enough that I was needing at least SOME hearing protection for both ears.)
And when I tried it again, the sound had dramatically changed... for the first time in a long time, it was QUIETER... I could actually stand to play it without an earplug in either ear. The sound wasn't quite what I wanted though- a little too strong on the bass, and the A string was too weak, so a couple more predictable tweaks, and I was liking it pretty well. Today, the change seems to be holding up well. It's like playing a different fiddle. It's still not as loud, doesn't sing quite as much, but it seems to be very playable in all keys. It still has enough volume to get SOME dynamics, but the "forte is not so loud as to hurt my ears w/o earplugs. The cat even seems to tolerate it a little better. It feels a little stiff, and I'm having to get used to it having a different dynamic range that I have to stay within. But I'm enjoying playing it, and enjoying Old Time D tunes on it more than before, although it's still fine on other keys. I think it will get to having a bit more of a singing tone as I play in the new changes- fiddles often seem stiff right after a major change due to a tweak. (I just knocked off some rosin off the strigns- even better- sweeter and less harsh) I'm wondering if it's going to STAY softer though. I have a tendency to play at very close to full volume... and I think I can hear it get louder as I'm playing it! This tendency is good for causing fiddles to open up, but it seems to make them louder, too, cause the wood gets a GOOD shaking.
And the Eastman is doing the best it's ever been... less tight. The mystery strings are still giving it an Eastern European feel, but somehow the less tight feel makes it better for Old Time and Irish if I needed to use it for that.
In contrast, "Stinky" the other Bucharest seems to be being put in the shade by the other two. It still has the Zyexes on it.
I'm not sure what the problem is... maybe I've been playing the steel strings on the others so much I'm losing my tenuous touch for synthetics. Or maybe it's closing up a little because of not being played as much.... or maybe it needs another TWEAK!!! I still might go to heavier Zyex for it. Or maybe back to the heavy Preludes it "liked" some time ago.
Of course I had to tweak it. Found some "bumps" on inside seams... mellower, relaxed sound, but still weak and nasal.
It occurred to me that since the medium Zyex feel wimpy, maybe I should try tuning it up to A 442, or thereabouts. It seemed to help some.
Then it occurred to me that one place where the polishing had been neglected was the outside sides of the pegbox- and maybe since it was still thick there, it was, in effect, muting the vibrations in the neck. It occurred to me that popping loose the pegs would make it much easier to polish the sides. First I popped loose the treble side pegs, polished the bass side with a fresh coffee filter, tuned them up, then popped the bass side pegs, and polished the treble side. If the peg ends had been perfectly flush or maybe a little recessed, I wouldn't have needed to pop them.
Ah... that's bringing out a more solid fundamental tone and reducing the nasality.
I may do more of that later, never having polished there before- you can see the finish is still quite thick on the sides of the pegbox. The neck seems to be an active participant in all of a violin's resonances, and the finish thickness there affects the whole sound of the fiddle.
2 comments on “Fiddle Tweaking takes an unexpected and promising turn on Booker- LESS VOLUME!”
Ozarkian DL Says:
Friday, January 13, 2012 @12:43:44 PM
And tha beat goes on.......& tha beat goes on. Yer a persistent, persnickety, person plying fer perfection Pogo. Lv yer blogs & forum finesse.
Saturday, January 14, 2012 @1:48:22 PM
Persistent, persnickety, and perfectionistic I may well be, not so sure about the finesse part! Especially not when BOWING comes up...
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