I've been playing clawhammer banjo for about 20 years, and some folks say I'm pretty good at it. But when it comes to playing the fiddle, well, I'm a babe in the woods.
Still, as an old-time music player, I've always listened to fiddle players and not banjo players when I wanted to learn a new tune. And I've always sought out good fiddle players to play music with, as a good fiddle/banjo duet is a wonderful thing.
Recently, I attended a fiddlers' convention in Hillsdale, Michigan. I was expecting old-time music, and to that end, I was bit disappointed. I found no dominant fiddle player there playing old-time southern Appalachian tunes. I can't explain exactly what it was they were playing, but it wasn't what I would call old-time music. At one jam, they had five hammered dulcimer players bangin' away. Not exactly my cup of tea.
But the event did reap benefits for me. It was there that I met Victor Seal of Osseo, Michigan. Mr. Seal is a fiddle maker, and when he opened up a case to show me two fiddles that he had made, well, it almost took my breath away.
To make a short story shorter, I bought his latest creation, No. 10. To say that it is a thing of beauty is an understatement. The top is red spruce, typically used in high-end mandolins. The one-piece bottom, sides and neck are made of cherry. He even has laminated strips of red spruce in the cherry neck, a sight to behold.
No tint. Just violin varnish and a sealer of his own make. The fiddle, thus, is a two-tone creation in terms of color.
I will post photos of this instrument in my photo section.
But I did not buy on looks alone. This fiddle sounds very good to my ears right now, but Mr. Seal says it will sound even better after two or three years of playing. So I have begun sawing on it in a regular fashion, much to the annoyance of my better half who can righfully say and does, "you suck."
And indeed I do. But with time that should change.
Mind you, I did not go to Hillsdale contemplating buying a fiddle. But this particular fiddle reached out to me, kinda like my old cat 16 years ago at an animal shelter.
An emotional decision to be sure. But, heck, emotion is why we play music, right?
' Rocky Pallet' 20 hrs
'Bowing Experiment.' 1 day