I bought a couple junker fiddles that need a whole lotta work. And now I'm starting to work on them.
This is the one I bought on Ebay for thirty five bucks including shipping awhile back. When I bought it, the strings were made of baling wire, and you can see in the above photo the string around the soundpost. Yes, this one's been a FIDDLE!
The second one is also a German trade fiddle, maybe Mittenwald since it has those droopy corners.
This is the one I bought at the flea market a couple few weeks ago for thirty bucks.
Both need some repair to the tops. The first one has a short saddle crack, the second one has the two piece top separating near the tailpiece block. So I have to file down the saddles and repair that area on both tops.
Both need the ribs near the tailpiece block reformed and reglued to the back, the first much more so, the second just a bit. So that's a major learning curve since moisture and heat will be needed to get the ribs back to the right shape, and molds will need to be made to create that right shape. This is why both tops needed to be removed, since it would be awfully hard to reform this area without doing so, though I suppose on the one that only has a bit of deformity where the too-tight chinrest kicked it out might be able to be fixed that way from the outside by someone who knows a lot more than I do. The first fiddle has the back totally kicked loose of that tailpiece block, so it needs some reconstruction there, easier to do from inside.
As to what else I might do to them, that's a huge question. These are ones I'm learning on. The first thing I've learned is that there are unexpected things with these trade fiddles in regards to what you get. For instance, the one with locator pins in both neck and tailpiece blocks, a real neck block and corner blocks in the lower bout, which are all signs of a better quality, has a carved in bass bar and very little sign of graduation to the top, sign of lesser quality. The one with no real neck block nor corner blocks has a real bass bar and a whole lot more indication that the top has actually been graduated. Go figure. It'll be interesting to hear which one ends up sounding better!
Getting these tops off was a learning curve in itself, and I did do a bit of damage to #2 around that tailpiece block. But I now know how, and I doubt it'll take me much more than an hour or two on the next one I do. These two took me DAYS. I wasn't using a high enough temperature on the palette knife when getting the glue loose initially.
HUGE THANKS to my fiddle luthiery mentors for all the help getting this far! Kathryn Freeman from Tennessee, Jane Gilday (aka janepaints here on the hangout) and Stephanie Reiser (aka Mandogryl on the hangout.) I'll also be getting some tips on soundpost setting from Bill MacLeod (aka transplant on the hangout) when Fiddle Hell rolls around in a couple weeks.
Oh, and in further news, I cut my first bridge for my American fiddle. Is it great? No, but it is a HUGE improvement over the warped bridge that was causing all my problems with that fiddle! I'll probably have Bill tweak my amateur effort if I have a few extra bucks when I get up to Hell.
The most important lesson learned to date-- None of this is easy. There is a LOT to it. But I can do it. Yes. I can.17 comments
'Getting started' 15 hrs
'Wonder thumb' 1 day
'wood filler' 2 days
'New Player' 2 days