The fiddle reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!
208 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Fiddleheads.ca
I recently purchased a hybrid bow from Fiddleheads.ca. The bow has a carbon fiber core and pernambuco outside. It has a full ribbon of quality hair, sterling fittings, and ebony frog. This bow plays really great. The cost of this bow is most affordable for the outstanding quality it has built in. Rhiannon helped me chose the weight I was familiar with in the Ipe wood bow that I have been using. Other carbon fiber bows are available. Anyone looking for a carbon fiber bow with the appearance of pernambuco, I would suggest looking at the 'VOXY ASTUTE" bows at Fiddlehads.ca in Canada, B.C.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Guitar Center
I'm a rank beginner but this little CF bow is a great buy at only about $70 bucks or so. It's light and easy to use and I like how it grabs the strings. I'd recommend it as a great little cheapie CF bow.
Overall Rating: 7
Where Purchased: musicians friend
I have an LR Baggs pickup on my fiddle, and for about a year I used the LR Baggs Venue DI (approx $300). We use a Bose L1 Model 2 sound system, which is as good as it gets for acoustic music. However, my fiddle never sounded real good on any of the settings on the LR Baggs Venue. I recently bought a Fishman Aura Spectrum and set it on Bluegrass. I used it for the first time at a gig two days ago, and I was absolutely shocked at how good the Fishman Aura Spectrum made my fiddle sound. I have been searching for the good woody, acoustic fiddle sound for more than 15 years. I have two LR Baggs Venue DI's which I am now replacing with two new Fishman Aura Spectrums.
If you are looking for a good acoustic fiddle sound from your pickup or fiddle mike for live music, Fishman is the way to go. Nothing else I have tried is even close. The Fishman is about $50 more expensive than the LR Baggs, but it is very well worth it. I can't quit thinking about how good my fiddle sounds over PA now.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: South West Strings
I have always been a steel string user but have been wanting to experiment with synthetic strings for a warmer sound. I am very pleased with the sound and playability of these strings. They are just as easy to play as my Helicore strings I have been using but with more warmth but still seem to be loud enough. Now I have heard that they won't hold up to cross tuning which is fine because I've been more interested in non cross tuned old-time fiddle tunes right now and they are perfect for that. the only other synthetic strings I have ever tried were dominants and I like these Corelli strings WAY better and best of all they are much better priced. I never thought I would like non steel strings this much but these strings have opened my mind.
Overall Rating: 7
Where Purchased: Barry Dudley Violins
Ok.....I have had a chance to really put the G&Fills pickup throught the paces. First and foremost it needs a high impedance preamp, Red Eye (my favorite), LR Baggs Para-Acoustic DI works well as does the Baggs Stage venue DI. The output is very clean and accurate. It sounds closer to a well micd fiddle than any other piezo type pickup I have ever used and is extremely feedback resistant and noise free. I installed it in the bass side of the bridge in between the wing slot. It is not recommended by the manufacturer to have too much pressure. Just enough for a nice fit so it will hold the position. I am extremely impressed with the tone as it sounds like a violin instead of a saxophone which I always had to work around with excessive eqing. String to string balance is excellent. Even the C string on my Dudley 5 and my Kogut 5 sound accurate and as it should. With Baggs, Gage, Fishman and Bradivarius pickups I always had to roll a lot of bottom end off to get the C string to balance with the rest of the strings and that caused other problems.. I think Barry Dudley will be selling these for around $250 or so. He will be receiving a payment from me for the pickup. No funny business hear. It might seem a little pricey but it is well worth it to me. Barry is a good friend of mine but I have paid for every instrument he has built for me. I am only reviewing this because i think it is an option worth pursuing. I make my living playing the fiddle and sound can make you or break you. Barry Dudley is the US distributer for this pickup.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Direct from Bartlett
great on-board mini mic; true sound, good feedback rejection and plenty of gain. Very happy with flexibility provides on-stage and tone it produces. Recently play a loud gig along with drums, sax and and congas and had plenty of headroom on gain and no feedback. Suggest you give one a try - much less expensive solution than I would have expected.
Overall Rating: 8
Where Purchased: www.theslipperrest.com
Review of The Slipper Shoulder Rest for violin/viola by Eric J. Kiszenia, July 2, 2012
For the past several months, I have been searching for a shoulder rest that would not only help secure my violin and make playing more comfortable, but to help me with another challenge I have in playing. Since 2008, I have been rehabilitating from a severe spine and shoulder injury suffered during an accident at work. My right shoulder was dislocated with major damage to the surrounding muscles and tendons while my back was broken in 2 different locations with 4 ruptured disks. After 6 surgeries, I thought learning violin was out of the question. However, after discussing the matter with both my doctor and physical therapist, we all agreed that playing violin might help improve my condition so long as I keep good posture while playing. I immediately purchased a violin and began trying out different shoulder rests and set-up’s.
The most immediate problem I ran into was the length of my neck and the condition of Kyphosis. Kyphosis was brought on by my injuries and causes me to roll my shoulders and back forward to alleviate pain. Most shoulder rests that I’ve tried causes that condition to worsen as I had to slightly angle my head and neck to put pressure on the chinrest. After some trial and error, I raised my chinrest and it helped slightly, but I’d still get some pain after prolonged playing. At that point, I was only able to play 15 to 20 minutes at a time before having to lie down. I knew I needed to try different shoulder rests that would help secure my violin on my shoulder and provide the best position for my neck and head.
At this point, The Slipper was recommended to me as it was designed much different from many of the many shoulder rests I own or have tried.
The first thing that caught my attention after I removed the Slipper from the packaging was how elegant it looked. It did not have the generic appearance of the many plastic shoulder rests on the market. The beautifully stained wood was perfect for the elegant shape. I picked it up and was pleasantly surprised how light the Slipper was. While being of wood construction, the Slipper was actually lighter then my current plastic shoulder rest. Though, not the lightest shoulder rest I have ever tried, but among the top.
The next thing I noticed was the padding lining the inside of the shoulder rest. I was a little concerned with how little padding there was compared to my previous shoulder rests. I was worried that prolonged playing would cause pain to my left shoulder as I had to put more pressure to keep my violin stable.
The first thing I did with The Slipper was place it on my shoulder without having the violin attached. I immediately notice how the shape “hugged” my shoulder and how there was very little friction needed to keep from moving. I was able to stand up with The Slipper on my shoulder and walk around without worrying about it falling off. After finding the optimal position on my shoulder, I fitted it on to the back of my violin. I was familiar with the rubberized feet on The Slipper as many of my other shoulder rests use a similar design. The rubberized feet screwed into the body of The Slipper and had multiple screw positions to adjust to for comfort and violin size. It took me less than 5 minutes to set it up into a comfortable position.
Once The Slipper was initially set up, I realized that I did not nearly need as much pressure to keep my violin in place as I did before. All I had to do was slightly lift my chin, move my violin into place and lower my chin down to a normal position. The ability to let my chin actually rest and not press down lessened my prior concern about the thickness of padding.
I also noticed that I did not need to adjust my neck or back into any awkward positions to keep my violin still. This helped me to keep good posture without worrying about the violin slipping out of place or using my left arm to stabilize it. I had no muscle tightness in my neck or back while I held my violin up without using my left arm. I was actually able to stretch and straighten my back with very little movement from my violin.
As I began playing, the thing that stood out the most to me about The Slipper, was how it kept my violin in place despite how much I moved. In the past, I would have to constantly adjust my violin’s position in the middle of playing for both comfort reasons and pain. With the slipper, I was able to focus on my posture, bowing and note placement instead of adjusting myself and my violin. At an early point in my warm up, I nearly forgot that The Slipper was there. It felt comfortable and it truly felt like it was part of my violin. It felt natural and not like on odd, add-on. Between the comfortable position the shape of The Slipper puts my violin in and how light The Slipper is, I was able to focus on other nuances of playing.
As my violin was kept in a comfortable position, I began noticing how playing on the G string became much easier. I was able to swing my left elbow forward without having to readjust my violin. While continuing to work on scales, vibrato became much easier. I no longer gripped the neck tightly to hold my violin in place, freeing up my hand.
From that point, I continued on to practice songs and The Slipper became an afterthought as it felt so natural and comfortable. The padding was no longer a concern due to how the shape of The Slipper hugged my shoulder without added pressure from my neck. The only time I noticed The Slipper at that point was when I changed music and set my violin on my lap. After working on several different songs, I made an astonishing discovery. I had been playing for 50 minutes. Previously, 20 minutes was the maximum amount of time before pain would set in causing me to lie down. Granted, I had a little bit of pain from sitting and having my vertebrae compress, but I did not have the sharp pain in my neck and back that came from bad posture.
In order to make sure that the lack of pain was not from excitement and adrenalin from having a new product, I set my violin down and didn’t play again until my evening practice time. Again, I was able to play for 40 minutes straight without a problem. By that point, my lower back was compressed again and my left hand and fingers were sore from playing. That pain being most welcomed.
For the rest of the week, I continued to play with the same results. I have not been able to go past on hour of playing time, but this is much better than being able to play only 15 minutes at a time.
I would most definitely recommend The Slipper. Its ergonomic shape and design helps maintain proper position and hold. Its elegant appearance matches that of the violin and is a perfect fit for both beginners and professionals. The Slipper helps you focus on the nuances of playing rather than worrying about comfort and position.
The price may be higher than your average shoulder rest, but at $99, it is well worth it for both luxury and functionality of a hand-crafted shoulder rest. In the past, I have purchased 4 of the “cheaper” shoulder rests, a combined total of more than $100, and none of them come close to The Slipper’s comfort, functionality and appearance.
The only negative I could find was the placement of the “Made in The USA” sticker. While I’m proud to own such a product, removing the sticker presented a challenge as I did not want to ruin the finish. I spent 30 minutes trying to carefully remove the sticker and adhesive. Although, that’s a small price to pay for such a great product.
~Eric J. Kiszenia
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Corilon Violins
Truly a great string shop. I have now bought both a fine antique German violin bow and German cello bow from them. They are no hassle to deal with despite being across the pond. They have always answered my questions promptly and have generally been great to deal with. The bows arrived freshly rehaired and ready to go! I am already planning on buying more antique instruments from them--definitely a viola in the near future. I cannot say enough good things!
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: http://www.seventhstring.com/
I've been using Transcribe! for almost two years to slow down recordings for practice and I've found it to be a visually-pleasing, easy-to-use tool.
For me, the most useful features have been
Pre-set slow-down buttons--35%, 50%, and 75%
Ability to quickly jump through a recording by clicking the mouse
Ability to highlight phrases to loop
Option to export slower recordings
Option to adjust pitch
Software screen shots on the Seventh String site: http://www.seventhstring.com/xscribe/screenshots.html
Recently I changed computers and needed some help from their customer service people to get the software working on the new machine. I received prompt, helpful replies by email and a gracious solution to my problem.
I'm very pleased with the software and happy with the related customer support.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: From Linnd
The Linnd shoulder rest (http://www.linnd.co.uk/) may be too modern looking for some traditional fiddlers but if they reject it for that reason they’re missing a great product. An interesting part of the design is a transverse bar between the fiddle and the section that fits on your shoulder, the bar takes a lot of stress off the fiddle compared to the death grip that most other rests have.
The Linnd rest seems to have become part of my fiddle because of its lightness, fit and spare design. For me it gives support in all the right places and none of the "why is it poking me there" ones. My fiddle seems to sound better too, can't tell if it's because it likes the rest, I like the rest or we both do.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Gift
This tuner was given to me as a gift recently. I really needed one for my fiddle case and this one fits the bill well.
It is a digital instrument but displays the image of a needle that sweeps like an analog instrument would – from a scale that has a -50 to 0 to +50 range, plus it uses red and green LEDs to display sharp (red) and flat (red) and spot on (green).
It comes with a clamp on sensor with about a 30” cord that can be plugged in to the tuner. Or you can use the built in mic. Or it can be used with a tone generator for tuning to an audible signal.
The tone generator is also used with the metronome and has a volume control. Or it can be set to pulse/vibrate on beat. So you can have it in your pocket and “fell” the beat. It has 9 preset rhythms to chose from with a tempo adjustment from 30 to 250 bpm.
Pitch set point can be flattened a half step or whole step and still have an adjustment range between 410 and 450 hz.
A peculiar feature that I find a bit curious is that they include the ability for this to be set to vibrate continuously. They suggest that it could be use by a singer to relax their facial muscles or a musician can use it to relax their “fingers”.
OK. I don’t see me using that feature… nevertherless.
It is about the size of an iPhone, uses 3 – AAA batteries. It shuts off after no input for 2 minutes. It has a blet clip that folds out and doubles as leg to stand the tuner up.
Mine is similar to the one shown, but with a different display screen.
I don’t know where my friend bought it or how much it cost. A Google search doesn’t turn up an American distributor. But I’m certain they didn’t order it from China.
I’m offering this review because – I really like this tuner. I would look for another if it were lost.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: 3 double cases from 3 places
The first was from "Harry and Jeannie West" mail order. Simple hard shell. Non- suspension. Fairly light weight. It lasted 30 years. It took a major hit when it was about 15 years old and an airline forcibly gate checked it; one hinge was damaged (I repaired that) and the top scraped. The fiddles were intact so it performed it's job. I used it for several years after.
I bought a "Guardian" case from Elderly for my wife in May. She liked it at first. Suspension style, fiddles are locked in place tightly which makes it slow and awkward to insert and remove them but I think they are better protected. Then, after some use she complained about the weight and the difficulty of closing the case. The metal latch on the front does not always self align requiring some fidgeting to latch it.
Recently, I bought her a "Protec' case (From Musicians Friend) and inherited her Guardian. The Protec is also a suspension type and is over a pound lighter. The violins fit more easily and loosely into the Protec. The Protec does not have a latching metal latch but closes with a Velcro flap. To me it seems as secure; if someone is going to break into the case that metal latch won't stop them. I do think the metal latch keeps the structure more rigid. The Protec zipper has much larger teeth, seems sturdier and is easier and smoother to operate.
Both have an excess of external pockets in the nylon overwrap and pencil (!) holders. Can a model with cup holders be far away?
Bottom line- Guardian is slightly sturdier and more protective. The Protec is lighter and easier to use. Cost wasn't much different and the Guardian and Protec have similar dimensions.
Overall Rating: 5
Where Purchased: SOUTHWEST STRINGS
I'M A AMATEUR FIDDLE PLAYER, BUT THESE ARE MY THOUGHTS.BETTER THAN THE BRAZILWOOD I HAD.EASIER TO BOW WITH.BOWING TWO STRINGS IS EASIER.I LIVE IN A VERY LOW HUMIDITY IN SUMMER TO VERY HIGH HUMIDITY IN WINTER. ONE LESS THING TO WORRY AMOUNT.IT PLAYS THE SAME ALL THE TIME.
Overall Rating: 8
Where Purchased: eBay
This bow is one of Yita's AAA Top Models, snakewood, with "gold" fittings, and a snakewood frog. The craftsmanship is excellent, in all respects. Not a thing amiss to note. The hair quality was excellent, as was the job of hairing. Only one hair broke when I rosined it, and I've yet to lose another. (I've only lost two hairs on my Coda Diamond GX since it was new.) The bow is well balanced, biased a bit toward the tip (tip heavier), which suits me best. This was a factor that I considered in my purchasing this particular bow. Yes, it is heavy, 10 grams heavier than my Coda, but I knew that when I bought it. Yita clearly posts the specs for each of their bows.
The weight didn't seem to be much of an issue . . . until I hit dance-tempo, with some quick shuffles. I was used to the lighter bow, thus my right-hand wasn't used to pulling the extra weight at that tempo, and I could tell that it ever so slightly affected my timing. Some tunes I noticed this, others I didn't, but as the night wore on, I got more and more used to it, as I figured I would.
The tone was every bit as good as the Coda Diamond GX, only bigger, in ever sense. The extra weight is a blessing, and actually what I was after. Since I play off my chest, the fiddle is canted quite a bit. This allows my right-arm to hang naturally, and I only have to raise it a little for crossing onto the G (yes, the bridge is flatter). That's nice for ergonomics and speed, but provides that less of the bow's weight be transferred onto the strings, owing to the angle of the bow in relation to the ground.
The bow does its best work by allowing it to work. No extra pressure at all, ever. The stick is very resilient, and recovers rapidly. Not as quick as does the Coda, but this is all very subtle, and only noticeable whilst looking at the sticks. As stated, the tone does not suffer, so I consider this a necessary part of its design. Different materials, different taper, etc., so it should be different. Also, I find that it takes less tension on the hair for this stick, as opposed to the Coda, and yet I never bump the stick. I have about 1/8" of air between the hair and stick.
As far as the bow goes, I couldn't be happier. The price was quite reasonable for what I got. Actually, it was more than reasonable.
Yita's service was exceptional, too. I paid on a Tuesday night (here), they sent it on a Wednesday morning (here), and I got it Monday. It was sent via China's EMS (Express Mail Service), then picked up by USPS after clearing customs. It was sent in a rigid, plastic tube, to which was taped a large piece of foam. This foam provided a flat place for the paper-work (customs), but also made it difficult for the postal services to lose. Wrapped in a bright, yellow tape, it looked like a flag.
Buying a bow sight/sound unseen like this is a potentially risky venture. Knowing what I wanted in a bow minimised the risks, but there is always the potential that it wont be as good as the photos, or the tone will not be sufficient. Yita offers 14 days for returns. The loss would be shipping both ways (shipping to me was included in the price of this bow). I would have attempted to sell it, rather than shipped it back, though.
Yita Music has 11,800+ positive feed-back ratings on eBay. That says it all about their devotion to a high level of quality and customer-service.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Charming Song Violin store, Ebay
Recently purchased a carbon fiber bow from Song Chung Violin Co. Ltd. on Ebay. I don't know for certain if the bow was actually made by this firm ( I also have one of their fiddles, which I know they make), but I assume it was.
In any case, I paid $39 for the bow (plus $18 shipping) and must say, quite simply, I'm delighted. I'm certainly not an expert on bows, by any means. I always have used cheap brazilwood or fiberglass models purchased at various music stores or with the fiddles I've bought, so this was an attempt to upgrade without spending a fortune. Mission accomplished.
It is a beautiful stick, black with full chrome mounting, parisian eye on the ebony frog, excellent balance and weighing only 60 grams.
It has definitely improved the tone and ease of my fiddling. Anyone looking for a decent bow at a great price should give these folks a look.
Overall Rating: 10
'Mississippi Sawyer' 11 hrs
'Fiddler's Pastime' 1 day
'High Ham' 1 day
'Smith & Wilkes' 1 day
'Notched bridge' 1 day