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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!

209 reviews in the archive.

Royce Burt Reviews

Submitted by t9c (see all reviews from this person) on 3/22/2016

Where Purchased: Royce Burt direct

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 1,500 ($US)

Sound

This fiddle sound wonderful under the chin. Loud, bold, sweet & full. I've recorded a few tunes with it and it's tone is far superior to the Gliga Gems I've been using for the last 12 years, not even in the same league. Before purchasing this fiddle, I auditioned a dozen or so violins from $3k-20k. The 923 sounds as good as most of them (ok maybe not the $20k one).

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Haven't changed a thing. Perfectly setup from Royce. Easy to play in all positions. Double stops are a breeze. It has improved my playing immensely!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The 2 pc back is highly flamed and matched. Very nice. Some obvious antiquing was applied to front and back before being oil based varnish refinished. It looks great.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The tuning pegs and fine tuners are easy to turn and the fiddle holds it's tuning while on a stand for days. If something were to ever go wrong, I'd feel confident in sending it back for repairs.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Customer service may be the best part of buying a fiddle from Royce. Within an hour of my initial email, Royce called while he was driving home and we talked for a good 30-40mins about this and that and his fiddles. Once my decision was firm, he promptly sent the fiddle to me and I was given a couple of weeks to decide if I liked it. It didn't take but a few minutes to an hour to know this was a great deal and I'd be keeping it. Sent him a check. Since then, he responds to my emails quickly, and when you buy a Royce Burt fiddle, you're getting a good friend with it. CS Rating-11!

Customer Service: 10

Components

I couldn't find any weaknesses. The pegs and fine tuners all turn easily. It also feels solid on the hand & shoulder. very easy to play up in 3rd position. This fiddle has Helicore Heavy Tension strings installed.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

As stated in other reviews, Royce buys fiddles and regraduates them to make them sound their best. It's almost an insane exercise to watch all of his videos on You Tube to find one you want because they ALL sound fantastic. I could hear differences, but I didn't hear a single one I didn't like. Even though I wasn't initially interested in any "pretty" fiddle, when he got close to the camera and turned it around to show the back, I was immediately impressed with the excellent flamed matching pattern. One last thing, for the amount of work Royce puts into his fiddles, he doesn't charge near enough. We are lucky to have a luthier like him around to sell us fiddlers great sounding fiddles at bargain prices!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by pdfarrell (see all reviews from this person) on 7/29/2015

Where Purchased: Online

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 850 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I have only played 4 fiddles in my life. I'm not really qualified to give a critique. But the fiddle sounds great to me. It's plenty powerful. I put a lot of faith in Royce here and I think it paid off.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Great! Really comfortable to play from day one.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It's an old fiddle. And the age shows. I specified with Royce that I was interested in sound over looks. That's exactly what he got for me.

Appearance Rating: 6

Reliability

Seems strong and sturdy to me. That was one of the characteristics that I told Royce I was looking for. Hard to give a rating here because only time will tell.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

This is where Royce really shines. Pardon the cliche, but what a pleasure doing business with him. He paid attention to my descriptions of what I was looking for. He was genuinely interested in me being happy with the fiddle. He gets the highest possible rating here. I give an 11 out of 10.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I don't see any problems.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Royce is a great guy to deal with.  The only problem is that his fiddles seem to move very quickly.   

This was a bit of an unusual sale for him I think. I'm in Namibia, but fortunately my sister was coming for a visit.,  So he shipped the fiddle to my sister and she brought it to me.  Royce said a number of times that if I wasn't happy with it I could send it back with my sister and he would refund the money.  I'm happy to say that the fiddle will be staying in Namibia.

I feel fortunate to be where I am and to have a Royce Burt fiddle.  If I ever buy another fiddle (oh Lordy, Lordy) I can't imagine going anywhere else.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by mandobozo (see all reviews from this person) on 7/28/2015

Where Purchased: Royce Burt via YouTube

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: ask Royce ($US)

Sound

I am a novice fiddler, but I've played guitar since I was twelve and mandolin for about fifteen years. Now that I'm reaching geezerhood, I like to think I have both musical "sense" and a well-developed ear. Fiddle seemed like a no-brainer after reaching a fair level of competency on the mandolin. Though totally addictive, it was a humbling experience to realize whatever I brought to the fiddle with my left hand meant nothing because every nuance, every pure tone, every bit of expression was going to come from my infantile and clumsy bowing. The progress was glacial, but there was progress.

I had acquired an easy-playing, but rather average and quiet Hopf. It certainly didn't hold me back by any means. I do believe that getting the best playing and best sounding instrument you can afford reaps dividends. It inspires you to work harder and be worthy of the instrument and it can be more forgiving as you improve your technique. I would say #901 hits the mark on both. With Royce's YouTube channel, you can compare one fiddle to the next to your heart's content. I was hooked on the process, and when I heard #901, I took the plunge because it was the fiddle sound I was hearing in my head. Bright, but sweet with a lot of clarity---butterscotch overtones with a hint of rosin, --oh, hell--you can't use words to describe it, you just know it when you hear it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Plays like butter, to use a tired, old cliche. I haven't changed a thing and don't expect to. Already had my preference for tailpiece (Wittner Ultra) and a Guaneri chin rest. Helicore medium strings as well

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I believe this to be a modern Chinese fiddle where Royce has re-graduated the back, ribs, and belly using, as he refers to it, his re-voicing "recipe". I've built a number of mandolins and I use a fairly primitive approach to tap-tuning the top plate. Other luthiers just use their intuition and graduate the plates until it feels right for that particular piece of wood. However Royce does it, the results speak for themselves.

The top is tight-grained with the back and ribs having moderate figure. I wasn't interested in a pedigree or eye candy. To me it was all about the tone. It has a new oil varnish finish and has been relic'ed a bit -I think Royce calls it "antique-ing"-- which give it a nice and well-played appearance.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Only had it a few weeks, but it seems very well constructed and the finish is of excellent quality---I don't see or expect any issues

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Royce has a fairly unique marketing method, but it sure removes the "blind item" aspect of purchasing a fiddle. He is an excellent player and gives you a good idea of the fiddle's potential. One of the smoothest transactions I've ever made. Guess there's trust required by both parties, but Royce probably extends a lot more than he receives. Truly a sincere, straight-shooter and I hope to do business with him again.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Royce is providing a great value in quality fiddles at a fair price. I would recommend him to anyone looking for a great sounding and playing fiddle. Hat's off and thanks, Royce!!!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by fiddle_123 (see all reviews from this person) on 3/6/2015

Where Purchased: Royce Burt

Year Purchased:
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is the one thing I will comment on... he has the best horse glue in all the land. Not once have I had a fiddle blow up that wasn't my fault. (Florida Heat)

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Customer Service: 10

Components

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I have the 504 Five String.

I own many of  Royce's fiddles, the newly re-graduated 504 takes the cake on 5 strings.

It has even loudness on each string, tone all to be damned, and eats John Silakowski's and Cooper's for breakfast. No kidding.

If you want a Five that is NASCAR Ready, go get one of his re-grad's and sit on it like Publix Private Stock. 

That's all I have to say about that...other than Adam Haynes is right on as well....

S.T.

 

 

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by blockader (see all reviews from this person) on 4/2/2014

Where Purchased: Royce Burt via FHO

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: $1200 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Royce revoices these old trade fiddles specifically with Old Time and Bluegrass fiddlers in mind. This one started life as a Saxony instrument based more or less on an Amati design. After regraduation and tweaking it has a wonderfully clear and smooth tone, with very fast responce. With the Prim medium strings and Westminster E that i use it has a fairly midrangey tone with a powerful G string. It was a little darker sounding with the Helicore strings it came with. I wanted a bit more aggressiveness from the E which the Westminster provides. Royce's fiddles tend to have fairly sweet E's that can be altered to suit the individual taste by using various E strings on the market. The volume is medium to medium loud. There are times playing outdoors that i wouln't mind a little more volume and times
indoors that i wouldn't mind a little less. This fiddle delivers crisp clear notes as fast as you can make them, which was what i was really after.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The fiddle was well set up with easy action, well done pegs, and Helicore strings. I prefer clearer, faster, louder strings for Old Time so I changed those out immediately. I also had a bridge cut with my preferred profile. The bridge it came with was alright, I just needed it to suit me exactly. I would expect to have a bridge made for any fiddle i purchased online.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

This is not a particularly attractive fiddle. It probably came from Sears catalog more than 100 years ago. It has "Amati" stamped (crookedly) under the button on the back. The grain on the spruce top is very random with darker than usual lines. I actually have yet to see another top like this one. The back and ribs are figured but the ground and finish were not done in Germany as nicely as many others. Frankly, the looks ofthis fiddle would probably cause most people to pass over it to a different one. Royce took it and carved that old wood up and made it awesome. Having a fiddle that looks like it came from Sears Roebuck and got carried around in a flour sack for a few decades, but that plays and sounds like a dream is really ideal for the Old Time world. So it suits me just fine. Another words, it would be a 10 appearence wise at Clifftop but a 3 at the Philharmonic. Royce's regrads have a lot of variety in looks depending on what exactly it is. The fiddle he sent me as a backup was absoultely gorgeous in everyway, actually. It was a little darker tone wise than i prefer or I might have kept that one!

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

It has been completely reliable.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

You will not work with a better person than Royce. Period. The top of this fiddle developed a small crack in shipping. I sent it back so he could fix it. He actually sent me another fiddle, on his dime, to use while he repaired the crack and shipped it back to me. Royce is honest and accomodating in every way. He does not have the ridiculous and off putting ego that so many people that mess with fiddles have. We still email on occasion just to shoot the shit.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Royce uses wittner tailpieces that are pretty standard for fiddlers. The chinrests he uses seem to mostly be older ones that match the older fiddles.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I have played a lot of various levels of fiddles at this point and i still prefer this trade Amati copy to all of them so far, though i have never played really high end stuff in the over $5000 range so i can't compare to that. Royce really makes these things into Old Time machines, with tons of mojo and music in them. Heres a youtube video of this one: 

http://youtu.be/eXNhIUr87BY

 

Overall Rating: 10

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