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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!

213 reviews in the archive.

Tom MacKenzie and Katie Trautz: Side By Side: Old Time Tunes for Fiddle and Banjo

Submitted by Mojohand40 on 8/9/2016

Where Purchased: Banjo Hangout

Overall Comments

First: Side By Side is available directly from the authors and can by found here on the Hangouts Classified section. 

This is a great presentation of  a collection of Old Time Tunes.  If you play clawhammer and fiddle at an intermediate level, you will really enjoy this book. It is layed out very well, spiral bound to lay flat; with standard notation for fiddle on left side and tab for clawhammer banjo on the right side.

One of the things that makes this collection such a good deal is the really top notch playing on the two CDs that accompany the book.  The second CD contains all the tunes played up to speed and at a more performance level, with both instruments played together.  This alone is worth the price, as it is a really enjoyable listen on it's own.  The first CD contains both a fiddle and a separate banjo track for each tune, played slowly and clearly, as written. Each track also has a click track to start it for play along or timing.  A click track/count off for each tune seems like a no-brainer...but most tune collection book/CD's just don't get this simple concept.

The clawhammer tab is large and easy to read, and is as played. It is also some really good versions of the tunes played. Not dumbed down beginner versions, and not weirdly ornamented versions that no one plays, but solidly played tunes that with diligence are approachable for the intermediate clawhammer player.   The second CD which is played up to speed really shows how to use the tunes as learned in context with a little drive and slight variation here and there.

The Fiddle notation lacks a lot of double stops and doesn't indicate bowing, but does match the slowed down recording very well.  With careful listening and using the notation as a guide, the tunes are totally approachable.   The fiddle playing is really top notch in every way.  Everything is played clearly and deliberately, and like the banjo versions, these are really good versions of these tunes.

Even if you don't play clawhammer, having the clawhammer slow track to play your fiddle against is a great tool for understanding the material, as is of course; having the up to speed CD to play along with.

I really recommend this book.  I wrote this review because I think it goes under the radar on the hangout forums.  I showed this book to a few folks in my local jam group, and they are clamoring to get copies themselves. One of the banjo players is allready learning one of the tunes (Lost Girl) as written in the book while I'm learning the fiddle part for our next jam.





Overall Rating: 9

Antonio Giuliani: Antonio Giuliani

Submitted by Mojohand40 on 9/4/2013

Where Purchased: Kennedy Violins (online)

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 700 ($US)


I had it strung and set up with D'addario Pro Arte strings at Kennedy, and that's all I've used on it. As of this writing, I've had this fiddle for only about 3 months.
I would say compared to my other fiddles, this one is more complex and responsive to dynamics. I had wanted a good fiddle for Old Time style playing, and while this one does it; it seems to "want" to play Irish tunes more then anything. You can of course play any style of fiddle on this fiddle, I'm just saying that to my ears and ability level; Irish tunes sound better to me on this fiddle then my others.
All in all, I like the sound of this fiddle a lot. Not too quite, and not too loud or bright. I've played with a few clawhammer banjo players with it and it blends well. Not as loud as my Gliga; which has Helicores on it; and is my loudest fiddle.
I would say this fiddle is balanced, and just right.

Sound Rating: 9


Set up was very good. I didn't need to change anything. I had four fine tuners put on as well as Pro Arte strings. All is good. The bridge moved a little because of the strings setting in, but other then that, I am happy with the setup.

Setup Rating: 9


Very beautifully finished. I didn't get the antiqued one, just the normal. Lots of "flaming" on the back and sides. Really a nicely finished violin.

Appearance Rating: 9


The finish does seem a little delicate. I'm VERY careful and wipe it off after playing and wash my hands before playing, etc. yet, after only three months, I've seen a few little blemishes from use. Nothing major, and maybe I'm just looking too close. I keep telling myself it will look properly antiqued some day....but still, it's such a pretty violin I hate to see any marks on it. (I'm just being anal).

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I'm VERY impressed with Kennedys service. In the past I had read reviews of them and thought it was a load of B.S., like they were just being "reviewed" by folks who work there or something; but now I think I was wrong! They really do seem to work hard to satisfy the customer.
They sent me pics of a few models to pick from, asked me how I would like it set up, were prompt and easy to contact, and after a few weeks even called to make sure all was good. After finishing a customer survey; they even sent me a nice shoulder rest. I would NOT hesitate to order from them again.

Customer Service: 10


If you order one of these, pay the few bucks extra for the Bow upgrade. I did, and got one of their Carbon Fiber bows. Really nice, light weight bows and worth the upgrade. Also the case they sent is very nice.
All in all a great package.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

The only reason I'm giving a 9, is a 10 would have to be amazing to me. Not sure if I've seen a 10 yet...I would say it's a solid nine, though.
I currently have a Gliga, a Shar, a Kennedy Ricard Bunnel G2, a Romanian student level and an old German student level fiddle.
Before getting this Antonio Giuliani, the Gliga was my favorite. Now..I would say I like the Giuliani best. The Gliga is still a nice instrument and stands out at a noisy bluegrass jam, but the Giuliani simply has a more "complex" sound and seems more "Capable" of nuance. Like I said, this violin seems to WANT to play Irish style. Sounds almost too "Formal" for Old Time (but that might be strings and how I play), but still blends nice in an old time session. Really hard to beat for the under 800 buck price tag.

Overall Rating: 9

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