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Aug 8, 2019 - 5:13:09 PM

WyoBob

USA

12 posts since 5/16/2019

I don't know where to post this for sure.  If it's in the wrong place, perhaps the mod's can move it.

I bought a banjo 7 years ago to celebrate having an actual,  functioning left wrist/hand/arm after I fell and shattered it.   It was held together with an external fixture and I developed a nerve disorder, CRPS, which is not common.  It took me a year of therapy to regain use of my left hand/wrist/arm.  Two months of therapy before I could tie my shoes again.  I'd always had an interest in the banjo so, at the age of 65, I bought my first one.  I had 4-5 lessons from an outstanding local musician, Lynn Young, in our area and then went on to learn clawhammer banjo pretty much on my own.  Lynn, after hearing me play at a local venue, asked me if I'd like to play with his group.  To say this was way beyond anything I'd ever envisioned, would be an understatement.  They play old time fiddle music and that's what I really enjoy.  I've got around 70 tunes I can play without thinking about it and found that I could "fake" my way into playing almost any tune (as long as it was 1,4,5 chords.)

I seemed to fit in with the group and, after playing with such outstanding musicians (especially fiddle players), I developed a fascination with the fiddle.  How on earth do they do that!  

A couple of year's ago, a friend of mine gave me the fiddle that his grandpa made in 1949.  It was pretty crude.   The label inside the fiddle said, "number 115".  I would have hated to see the first one!

It had the original bow and strings.   Lynn said, "there's some music in the fiddle but the bow was "not good" (to be kind).  The tuning pegs looked like they were whittled with a knife and tuning the fiddle was a nightmare as the pegs were not well fitted.

I've tried playing the old fiddle for the last few month and things weren't going all that wel as tuning precisely was a problem.  I got to where I could play scales and even picked out a few tunes but tuning and holding tuning was a real problem with the old beater. I love learning new things and made some progress in playing the old fiddle I have.  I've spent a lot of time researching fiddles, which is something I enjoy.  There are so many great resources, online, for aspiring fiddle players and I've had lots of fun researching everything about the fiddle.

So, I've ordered some Wittner planetary tuning pegs, the "Incredibow", strings and a center mount chin rest for the old fiddle I have to see if I could bring the old fiddle up to speed.  When Lynn gets back from Clifftop, I'm looking forward to getting together with him and see, at the age of 72, if I can learn how to fiddle a bit.

I have no illusions of "grandeur" and imagine that my fiddle playing career will involve going to the basement and fiddling away (when my wife is gone from the house).   I don't care.  I'm doing it to suit myself.  I still get to play old time music on my banjo with an outstanding group of musicians' which is something I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that I thought I would be doing.

If I can gain skill with my "old beater", I'll look into buying a better fiddle.  I might not be able to accomplish much, but, I'm having fun!

Bob  (RV6 on the Banjo Hangout)

Aug 8, 2019 - 5:53:12 PM
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1377 posts since 12/11/2008

Hang that dear old fiddle on the wall and mail order a happy, cheap Chinese fiddle outfit. No matter how much history and vibe that old fiddle might possess, sometimes you just gotta get practical. If you're fighting the instrument as much as you are trying to play it, chances are better than even you'll soon give up the fiddle altogether.

Aug 8, 2019 - 6:35:37 PM
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Beardog

USA

83 posts since 8/12/2012

Yes, you can learn to fiddle, especially if you already know a lot of fiddle tunes and accompanying basic music theory/chord progressions, etc.

At 72, get yourself a good fiddle. A decent one is not really very expensive. Life is too short to screw around with a beater. I have nothing to do with this fiddle, but I have no doubt that it would hold its own with 99% of what most of us will ever accomplish or need:

https://www.fiddlehangout.com/classified/10613

An Incredibow is fine. I have one, and I use it almost as often as I use my "much better" Coda Luma bow. I know several very good fiddlers who use the Incredibow, exclusively.

I am also a banjo player. Trust me, fIddling will cause your banjo to gather dust.

Aug 8, 2019 - 7:16:23 PM
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4204 posts since 9/26/2008

I know Lynn (played tunes with him at Clifftop just a week ago), and you couldn’t have a better mentor in the old time world. He’ll get you on the right path and if the fiddle wasn’t playable, he’d tell you.
Since I imagine you already have the tunes in your head, you are a leg up on most beginners. I have no doubt you will see/hear progress in no time.

Hello to Lynn from ‘Billy in Iowa’ if you will the next time you see him. Welcome to the Fiddle Hangout!

Aug 8, 2019 - 11:24:24 PM
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Tyler94

USA

7 posts since 7/21/2019

Hey Bob! Been a little while since we jammed, but I'm glad to see you're taking up the fiddle. Next Sunday Jam (If I can make it, no promises), I can try bringing the pretty affordable fiddle kit I started on for you to try. If you like it, I'll let you know the shop that sells them.

Aug 9, 2019 - 6:36:23 AM
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WyoBob

USA

12 posts since 5/16/2019

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

I know Lynn (played tunes with him at Clifftop just a week ago), and you couldn’t have a better mentor in the old time world. He’ll get you on the right path and if the fiddle wasn’t playable, he’d tell you.
Since I imagine you already have the tunes in your head, you are a leg up on most beginners. I have no doubt you will see/hear progress in no time.

Hello to Lynn from ‘Billy in Iowa’ if you will the next time you see him. Welcome to the Fiddle Hangout!


He did play the fiddle and he said, "there's still some music in it" (but the bow was not good).   But, he could pull a tune out of anything, I think.

Yeah, he's a good mentor but also an outstanding guy.  He and his fellow old time jam players have a blast every time they get together and I get to play with them on Tues. nights.  It's not a "jam".  It's friend's getting together to play OT music, tell jokes and stories and laugh!  Lynn and the old time bunch went to CROMA this year and I played with them several times.  I don't think I've ever seen a group of players at CROMA in the five years I've been going that had more fun being together.   I don't know when I've laughed so long or hard as I did this year.  What a hoot!

Thanks for the welcome, Billy.  I'll tell Lynn you said "Howdy".

Aug 9, 2019 - 6:50:52 AM

WyoBob

USA

12 posts since 5/16/2019

Ed and Sam,   You've stumbled on my diabolical plan.   There is a better fiddle in my future.   Playing the old beater has already helped with my stiff, left wrist and I can now play the G string without pain which I couldn't do when I first started.

I have a friend who was interested in maybe installing Wittner planetary tuners on one of his fiddles but was hesitant about doing it himself.   I will need them on what ever fiddle I end up with, so I thought that we could do an installation on the old beater and that way, if something goes wrong, it's no loss.   I will eventually transfer the tuners to the better fiddle I hope to end up with.   It looks like a simple installation.  We'll see.

Thanks for the comments.

Aug 9, 2019 - 9:08:59 AM
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2133 posts since 10/1/2008

And having fun is the point. Seriously I understand your wish to preserve the history of the gift fiddle. Keep this in mind...... a better made instrument , think 300.00$ Chinese manufacture for an entire outfit, will likely be easier to play and have better tone. This will impact your ability to learn and play in a very positive manner. Don't wait too long to do it. R/

Aug 9, 2019 - 5:04:10 PM

WyoBob

USA

12 posts since 5/16/2019

quote:
Originally posted by UsuallyPickin

And having fun is the point. Seriously I understand your wish to preserve the history of the gift fiddle. Keep this in mind...... a better made instrument , think 300.00$ Chinese manufacture for an entire outfit, will likely be easier to play and have better tone. This will impact your ability to learn and play in a very positive manner. Don't wait too long to do it. R/


I'm forwarding this to my wife.smiley

Just kidding.  She supports most everything I do and she loves listening to me play old time on my banjo.  (I don't know about my fiddle playing as I play downstairs, well away from her.)

When I started on the banjo, I always had the door to the practice room closed.  One day, after I finished playing and went to leave, I noticed the door was open.  I thought I was "losing it" and asked her if she'd opened the door.  She said, yes, you started sounding good.  One of the high points of my brief musical adventure!

Aug 9, 2019 - 6:14:47 PM
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10341 posts since 9/23/2009

My grandson bought a half-size Cecilio fiddle from Amazon...Chinese made, low priced, and I was so impressed I bought myself a Cecilio Viola...for around 200. Love it so much I also got myself a Cecilio cello for just about the same price as the viola. If I needed a fiddle, I'd get a cecilio...I mean, unless I'uz rich, then I'd go for something from a great luthier somewhere. But the cecilios are low-priced and really pretty good instruments, from my own experience. Anyway...happy fiddling! Sounds like you are already on your way. The cecilio bows are kinda cheap, but the incredibow will get you by pretty good...I have one for fiddles and an omnibow incredibow I bought in case my viola bow and /or cello bow fall apart on me.

Aug 10, 2019 - 8:41:32 AM
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53 posts since 11/24/2018

I'm no expert about anything, I've only been playing regularly every day for about 4 months, but I bought the basic carbon bow from Fiddlerman and I like it. I definitely notice the difference between it and the basic bow that came with my low end chinese made violin. It costs less than a $100

Aug 10, 2019 - 9:28:14 AM
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WyoBob

USA

12 posts since 5/16/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Hoodoo

I'm no expert about anything, I've only been playing regularly every day for about 4 months, but I bought the basic carbon bow from Fiddlerman and I like it. I definitely notice the difference between it and the basic bow that came with my low end chinese made violin. It costs less than a $100


If I can play as well as you after 4 months, I would be tickled sillywink

I played a C.F. bow and it was just fine from my very limited experience.

My main reason to buy the "Incredibow" was because my fingers don't work as well as they used to and I practice in 15-20 minute increments several times a day.   Tightening and loosening the bow is hard on my fingers.   I like the idea of being to just grab the bow and start playing as I think I will practice more.  Not worrying about re-hairing is also a plus.

Aug 15, 2019 - 4:25:32 PM
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WyoBob

USA

12 posts since 5/16/2019

I decided to jump "all in".  I've got an Antonio Giuliani Primo fiddle arriving on Monday from Kennedy Violins. 

My lovely wife approves of my "hobbies".   She loves listening to me play the banjo.  I hope that some day, she'll feel the same way about the fiddle. The banjo's I bought,  and now the fiddle, are a lot cheaper than the airplanes I used to build and fly!   What I spent on the fiddle wouldn't have bought 1/3 of a radio that I put in my last airplane.

I have a few "extra" banjo's that I'm selling and will be down to my two favorites, shortly.  I told my wife that I'll have two banjos, but I have three grandson's so, of course, I bought a fiddle so I'd have three instruments that I could pass on to the "little guys".   Its the least I could do for themsmiley

Bob

Aug 15, 2019 - 6:06:50 PM

1377 posts since 12/11/2008

Cool! Play on!

Aug 16, 2019 - 5:11:25 AM
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53 posts since 11/24/2018

quote:
Originally posted by WyoBob
quote:
Originally posted by Hoodoo

I'm no expert about anything, I've only been playing regularly every day for about 4 months, but I bought the basic carbon bow from Fiddlerman and I like it. I definitely notice the difference between it and the basic bow that came with my low end chinese made violin. It costs less than a $100


If I can play as well as you after 4 months, I would be tickled sillywink

I played a C.F. bow and it was just fine from my very limited experience.

My main reason to buy the "Incredibow" was because my fingers don't work as well as they used to and I practice in 15-20 minute increments several times a day.   Tightening and loosening the bow is hard on my fingers.   I like the idea of being to just grab the bow and start playing as I think I will practice more.  Not worrying about re-hairing is also a plus.


Thanks sir. I have to say that the folks around here are inspiring and helpful,which is a plus. I'll tell you what a member here told me to do, relish the journey. Every small improvement is a stepping stone towards something new. I've also gone "all in" (I pick up my banjo only from time to time). I basically listen exclusively to fiddle music nowadays in the car. 

As a banjo player, I'm a huge fan of Dwight Diller. I've corresponded with him a bit. I consider him to be my mentor, even though I've never met him in person (I told him about it). I'm looking for the same thing with the fiddle. I know that I'll find it sooner or later.

Edited by - Hoodoo on 08/16/2019 05:12:10

Aug 21, 2019 - 6:15:31 AM

828 posts since 8/4/2011

When I first started I bought a antonio stradvaruius copy 1989 for like $200 and now have an older german fiddle I got for $500.

It takes time to tame that fiddle and learn what to do and not to do. But I wouldn't change that for anything. I love play fiddle more than guitar now.

Aug 21, 2019 - 4:17:28 PM

WyoBob

USA

12 posts since 5/16/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Hoodoo
quote:
Originally posted by WyoBob


As a banjo player, I'm a huge fan of Dwight Diller. I've corresponded with him a bit. I consider him to be my mentor, even though I've never met him in person (I told him about it). I'm looking for the same thing with the fiddle. I know that I'll find it sooner or later.


I, too, am a big Dwight Diller fan.   I've listened to him quite a bit, both banjo and fiddle.  I think he's amazing.

Sigh.  I'll never play like Dwight, but that doesn't stop me from trying.

Man, I wish I would have been exposed to these great musicians when I was younger instead of waiting until I was 65.   But, there was work to be done in the family business (cattle).  "They don't feed themselves,you know." was the mantra I grew up with.  10-12 hours a day, for 35 years.   No time to do anyting else.  Now that I'm retired, that's what I think about every day.  Old Time music on the banjo and fiddle.

Last night, I played at the weekly, OTJ in Sheridan, WY with Lynn Young and friends.  Fresh back from Clifftop.  The hit of the night was "Whiteface".  My wife came to pick me up for the trip back home and came in as we were playing it.  I asked if we could play it again.

It sounded very much like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWgOBZnmRzo

I was playing my banjo, of course, but there was great fiddling provided by others.

I can play along with my banjo.  That will never happen with me playing the fiddle.surprise But, I can always enjoy great fiddle playing!

Aug 28, 2019 - 9:07:29 AM
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4109 posts since 6/23/2007

IMHO, a person can get a "better buy" on a used fiddle and/or bow than any other stringed instrument. The average person knows little about fiddles or bows. By taking your time looking for an instrument, and having a very good player evaluate a fiddle before you purchase it, you could end up with your having a fiddle that will last you as long as you play.

Whenever you can, make other fiddlers aware of your search. Some fiddlers have a large collection of fiddles and are more than willing to help new fiddlers. I once donated a decent fiddle to a fiddle instructor in Kansas. Buyers where I live are CHEAP. Giving the fiddle to a needy fiddler gave me more satisfaction that selling the fiddle for "peanuts".

Aug 28, 2019 - 11:29:35 AM

53 posts since 11/24/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Dick Hauser

IMHO, a person can get a "better buy" on a used fiddle and/or bow than any other stringed instrument. The average person knows little about fiddles or bows. By taking your time looking for an instrument, and having a very good player evaluate a fiddle before you purchase it, you could end up with your having a fiddle that will last you as long as you play.

Whenever you can, make other fiddlers aware of your search. Some fiddlers have a large collection of fiddles and are more than willing to help new fiddlers. I once donated a decent fiddle to a fiddle instructor in Kansas. Buyers where I live are CHEAP. Giving the fiddle to a needy fiddler gave me more satisfaction that selling the fiddle for "peanuts".


I went to a folk music store and there was a beautiful, vintage (not much info was given) fiddle for less than a $1000 Canadian (1$ CAD = about 72 cents US). I'm currently saving up some cash so that when I do run into that special instrument, that I'll be able to snatch it up  right away

Edited by - Hoodoo on 08/28/2019 11:30:09

Aug 28, 2019 - 4:58:20 PM

WyoBob

USA

12 posts since 5/16/2019

Thanks, Dick.  Where I live has lots of musicians but I never came across any fiddle deals.  And, as time marches on, I was interested in getting "up and running" instead of doing lots of "hunting".  The sand is running through the hour glass, so to speak.

I've had the Antonio Giuliani Primo fiddle outfit that I bought from Kennedy Violins ($425, delivered) for a week and have been "fiddling" with it since.   Using lots of resources on the net, I've accomplished quite a bit, I think.   Having a background on the banjo and old time tunes has helped with the fiddle immensely.

I finally got together with my Old Time friend and guru, Lynn, for a fiddle lesson.  He thought it was a really good fiddle.  He hated the "Incredibow" much preferring the wood bow that came with the package.

He thought my new fiddle would be a "lifetime fiddle" for me.  I think that's good but, my lifetime might be a bit shorter than I'd likesmiley  So, maybe not all that good?

Funny.  Today, I was "a student" again.  Last night, I played with Lynn, Christina and Tessa, a 15 year old local prodigy and really a neat and talented young lady.  She plays guitar, fiddle and banjo and Lynn has been her teacher and mentor. They all recently returned from Clifftop.  A really talented fiddler friend of theirs that they played with at Clifftop , Wanda, from PA was also there.   We played lots of O.T. tunes and I was able to keep up to speed with them on my banjo, note for note.   This is something that still amazes me.   I've only been playing the banjo for 7 years and I'm playing with some of the best O.T. players in the area and beyond. 

  I've got to tell you.  Outside of marrying an outstanding girl and having two wonderful daughter's and now, three amazing grandson's, being able to play O.T. music with such great people (talented and fun!) is one of the most amazing things in my life. 

The shattered wrist and subsequent nerve damage has been a bit of a problem with the fiddle.  My left ring finger still doesn't obey commands from my brain like I want.  I analyzed my banjo playing and found that I often used my pinky where a ring finger would have worked as well.  So, I started using my left ring finger on the banjo to see if I can make it do what I want it to do.

I'm having so much dang fun with this fiddle!!!

Sep 8, 2019 - 4:25:47 PM

WyoBob

USA

12 posts since 5/16/2019

I had a good lesson on the 28th of August with Lynn.   He gave me some things to work on.  Nashville Shuffle on all of the the strings and fingering the F sharp with my pinky on the "E" string and the G on the second string with my left ring finger.  That was a tough one.  My left ring finger just can't come down straight on the "A" string and tends to mute the "E" string.   I've gone back to doing the P.T. exercises that my therapist had me doing years ago trying to get my ring finger to work.  She didn't think I'd probably ever get "full control" of my left ring finger but, I'm working on it.

I'm sending the "Incredibow" back to Kennedy Violins for credit which was nice of them.  I thought the bow to be something that would work for me with my arthritic right hand but the wood bow included in the package worked better for me. Much more comfortable.

Having 7 years of experience with old time tunes on the banjo has been a real help with the fiddle.   I've been able to fighure out how to fiddle "Sugar Hill", "Angeline the Baker", "Eight More Miles to Louisville" and "Shortin' Bread" by ear.  It's not pretty, but I can recognize the tune.   I think "learning the fingerboard" is "where it's at".   That seems to be what happened with me on the banjo.  Eventually, your fingers just go to where they're needed.

I may never "make it out of the basement" with my fiddling but, I'm having a blast!  What a challenge (especially for an old, worn out guy!) 

Dang, I wish I would have known about O.T. music and banjo and fiddle 30 years ago. 

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