When I told a friend that I was interested in picking up the fiddle, he told me he had an old fiddle made by his grandad in 1949. My friend who is probably around 80 never learned to play it and he had no one to pass it on to so he gave it to me.
The label inside said it was "No 115". I'd hate to see the maker's first one. It had the original strings on it, the tuning peg holes were drilled crooked and the pegs looked like they were whittled with a pocket knife. The pegs were either loose or jammed tight. There was no in between. The bow was original and warped and short on hair. The fiddle was pretty marginal and I gave up trying to learn on it and went back to the banjo. The fiddle looked like the bird house I built when I was in Cub Scouts. Even the sparrows turned their noses up at it.
But, I really missed trying to learn the fiddle, so, I bought a new one from Kennedy Violins. That put me back on track.
I thought about buying a reamer and fitting Wittner planetary pegs on the old beater but then, I might have ended up with a worthless fiddle with expensive tuners and figured the project would end up a big mess.
I'd built a "Backyard Music" short scale banjo kit for one of my grandson's a year or so ago and remembered the tuners supplied with the kit. I ordered 4 of the tuners from Backyard (for $13.00 delivered) and put them on the fiddle today. I put the new strings provided with the Kennedy fiddle as "spares" on and, by golly, the old beater sound pretty much like a fiddle. I used the low end wood bow supplied by Kennedy with my new fiddle and the "freebie" sounds pretty OK.
I like the geared, "guitar" tuners and may, eventually, put Winner tuners put on my Kennedy fiddle.
Now, I have a fiddle that I don't worry about what happens to it and I have a "spare".
I was just about to post a query about how to "rescue" my first fiddle, one of those very inexpensive (read "cheap") Chinese made things composed mostly of, well, I think, plastic. You have a good idea here. Thanks.
The low cost tuners work just fine. The fiddle doesn't sound very good. Loud, harsh with many, annoying echos. I borrowed a chin rest and replaced the original and a shoulder rest as I'd been using rubber bands and foam. The tuners of course add weight where it's not needed but I have no idea how the added mass on the scroll might affect the tone. The fiddle weighs, 21.9 oz.
The sound is easier to deal with when I turn off my hearing aids and use a mute. I'll play around with it some more when I get time. I had hopes of leaving it cross tuned so I didn't have to mess with the pegs on the Kennedy A. Giliani.
I think my free fiddle is what's often referred to as a "VSO".
I was given a fiddle once that my mentor had gotten from his Uncle Rob. It too was handmade but it did not hold up very well. There are inherent problems with the top. It has languished in a closet for 40+ years after a couple attempts to get it working. As I get older, there is little need for sentimentality and it too will go the way of old clunkers very soon.
'learning tunes...' 1 day
'Don Paine Fiddle #8' 1 day
'old rose waltz' 2 days