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Jun 19, 2020 - 5:52:32 AM
5780 posts since 8/7/2009


Steve Jones


Once i had a couple three fiddles and a couple bows. The fiddles were set up as close to identicle as i could. Then as far as bows i have a fav and second. I took me years to find what i like in a bow, then time to find as good a bow as i could. (Not about money) I'm realy down to one favorite fiddle and bow. It would take a bunch of additional time to get a duplicate pair, and why?
Let's say i was somewhere, where i was asked to play but couldn't get to my own stuff. But they have this other fiddle annd bow for me to use. I'd play what they give me. Or at least give it a shot. It's all 90-95% fiddler and 5% fiddle, bow, etc.


Steve mentioned a few things here from a response he posted in the earlier bow(s) and fiddle topic. I had intended to post a topic about the subject.  I'll use his response as a spring board...

Most of us own more than one fiddle. And a good many of us have talked about the need to  tinker with your instrument setups for easier playing (flatter bridge, string height and spacing, etc). 

I purposely have resisted messing with the setups on my fiddles. I have taken all of them to a luthier for an initial setup, but have not done anything more. That way they should pretty much "feel" the same way in my hands. Granted other things can make them feel different. I figure that over time I will have grown familiar enough with that setup to prefer it over any other tweaks to make it play better.

My point being:  I feel like if were to settle on a custom setup, I would think my job is not finished until I have the same setup on all my other fiddles too -if not, then what's the point? So, I decided to leave them alone, and get comfortable with a typical, standard, classical setup. I like the idea that - most any fiddle I would pick up is going to be set up the same way mine are - and should feel familiar - as easy to play.

And to answer Steve's question about why more than one fiddle?  Because I have fiddles tuned to different keys (rather than retuning one instrument all the time). And I have given effort to determine which fiddle sounds best in what key. 

Do you tinker with your setups? Have you setup every fiddle the same way? 

Jun 19, 2020 - 6:18:55 AM
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2264 posts since 10/1/2008

I have taken my fiddles for setup to the same luthier for most of two decades. They are returned to me with very close to the same feel from fiddle to fiddle. I have yet to "mess" with that pro's work. Or felt any need to take an instrument back to him for other than routine maintenence. I have more than two fiddles because I am always looking to upgrade my instruments. I rarely play outside of G D A E . When I do I get out my number two and tune it to G D G D or A E A E. R/

Jun 19, 2020 - 7:22:15 AM
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9674 posts since 12/2/2007

I'm like both of you. I've had my instruments set up by the same person and kept a basically classical setup (although I think he may have cut slightly flatter bridges over time). And I don't generally mess with them either. They do all sound and feel slightly different anyway, and I prefer different ones for different purposes (sometimes due to non-musical concerns).

Jun 19, 2020 - 9:53:41 AM

169 posts since 3/1/2020

Setup is crucial to good sound in a violin. It’s true that each instrument is unique, but there are certain aspects of setup that need to be consistent.

As a professional luthier, it’s a part of my job to make instruments playable for all players. Someone trying out an unfamiliar instrument is going to notice if I change things by a millimeter or less, so it’s important to make all violins easy to play and preserve certain proportions.

For me, an important part of doing a setup is knowing what the player prefers so I can adjust things where there’s room.

Jun 19, 2020 - 1:16:47 PM

176 posts since 6/3/2016

I have three normal fiddles that I mostly play "out" with and two solid-bodies that I practice on. Two of the three normal fiddles are in standard tuning (one with steel strings, one with synthetic). The other is cross-tuned (steel strings).

For the two solid-bodies, one is in standard tuning and the other is cross-tuned.

Four of those five instruments have a flatter bridge. One has it's original bridge. It is the solid-body in standard tuning and I easily play this instrument 75% of the time. I have no difficulty switching between that round bridge and a flat bridge. Action is fine on all instruments.

Sometimes I do wish I had a normal fiddle with a round bridge for playing slow stuff (waltzes, slow airs, hymns, etc). Because it's harder to play cleanly with a flat bridge. That doesn't really matter for playing fast fiddle tunes, but for slow stuff you really notice grazing of adjacent string by accident. I should think about putting a normal bridge on my fiddle with synthetic strings.

Jun 20, 2020 - 3:16:15 PM

846 posts since 8/11/2009

Well, I guess, as per usual, I'm the odd man out so far. I do about 95 percent of my own set up, repairs etc. In 12 years I've owned at least 25 fiddles, many bought in the $20 range at garage sales, etc. I read extensively about violins, violin repairs, set up etc, and thoroughly enjoy the challenge. That being said, I currently have 7 instruments, 4 family heirlooms fiddles, and 3 that I have bought, I have as close to the same set up on each as I can get to facilitate switching, but honestly, I have a favorite, and for the most part play only that one instrument. Being able to make a nut, carve a bridge, set a sound post etc, is very useful and not too mysterious. I have worked on many friends instruments as well, and they are still friends, so it must be okay, lol.

Jun 20, 2020 - 6:36:20 PM
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53 posts since 11/19/2019

I'm a tinkerer. Probably should not be, but I like to learn and enjoy building things. Like Brian, learning how to and knowing how to make a nut, a bridge, set a post seems like a valuable skill.

I'm trying to make my fiddles (2 and soon a 3rd that I'm building) play similarly. Learning what makes them play similarly and then how to make that happen is part of the fun.

Of course I mess things up on occasion. I love my old fiddle and really had it singing. Was making some adjustments and managed to have the post fall over. Still have not gotten it back to that wonderful location where I had it, and this fiddle is particularly persnickity. But, if you learn from your mistakes that makes them more valuable.

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