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/
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
'Tim the Turncoat' 14 hrs
'Tim the Turncoat take one' 15 hrs
'Bumble Bee in a Jug' 2 days