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Who Played the Guitar for Decades before Picking up Fiddle?

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Jul 10, 2020 - 7:09:54 PM
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3510 posts since 12/8/2007

I did.

Played a Gibson Flying V in a "metal" band in the 80s--when the school or graduation was paying me to play that style--and I played a Fender Starcaster when the college parties wanted to hear the Cars, John Cougar, and southern rock; and I played Moonstone acoustics whenever coffee shop gigs came along.

Then when the coach at the local college recruited me to wrestle with his heavyweight state champ as a sparring partner (collegiate wrestling not fake), I took a knee to the head one time and lost some consciousness (IIRC) and left the practice and somehow ended up at Fifth String Music minus what wit I nominally have anyways, saw fiddles on the wall, and still groggy purchased a cheap Cremona and bow. "How hard can it be?" I think I remember saying to the lad at the counter (to which I think I received a contemptuous glare).

And so it began.

Whosoever amongst the masses here also played the guitar a long while before finally picking up the devil's box?


Jul 10, 2020 - 7:49:11 PM
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59 posts since 9/16/2017

guitar for the past 57 years still have my 62 Jazzmaster and Blond Bassman that I used a lot from 67-69 -- then got older folkier and now just pick acoustic . Mando proved to be an entry drug that began the path to fiddle about 15 yrs ago.

Jul 10, 2020 - 8:05:35 PM
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154 posts since 6/11/2019

I'm probably in the same age range as you--not everybody knows what a metal band is, let alone what the 80s was. Though I'm simply a guitar chord guy--I just don't have the time to learn all the patterns to be a lead guy. I put all my practice time into fiddle. BUT, what I wanted to say is that I've come to appreciate the guitar as pretty much the 'anchor point' to a folk/country/bluegrass band, due to ability (if you practice it) to do low end boogie-woogie rhythm licks up to high end filler and lead. Guitar can do it all except sustain (acoustic). Fiddle is pretty limited to just a lead instrument.

However, IMO a smooth, fast and clean bow arm is more valuable than flatpicking ability on anything. Hope I didn't open up a can of worms.

Jul 10, 2020 - 10:46:32 PM
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2525 posts since 9/13/2009

Whosoever amongst the masses here also played the guitar a long while before finally picking up the devil's box?

Not for decades before, but played rhythm guitar; and lot of  bass in various bands (lot of styles) for years before I got a fiddle. Even then, as it was never my primary instrument, nor aspiration be a fiddler. (probably more considered bass player)

For a long time my fiddle efforts were rated along the line of "sound fairly reasonable, not bad - for a bass player".  That goal still works for me.smiley

Jul 11, 2020 - 12:27:42 AM
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1392 posts since 4/6/2014
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I did, finger style. Still do a bit. Only on nylon strings now though, as i don't want to develop those great lumps of dead skin on the ends of my fingers again. i didn't find them helpful for fiddle playing at all.

Jul 11, 2020 - 1:23:08 AM
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1600 posts since 12/11/2008

I've played guitar a little over fifty years. Began as a finger-style folkie and it's still the musical skill I'm best at. Got an electric when I was in my twenties and did more than my share of rock, C&W, blues, metal, punk and new wave. Got a banjo along the way, as well.

I know I mentioned this at some point in my Fiddle Hangout past, but I got heavily into the piano about thirty years ago. My wife got so sick of the racket I was making (I was relentlessly practicing everything from Chopin to boogie-woogie on a very loud grand), I recklessly bought a fiddle simply because it was easier than a piano to take into the backyard. And what can I tell ya? I soon became nuts for the proverbial Devil's Box. Nevertheless, I'm still devoted to my other instruments. The last thing I do before retiring each night is playing my wonderful little Gibson L-00 Sunburst.

Jul 11, 2020 - 3:29:57 AM
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142 posts since 4/15/2019

I picked up my first guitar at age 14. that was 63 yrs. ago. Sent off to a radio station called WCKY in Ky. to a disc jockey called Wayne Rainy and ordered his do-it yourself guitar lessons. Got a book and a 33/1/3 recording that taught me the basic chords and how to play 3/4 and 4/4 time. I thought it sounded like heaven! Picked up first fiddle at age 75. Been sawing at it for almost 2 yrs. now. This time I got a DVD called fiddling for absolute beginners from Amazon. I wanted to play Cottoneyed Joe and Old Joe Clark! And I indeed did plus a few others! I don't sound like Roy Acuff, but I'm working on it! Jason at has been a big help to me. This man is a very kind and generous man and I pray God's Blessings on him and his new bride! Right now I'm beating what brains I have left out trying to play double stops and shuffle bow! My first guitar was a Dixon flat top. Had a good sound but the neck warped on it then I moved up to a Gibson sun burst. Great guitar. The guitar I have now is a Martin D 38 Special. I pd. $2500 for it in 1988 took it 2 yrs. ago to have it appraised and it was appraised at $6800. not bad huh?

Jul 11, 2020 - 4:47:47 AM
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11038 posts since 9/23/2009 played guitar starting age 10. Picked up banjo here and there after that and dulcimer. Fiddled with fiddle for the first time maybe in my 20s, but never could get my hands on an instrument ...finally after getting my first real job, working a lot of hours, etc., then when I got an opportunity to retire after 20 years, at the age of 55, stopped and thought about that...and realized it was time for me to buy myself a fiddle. A fiddle and a presonus, except I didn't open the presonus box for several years. But glad I finally did...glad I bought that fiddle when I did...wish I coulda gotten my hands on one years ago. Well, I guess it has been years ago by

Jul 11, 2020 - 5:38:44 AM
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Players Union Member



2233 posts since 2/2/2008

Short history of musical experiences
Started singing folk songs from the time I started talking
Mom started me on piano when I was 5; lessons then through HS (don't play anymore)
Taught my self recorder at 6
Started clarinet at 9, and continue to play though not all the time
FINALLY TAUGHT MYSELF GUITAR AT 15, so I could accompany folk songs (I couldn't sing and play clarinet and I couldn't carry a piano around with me and before my birthday, I learned the chords on a guitar left in my house by my sister's friend; easy to convince my parents to buy me one since I could already play)
Learned to play clawhammer banjo starting at 30

Jul 11, 2020 - 7:35:36 AM
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5780 posts since 8/7/2009

Yeap. Started with guitar in 1964. Played in bands starting in 1966.

I don't play as much I used to but, It is my first love. I enjoy it... mostly finger style on acoustic and mostly with drop d tuning. In a number of ways - I consider my guitar playing to be better.

Been playing the fiddle since 2009. I actually started posting here before I got my first fiddle. Had to change my first "username" - gettinafiddle

Fiddle does get most of my attention. I seem to find the melody quicker on fiddle than I do on guitar.

Jul 11, 2020 - 8:06:49 AM
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4724 posts since 9/26/2008

I come from guitar playing stock - my dad and his 4 siblings all played. My first one was a burgundy colored 3/4 Gibson Melody Maker (yep, electric guitar) for my 11th birthday. In college I got a Charvelle with just one humbucker and a volume knob, no time control. I learned to get the most, tone - wise, out of a guitar on that one. In the mid '90s I got my forever electric guitar, a Hamer custom semi-hollow body with a beautiful maple top and mahogany back and neck.
I didn't get an acoustic until I was 23 or so; that one was an early 70s Yamaha, the first year they made them. I had some work done in it and the luthier said it was a fine guitar and that the first year Yamahas were solid wood. It served me well for 25 years but since I took it everywhere from hot, humid Redwood forests to cold dry deserts, it has some wear and is no longer fit for travel. Now I play a Korean made Crafter parlor guitar and take better care of them in general.

Fiddle cropped up around '95 at the same time I was picking up mandolin.

Jul 11, 2020 - 11:54:59 AM
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24 posts since 1/28/2018

Fiddle is the 7th instrument I've attempted.

Edited by - fiddlewood on 07/11/2020 11:55:45

Jul 11, 2020 - 1:21:01 PM
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217 posts since 6/21/2012

Guilty. I’ve played in bands since I was in high school. There is a lot of good things to be said for playing in bands, but there is a lot of grief that goes along with it, and I finally had my fill. I had just started learning Irish tunes on the mandolin at that point. I had around $150 dollars in gift cards for Guitar Center and was looking at all the guitar pedals and such. Somehow I ended up in the room with the violins. The prestigious Cremona brand was offering a fiddle, bow, rosin and case for under $150! How hard could it be?

Jul 11, 2020 - 4:01:57 PM
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11038 posts since 9/23/2009

I had a lot of little tiny local (mainly for free) gigs in the past...never in a band, just me singing and picking my guitar. Being in a band in recent years, amateur, very amateur, was about the most insane experience I ever I didn't know it was like that...always just gigging alone and in my own way...was weird to be in the band. Fun...but very weird.

Jul 11, 2020 - 4:21:25 PM
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1742 posts since 8/27/2008

Yes, I played a lot of guitar in the 60s and 70s. I was in a few bands and I also played and sang in coffee houses and such. Not a lot, but an ongoing hobby. I thought I was hot stuff but there were plenty of people better. The competition of so many guitars around got me looking to make a change from rock and blues and folk. I decided to study jazz guitar since that was something I liked to listen to but didn't have much of a handle on. Instead of that a mandolin fell into my hands somehow. I went with that for 20 years or more. Finally got to fiddle about 15 years ago. I don't play guitar much any more but have a couple around.

Jul 12, 2020 - 6:44:19 AM
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1996 posts since 10/22/2007

My adopted musical family, everybody at least played guitar. So, i started with a Yamaha FG. Still dooesn't sound bad, until you bring a Martin in. My fav is my HD28, in drop D tuning, it shakes and quivers. Wonderful! I gotta few electrics but they are a different animal to me. I'm drawn to the wood & wire sound.

Jul 12, 2020 - 11:52:02 AM
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3029 posts since 6/21/2007

Started playing guitar in the late '50s, folk-era finger-picking. Moved on to teaching myself Classical guitar in the mid-60's, and played those two styles (between bouts of the Goya sitting in the closet as life and work got in the way) until I was enticed by my brother into the sins of OT music and clawhammer banjo, which I picked up in 2000. Of course, if you get stung by that little bugger, you are, as was I, seduced into the fiddle, which I began fooling around with in 2003 when I retired.

Still fooling around with all of them today.

Jul 12, 2020 - 2:58:09 PM

142 posts since 4/15/2019

I made a typo. The Guitar I have now is a Martin D 35 Special.

Jul 12, 2020 - 4:27:35 PM
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1600 posts since 12/11/2008

Originally posted by old cowboy

I made a typo. The Guitar I have now is a Martin D 35 Special.

Yeah!  I'd never heard of a D38 and I was close to going to the Martin site to get a gander at it.  Anyway, me and my wife have had our share of steel string acoustics through the years.  Right now I've got an M-38 Martin (yes, it gets confusing), a Martin D-18 Golden Era and that Gibson L-00.  I got the M-38 sometime in the late 1970's.  Lots and lots of fingerboard and fret wear, but to me they add integrity to the axe and I ain't gonna get 'em fixed!

Edited by - Lonesome Fiddler on 07/12/2020 16:30:44

Jul 13, 2020 - 4:26:33 AM
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142 posts since 4/15/2019

Guitars and fiddles. Goes together like peas and carrots!

Jul 20, 2020 - 8:12:57 PM

2525 posts since 9/13/2009

A related question from the topic declaring oneself title of a "fiddler" as applies to guitar first players.

I notice some folks have surprisingly owned secondary instruments (fiddle, banjo, harmonica, or conversely guitar) for long time. Approach to the secondary instrument is different... as is attitude.

For many they have an interest, as Humbled put it... "How hard can it be?"  laugh.   thus acquire the instrument. They are not necessarily intending to be a "fiddler" (or banjo player or....); perhaps more of interesting diversion?  More of idea as guitar player that can play some things on a fiddle (or other instrument).

Generally not practiced on conventional regular schedule... might end up put aside, in case in closet for days, weeks, or even longer periods. gradually learn a few things but, part issue is dividing time/effort, when wanting to play music, or work on improving music skills; more likely to pick up the primary instrument (like guitar) instead. But then occasional spurts where might spend more time on other instrument, some obsessive. (but might be followed by put aside for a time).

Wondering if how many folks followed that similar slow gradual path?

Other question is what point folks might think of themselves as title of a "fiddler"; or just still think more as say a guitar player that can play some things on fiddle?


I personally am guilty of acquiring lot's of other instruments over the years (besides fiddle), with that loose goal and  "how hard can it be?"  Though I learned to play some things on can play some tunes; don't put a lot of regular time into them, so playing is limited, hesitant to say I am a real pianist for example. Many instruments, so little time; but I am fine with that.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 07/20/2020 20:16:00

Jul 20, 2020 - 8:31:12 PM
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1996 posts since 10/22/2007

I started fiddle in 2003. In 2013 i started piano. Just a coincidence, i guess. No, not, "how hard could it be?" Every time i walked by a piano, i heard it laughing at me, behind my back. Now they yield to me like any other tool. I totally see why they start music school on piano first. I see it as the embodiment of Musical theory. Then i sit down and make noises that literally make me weep with sentiment and joy.

Now i got a bass coming in the mail, but that's another thread.

Edited by - farmerjones on 07/20/2020 20:32:42

Jul 20, 2020 - 9:14:05 PM

3510 posts since 12/8/2007

Alaska Fiddler writes: " many they have an interest, as Humbled put it... "How hard can it be?" laugh. thus acquire the instrument. They are not necessarily intending to be a "fiddler" (or banjo player or....); perhaps more of interesting diversion? More of idea as guitar player that can play some things on a fiddle (or other instrument)."

I find that I can't let the fiddle simply be something I play here and there; rather, I have to play it about every day. Then too, I rather enjoy doing so, thankfully. But I can leave the guitar alone for months and still play rather well. Hmmmmm. In fact, I leave my booze-ooki and octave mandolin and mandolin and banjo and guitar untouched for days, often, and still play what I feel is fairly well, but the fiddle with its no frets, with the bow, with intonation demands, etc., it's a different matter. What does Perlman say, "If I miss a day, I notice the difference; if I miss two days, the audience notices a difference?"

Jul 22, 2020 - 6:24:44 PM
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1 posts since 7/20/2020

You guys are all old! Myself, I'll be cutting back in a couple years...
I'm a self taught guitar player, bass player (rock bands) and a off and on mandolin player for fun. I have always been interested in the fiddle. Thinking that the similar tuning with the mandolin would make the fiddle easier... what the heck! I picked up a sweet old fiddle off FB market place for $35 and an older Glisson bow from ebay for $25... now my wife knows I have an illness...

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