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Mar 1, 2021 - 12:04:22 PM
16 posts since 3/1/2021

Hi All,

To date I have never played a fiddle. I play many other instruments and would like to give fiddle a try. I don't want to spend a lot of money because it may not end up being my thing but I want a playable instrument. As a musician I know the difference. I'm also interested in a reputable dealer where I know the fiddle will come with a good set up and be ready to play out of the box.

I have an Eastman Mandolin that I like a lot and was thinking of getting the Eastman lv100.

Let me thank you in advance for taking the time to reply.

Thanks!

Mar 1, 2021 - 12:39:24 PM
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1776 posts since 12/11/2008

If possible, visit a store that actually stocks fiddles and bows. Hold the things. Put the fiddle under your chin. Does the whole concept feel ridiculous? Does it ring your chimes? Even if the noises you make are ugly and ridiculous, do you sense the potential?

Mar 1, 2021 - 12:56:38 PM

16 posts since 3/1/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

If possible, visit a store that actually stocks fiddles and bows. Hold the things. Put the fiddle under your chin. Does the whole concept feel ridiculous? Does it ring your chimes? Even if the noises you make are ugly and ridiculous, do you sense the potential?


Hi Ed,

That is a challenge these days!

I'm not sure I would recognize good from bad in any meaningful way. I would know if it can be tuned and I would know if the action is playable. But otherwise I don't really have any expectations for what constitutes good.

When I bought my mandolin the good folks at Mandolin Cafe strongly recommended the Eastman MD305 and directed me to the Mandolin store and I was not disappointed! The instrument is resonant and the setup immaculate. That's why I was thinking the Eastman would be a good choice for a starter fiddle, hoping lighting strikes twice!

Edited by - Ash Telecaster on 03/01/2021 12:58:59

Mar 1, 2021 - 1:12:13 PM
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Snafu

USA

89 posts since 2/2/2014

I was in your shoes about 5 years or so ago. I bought a fiddle (really a violin as it was set up and strung with good strings) from Kennedy violins and have been happy ever since. Others who go down the path I took get taken purchasing a fiddle that is unplayable. These people quit.

The advice you will get, and probably go on to ignore, is to rent a decent fiddle for the first 6 months or so from a fiddle shop. It will be properly set up and many stores will apply some or all of the rental $ towards purchasing a fiddle from them. After 3-6 months you will either be hooked or be so happy that you didn’t sink lots of dough in a fiddle. Playing fiddle is hard work, compared to fretted or keyed instruments, as you will soon discover and not for those looking for an easy way to make music. But it is so damn much fun!

Edited by - Snafu on 03/01/2021 13:13:25

Mar 1, 2021 - 1:13:14 PM
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2256 posts since 10/22/2007

If I had to do it again, I'd ask school kids where they're getting their band/orchestra violins. Rent? You bet. Many rental guys keep some cherries back for sale too. Good relationship to build. BTW Welcome to FHO!

Mar 1, 2021 - 1:34:41 PM

16 posts since 3/1/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Snafu

I was in your shoes about 5 years or so ago. I bought a fiddle (really a violin as it was set up and strung with good strings) from Kennedy violins and have been happy ever since. Others who go down the path I took get taken purchasing a fiddle that is unplayable. These people quit.

The advice you will get, and probably go on to ignore, is to rent a decent fiddle for the first 6 months or so from a fiddle shop. It will be properly set up and many stores will apply some or all of the rental $ towards purchasing a fiddle from them. After 3-6 months you will either be hooked or be so happy that you didn’t sink lots of dough in a fiddle. Playing fiddle is hard work, compared to fretted or keyed instruments, as you will soon discover and not for those looking for an easy way to make music. But it is so damn much fun!


Hilarious! I might not ignore the advice...maybe....I'm not stubborn....I'm just a glutton for punishment! smiley

I play fretless bass now and I understand the challenge of playing a fretless instrument in tune!

Mar 1, 2021 - 1:34:59 PM

16 posts since 3/1/2021

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

If I had to do it again, I'd ask school kids where they're getting their band/orchestra violins. Rent? You bet. Many rental guys keep some cherries back for sale too. Good relationship to build. BTW Welcome to FHO!


Thanks!

Mar 1, 2021 - 1:35:33 PM
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1776 posts since 12/11/2008

Ash Telecaster -- I probably haven't put an electric guitar over my shoulders in a good five years, but I still have a '50's Reissue Custom Shop Tele (suitably "vintaged") in the closet. Played through my genuine 1950's Vibrolux (since replaced by a Carr Rambler), I'd get the finest quality boing-dee-boing tone this side of Eddie Cochran and Bruce Springsteen.

Mar 1, 2021 - 1:46:38 PM
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doryman

USA

140 posts since 2/10/2020

As a recent adult beginner, I third the suggestions above and strongly suggest that you rent one if there is place to do so anywhere near you. If you're living in North Ridgeville, there must be a dozen places in Cleveland from which to rent a fiddle. I live in a small town and even we have two places that rent violins (to service the school kids). Usually, these shops will do rent-to-own AND let you exchange fiddles over time so that you can try out different ones ( greatly enjoyed this aspect of renting). I've been very impressed with the quality and set up.

I am a musician too, I play the banjo, guitar, mandolin and uke. That does NOT translate well into knowing what fiddle to purchase outright. It's not like a guitar or piano. You will not produce a decent note for weeks, so how will you know if it's you or the fiddle? 

Edited by - doryman on 03/01/2021 13:49:36

Mar 1, 2021 - 1:49:04 PM

16 posts since 3/1/2021

quote:
Originally posted by doryman

As a recent adult beginner, I third the suggestions above and strongly suggest that you rent one if there is place to do so anywhere near you. If you're living in North Ridgeville, there must be a dozen places in Cleveland from which to rent a fiddle. I live in a small town and even we have two places that rent violins (to service the school kids). Usually, these shops will do rent-to-own AND let you exchange fiddles over time so that you can try out different ones. I've been very impressed with the quality and set up.

I am a musician too, I play the banjo, guitar, mandolin and uke. That does NOT translate well into knowing what fiddle to purchase outright. It's not like a guitar or piano. You will not produce a decent note for weeks, so how will you know if it's you or the fiddle?


Exactly!!! That's what I was saying!!!

I'll do a search for instrument rentals and see what I can find!

Mar 1, 2021 - 1:59:13 PM

16 posts since 3/1/2021

Only one place close by and they advertise no Chinese instruments. That would leave out Eastman. I wish all instruments were U.S. made but in reality, for an introductory instrument that actually tunes and plays and doesn't break the bank, a Chinese instrument is probably the only realistic choice.

Mar 1, 2021 - 3:27:08 PM
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Snafu

USA

89 posts since 2/2/2014

Ash,

To get better purchasing advice it would be useful to know: What is the $ range you are willing to pay to buy a fiddle? One fellows budget buster is another guys Covid relief check that is looking for a good purpose to spend it on. But whatever you do don’t spend to much (or as importantly) too little.

And the bow deserves some, maybe about 25-35% of your total budget. Many a good fiddle was deemed unplayable because the beginner user used a $25 bow.

Mar 1, 2021 - 4:10:26 PM

16 posts since 3/1/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Snafu

Ash,

To get better purchasing advice it would be useful to know: What is the $ range you are willing to pay to buy a fiddle? One fellows budget buster is another guys Covid relief check that is looking for a good purpose to spend it on. But whatever you do don’t spend to much (or as importantly) too little.

And the bow deserves some, maybe about 25-35% of your total budget. Many a good fiddle was deemed unplayable because the beginner user used a $25 bow.


Good to know about the bow. I am thinking $400 max but I would call that flexible, lower preferably. 

Mar 1, 2021 - 4:23:47 PM

2337 posts since 10/1/2008

It is usually a question of money. Eastman puts out a good product for the investment. There are several good instruments for sale here in the classifieds. Two of the things I did not understand when starting out were how important a good quality bow is and how important a well setup the instrument is. A good quality carbon fiber bow will be a great help in learning to play. And a well set up violin is just easier to learn on. NOT that learning to play a fiddle is easy. You will have to be willing to make some horrible noises just starting out..... buy a good mute. R/

Mar 1, 2021 - 5:54:14 PM
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125 posts since 4/2/2019

I too like Eastman products (I have an MD315, MD505, and MDA305) and would be interested in owning an Eastman violin, too! Reviews and reputation are certainly good.

No matter which brand you choose, a good setup IS important. I’m sure there are lots of trustworthy places, but if you can’t get to a good store, I highly recommend Fiddlership.com. Great reputation both for gear as well as for setup. They will help you figure out the best instrument for the money you want to spend, whether $199 or $25k.

I understand the advice to rent, but I also like the idea of buying a decent low-end instrument that can be a beater or backup instrument if you later decide to upgrade. And if you stick with the violin, you’ll almost certainly buy another one, or two, or three...

Mar 1, 2021 - 9:53:18 PM
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1776 posts since 12/11/2008

My first fiddle was an ultra-cheap Chinese one from a long-established music store in L.A. I bought it on a lark. I'd never played fiddle but, what the hay, I wanted to try. It sounded awful. I soon gave it to a local charity and replaced it with a with a circa 1900 German Markneukirchen trade fiddle. Yes, it was made in same town that C.F. Martin originally came from. It really doesn't generate a lot of sound, but who wants to stink up the room if you can't play decently? I still have it. I keep it tuned to AEAE cross.

Anyway, I really took to fiddle. I haunted L.A.'s better fiddle shops and broke the bank with a new Bernd Dimbath violin. It's my main instrument. I totally love it. In the interim I bought a not very expensive but still good Chinese fiddle that I could take to jams & picnics and not worry too much if it got stolen or damaged. Sorry to report, it just didn't cut the mustard. It never developed any personality or life. Thanks to a 100% trade-up policy at the store where I bought it, I got a 2012 German fiddle that actually cost less than the Chinese one. The store, Thomas Metzler of Glendale, actually gave me a little money back! I'm now happy with that third fiddle. It's mellow but it still has life & personality. I play it all the time.

Mar 2, 2021 - 8:11 PM
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Moko

USA

8 posts since 11/24/2017

Glad to see when folks recommend renting, that's what I did. I live in Cleveland and rented from Peter Zaret Violins. I think it's a great deal, turned out to around $100 fo 8 months.

Mar 2, 2021 - 8:18 PM
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Quincy

Belgium

46 posts since 1/16/2021

I got the advice to start with a rental instrument from a luthier. 
I started my first classes  seven months ago, the day after I held my rental instrument in my hand.
But the more time passes, the more I want to have my own fiddle one day!
However, I  don't think I play well enough yet to judge an instrument on its sound, so I will wait. Also it's a small fortune and I'd better pick my own instrument with care :-)

Edited by - Quincy on 03/02/2021 20:23:33

Mar 3, 2021 - 8:06:40 AM
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71 posts since 9/16/2017

After 17 years of struggling on fiddles that were more difficult for me to play, I bought a fiddle off the marketplace classifieds from Luthier65 -- lasley violins. Very affordable --liked it so much that I asked him to go over an old german fiddle for me. They are my favorites now. I wish I would have dealt with a pro sooner. He may have something that would be appropriate, he is good to deal with in every way. The answer for me to better fiddles was right here on the hangout.

Mar 4, 2021 - 2:11:41 PM

16 posts since 3/1/2021

If you have big hands does it make sense to go for a viola instead?

Mar 4, 2021 - 2:22:11 PM
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DougD

USA

10034 posts since 12/2/2007

Not if you want to play the fiddle!

Mar 4, 2021 - 2:28:02 PM

16 posts since 3/1/2021

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

Not if you want to play the fiddle!


Funny! I guess that only makes sense.

I noticed they are tuned in a similar way except the E on a violin would be a C on Viola.

I thought perhaaaaaaps it was pretty much just a big @ss fiddle.

Edited by - Ash Telecaster on 03/04/2021 14:28:21

Mar 4, 2021 - 3:34:28 PM
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DougD

USA

10034 posts since 12/2/2007

The violin is tuned G,D,A,E (low to high) and the viola is tuned C,G,D,A. This means that if you play tunes with the same fingering (as the violin) you'll be in the "wrong" key, and to play in the "right" key you'll have to use different fingerings. Viola is a fine instrument, but its not a violin.

Mar 5, 2021 - 5:31:35 AM

16 posts since 3/1/2021

I listened to a lot of Youtube videos and have a better concept between the two. I will say that I generally prefer the mellower tone of the Viola but there has to be a reason the violin is so much more popular in popular music like bluegrass and country. That is not clear to me yet.

Mar 5, 2021 - 5:55:36 AM

DougD

USA

10034 posts since 12/2/2007

If you plan to learn by reading music you should be aware that music for the viola is most commonly written in the alto clef, which will be something else new to learn.

Mar 5, 2021 - 6:16:35 AM

16 posts since 3/1/2021

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

If you plan to learn by reading music you should be aware that music for the viola is most commonly written in the alto clef, which will be something else new to learn.


I have some music school behind me and can read alto and treble clef although admittedly I don't use it very often. I mostly get by with a combination of ear and theory know-how and experience. If I were planning on joining an orchestra I would work on my site reading. As I mostly intend on playing bluegrass, folk, country, etc, I plan to start out by learning the neck road map, play around with bowing technique, and listening to other players. Of course this is uncharted territory for me so my plans may change!

Edited by - Ash Telecaster on 03/05/2021 06:21:05

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