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May 7, 2021 - 7:44:03 AM
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RichJ

USA

455 posts since 8/6/2013

OK, so I'm a sucker for beat up old fiddles hoping for a second chance. I found this one yesterday at a local flea mkt. Mechanical tuners have always been a fascination since I saw the ones on Tommy Jarrell's fiddle. The abalone inlay on the half replaced fingerboard was another attraction. The 23 inch length measurement was also interesting, my others are all around 22 inches. Much work needed on this ole' gal so it's a project for those long New England winters ... unless I get hankerin' to hear how she sounds before then.


May 7, 2021 - 8:44:54 AM

DougD

USA

10095 posts since 12/2/2007
Online Now

I like it so far. What does the back look like?

May 7, 2021 - 9:36:36 AM
Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2637 posts since 2/3/2011

Do the tuners seem to be usable? They are very pretty, and the detail in the inlay is charming. It sure would be nice if it played.

May 7, 2021 - 9:43:41 AM

145 posts since 4/2/2019

That has a lot of personality! Nice!

May 7, 2021 - 10:17:21 AM

12 posts since 7/11/2018

I have one of those. 1910 Sears was $10 new. My wife inherited a box of junk which was the fiddle in about 15 pieces including cracks. You may want to check it out for the bass bar, there was just a ridge carved in mine.
After playing with it a few years I loosened the strings to store it. Someone didn't know and the post was loose and unknowingly caved in the belly. This time it is a wall hanger.

Edited by - TPJ54 on 05/07/2021 10:18:24

May 7, 2021 - 10:29:54 AM
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RichJ

USA

455 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

I like it so far. What does the back look like?


Nothing special Doug, a single piece of moderately curly maple. 


May 7, 2021 - 10:35:38 AM

RichJ

USA

455 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by boxbow

Do the tuners seem to be usable? They are very pretty, and the detail in the inlay is charming. It sure would be nice if it played.


Yes, they seem to be in good shape other than a bit of mild, age related, corrosion. Even when these things work as intended do they hold string tension? I'm a big fan of Perfection pegs, but doubt these will work anywhere near as good.

May 7, 2021 - 12:24:43 PM

9101 posts since 3/19/2009

Looks like somebody really loved that fiddle!!! Seems to have been played a lot.. Is that a veneer on the fingerboard??? I'm placed veneer on a fingerboard that was so rough as to be useless.. Can you clarify?  PS.. I'll bet that if you remove and clean those tuners, that they would WORK!!!

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 05/07/2021 12:26:59

May 7, 2021 - 1:05:16 PM

12017 posts since 9/23/2009

That is so cool. Even if those tuners are messed up, I think you should be able to find those type to replace the old ones if you need to. Beautiful fiddle...hope you can get it playing soon! Congrats on a good find.

May 7, 2021 - 2:31:45 PM

RichJ

USA

455 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

Looks like somebody really loved that fiddle!!! Seems to have been played a lot.. Is that a veneer on the fingerboard??? I'm placed veneer on a fingerboard that was so rough as to be useless.. Can you clarify?  PS.. I'll bet that if you remove and clean those tuners, that they would WORK!!!


Lee - Yes veneer has been applied to the fingerboard ...in 2 pieces. A 5 3/4 inch piece of what looks like rosewood to the upper portion and a 3 3/8 inch, darker piece, apparently ebony, with the inlay on the lower portion. Kinda wierd someone used a softer wood where all the wear occurs.

May 7, 2021 - 2:49:01 PM

DougD

USA

10095 posts since 12/2/2007
Online Now

Maybe not as hard, but not by much. Its worked fine for many guitar fretboards (and xylophone keys). Maybe it was what was handy.

Edited by - DougD on 05/07/2021 14:50:05

May 7, 2021 - 6:16:58 PM
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5577 posts since 7/1/2007

just picked a fiddle up for $20 at a garage sale today. Quilted back, but with a crack all the way down the front. Could have gotten it for free but don't like taking stuff for nothin. Still, it wasn't worth the time for me. I'd just be making wages if I were to restore it, and I have other stuff to do, so why not pass it on to someone else to learn on? So I'll probably pass it on to somebody else to develop their skills on. It's worth working on, and they can't make it any worse than it is. That's the kind of stuff I started with.

May 7, 2021 - 6:32:38 PM

2698 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by RichJ
quote:
Originally posted by boxbow

Do the tuners seem to be usable? They are very pretty, and the detail in the inlay is charming. It sure would be nice if it played.


Yes, they seem to be in good shape other than a bit of mild, age related, corrosion. Even when these things work as intended do they hold string tension? I'm a big fan of Perfection pegs, but doubt these will work anywhere near as good.


I have a couple of fiddles with those geared tuners. They hold string tension just fine, as you can see on many other instruments. They can be a bit easier to deal with than friction pegs (esp. worn, ill fitting ones). Downside is they add weight to that end, (and might affect tone?).

BTW, there is somewhat demand for those old tuners, as they don't make them anymore; to which the tuners alone are probably worth more than the $25.

As far as the veneered fingerboard... I wonder if that was a fix, due to wear? Which could be sign it was played a lot.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 05/07/2021 18:36:26

May 7, 2021 - 6:49:35 PM

78 posts since 1/21/2017

Those tuners hold tension just fine. You can still buy them. I bought some a couple of years ago. I tarnished them a little bit with a vinegar solution so they wouldn't look so shiny. I'm jealous of you guys that find those kinds of scores.

May 8, 2021 - 7:35:13 AM
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WyoBob

USA

232 posts since 5/16/2019

I bought 4 geared tuners for $16.00 and put them on an old beater.  They work well and hold tuning but make an "overweight" fiddle even heavier.  


May 8, 2021 - 7:48:49 AM

5152 posts since 9/26/2008

I have a "Stainer" catalog fiddle with those. As George stated they add weight and make it a little top heavy.

May 15, 2021 - 10:20:37 PM

Kye

Canada

109 posts since 3/16/2017

quote:
Originally posted by RichJ
quote:
Originally posted by DougD

I like it so far. What does the back look like?


Nothing special Doug, a single piece of moderately curly maple. 


Nothing special? The edge releif /carving on that is gorgeous!!

May 19, 2021 - 6:32:56 PM

46davis

USA

25 posts since 3/16/2021

The best violin I ever bought was in pieces at a yard sale in the Eastern Shore of Maryland. $25 for two of them, and the other one was trash. But this one had mildew right through the finish so I scraped everything off and refinished it, glued everything back together and put new fittings on it. It turned out to be an unlabeled German violin of about 1920s vintage and very good quality. Yours may be a very good one as well, so good luck with it. There really isn't any reason to try to salvage the finish on that instrument so my advice would be to take it all off, carefully repair the surface damage and put on a good oil varnish. I've had good luck with those kinds of restorations.


Brasso and a toothbrush will clean up the tuners nicely. They do work well when in good shape which is why they were popular. Ammonia is the active ingredient in Brasso to convert the corrosion and it contains a mild abrasive. Any other metal polish that contains ammonia should work as well.

They change the sound a little as this there is more intertia in the head. A little louder and a little more resonant. Converting to conventional pegs is easy since the holes they occupy are usually 1/4 inch leaving much room for reaming. If they've been put on after-market, they're usually just put into the holes the previous pegs occupied. In this case, I fill the holes and let the wood take the string tension instead of the bearings in the tuners.

Edited by - 46davis on 05/19/2021 18:36:30

May 25, 2021 - 5:04:05 AM

RichJ

USA

455 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by 46davis

Yours may be a very good one as well, so good luck with it. There really isn't any reason to try to salvage the finish on that instrument so my advice would be to take it all off, carefully repair the surface damage and put on a good oil varnish. I've had good luck with those kinds of restorations.

Hey Rich - Thanks for all that input. Have to say I'd be skeptical of using oil based varnish on a fiddle. I refinished one previously, but used the more traditional alcohol based varnish. Built this up with several coats (10 -12 as I recall). This resulted in a hard finish which allowed me to polish with pumice/rottenstone to the desired luster I wanted. The kind of varnish to use in a refinish job is likely a topic for a new thread, but I'd like to hear what others may have to say.   

May 25, 2021 - 5:52:46 AM

DougD

USA

10095 posts since 12/2/2007
Online Now

To me, the finish is part of the charm of that fiddle, and the rule of thumb I've always heard is "don't refinish unless absolutely necessary," but its your violin.
I think oil varnish is at least as traditional as spirit varnish, whose main advantage is that its fast, but others know more than I do.

May 25, 2021 - 6:09:32 AM

RichJ

USA

455 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

To me, the finish is part of the charm of that fiddle, and the rule of thumb I've always heard is "don't refinish unless absolutely necessary," but its your violin.
I think oil varnish is at least as traditional as spirit varnish, whose main advantage is that its fast, but others know more than I do.


Doug - I'm inclined to agree with you on leaving the finish as is with this one. Removing the original finish is one of the more drastic things you can do in restoring a fiddle to playing condition. There has to be a pretty good reason for doing this...especially if you happen to be attracted to sweet sounding ugly fiddles.

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